Friday, September 29, 2006

For the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

Before the day comes to a close, I must in some small way honor the patron saint of this blog, St. Michael the Archangel, and his fellow Archangels Gabriel and Raphael. They have aided me tremendously in the battle against falsehood, sin, and the devil.


Praise be to God for his angels on this glorious feast day!

For more information, see the following links:Pax Christi,

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Taking a Break

To the select few who actually read my blog,

I will be taking a break from posting for about a week. I have a very difficult paper to write, and it will require every bit of free time I have between now and when it is due (Oct. 3rd). Of course, if I finish it early (Please God! Let it be so!), then I will resume posting again.

If you get bored, you can always peruse the expansive collection of links in the sidebar!

Pax Christi,

Monday, September 25, 2006

Postures of Prayer and Idol Worship

What follows is a short interaction I had with a poster named "Ely" at the Holy Culture Radio forum regarding the posture that Catholics take before statues and icons.
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Can you explain the practical difference between a person "bowing down to" and "venerating" an icon?
Yes, I can.............and I thank you for your honest question.

The first issue is one of semantics. To bow down to seems to imply divine worship of the statue. Thus, it would be an incorrect way to describe what the Catholic is doing. The posture of prayer is not to the statue, as if the statue where a god and we were praying to it. Instead, the statue is simply a reminder of the saint whose prayers we are invoking. We are not praying to the statue, we are requesting the prayers of the saint who is represented by it.

The second issue is the posture of kneeling or bowing, and what it means. The bible clearly shows that this posture need not be equated with divine worship, or the worship afforded to God alone. Lot "bowed himself with his face to the earth" before the angels that visited him in Sodom (Gen 19:1). Joseph's brothers "bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground" when they came to him for food (Gen 42:6). Saul "bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance" before Samuel (1 Sam 28:14). Bathsheba "bowed and did obeisance" to King David (1 Kings 1:16), as did Nathan (vs. 23), Ornan (1 Chron 21:21), and even the entire assembly (1 Chron 29:20). David himself bowed down before the temple of the Lord (Psa 138:2). The sons of the prophets at Jericho "bowed to the ground" before Elisha (2 Kings 2:15). King Nebuchadnezzar "fell upon his face, and did homage" to Daniel, and even commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him! (Dan 2:46). Even Jesus Christ himself will make those of the synagogue of Satan to bow down before the church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:9).

No one would accuse all of these people of idol worship because they assumed a posture of prayer or worship before an object of God's creation. One should not accuse Catholics of doing the same thing. Ultimately, this is a matter of intent. Kneeling or bowing can imply worship, but it need not necessarily, as these scripture passages reveal. It is just as erroneous to assume that a Catholic is worshipping a statue (simply because he is kneeling near it) as it is to assume that Nebuchadnezzer was worshipping Daniel...........and Nebuchadnezzer did so much more!

What these passages also show is that kneeling/bowing can also be an act of respect, or veneration. That is in fact what is going on in all of these passages, and that is what the Catholic does. When a Catholic kisses a crucifix, this is not an act towards the actual metal/wooden cross he is holding. Instead, it is a sign of the love that he has for Jesus and His work on the cross. David knelt before the temple not to worship the actual stone structure but to make an act of humility before the presence of the Lord that the temple represented.

I hope that helps. For more on this, go here: Statues and Icons
Thanks. That was well-put. All those cases you presented show examples of people bowing down to certain things or people. We are not required to say that idolatry was being done in those situations. Fair enough.

Just a quick follow up. Are there any examples in the Scirptures of God commanding or even encouraging His people (not His enemies) to bow down to/kneel before people or physcial objects?
Well, right off hand, there's the last passage I cited, Rev 3:9, where Jesus says that he will make those of the synagogue of Satan to bow down before the church in Philadelphia. I don't see why it matters if the people doing the bowing are his enemies are not. Jesus is still commanding a group of people to bow down before another group of people, which he would never command anyone to do --enemy or otherwise-- if it was a sin.

Pax Christi,

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Levels of Honor in Heaven and Mary's Queenship

Some people posit as their first problem with Mary's Queenship the fact that we are all equal in heaven. "A saint is a saint is a saint," they will say. But, if we can show from Scripture that there are levels of honor in heaven, then their argument no longer works

First, it is helpful to note that God rewards every man according to his works:
Mt 16:27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

Rom 2:6 For he will render to every man according to his works

2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.

2 Cor 11:15 So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Rev 22:12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.
Now, one could say about these verses that the payment for one's works only goes so far as to distinguish between heaven and hell and not also between different levels of honor in heaven. But, what then should we make of the following verses?:
Mt 5:19 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 11:11 Truly, I say to you, 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.

Mt 18:4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
If one can be the "least" or the "greatest" in the kingdom of heaven, does that not imply that there are levels of honor? I can't be the "greatest" until there are people who are less than me.

Jn 14 has an enticing verse that may bear on this topic as well:
Jn 14:2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
Note that the RSV translation says there are many "rooms," in which case this verse would just mean that there is room for everyone (or, at least, many people) in heaven. It would not imply anything about levels of honor. But the DRV and the KJV translate this verse as "there are many mansions." Now we have a different picture, one of many rooms on separate floors.

The Jerome Bible Commentary says, "there are no grounds for understanding 'many' to mean also 'many kinds' or 'degrees.'" However, the Ignatius Study Bible points out that John also uses the phrase "my Father's house" in 2:16 for the Jerusalem Temple. It goes on to say that the "many rooms" would make the "Father's house" similar to the Herodian Temple in Jerusalem, "which had several courts of worship, chambers for storage, and living quarters for priests." Relating the Father's house to a temple would in fact imply levels of honor because we know that, in a temple, each courtyard represents degrees of closeness to the "holy of holies." There are separate floors in the temple as well.

Outside the templeInside the temple

Furthermore, St. Augustine, has this to say:
But the many mansions point to the different grades of merit in that one eternal life. For there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory; and so also the resurrection of the dead. The saints, like the stars in the sky, obtain in the kingdom different mansions of diverse degrees of brightness; but on account of that one penny no one is cut off from the kingdom; and God will be all in all in such a way, that, as God is love, love will bring it about that what is possessed by each will be common to all. (Tractate 67)
With the varying commentary on this verse, I am not certain if this verse would be helpful in making the case for levels of honor in heaven. I leave it for the reader to decide. There are other interesting verses as well:
2 Cor 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.

Col 1:16 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.
In the first verse, Paul mentions the "third heaven." I see this most often interpreted in the follwoing way: the first heaven is the sky, the realm of the birds and the clouds; the second heaven is outer space, the realm of the sun and the stars; the third heaven is the place where God dwells. However, 2 Enoch adds to this 4 more levels within God's dwelling place. If Paul were borrowing from this tradition, then we could have here another verse that proves my point.

In Colossians, we see the hierarchy of angels. This is also seen in Rom 8:38; Eph 3:10; 6:12; Col 2:15. A hierarchy not only orders individuals with different responsibilities, but also orders their rank. So, it could be said that the angels at the top of the hierarchy have a place of greater honor in heaven than those beneath them.

All of this is very interesting, and it shows that there is, at the very least, an implication in Scripture of levels of honor in heaven. And once we have established that, we can proceed to consider Mary as holding the chief place among all the saints.

