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Aug 15, The Assumption of Mary and Protestants

posted by xscot mcknight

I believe most Protestants know more about what they don’t believe about Mary than what they do believe about Mary. In an effort to get us to think about Mary, I wrote The Real Mary. I think we’ve got to get back to the Bible to see what it says. Themes about Mary are found not only in the Bible; the early churches struggled with how to understand Mary. Was she sinless? the immaculate conception? and what about her death?
When we were in Denmark and I chose to teach one morning on Mary, I was told that some were a bit nervous that I would talk about Mary. Some were worried that I might be “too Roman Catholic.” I must say, however, that from what I heard my teaching session about Mary was the talk that they most liked. Since today is the feast of Mary’s assumption in the high-church traditions, let me give a bit from a chapter in my Mary book on the assumption of Mary — which I didn’t discuss in Denmark.
Because Roman Catholics believe Mary was immaculately conceived and sinless, and because sin’s consequences are disease, aging, and death, they also concluded that Mary’s end could have been, and indeed was, abnormal. Instead of dying and decaying as other humans, Mary “died” in the presence of others, yet when they checked on her tomb she was gone. This is called the “glorious assumption” of Mary.
What do you think of the dogma of Mary’s assumption? What can we as Protestants (who in most cases do not believe in the Assumption of Mary) learn from this? The Gospel of Luke tells us that “from now on all generations [except Protestants!] will call me blessed.” How do you do this?
Before I resume my section from the book, let me say this: the first step for all of us is one of understanding what the RCC teaches about the assumption of Mary. Before we interact or criticize, first we must listen. And I think it important, also, to ask why the RCC developed their Marian teachings in this direction. Now, back to what I said in The Real Mary.
John of Damascus, in the 7th Century and a highly-esteemed theologian, pulled together various traditions and stated it like this:
St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened, upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven.
This conviction became official dogma on 1 November 1950 when Pope Pius XII declared it binding and infallible dogma:
By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
There is, of course, biblical warrant for humans being “assumed” into heaven: In the fifth chapter of Genesis, we read these words: “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” About Elijah, the great prophet, the second chapter in 2 Kings says this: “When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind…” and then later, after blessing his successor Elisha, the Bible records this: As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.
And, of Jesus, the first chapter of Acts records a similar event: “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” Such things can happen.
The question we need to ask about Mary is this: Was she also taken into the presence of God miraculously? As Protestants we go to the Bible first, but we find nothing like this in the Bible. Does that mean it didn’t happen to Mary? None of us believes that everything was recorded in the Bible, so we are left to examine the evidence and make up our own minds.



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voxstefani

posted August 15, 2007 at 1:04 am


Only to note that the belief in the resurrection and “assumption” of Mary after her death does not depend on the Roman dogma of the “Immaculate Conception”: we in the East, as you undoubtedly know, also profess that ancient Christian belief while eschewing the Roman dogma (and the notion of original sin it assumes). And of course, we too celebrate this feast (of Eastern origin!), which we call the “Dormition” (Gr. ????????; Sl. ???????).
And I would say that there is nothing particularly abnormal about Mary’s resurrection and “assumption,” since after all, the redeemed will all be so resurrected and “assumed”!



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James Petticrew

posted August 15, 2007 at 1:39 am


my problem with this doctrine is its connection with the immculate conception of Mary which clearly contradicts Scripture. I am agnostic about the fate of Mary’s body but certain that she died because she was a sinner like the rest of us.
I also am wary of where it leads. I read a book several years ago which had the last pope’s blessing but not his pronoucement it was revealed truth which argued from the immaculate conception to the bodily assumption and from there to Mary being coredemptrix with Christ. Personally I don’t want to go down that route. Mary was a great example but no more I think had The Lord wanted her to be more it would be clear in Scripture it’s not. I think in this case silence is significant.



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Tim Hallman

posted August 15, 2007 at 7:17 am


Your question bothers me; but when I reflect on what is bothersome about it, it has more to do with my lack of understanding and appreciation for RC doctrine and theology then with Mary herself. I suppose I am open to a new understanding of Mary, and I think it is likely linked with a new interest and discovery of the RC Church. It is possible that Mary was assumed up into heaven like Enoch and Elijah; they were not without sin, but they were found to be favored by God like her.



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JACK

posted August 15, 2007 at 8:26 am


First of all, the assumption (dormition) as vox indicated is not at all dependent on the teaching of the immaculate conception (reread the dogmatic declaration that Scot quotes). And vox is right; this feast is Eastern in its ultimate origin.



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 8:34 am


Several have commented accurately that the Marian dogmas are not simply a Western Church, RCC, belief. When I wrote The Real Mary we made a conscious decision — that’s my editor and I — not to get distracted from a brief, readable sketch of the major themes about Mary in the theological debates by doing too much comparing of the RCC and the Orthodox Church. I’m still very much in favor of that decision, but it does leave a gap for someone to write a brief, readable history of Orthodox thinking about Mary — which in many ways is the same but in some ways slightly differs. The dogmas of the 19th and 20th Centuries were never made dogmas by the Eastern Church, though (as I understand the facts) many would believe those two themes — immaculate conception and assumption.



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 8:35 am


The assumption is not rooted so much in the immaculate conception as it is in the sinlessness of Mary and, to dig deeper, in God’s choice to make Mary a “fit” vessel for the God-Man (theotokos). Both immaculate conception and assumption flow out of that nest of ideas.



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 8:36 am


We are being too politically correct this morning. C’mon Protestants, what do you think of the assumption of Mary? (Don’t get nasty; just say what you think and how you think it.)



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Kristen

posted August 15, 2007 at 8:48 am


The important things to remember about any Marian teaching is that Mary is doing one (or both!) of two things. Mary points to Christ, and Mary is the archetype of the Church.
The Assumption is so precious because it shows us that this Resurrection thing is not just for Jesus. This is Mary-as-archetype-of-the-Church territory. Death does not contain her — and it won’t contain us either!
I grew up Catholic and several years ago a relative was dying of a degenerative illness. Once he got so bad that he couldn’t take Communion anymore, he decided to forego further treatment (we were in “extraordinary means” territory by this point). It was mid-August and his pastor pointed out that the Feast of the Assumption was in a few days. He decided that would be the perfect day to die. “I will sweep into heaven on Mary’s coattails!”
And so he did. Shortly before having his ventilator disconnected, he told his grieving mother not to worry “because I have a date with Mary.”
Are we verging into co-redemptrix territory here? Maybe. And that’s a problem. But to me the theological details pale in comparison to such a deep hope in the Resurrection. Yes, Jesus rose from the dead, but the Assumption shows us that this resurrection thing isn’t just for deities. It’s true for Mary too — and that means it’s true for my cousin — and true for me.
I attend a different church now, but I still believe in the Assumption. And this is why.



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Tom Hein

posted August 15, 2007 at 8:56 am


I will stick with Luther (paraphrased): “Unless I am convinced by Scripture I remain unconvinced. Here I stand.”
I think this is just one of those issues which must divide faithful Roman Catholic believers from Protestants, and we all know it. Protestants see Scripture as our authority. R.C.s see Scripture plus the teaching office of the R.C. church as the authority. So,immaculate conception and the assumption of Mary are doctrines without a biblical basis, but having the authority of the Roman Catholic church tradition behind them. We could argue about the validity of the teaching office of the Roman Catholic church. Otherwise, there’s nothing to argue about, unless there’s a passage of Scripture to banter about.



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Phil

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:07 am


Although God could have assumed Mary into heaven, the evidence indicates that he did not.
In AD 377, Epiphanius surveyed the traditions (or lack thereof) concerning Mary’s death (Panarion, haer. 78.11, 23). He indicates that the Church had no tradition about the Assumption at that time. If he had known of such a tradition, he certainly would have mentioned it.
The first person in the West to mention the Assumption was St. Gregory of Tours (539-594). The earliest non-pseudonymous references from the East also come from the late sixth century (Theodosius, Coptic Pope of Alexandria, wrote a homily on the Dormition and Assumption in 566 or 567).
Stephen J. Shoemaker writes: “there is no evidence of any tradition concerning Mary’s Dormition and Assumption from before the fifth century. … The fifth century itself also has very little to offer, until the very end, when the first fragments of a Dormition narrative appear, as well as limited indications from a few independent sources that confirm a sudden interest at this time in the end of Mary’s life.” (Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption (Oxford University Press, 2002), 26)
Shoemaker also writes: “the early liturgical and archaeological evidence confirms, among other things, that the late fifth and sixth centuries were the time in which these traditions about the end of Mary’s life first entered into orthodox Christian thought and practice.” (Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption (Oxford University Press, 2002), 77)