For more on this, see the following articles:
Pax Christi,

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Debate with "HeadzUp" on the Biblical Proof for the Authority of the Papacy

If you ever wanted a comprehensive, Biblical defense of the authority of the papacy, this is it. My debate with "HeadzUp" over at the Sphere of Hip Hop board was the most laborious debate I have ever undertaken. Never before or since then have I ever written so much in one debate on Peter and the papacy.

For one, there was no word limit. Secondly, my opponent was actually as thorough (read "obsessed") as I was, so his posts would be just as long as mine ... and if I wanted to be equally thorough in response, I had to engage all of that! It was certainly a grand undertaking. Perhaps I need to learn how to be more concise.

At any rate, here is the debate. Note that in our discussion on the debate, Plastic allowed us to make a closing in two parts, one to address what had just been posted by the opponent, and a second to give general remarks about the debate as a whole. But, my life got so hectic that I was never able to write the second part of my closing remarks. In the same discussion, I was able to say a little bit more in my defense, but nothing as comprehensive as what he was able to do with his two-part closing. Ah well, what can you do?

Instead of posting it at my blog, I have decided instead to simply link to each post in the debate. To those of you with enough fortitude to read the whole thing ... may God bless you! If for some reason the links don't work anymore (perhaps if the forum where they are located goes down), just leave a comment and I can send you Word documents of each post.

Pax Christi,
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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Short Biography of Arnold Lunn

In my earlier post, I attempted to provide a link to a short biography of Arnold Lunn and a description of his collected works at Georgetown University. For some reason, the link that appears when I search his name with Google is a working link, but when I put that same link in a blog post, publish it, and then click on it, an "internal error" occurs. I don't know how to fix it, so I am simply going to paste the biography here. I won't be providing the description of his collected works, but it is worth reading as well, for they too contain some biographical information.
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The Sir Arnold Lunn Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks and related printed ephemera regarding the life and works of Sir Arnold Lunn (1888 - 1974). The papers, dating from 1896 to 1978, comprise 21 linear feet of material, arranged in fourteen boxes, consisting of five hundred and thirty-two folders.


Arnold Lunn, a noted English writer, controversialist and Catholic apologist, is also recognized as the father of modern skiing. He was born in Madras, India, on April 18, 1888, where his father, Sir Henry Lunn was a medical missionary. Later, Sir Henry Lunn acquired several hotels in Switzerland, establishing himself in the travel business. Arnold Lunn's early contact with Switzerland developed into a life long love affair with the country that became his second home.

Sir Arnold was on skis at the early age of ten, and climbed his first mountain with a nurse in 1895. In 1909, he experienced a climbing accident in Wales that resulted in a severe injury to his right leg. Despite the fact that the wound remained open for many years, and that his right leg was about three inches shorter than his left leg, Arnold Lunn continued climbing and skiing almost until the end of his life. Moreover, in 1922, he set the first modern slalom on the practice slopes at Murren. In addition, he was the founder of the Alpine Ski Club (1908) and the Kandahar Ski Club (1924), the editor of the British Ski Year Book, and the organizer of some of the most prestigious ski races in the world, such as the Anglo-Swiss University Race, the Alberg-Kandahar, the first World Championship in Downhill and Slalom Racing, the Duke of Kent's Cup, and the Lowlander Championship.

He caused Murren to become a national and international center for ski racing, and he was knighted for "services to British Skiing and Anglo-Swiss relations" in 1952. Before then, he had also become a leading authority in international skiing through his participation in the International Federation of Ski (FIS). He represented Great Britain in the FIS from 1928 to 1949, and in 1930 he drafted Downhill and Slalom racing rules and help them to be accepted by the FIS. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment in the skiing field was the acceptance and introduction of the Downhill and Slalom races into the Olympic Games in 1936.

It is not unusual then, that Arnold Lunn's literary career, began with books related to the Swiss mountains that he so loved. Indeed, his first book A Guide to Montana (1907), was written at Harrow, where he attended from 1902 to 1907. Other mountaineering and skiing books were also written at Oxford, where Arnold Lunn attended Balliol College from October 1907 to 1911. Some of his accomplishments at Oxford included being secretary of the Union, Editor of The Isis, and founder of the Oxford Mountaineering Club. In 1912 he published two more books, Oxford Mountaineering Essays and The Englishman and the Alps. In 1913, Arnold Lunn published The Harrovians, based on his own experiences at Harrow. The book was both, successful and controversial, since it broke with the romanticism traditionally associated with British school novels.

Also in 1913, Arnold Lunn married Lady Mabel (d. 1959), daughter of Rev. John Stafford Northcote and sister of the third Earl of Iddesleigh. Soon after their marriage World War I began. Arnold Lunn was not allowed to serve in the military because of his leg. However, he found a way to be useful to his country while running his father's hotel business in Switzerland. Indeed, he supervised the arrangements to accommodate British and French officers interned in Lunn hotels in Switzerland. It was during this period that Peter Lunn, Arnold's first son was born. In addition to Peter, the couple also had John Lunn and Jaqueta Lunn. In 1961, after the death of Lady Mabel Lunn, Sir Arnold married Phyllis Holt- Needham

Arnold Lunn's literary career produced numerous works and touched on a variety of fields. There were, of course, several other books on skiing and mountaineering, such as Mountains of Youth (1925) and A Century of Mountaineering (1957). But he also engaged in writing books on controversial subjects, similar to the public debates that he so often chose to take part of, with such authorities as Rev. Ronald Knox in Difficulties (1932), C.E.M. Joad in Is Christianity True? (1933), J.B.S Haldane in Science and the Supernatural (1935) and G.G. Coulton in Is the Catholic Church Anti-Social? (1946).

He became a renown Catholic convert as well as a noted Catholic author. On July 13, 1933 Arnold Lunn was received into the Catholic church by Ronald Knox. He had published books regarding religion before, including Roman Converts (1924), John Wesley (1928) and The Flight from Reason (1930). However, it was the biography of his conversion, Now I see, which introduced him as a Catholic author. Other books and articles on religion followed, including The Third Day (1945), Enigma (1957), And Yet So New (1958), and his trilogy with Garth Lean: The New Morality (1958), The Cult of Softness (1965) and Christian Counter-Attack (1969).

He was also actively involved in politics, promoting his support for Republican Spain and his condemnation of Nazism and Communism. He wrote Spanish Rehearsal (1937) and several articles regarding the Spanish Civil War. During World War II he travelled and lectured extensively as a propagandist for his country. His autobiographies were also well received by the British public, especially Memory to Memory (1956) and Unkilled for so Long (1968).

On June 2, 1974, Sir Arnold Lunn died. As his life long friend and fellow mountaineer Walter Amstutz wrote: "All things and all lives come to an end, as did the life of Arnold Lunn. Taking leave of him implies taking leave of an epoch which went with him to his grave; it was an epoch that bore very much his personal stamp. It began with what he called the golden age of skiing, the gilding of which was done by his own hand. It ended in a triumphal finish on a course which he had set himself."

The Works of Arnold Lunn

Arnold Lunn was a great man. He was not only one of the greatest converts and Catholic apologists of the twentieth century, he is also accredited with inventing the sport of slalom skiing and was an avid mountain climber (short bio here). Unfortunately, very little of his works are to be found online, and what can be found is certainly not all in one place.

I hope to remedy that.

What follows are all the books and articles by Arnold Lunn that I was able to find during about an hour's worth of searching. This would appear to be the extent of what is available online, but if anyone knows of any other works by Lunn, please leave a comment and let me know.

Pax Christi,
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  • The Cradle of Switzerland

  • The Third Day

  • Science and the Supernatural

  • Articles:
  • Bare Faith

  • Evolution, Empty Tomb, Apologetics

  • How to Teach Apologetics

  • Rationalism's Fatal Inconsistency

  • Rome Through Three Spectacles

  • The Rosary and the Modern Mind

  • The Uncertain Frontier
  • Spiritual Warfare Prayer

    I proclaim Jesus Christ, Lord of all the adventures, circumstances, and difficulties of today. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of His Blood, in the authority of His Word given to me as a Christian, I bind and reject you Satan, and I command you to leave! I seal this place, and all the members of my family, my relatives, and possessions, in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    I bind and reject all familiar spirits, all companion spirits, and all carnal spirits, spirits of affliction, and all ministering spirits. I bind and reject all spirits in the air, in the wind, in the fire, in the water, under the water, in the netherworld, in the elements and in all satanic forces of nature. I bind and I reject all spirits of confusion, all spirits of division, all spirits of disruption, and all spirits of fear, worry, and anxiety, all spirits of disbelief, spirits of unforgiveness, resentment, and anger, spirits of deaf and dumb, spirit of disobedience, spirit of games, spirit of control, and spirit of retaliation. I bind and I reject all spirits and aspects and attributes of these spirits. I bind and reject all interlocking spirits. I command that there will be no communication between you or anyone else. I command that you leave quietly and immediately go to the foot of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    I break and dissolve every curse, spell, hex, evil wishes, evil desires, andhereditary seals. I come against all Satanic vows, Satanic pacts, Satanic sacrifices, voodoo practices, mind control, and Eastern religion practices. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I break, and dissolve all links with false prophets, false visionaries, false mystics, and with psychics, clairvoyance, astrologers, mediums, seers, Satanic cults, fortune tellers, seances, Ouija Boards, Tarot Cards, and occult games of all kinds.

    Come Holy Spirit and fill this place, corner to corner, ceiling to floor. Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, Saint Raphael and all the Holy Archangels come and fight this battle for me. I ask the help of all the Holy Angels, Holy Dominations, Holy Powers, Holy Thrones, Holy Principalities, and my Guardian Angel - Be my shield of defense against all evil spirits. I ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of His Blood, in the authority given to me as a Christian.

    Lord Jesus, I ask today for an in-filling of the Holy Spirit. Fill all the empty spaces within me with your peace, your love, your healing, and your joy. I also ask for an increase and release of all the gifts, power, and fruits of the Holy Spirit. The Gift of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Gift of Faith, Gift of Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Discernment of Spirits, Gift of Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, Deliverance, Inner Healing, the Gift of Teaching, Gift of Evangelization, the Gift of Service, the Gift of Encouragement, Gift of Leadership, the Gift of Preaching, and the Gifts of Joy and Laughter so that I may use these gifts cheerfully and enjoy the abundant life You have promised. Amen.

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Debate with "Ricky" on Sola Scriptura: Part 4

    Unless "Ricky" posts again, this will be the final installment in our debate. Also see Parts One, Two, and Three. His words will be indented and italicized.

    The church can’t appeal to itself, this is circular and self- defeating. This is the bottom line then for Rome’s argument: we must believe Rome because Rome says so, huh? In the words of my hip hop urban brothas, this argument is WACK!
    The circular argument is an interesting point. I have some thoughts on this, but if you don't mind, I would like to pass the mic to someone who can respond to this better than I can. I don't profess to be able to respond to every argument with precision, and I want to make sure I do this justice.
    Moving on now ...

    We must take heed to the Sola Scriptura or Scripture alone so we can act according to God’s standards not mans. Consider the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12. Paul went to the synagogue and preached their to many Jews and they responded to Paul's preaching with anticipation and we are told that when Paul finished they would go back to their home and would diligently search and examine the Scriptures to see if what Paul was teaching is true. What was Paul's reaction to all this? Did Paul take offense to this and tell them they were insulting his apostolic authority, and that they should just submit to his infallible interpretation of the bible? No. Did Paul state that the Scriptures were not clear enough and that he or as an apostle or the rabbi or the Sanhedrin could only tell them what the Scriptures really meant? No. Or did he say that they should go and refer to Peter as the only one who could interpret the bible? No. He never said any of these things. The careful practice of the Bereans is actually praised in the Bible and are called noble because they evaluated with great care everything Paul taught on the BASIS OF THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD.
    I was wondering when you were going to bring up the Bereans, those darlings of Protestantism. I think that if you look closer at what took place you'll see that, if anything, the Thessalonians were more pseudo-Protestant than the Bereans.

    First, we must ask: "What did the Thessalonians do that made them less noble-minded?" Note that it was not because they didn't look to the Scriptures. Acts 17:2 says that Paul argued "with them" (as in, they argued together) about Scripture for three weeks. We see in Acts 17:1-9 that the Thessalonians were in fact less esteemed because when they looked at the Scriptures with Paul, they weren't all persuaded. They rejected Paul and his message in favor of their own interpretation of the Scriptures. They were less noble because they rejected his teaching and rose up against him. In a sense, this is understandable. Afterall, it was new teaching that Jesus was the anointed one, and that he suffered and rose from the dead.

    But, look at what the Bereans did. Verse 11 says "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessaloni'ca, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so." Look at the sentence. It is only a secondary point that they compared Paul's teaching with Scripture. It surely isn't the sole reason why they were more noble because the Thessalonians studied the Scriptures too!

    What sets the Bereans apart from the Thessalonians is not that they examined the Scriptures but that they accepted Paul's revolutionary teaching. This is a new revelation, a new way to interpret the OT. These Berean Jews accepted oral teaching, the tradition of the apostles, as equal to Scripture, in addition to, and as an "extension" of, the Torah. This is further illustrated by the Christian community’s reception of Paul’s epistles as divinely inspired Scripture (see 2 Peter 3:16 -- here Peter seems to acknowledge Paul’s writings as equal to "the other Scriptures," presumably the Old Testament). The Catholic sees nothing wrong with turning to the Scriptures. He does it often. However, he does not pit it against apostolic teaching, like the Thessalonians did (and Protestants still today).

    Before I close with a prayer of my own, I want to apologize for the length of my response, for the inconsistancies in capitalization, and for making you wait so long for me to reply. I thank you for your patience. I'm not the pre-eminent Catholic apologist, so there will surely be inadequacies in what I have written. I am every day trying to learn more about my faith, just like the rest of us.

    Let us then stand together with the true apostolic tradition and proclaim with Paul in 1 Cor. 4:6 “…Do not go beyond what is written…”

    For Christ and His precious name, amen
    Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
    and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
    Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created,
    and you shall renew the face of the earth.

    Mary, seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

    In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    Debate with "Ricky" on Sola Scriptura: Part 3

    This is Part 3 in my debate with "Ricky" on Sola Scriptura. Also see Parts One and Two. His words will be indented and italicized.