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John W Frye

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:18 am


Okie Dokie, here goes. Mary died according to St Juvenal. When her tomb was opened they discovered that her body had been stolen. Seeds of the veneration of Mary, Mother of God, had already been planted and the empty tomb lent itself to growing the veneration-plant even stronger.
As a Protestant, I hold 66 books to be from God (excluding the RC’s extra 12). If the doctrines of Mary’s assumption and preceding immaculate conception are true, then they are based on an argument from biblical silence, IMHO.



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elizabeth

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:20 am


This is my first time posting to your board though I have been reading for some time.
As a protestant, I think the assumption of Mary a non-issue. Is it significant to any aspect of my Christianity , my relationship to God and to others? No, it is not.
Really, to me Mary was just a woman who responded to God when He talked to her. “From now on all nations shall call me blessed.” Yes, we all acknowledge she was “favored” by God to be the mother of the Messiah. Other than that she was just an ordinary woman.



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JACK

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:30 am


Tom:
Let me press a tad, because I find your answer a touch convenient. It allows you to dismiss consideration. Let’s be blunt: in no other area of life do we merely rely on written records to know something. We don’t about the our own marriages, our own children’s births, our own family member’s deaths. Our own family stories and history. We all recognize and readily accept that our sources of knowledge are far mor broad and pluripotent than that. But then all of a sudden when it comes to the lives and experiences of our forefathers in the faith, we reduce everything down to only just what it is in this one written record, even when that record itself speaks of it as not containing all of what Jesus said or taught.



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:42 am


Scot, I have listened and read to a bit of Orthodox thought on Mary. And I think you are conflating a belief in the sinlessness of Mary (a belief Luther shared, Tom) with the Immaculate Conception. The latter is the West’s way to deal with their idea that sin is somehow genetically passed from parent to child. The East doesn’t share that belief and actually find the Immaculate Conception to be a problem. For if Mary did not have a fully human nature, then Jesus could not have received a fully human nature from her. And if Jesus did not have a fully human nature as well as a fully divine nature, then he could not be our representative. Of course, since the Orthodox believe death is our inheritance as a result of the sin of Adam, they can point to the fact that Jesus died as proof that he did receive a fully human nature from Mary. (Usual disclaimers since I’m not actually Orthodox, but that is my present understanding.)
Since it’s only been for about the last two hundred years that the idea that Mary sinned has become the norm in even the Protestant tradition, the idea that she was sinless through the grace of God doesn’t bother me. Nor does the idea of the Assumption bother me. As you said, it has happened to others in scripture. The idea that she remained a virgin doesn’t bother me, especially since it is also what virtually the whole church believed until the last two hundred years or so.
The Orthodox do have a problem with the idea the Roman Catholic Church is floating of Mary as Co-Mediator or Co-Redeemer. And I would tend to agree with them. I think a lot of Protestants also completely misunderstand what some of the titles, like theotokos (Mother of God or more literally God-bearer I think) and Queen of Heaven actually mean. The former simply means that Jesus had both a human and divine nature, even in the womb, and thus Mary gave birth to God in the Incarnation as a baby. The latter is a title because Jesus is also the davidic king making Mary the Queen Mother. (We do believe that those in Christ will never die, don’t we?)



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Richard H. Anderson

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:47 am


I have been meaning to write something about the Protestant’s view of Mary. What is interesting but seldom mentioned in these discussions is that followers of Islam have a high opinion of Mary. Perhaps the Vatican diplomatic corp should be approaching Catholic/Christianity-Islam relations with this in mind and that Mary could be a point of reconciliation as a new kind of irenical theology.



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:58 am


Scott M,
I think there is some variety among the Orthodox on these questions; that’s all I’m saying.