    Some arguments Roman apologist use

    They will try to argue that the phrase “Word of God” can mean more than just the Scriptures. That’s a straw man for we all believe that and don’t argue against it. The question is whether or not God today uses anything other than Scripture to know the truth of God for salvation. The passages that I presented teach that nothing else is needed. Our opponents need to show not that Paul gave reference to his preaching as well as his writing as the Word of God, we grant that, but what they need to show is that Paul taught that the oral teachings of the apostles would be needed to supplement the Scriptures for the Church through all the ages. But wait they can’t for Paul does not teach that, and the Scriptures as a whole doesn’t either.
    This is the first good point you've made in the whole debate. Props to you. I do have some thoughts on this though.

    Sure, Paul never says anything as explicit as "supplement Scripture with Tradition," but he does present the two as standing alongside each other (2 Thes 2:15; 2 Tim 3:10,14-15). He affirms the Tradition they have received (Rom 10:8,17; Gal 1:11-12; Eph 1:13-14; Col 1:5-7; Titus 1:3), commands them to follow it (Phil 4:9; 1 Thes 4:1-2; 2 Thes 3:6-7; 2 Tim 1:13), and praises them when they do (1 Cor 11:2; 15:1,3,11; 1 Thes 2:13). There is simply no indication from his writing that he wished for them to do away with Tradition, especially when he is affirming it around every corner. There is also no indication that this Tradition would somehow cease to exist or to be authoritative. Instead, his words indicate that it will continue forever (1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 2:2; cf. 1 Pet 1:25; 2 Pet 1:12,15).

    They will make much of tradition but will NEVER clarify or define for us what the heck they mean by tradition. I mean tradition can be used in several different ways like when referring to a certain school of thought like saying the “reformed tradition” or in the “Lutheran tradition” or “Baptist tradition” etc…. It can be in reference to traditions in worship services like reciting the apostles creed or standing up and sitting down when it calls for it or your tradition order of worship. Or can mean traditions supposedly from the apostles that are not in scripture. What do they mean? Its is never clear.
    First of all, I see this whole section on tradition as a diversion tactic. You can focus the spotlight off yourself, but that doesn't change the fact that your defense of Sola Scriptura is inadequate. This debate isn't about my rule of faith, it's about yours ... and yours is tenuous at best. I have brought up Tradition only to show that Scripture was not the only rule of faith of early Christians, or even of the people of God in the OT. However, I am not here to give a defense of Tradition beyond what I have already written. You may see this as "dodging" but I see it as staying on topic, focusing the spotlight squarely on you and watching you sweat under it.

    Now, for informational purposes, and purely as an aside, I will direct you to some resources where you can learn more about the Church's position. for what the Church means by "tradition," see this from the index to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
    Tradition, 81
    -- apostolic,
    -- deposit of faith contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition,
    84, 97
    -- of faith and prayer,
    2651 (see also Prayer)
    -- liturgy as a constitutive element of,
    -- one and the same content of,
    -- oral tradition in the formation of the Gospels,
    -- and Sacred Scripture,
    80-83, 95, 97, 113, 120
    See also the entries on Tradition in the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia and the Pocket Catholic Dictionary [choose "Tradition" from the drop-down menu].

    They have never agreed amongst themselves as to the nature of their tradition. We Presbyterians have tradition, nothing wrong with that but we also recognize that it MUST agree with scripture and not vise versa. But what do they mean by giving authority to tradition?
    For the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, see Dei Verbum, articles 7-10, and the CCC 80-83, 95, 97, 113, 120.

    I'm skipping much of the rest of your post because it's just a big, fat, juicy red herring. Personally, herring doesn't suit my pallet.

    The Reformers discovered this contradiction of tradition and Scripture as they took greater care in searching the Holy Writ, for example….

    A. Tradition teaches that Mary was sinless, but the Scriptures teach that all have sinned except for Christ(Rom. 3:10-12, Heb. 4:15)
    I'm sorry, I just couldn't pass this one up! You might not realize this, but Luther and Zwingli believed in the sinlessness of Mary. For evidence of this, see the following articles:
    Differences in doctrine should be humbling and drive us back to the Scriptures to test all claims of truth. If we do not accept Holy Writ as our only standard and judge then there will never be hope for unity.
    But don't you see? It's each man turning to Scripture and interpreting it for himself that causes the very division you are trying to avoid. I can't understand why that is not blatantly obvious. It's like the big, pink elephant in the room of Protestantism

    We must have a standard by which to test all claims of truth. The body of Christ the church must have a standard of truth to refer to so it can reform and purify itself from error when divisions surface.
    AMEN! However, I assert that the Church is this standard. Let me ask you this: What good is an infallible work if it comes without an infallible interpreter? It would be entirely negligent of the Lord to say, "Ok, here's my written word, have fun!" Instead, he gave us the Church to safeguard His word in all its forms and to be the final arbiter when two people disagree on what the Bible teaches (just like the priests did in the OT, cf. Deut 17:8-12). You said yourself in the beginning of your defense that ...
    We are not arguing that the Church, both the people of God and the ministerial office, is not of great importance, value and help in understanding the Scriptures. We believe that the church universal(not Rome) is the interpreter of Scripture and that the church is the only institution that has been gifted with interpreting Holy Writ. (see here)
    ... yet, you complain when I assert that the Church is the interpreter of Scripture? The problem with your paradigm is that when you don't like what the Church teaches, you just discard it. What kind of a "help" is that? Protestants like to say that they don't reeeally believe in the Bible alone ("We use tradition too!!"), but when it comes down to it they're just as dismissive of tradition as protestants who disregard it altogether.

    I end my rebuttal with a fourth and final post ...

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Debate with "Ricky" on Sola Scriptura: Part 2

    This continues my debate with "Ricky" on Sola Scriptura. Also see Part 1. His words will be indented and italicized.

    Now if this principle of the sufficiency and CLARITY of the Word is true in the Old Testament how much more would this be true in the New.
    Well, this is the first time you've said anything about the clarity of Scripture, and I definitely don't see how you proved it from the OT with just two passages from Deuteronomy. But, I suppose we'll move on to your NT evidence ...

    It is not necessary to only assume this but rather the New Testament makes evident that the character of Scripture is to be sufficient and clear.
    I noticed you fell just short of saying "explicit" here. Wise move on your part.

    One example is found in 2 Timothy 3:12-4:5. Paul here writes to his younger brother in the faith and states that Timothy was instructed in the faith by his mother and grandmother and has also learned all about Paul's teaching(3:10). Timothy has been taught by all sorts of oral teachings, some of it apostolic.
    Thank you for your honesty here. Some people refuse to admit that Timothy learned from any oral, Apostolic teaching whatsoever.

    Yet Paul reminds Timothy in the following verses that the Scriptures are able to make him wise unto salvation in Christ Jesus.
    Why "yet"? The two statements are not at odds with each other. As I said before, an affirmation of Scripture is not simultaneously a rejection of Tradition. With all the affirmations of tradition in Paul's letters, including those to Timothy, it would be absurd to say that tradition was not a rule of faith for them. There certainly isn't any evidence from 2 Tim 3:10-17 that Timothy was called to abandon what he learned from Paul in favor of the OT, or that his oral teachings were any less a rule in his life than the Scriptures. All vs. 15-17 do is affirm the authoritative nature of the Scriptures. Period. It is a grand leap of logic to take from this that the Scriptures are to be either our only rule OR our final rule.

    He is teaching Timothy that Scriptures are specifically designed for teaching, reproof/rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. Therefore because Scripture has this character, it completely equips the man of God for EVERY good work....
    Amen! But how does this prove that it is the only rule of faith? I simply don't see it.