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Anonymous

posted August 15, 2007 at 10:06 am


A brief note about McKnight’s post on The Assumption of Mary « Expository Thoughts

[...] A brief note about McKnight’s post on The Assumption of Mary If my grandmother was still alive she would be remembering today The Feast of the Assumption of Mary.In short, August 15th is a feast day on the Roman Catholic calendar whereby Catholics remember that Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” Enter Scot McKnight, author of The Real Mary, who writes in a post today that: “I think we’ve got to get back to the Bible to see what it says. Themes about Mary are found not only in the Bible; the early churches struggled with how to understand Mary. Was she sinless? the immaculate conception? and what about her death?” [...]



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don

posted August 15, 2007 at 10:19 am


As a protestant pastor from the evangelical tradition, I do not think much about Mary in the course of a preaching/teaching year, other than her role as the obedient servant of God and mother of Jesus. She fades from sight except when the text mentions her presence. I have a post-modern view of causality that does not necessitate sinlessness and bodily assumption. Tomb empty….hmmm?



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John W Frye

posted August 15, 2007 at 10:34 am


Scot,
To mention Enoch’s assumption and Elijah’s does not necessarily give biblical credence to Mary’s assumption. With Mary, Jesus’ mother, we’re deep in the Christological woods and to tamper around with beliefs about her that do not have solid biblical support seems dicey to me. I’m not all that jazzed that with Mary’s alleged assumption I can happily conclude that resurrection is not just for Jesus, but even for me, too. I’ve never doubted that somehow I just might not be included in the resurrection and then bingo! with Mary I have assurance I’m qualified, too.



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MartyS

posted August 15, 2007 at 10:42 am


This is totally off track but it regards Mary…
I was at a catholic wedding last wk and where a song was sung on behalf of Mary as a prayer for the married couple. What’s that about? Do Catholics believe Mary is like the Holy Spirit – interceding on our behalf?



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B-W

posted August 15, 2007 at 10:46 am


JACK in #13:
Let’s be blunt: in no other area of life do we merely rely on written records to know something. We don’t about the our own marriages, our own children’s births, our own family member’s deaths. Our own family stories and history.
An interesting argument. Of course, in most of these cases, we’re either talking 1) about knowledge that, whether or not we rely upon other stories, can be verified by written records (more on this in a second), or 2) about stories that are probably either contemporary to the living generation or only a generation or two removed. The only stories *I* know from my family any older than that have a basis in written documentation. I’m not sure that I can point to any basis for a “tradition” in transmitting stories older than that without some documented evidence to back the story up.
But, back to point 1. I don’t know if this supports or refutes your argument, but I thought it might add to the discussion. My grandfather doesn’t have a birth certificate made when he was born, having been born at home, and the documentation was made out later. His older brother, not knowing that the document was made, when reporting to the draft office to sign himself and my grandfather up for the draft (for WWII), gave the official a birthday for my grandfather, based on his own memory, that is one day off from the date that’s on his birth certificate. So his “official” (in terms of Social Security and Federal benefits) birthday is a day later than the day on his birth certificate (which my grandfather believes to represent his actual day of birth).



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 10:57 am


Marty, do you ask other people to intercede for you in prayer? Did not everyone else present at the wedding intercede in prayer for the couple at some point? Do you believe Jesus when he tells us that those who follow him will never experience death? And do you believe Hebrews when it tells us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses?
If the answer to all those questions is yes, then why would it bother you that some Christians are comfortable asking fellow believers (including the mother of God) who are now “with the Lord” to pray or intercede for them any more than it bothers you to ask a believer still present in this world to pray for you?
I don’t personally ask any of those who are not currently present in the flesh to pray for me, but then I don’t ask a lot of people to pray for me — just a close few usually. I’ve never understood why this bothers my fellow Protestants. This behavior flows naturally from our scripture if you actually believe what they say.
And Scot, I’m not aware of significant variation in the Orthodox Church when it comes to the Western idea of “original sin”. Without that concept, an immaculate conception becomes irrelevant and possibly harmful to the extent it harms the dogma of the two natures of Jesus.



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 11:03 am


Marty,
Yes, that’s the point. They believe in Mary’s intercession, but it is not simply that Mary is “like” us. Yes, she is in their view. But, she’s more than us as well so they go to her specially for intercession. If we believe in the communion of saints — past, present, and future — then they are with the Lord in some sense, and if we think that it is not hard to imagine the possibility of their intercession.
Isn’t the issue one of degree?