    ....and this Paul tells Timothy is what he must teach and safeguard for a time will come when people will not want to hear God’s Word but will want to follow after teachers who will teach them want will make them comfortable and whatever tickle their fancies, who will direct them to myths instead of the truth of God’s written Word.
    I agree ... but he's not just safeguarding Scripture. The word of God is not restricted to writing. I have already shown this from the OT. Many NT verses can be used as well (cf. Lk 3:2-3; 5:1; Acts 8:14; 13:5; 1 Thes 2:15; Tit 1:3; Heb 11:3; 2 Pet 3:5). I anticipate having to interact with them, but I'll just list them for now.

    The clarity and force of Paul’s teaching here are striking.
    Clarity? Are you sure? Protestants don't even agree on the proper parameters of Sola Scriptura, and Catholics/Orthodox don't believe in it at all. If it was so clear, I don't think there would be so much division on this point.

    In spite of the rich ORAL teaching Timothy had, he is to preach and teach the written scriptures because they give him clearly all he needs for wisdom and instruction for the people of God in faith and every good work.
    In spite of? Where in 2 Tim 3:10-17 do you see Paul commanding Timothy to reject his oral teaching, or to preserve only the written word? In the very same letter, Paul tells Timothy to entrust what he has heard from him "to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:2). In other words, preserve my oral teaching. You are setting up a dichotomy between Tradition and Sripture that simply does not exist in this passage.

    The sufficiency and clarity of the Word are clearly taught in this passage of Scripture over and over again.
    Over and over again? In this one passage? Perhaps you can show me where Paul says here that Scripture is clear. I don't see it.

    John Chrysostom paraphrased the meaning of Paul’s words to Timothy in this way: “You have the Scriptures for a master instead of me; from there you can learn whatever you would know.” I agree this is what Paul meant.
    Just like the Scripture verses you cite, this quote from Chrysostom (which I can't verify because you didn't provide the source) affirms the material sufficiency of scripture, not the formal sufficiency. Come on bro, you honestly believe that, of all people, John Chrysostom rejected the Church and Tradition as rules of faith? I take it you've never read his Homilies on Second Thessalonians, where he writes, in response to 2 Thes 2:15:
    "Hence it is manifest, that they did not deliver all things by Epistle, but many things also unwritten, and in like manner both the one and the other are worthy of credit. Therefore, let us think the tradition of the Church also worthy of credit. It is a tradition, seek no farther."
    Moving on now:

    In listening to several debates on this topic especially the debates of James White vs Roman apologist,....
    Haha, James White, he's amusing! For several responses to his work, go here.

    ....The common response of the Roman apologist is to repeatedly assert that 2 Timothy 3 does not teach sufficiency. They will refer to James 1:4, Matt. 19:21, or Colossians 1:28 and 4:12 as parallel texts, claiming that the word “complete” in 2 Timothy 3:17 does not mean sufficient but those passages are not parallel at all if you know your Greek. A totally different Greek word is used.
    James Akin (your turn to laugh now ) calls this the "Greek translation fallacy." Basically, it assumes that if the same Greek word isn't used both times then there must be a difference in meaning. This simply is not so. You can use two different words and still express the same meaning. It happens all the time in scripture.

    In the Timothy passage 3:17 it uses the word “exartizo” which has to do with being fitted for a task or equipped as the verse already states. Those other passages that they want to parallel with uses the word “telios”, which has to do with maturity or having reached a desired end. Roman apologist will attempt to convince us that these texts of Scripture do not mean what they clearly say as do all heretics.
    Haha, I need to show "quiet storm" this paragraph too! Anyway, let's compare 2 Tim 3:17 and James 1:4 (from the KJV NT Greek Lexicon):

    2 Tim 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect (a[rtioß, "artios"), throughly furnished (ejxartivzw, "exartizo") unto all good works.

    James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect (
    tevleioß, "teleios") and entire (oJlovklhroß, "holokleros"), wanting nothing.

    Do these two verses not say almost the exact same thing? If there is a difference in meaning, it actually works in my favor [I have linked all 4 terms to the lexicon I used so that you can compare them for yourself]. The Greek words for "perfect" and "entire" in James 1:4 are much stronger terms for completion than the ones found in 2 Tim 3:17, yet we still would not assert that steadfastness is all we need. Despite that, you see it fit to use weaker words as justification for declaring Scripture as your sole rule of faith. You may try to force a distinction between the two passages, but nobody is going to be able to build much of a case for the meaning of either "artios" or "exartizo" based on New Testament study. The first term occurs only once in Scripture and the second only twice [the other occurrence being in Acts 21:5], making meaningful scriptural comparative studies of the usage impossible.

    That said, on to your second post ...

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Debate with "Ricky" on Sola Scriptura: Part 1

    This is one of my longer debates. It was with a poster named "Ricky" from the Holy Culture Radio forum. He wrote a very lengthy defense of Sola Scriptura. Here is my response in four parts. He never answered my response. His words are indented and italicized
    - - -

    First I want to thank you for writing this. I'm assuming that I played a part in you taking up this task, and I appreciate it. I will try to give a thorough response, since that is what your work here deserves.

    For the sake of brevity, I linked to my Scripture citations, only writing out the passage if I thought it was absolutely necessary. Also, I skipped most of the beginning of your post because I'm not interested in the work-up and the commentary as much as the defense. However, I do have two things I want to address.

    When the protesters(specifically Luther, Zwingli, Calvin), which were later to be called protestants, called into question the authority of the popes and councils as our rule of faith they were driven immediately to the bible to find direction on this issue and unanimously concluded that as Protestants they maintained that the Scriptures ALONE was and is our authority for doctrine, rule and religious practice. [. . .]
    I also want to make clear that we are not arguing that the Church , both the people of God and the ministerial office, is not of great importance, value and help in understanding the Scriptures. We believe that the church universal(not Rome) is the interpreter of Scripture and that the church is the only institution that has been gifted with interpreting Holy Writ, but we also deny with boldness that church pertains or refers to particular persons or a particular see or succession of men.
    Well, then is that really bible alone? Wouldn't the Church then (how you define it) become another rule of faith for you, since you see it as an authoritative voice with which to determine what to believe? To me, that looks like the same rule of faith that I hold too (Scripture, Tradition, and Church). Maybe our debate should be about the nature of the Church instead ...

    [. . .] I posed the question not for the purpose of wanting to know his position for that is clear but was intended to show that his desire to want a biblical defense (notice I said biblical not just a defense but a Roman Catholic wanted a biblical one) is a direct contradiction in his Roman Catholic presupposition. Why? Simple. If their final authority is not Scripture then why in the world does this person want a SCRIPTURAL defense?
    I'm honored to have a cameo in your writing! Anyway, I'll tell you why: because I want to show that Sola Scriptura (SS) is false. Now, if I wanted to prove that to a Catholic, I would bring in the ECF's and the Church. But, in order to prove that to you I need to operate within your own parameters. You claim that SS can be defended by Scripture, so let's see it. That's what it's all about. The atheist analogy was odd, but I can assure you there will be no running back and forth. Quoting a Church Council wouldn't do much good, now would it?

    Now, before we get into the OT evidence, I want to say something about the OT in general. What do you think the Jews had for direction for thousands and thousands of years before anything was ever written down? They had three things: the theophanies or revelations of God, the prophets, and the tradition of God's dealings with His people passed down from generation to generation. Now, assuming the writer of Genesis is Moses, how else would he have known anything about the Adamic, Noahic, and Abrahamic covenants if not through oral tradition? They all took place long before he was ever born! The books of Judges, 1/2 Kings and 1/2 Chronicles were also written long after the events they describe.