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JACK

posted August 15, 2007 at 11:26 am


B-W:
You raise all good points and I’m not trying to deny the challenges that an oral tradition has. Of course, a written tradition has the same challenges. (After all, it is only viable if the writing itself is accurate. In fact, your example is a demonstration of this.)
But I would argue that history is filled with examples of oral tradition going more than one generation. In fact, I’d suggest that it us moderns that are probably in the minority with our emphasis on modern styles of written history and documentation.
But let’s be clear about what underlies a questioning of what I suggested, at least to a degree: a doubt that the Church is a living, enduring visible thing capable of preserving what it has been given. Personally, I have a tough time understanding how Protestants reconcile this with their view of Scripture, given that it is clear that the bible is a product of the Church and doesn’t come to be separate from it.
I’m suggesting an understanding of the Church that’s certainly different. And I guess I’d suggest, at the very least, people don’t rule out a priori the possibility that something not within scripture is true. That’s a very simple step that seems to me any Protestant can take without fear of “becoming too Catholic”. But too many I think make the a priori judgment that it can’t possibly be true. Which in my view is quite sad and I’d suggest that it shows a greater allegience to an ideology and an image of things than the truth itself.



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Peggy

posted August 15, 2007 at 11:39 am


Following John’s “okey dokey”, here I go, randomly…
There are plenty of cultures that don’t have any written records…but their oral traditions don’t have 400-year gaps, like the one concerning “just what actually happened to Mary?”
Humans are infinitely curious. We want to know. That is a good thing. We don’t take “don’t know” very well. And in the absence of a solid written or solid oral tradition (one that goes back to eye-witnesses), people tend to make stuff up. Happens all the time. And if someone we admire or we think knows lots or is in some way a teacher/leader, and strings together something that sounds good, people will buy it. Doesn’t make it true….
Mary is blessed and remembered as blessed because she was honored to be chosen by God for the honor of carrying, birthing and raising his Only Begotten Son. Certainly worthy of honor from us–and a source of blessing, as well. It was not an easy thing for Mary on any level: she heard, she obeyed, she suffered at the hands of those who didn’t believe her, scripture suggests she had children with Joseph after Jesus was born (so, Jesus’ brothers and sisters). Sometimes she just didn’t get what Jesus’ life was about (temple at 12, trying to take him home and calm him down). But she persevered…that is always the key…and was there when he sacrificed himself. And somehow she got the picture and became part of the church. Awesome story without adding anything else to it, in my book.
So why add things? Because we are creatures of comfort and it is very comforting to many to believe these things about Mary. I however, find that they are a way of “hedging our bets” and not believing all that Jesus and the Apostles taught. When Jesus taught us to pray, it was to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name. We don’t pray to Moses or Elijah or Enoch…or Peter or Paul…or any of the “saints” (as opposed to us “regular” saints), because we have the perfect and constant mediator in Christ Jesus.
It’s more of the “Jesus-plus something else” dilemma, imo.
And then there’s that passage when the disciples tell Jesus that his mother and brothers are they and want to see him…and what is his reply? “Who is my mother, or brother or sister…the one who does the will of my Father.”
I say that they do not just speak from silence, but also ignore a point that Jesus made clearly and pointedly. There is to be no pecking order in the Kingdom of God.
So, Scot (#7), is that kind of what you were looking for? ;)
desire for comfort



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RJS

posted August 15, 2007 at 11:40 am


Actually I think that the views of Mary (immaculate conception, sinless, perpetually virgin, glorious assumption) reflect relatively late tradition based on a faulty “Christology.” That is – the understanding of Jesus as divine overwhelmed the understanding of Jesus as human and was projected backward onto the understanding of Mary. The doctrines are not too Catholic, nor is it relevant that Luther held onto these views after breaking with the RCC.



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 11:46 am


It’s also important to remember that the gospels and the early church are set in a culture of oral tradition. Scripture itself says that there was a more teaching, both by Jesus and the Apostles, than what was written down. From what I can tell, I think most Protestants object to the RCC claim that more can be infallibly added to Tradition (sorry JACK) more than the simple idea that Scripture (teachings that were written down) vs. Tradition (the teachings form the Apostles on the proper way to interpret what was written down). At least, that’s the most I’ve been able to decipher from the various explanations of ‘sola scriptura’ I’ve seen.
But JACK your point about the NT being the product of the Church is an important one. I think if I asked most of my fellow Protestants what “the pillar and foundation of the truth” was, the instant response would not be the Scriptural one. (1 Timothy 3:16 if anyone wants to look it up.)