    Even when they had the law, the prophets did not cease to be an authoritative voice. Just a few examples from Leviticus alone include 1:1-2; 6:25; 17:2,8; 21:1,17 and 22:2-3,18. Moses' words had authority right then and there once he relayed the word of God to the people, not just once they were written down for everyone to read. That said, on to your OT evidence ...

    Now lets dive into our Authority the Bible. I’ll be reading from the NKJV.

    Deuteronomy 31:9 reads: “So Moses wrote this law…..” The people were instructed by the writings of Moses’ law to which Moses also ordered that it be read to them “that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law…” (verse 12)
    It's interesting that you chose Deut 31. The next two verses, vs. 10 and 11, say that the law was only read every seven years. What were the people to do the rest of the time? Were they just lawless, without a rule of faith or anyone to guide them with authority? Of course not! They relied on the prophets and the priests for direction. "For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts" (Mal 2:7). In 2 Chron 15:1-4, we see that the Lord's word was mediated through a man (in this case, Azari'ah) in times when there was no law. His word to Asa was surely authoritative. Note also the mention of "a teaching priest" listed with the law as a guide for the people. Furthermore, when the Lord is describing to Aaron his responsibilities as high priest, one of them was "to teach the people of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by Moses" (cf. Lev 10:8-11). Of the levitical priesthood, the Lord says, "They shall teach Jacob thy ordinances, and Israel thy law; they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt offering upon thy altar" (cf. Deut 33:8-10). They are not only to teach, but to teach without taking bribes (cf. Micah 3:11).

    Many more examples could be provided. The point is that the prophets and the priests were just as much a rule of faith for the people as was God's law, and were their only rule of faith when there was no law or Pentateuch in writing

    Moses then declares to all Israel before his death: [note: see Deut. 32:46,47]

    Lets look at the clear principles in these passages.

    A. The Words Moses spoke was written down.
    B. The people CAN and MUST listen and be instructed by it.
    C. These Words of Moses brings life.

    Notice that Israel did not need any additional institution to interpret the Word.
    How is that evident from the passages you cited? An affirmation of the law is not simultaneously a rejection of the other authoritative rules

    The duties of the prophets and priests was not to add to or even clarify the law but rather the leaders of Israel surely functioned to help the people ministerially and help the people to apply this Word as does the true Church today. But the Word alone was sufficient for salvation and teaching/doctrine.
    Well, it obviously wasn't, or you wouldn't have the Lord revealing his word to them through the prophets in addition to what he revealed to them through the law. The people received the law from the mouths of patriarchs before it was written down for them. In the OT, the Lord's word is simply not restricted to writing. The phrase "word of the Lord" does not even refer only to what has been written (cf. 2 Sam 23:1-2; Isa 1:10; 59:21; Jer 1:7-9; Ezek 33:30).

    Besides that, these verses you are providing don't even say that all Scripture is our sole rule of faith. For one, they're not even about all Scripture, they're about the law, which is only a subset of all Scripture. At the most, they would say that the law is sufficient. But, you're in somewhat of a bind there because then you must dismiss everything else that makes up Scripture. Furthermore, as these verses pertain to the law, they only declare its material sufficiency, not its formal sufficiency. In other words, the law is an authority, but not the only one. And this makes perfect sense. Afterall, the prophets spoke with the utmost authority ... and many of them did not write a word. So, knowing all that, it seems rather ridiculous to me to use what the Bible says about the Law as proof that all of Scripture is our only rule of faith.

    What I find is that Sola Scriptura is just as ahistorical to OT Judaism as it is to NT Christianity. I'll look at your NT evidence in a subsequent post ...

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Debate with "Little Les" on the Assumption of Mary: Part 3

    Here is the final installment of my debate with Little Les, where I provide the evidence for the Assumption from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Also see Part 1 and Part 2.
    - - -
    Sacred Scripture

    First note that the concept of an assumption into heaven is not foreign to Scripture. We will all experience the resurrection of the body when Jesus comes again (cf. Dan 12:2; Isa 26:19; Jn 5:28-29; 6:39; 11:23-25; Acts 26:8; Rom 8:11; 1 Thes 4:6-7). Mary was not even the only one to experience this before the Second Coming. Enoch (cf. Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5) and Elijah (cf. 2 Ki 2:11-12; 1 Mac 2:58; Sir 48:4,9) were assumed into heaven. Paul suggests that a third man may have been as well (cf. 2 Cor 12:2-4) and Matthew speaks of "many bodies of the saints" who were raised from the tomb after Jesus' resurrection (cf. Mt 27:52-53). So, the principle is scripturaly sound. We have left only to answer the question, "Did this happen to Mary?"

    There is no one verse that definitely answers this question. But, is this anything new? Protestants often have to refer to many different passages to defend their unique doctrines. It is often enough for them that a particular belief have implicit scriptural witness and that there be an absence of any verses that directly contradict it. The Assumption of Mary is such a teaching. I find nothing in Scripture, explicit or otherwise, that condemns the teaching. What I do find, however, are several verses that seem to point to it, at least implicitly [from the RSV, unless otherwise noted]:
    Psalm 45:9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

    Psa 132:8 Arise, O LORD, and go to thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy might.

    Isa 60:13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

    So 3:6 What is that coming up from the wilderness, like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of the merchant?

    So 8:5 Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?

    Rev 11:19-12:1 Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. 1 And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

    Rev 12:13-14 and when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle that she might fly from the serpent nto the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.
    Please note that I do not offer these passages as "proof texts." I realize that the literal meaning of the verses from the Old Testament can refer to other things. Also, I think Rev 12 is about Mary, but I grant that the "woman" can be a symbol of the People of God as well. The early Church fathers, in the light of the faith that they had received from the Apostles themselves and in their meditation upon Scripture, saw in all of these passages certain indications or forshadowings of Mary's Assumption.

    At this point, Protestants usually cry foul and accuse Catholics of "eisegesis." But, reading Scripture in the light of faith is a sound, even biblical hermeneutic. Take, for example, the various Messianic verses from the Old Testament (one list of such verses is here). You'll notice that the majority of them were first about a king, or some holy object, or a prophet speaking about himself. But the New Testament writers saw in them a reference to Christ. Paul looked at the rock that Moses struck (cf. Exo 17:6) and saw Christ (cf. 1 Cor 10:4). Jesus Himself looked at the serpent raised up (cf. Num 21:8-9) and Jonah inside the whale (cf. Jon 1:17) and saw His own Passion, Death, and Resurrection (cf. Jn 3:14-15; Mt 12:39-41). Matthew looked at Isaiah's prophecy concerning the birth of King Hezekiah (cf. Isa 7:14) and saw Mary (cf. Mt 1:23).

    Are Protestants alarmed at these "radical" readings of the text? Certainly not. Well, I assert that the early Church fathers were utilizing the same hermeneutic when they read these many passages and saw Mary's Assumption. The doctrines of the Church come from the sacred deposit of faith she has received, and the early Church fathers testify to this deposit. The light of the New Testament and of this sacred deposit often reveals meanings to Scripture other than what the authors themselves initially intended.

    It is also important to note that the Assumption of Mary is logically consistent. Once one establishes from Scripture that Mary was without sin (and this is certainly possible), it follows that she would not suffer the death and decay of her body, which is the result of sin (cf. Gen 3:19).

    The Assumption also follows from the nature of Christ's Kingship. After all, Christ is the new king of David (cf. Mk 11:10; Lk 1:32), who once ascended into heaven, sat upon His throne where He reigns over the new Davidic kingdom forever. In the Davidic kingdoms, the Queen is actually the mother of the king, not his wife (cf. 1 Ki 2:19; Psa 45:9; Jer 13:18). This, by the way, is why any time the reign of a particular king is first introduced in Scripture, it is almost always followed by the name of the king's mother (cf. 1 Ki 14:21; 15:2, 9-10; 22:42; 2 Ki 8:26; 12:1; 14:1-2; 15:1-2, 32-33; 18:1-2; 21:1, 19; 22:1; 23:31, 36; 24:8, 18). Considering all this, it makes perfect since that Jesus, who fulfills the Kingdom and Reign of David, would from the moment He took up His throne be anxious to assume Mary into heaven to be with Him and to install her as His Queen Mother. In the Davidic Kingdom, there is no King without a Queen.

    Finally, keep in mind that the Assumption of Mary is just as much a historical event as it is a dogma of faith. There are many historical events that are not recorded in Scripture. Does this mean that they did not happen? Of course not. As with any historical event, especially one concerning the formative years of Christianity, we can look to the Bible, but we can also look to other early writings from that period. When we look to these writings, we see that early Christians believed in what we are describing here: Mary, at the end of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

    Sacred Tradition

    Contrary to what many claim, modern research reveals evidence of belief in Mary's Assumption from at least the third century, and maybe even earlier. I offer you the following points:
    • "Tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary", an entry in the New Advent encyclopedia, attributes Joannis liber de Dormitione Mariae, or "the book of John on the Dormition of Mary" (read a summary of it here or the full text here) to the third to fourth century.
    • The book Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption, by Stephen J. Shoemaker (which is considered one of the most objective and scholarly works on Mary's Dormition and Assumption), states that "a few of the narratives were almost certainly composed by the third century, if not even earlier."
    • Traci Regula's article, "Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary" states that "written records dating back to as early as the third century" gives accounts of her Dormition and Assumption in Ephesus.
    • David Scott tells us, in his article, "In Her End, The Promise of Our Beginning", that the Acts of John — a fifth-century text from Constantinople that includes material originally written in the second century — recalls that "the mother of us all has departed this life," which is quite an enticing statement. He goes on to say:
      "Archeologists have discovered that the Church of Mary’s Tomb was built in a first–century Jewish burial ground and that the fifth–century church was likely built to replace a much older church on the site. This has led some to speculate that devotion and worship at the site began within years of Mary’s death"
    • I have read several articles that speak of a version of the Transitus Mariae stories that dates from the third century as well (for example, here and here).

    What all of this shows is that scholars are beginning to find evidence of the Assumption from a much earlier time then first expected. The fact that the earliest Marian feast in the Church is of her Dormition/Assumption (fourth century) tells us that belief in this was widespread and longstanding. Church feasts don't just sprout up with every "new" doctrine or "pious legend" that surfaces. They arise as a result of the traditional beliefs of the people.

    From here we come to the more explicit references:
    "If therefore it might come to pass before the power of your grace, it has appeared right to us your servants that, as you, having overcome death does reign in glory, so you should raise up the body of your mother and take her with you, rejoicing into heaven. Then said the Savior [Jesus]: 'Be it done according to your will" [Pseudo-Melito, The Passing of the Virgin 16:2-17; (300 AD)].

    "If the Holy Virgin had died and was buried, her falling asleep would have been surrounded with honour, death would have found her pure, and her crown would have been a virginal one...Had she been martyred according to what is written: 'Thine own soul a sword shall pierce', then she would shine gloriously among the martyrs, and her holy body would have been declared blessed; for by her, did light come to the world" [Epiphanius, Panarion, 78:23 (A.D. 377), in PG 42:737].

    "Therefore the Virgin is immortal to this day, seeing that he who had dwelt in her transported her to the regions of her assumption" [Timothy of Jerusalem, Homily on Simeon and Anna; (400 AD)].

    "And from that time forth all knew that the spotless and precious body had been transferred to paradise" [John the Theologian, The Falling Asleep of Mary; (400 AD)].

    "The Apostles took up her body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoinedd to the soul, [Mary] rejoices with the Lord's chosen ones..." [Gregory of Tours, Eight Books of Miracles, 1:4; (575-593 A.D.) ].

    "As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him." [Modestus of Jerusalem, Encomium in dormitionnem Sanctissimae Dominae nostrae Deiparae semperque Virginis Mariae (before A.D. 634), in PG 86-II,3306].

    "It was fitting...that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinized, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and full glory...should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up to heaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God." [Theoteknos of Livias, Homily on the Assumption; (before 650 A.D.)].

    Perhaps the greatest historical evidence for the Assumption is actually in the lack of it! Robert Payesko, in his book The Truth About Mary: Vol 2, explains what I mean:
    The biblical witness for the truth of the Assumption is complemented by the witness of history. It is a remarkable fact that there is no tradition or legend whatsoever about either the physical relics of the Blessed Mother or of a tomb in which she presently lies buried. The earthly resting places of all the other Apostles and of holy Christians through the ages have inspired shrines and pilgrimages; relics associated with them have been treasured by the faithful. Is it conceivable that the greatest saint of them all, the Mother of God, would not have been thus honored if there had been even the slightest inkling that she was buried somewhere in this world? Like “the empty tomb" that testified so strongly to the resurrection of Our Lord, the absence of belief in a tomb holding Mary's remains testifies powerfully to the truth that she was assumed into Heaven (of course there are traditions of the tomb where her body was laid prior to the Assumption much as Jesus too was laid in a tomb prior to His Resurrection) [pgs. 260-261]

    For more on the Assumption of Mary, see my post for the Solemnity of the Assumption.

    Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven ... pray for us.

    Pax Christi,

    Scripture Commentary by St. Thomas Aquinas

    While St. Thomas Aquinas is well known for his Summa Theologiae, most people don't realize that he actually wrote even more extensively on Scripture. As far as I know, this is all that is available online in English. If anyone knows of any other commentaries by Aquinas that are online, please leave a comment and let me know. It is a shame that more of his works on Scripture have not been translated and/or made available on the internet.

    Before you begin reading his commentaries, it would be helpful to know how Aquinas understands and interprets Scripture. I suggest the following articles:

    Here are his commentaries: [Update: Links are now fixed, as of 9/3/2020. Leave a comment if you find a broken one.]

    Also see the Index of Scripture References in the Summa Theologiae for a good indication of how he understands many, MANY other passages from the Bible.

    St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelic Doctor and the Church's greatest theologian ... pray for us.