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metapundit

posted August 15, 2007 at 11:52 am


How about this – as a Protestant part of my “high view” of the Scripture involves viewing it as sufficient. It’s true that the Bible doesn’t tell everything that happened. But it tells enough!
Now if the Divinely edited book doesn’t feel the need to tell me about the Assumption of Mary, than my, ahem, assumption, is that it isn’t too important for my faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t personally believe that Mary was immaculately conceived, remained sinless and a perpetual virgin (including the supernatural birth of Christ), and was bodily raised into Heaven. I suppose some of those things are possible, but since the Scriptures choose to be silent about them, I have trouble believing that they are particularly important.
I suspect this is the reason for the general Protestant (lack of) reaction to the question. It doesn’t really interest me because it’s speculation on something not central to our Faith. To those who have an established tradition I would tend to have a live-and-let-live sort of reaction, but I’m not even really interested in talking people out of their Mariology – only in asserting that it isn’t really that important.
I understand where you’re coming from Scott, with the focus on Mary. Protestants have probably generally swung too far away from Scripture as part of their anti-RCCism. Mary is in the Gospels, her words and actions are part of the Good News and we need to include her in preaching and teaching. But only to the degree that the Bible teaches…



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Tim

posted August 15, 2007 at 11:58 am


Just an interesting tidbit to consider as we consider the historical circumstances for the development of these Marian dogmas. As most of you know, the Catholic Church is known for venerating relics. However, while there are relics for many of the early Apostles, martyrs, and saints, there are no relics, particularly bones, of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I think this should at least be considered as we discuss how far back belief in the Assumption goes.



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 12:11 pm


Peggy, I know the Orthodox would disagree with your 400 year gap hypothesis in the oral tradition. It is a little odd to assume a four hundred year gap in an oral tradition because you don’t have a written record of the oral tradition preserved from those 400 years. We largely only have bits and pieces from the ancient world as it is. Gaps are common and unsurprising. However, we do see a lot of references to Mary in the early patristics. I don’t particularly study Mary. It’s not one of the places I have an itch. But I’m pretty sure there are references to at least her sinlessness from the second century. And it appears to have been a well-developed belief by then. I would have to check. I’m also pretty sure that in the Orthodox Church, the Assumption is not a dogma, but rather a “pious opinion”. The sinlessness and perpetual virginity are dogmas. And typically, they were attacked by those who were supporting heterodox views of Jesus.



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Peggy

posted August 15, 2007 at 12:36 pm


Scott M, of course the Orthodox would disagree with me. And it doesn’t surprise me that wondering about Mary would arise along with the early patristics’ wonderings about Jesus.
It still makes me think of the problem with humans wanting to know more that God has chosen to reveal in scripture…and I know that we’re not going into the whole discussion of why the canon is what it is here.
How does any of human wonderings about what might (or might not!) have taken place impact (supplant?) what scripture (as Protestants see it) has recorded? When we begin to crowd out the context and focus of scripture with tradition, I tend to push back.
And I don’t just push back against Orthodox or RCC or Calvin or Luther or Augustine…like RJS has said, all these ideas that people (including me!) have put forth do not contain the totality of the truth that only God knows. But we certainly have muddied the waters with so many feet….and that’s why I choose the simple (not simplistic, mind you) view that scripture always carried more weight than tradition (big T or little t).
I may be wrong, but I prefer to err on the side of not intentionally putting words into God’s mouth that he, for whatever reason, did not see fit to say.
And, of course, that is why so many of the conversations here go way over my head…but I find listening helpful to being able to understand what I think and why I think the way I do.