    Pax Christi,

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Debate with "Little Les" on the Assumption of Mary: Part 2

    You'll notice at the end of Part 1 that I had intended to post next about the evidence for the Assumption from Scripture and Tradition. But, instead of waiting patiently, he went ahead and responded to what I had said up to that point. Here is how I engaged that response. In Part 3, which will come tomorrow, I will post the evidence from Scripture and Tradition that I was eventually able to provide for him. He was banned from Phatmass before he could respond to this evidence, so Part 3 concludes the debate.
    - - -
    I have. It doesn't. Evidence please or withdraw your assertion.
    Munificentissimus Deus doesn't have testimony from the ECF's of the Assumption? Note the following paragraphs, which are numbered:
    17. "Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself."[11]

    18. the Gallican sacramentary designates this privilege of Mary's as "an ineffable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin's Assumption is something unique among men." .... "God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb."[12]

    21. "It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."[17]

    22. "You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life."[18] And another very ancient writer asserts: "As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him."[19]

    [11.] Sacramentarium Gregorianum.
    [12.] Menaei Totius Anni.
    [17.] St. John Damascene, Encomium in Dormitionem Dei Genetricis Semperque
    Virginis Mariae, Hom. II, n. 14; cf. also ibid, n. 3.
    [18.] St. Germanus of Constantinople, In Sanctae Dei Genetricis Dormitionem,Sermo I.
    [19.] The Encomium in Dormitionem Sanctissimae Dominae Nostrate Deiparae Semperque Virginis Mariae, attributed to St. Modestus of Jerusalem, n. 14.
    As you can see, there is ample patristic witness.

    The evidence presented shows that the myth of the assumption was first recorded in the fourth of fifth century spurious writings,and not before that time. This fact is admitted by the Catholic Encyclopedia.Catholic "tradition' was subsequently developed. If you have any evidence of a "bountiful" earlier tradition, please present it.
    I believe I have. Also note that in this article, under the section "The Transitus Mariæ or Evangelium Joannis", we read: "However, there is warrant for saying that while the tradition existed substantially in portions of the Church at an early period, and thus prepared the way for the acceptance of mythical amplifications, still its later form and details were considerably influenced by the Transitus and kindred writings." I have found this to be the consensus drawn by scholars on the subject.

    Again, as stated at the onset, facts must be proven to exist, not presumed to exist.Please provide evidence of your putative " sources of belief " by anyone prior to the 5th century claiming the assumption of Mary. And please include the date of the writing.
    I have. And by the way, I must again remind you that the task, as far as Christian testimony is concerned, is to prove that belief in the Assumption is a part of Sacred Tradition. You stated this yourself early in our debate. I have shown you that it is very much a part of the Tradition of the Church. The timeframe for the Tradition is irrelevant.

    It is necessary that a fact be established, not that, using a little creative imagination, it can be "pointed to."One must alyays distinguish between facts and fables.Again, please site your scriptural evidence for the assumption of Mary. Thus far, you have not. Nor have you cited any evidence from a source prior to the fifth century.
    Why are you imposing this requirement? There is simply no merit in it. The doctrine is not concerned with the historical facts about her assumption. Pope Pius XII did not set out to affirm or deny these details when he articulated our belief. The doctrine is this: that she was assumed into heaven at the end of her earthly life. The task is this: to prove whether or not this belief is contrary to Scripture or Tradition. Period. That's what you and I are working with. It seems that the only way you can refute what I have presented is by going beyond the parameters of our debate.

    Thank you for stipulating to that fact. The historical evidence of the legend of the Assumption, begins with spurious writings of the fifth century. I think you'll find that all Chruch writings date from after that time.
    I think you'll find that more recent scholarship is proving otherwise.

    No. Apostolic Traditions cannot realistically be said to have begun six or seven hundred years after the fact.In the case of the Assumption, no tradition at all can be evidenced before the early 5th century.
    Well, for one, we find evidence of a belief in the Assumption before the fourth century. Secondly, if in fact we were to find no writings from before this time, that would not mean that no one believed it. It would just mean that we have no written evidence of it (either because they didn't write about it or because their writings on the subject no longer exist). Do you realize how hard it is to find writings about anything from the time period you stipulate? It is no small task.

    Futhermore, Christians during the first four centuries were primarily concerned (maybe even obsessed) with properly formulating Christian belief regarding the Incarnation and the Natures of Christ, and in battling the Christological heresies of the day. It only makes sense that there would be very little written about other Christian figures.

    Plus, it was through their formulations about the nature of the Incarnation that they were finally able to come to a greater understanding of the role and privileges of Mary. After all, it is from her role as the Mother of the Lord that all her other honors flow, and they could not understand what it means to be the Mother of the Lord, and the ramifications of this, until they understood the Incarnation and the Natures of Christ.

    Considering all this, it seems unreasonable to me for you to insist on a refined, explicit belief in the Assumption of Mary before the fourth century.

    And while doing so, you might want to consider this: "A popular martyrology, that was used from the ninth century to the reform of the Roman Martyrology by Baronius in 1548, was composed by Usuard, a monk of St. Germain des Pres in Paris. It stated its opinion quite bluntly in its announcement of the feast: "The Falling Asleep of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Though her most sacred body is not to be found on earth, still Holy Mother Church celebrates her venerable memory with no doubt that she had left this life. But as to where the venerable temple of the Holy Ghost has been hidden by divine Providence, the sobriety of the Church prefers pious ignorance to any frivolous or apocryphal doctrine."11

    Footnote 11. The Roman Martyrology, quoted by Paul E. Duggan, The Assumption Dogma: Some Reactions and Ecumenical Implications in the Thought of English-Speaking Theologians (Cleveland: Merson Press, 1989), 18.

    This is quoted from: The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, I think thy have a website.

    Of course, this was written before the Pius XII's infallible pronouncement, that is, before "frivolous or apoccryphal doctrine" became official teachings.
    I don't know how to state this any more plainly: the exact details of the assumption (when it happened, where it happened, who was there) are simply not at issue here. So, this quote of yours does little to advance your claim. Also, note that when Usuard says the phrase "frivolous or apocryphal doctrine" he is referring to beliefs about where her body was burried. This has nothing to do with the doctrine of the Assumption, which states only that she was assumed into heaven at the end of her earthly life.

    The origin of Church "Tradtion" is very much bound to a time frame.

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
    76 In keeping with the Lord's command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways: - orally "by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit"- in writing "by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing".
    The volumnous writings of the Early Church Fathers omit any mention of the Assumption. And one of them, St. Epiphanius admits that he knows nothing about it. (Panarion, Haer, 78.10-11) See also CE, Feast of the Assumption).

    The legend of the Assumption is first found in De Obitu S. Dominae, an apocryphal treatise, which belongs to the 4th or 5th century. (See CE op cit).

    The first Church author to write of it is St. Gregory of Tours (6th century) according to Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pp 209-210, Tan Books, 1974.

    In short, apostolic tradition, is not verified by the facts.
    You're right, the origin of Tradition is bound to a timeframe. That's because the origin is the Sacred Deposit given to the Apostles by Christ himself. However, Sacred Tradition is always with us, in the Testimony of the ECF's, in her customs and disciplines, and in her liturgies and forms of worship throughout the history of the Church. You betray a fundamental misunderstanding of what Tradition actually is. Hopefully we can remedy this. (*wink*)

    Thank you for stipulating to the fact that none of the scriptures you presented support the Assumption.
    I didn't say that. Look at my words again. I said that the literal intention was not to address the Assumption. I went on to explain that, in the tradition of the NT writers, the Church finds implicit evidence for the Assumption in these verses. Maybe you missed that part? Les, please read my posts in their entirety before you respond, instead of responding to each paragraph as you read it. I think that by employing this latter approach you are not grasping the full meaning I am trying to articulate to you.

    Pax Christi,
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