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Phil

posted August 15, 2007 at 12:58 pm


Regarding the sinlessness of Mary:
“Origen follows Irenaeus and Tertullian in attributing fault to Mary.” (Perry, 141)
“In contrast to the later belief in her [Mary's] moral and spiritual perfection, none of these theologians had the least scruple about attributing faults to her.” [Goes on to cite: Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.16.7; Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ 7; Origen, Homilies on Luke 17.] (Kelly, 493)
“For the church fathers from Ignatius to Athanasius, Mary was a human being who erred by demonstrating impatience, lack of faith and doubt. She needed salvation. She needed to progress in sanctification.” (Perry, 146)
“First, the Cappadocians and John Chrysostom both exalted Mary and acknowledged her errors and lapses.” (Perry, 148)
“Third, John [Chrysostom] is willing to ascribe faults to Mary to a degree beyond what we have seen thus far, including Tertullian.” (Perry, 153)
“almost all Eastern theologians, so far from acknowledging her [Mary’s] spiritual and moral perfection, followed Origen in finding her guilty of human frailties.” [Goes on to cite: Basil, Ep. 260.9; Chrysostom, Hom. in Matt. 44.2; in Ioh. 21.2.] (Kelly, 495)
Hilary “took it for granted that Mary would have to face God’s judgment for her sins.” [Citing Tract. in ps. 118 3.2.] (Kelly, 496)
“Ambrose represents the beginning of Western reluctance to ascribe any fault or sin [to Mary]” (Perry, 155)
References:
J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (5th ed.; Prince Press, 1978)
Tim Perry, Mary for Evangelicals (IVP Academic, 2006)



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sonja

posted August 15, 2007 at 1:06 pm


A couple of points to add to the mix.
It strikes me that the other examples of “assumption” in the Bible were accompanied by witnesses to the act. Rather I should say we are told of witnesses to the act of assumption into heaven by the writers. One of the things I’ve noticed over time is that we find alot of parallelism in Scripture that things happen over and over again. So, to me, it would seem a natural test of the likelihood of Mary’s assumption to find out if there were any witnesses. God does not come like a thief in the night to do His miraculous deeds.
The other point is actually a question I’ve had for years about the sinlessness of Mary. That flies in the face of all the scripture about there only being on sinless man (Jesus, of course). How do people of Catholic faith make those two things fit together?
Last, Scot, thanks for continuing to engage in this discussion. My first real introduction to Mary came from a couple of delightful Irish Catholic moms at my daughter’s step dancing school. They were making rosaries as we waited for our girls. I asked about what they were doing and they “evangelized” me for Catholicism. But they talked especially about Mary and I found her quite intriguing. Although I knew enough to separate most of the wheat from the chafe.



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Peggy

posted August 15, 2007 at 1:07 pm


Thank you, Phil. Interesting and helpful.



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Peggy

posted August 15, 2007 at 1:10 pm


Interesting choice of words, sonja, “God does not come like a thief in the night to do His miraculous deeds.”–especially since Jesus used those very words to describe his future return… ;)



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JACK

posted August 15, 2007 at 1:42 pm


Peggy,
One thought I would raise to your comment about putting words in God’s mouth: I hear Protestants do this all the time when they speak of their own lives. They speak of what God told them or indicated to them about what they should do or believe. They acknowledge there that it is possible to have a relationship with God and for God to continue to “reveal” (using it in a more general and colloquial sense) Himself to us in the particularities of life. If you accept this possibility, why is the individual permitted this but not the Church?
It’s just a thought because there are times when these complaints that amount to making the event of God’s revelation this static, past event (versus something that is complete, but the meaning of which still unfolds today) seem inconsistent with actual behavior and conveniently limited in its targets.



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BeckyR

posted August 15, 2007 at 1:52 pm


I figure, the Bible doesn’t speak to it, the assumption, so it’s not biblical but that doesn’t make it unbiblical.
I do not think Mary went the rest of her life as a virgin as the Bible does speak of Jesus’ siblings.
I do not think Mary was sinless, the Bible refers to Jesus being fully God and perfect and perfect means without sin. It does not say other people were without sin too.
I don’t think humans intercede for other humans on behalf of God. When we call praying “interceding,” I take it to mean we are taking from the human to God and God does the interceding to the human. Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses does not mean they have any power to come between us and God. I take it that there are those who have been faithful to God that we can look to as hope that we can join them someday also, that is, perhaps encouragement to persevere so to join them someday too. Does Hebrews go on to say the great cloud of witnesses have power between us and God?
Ok, those are my opinions. Is that’s what’s asked for?



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John W Frye

posted August 15, 2007 at 2:12 pm


The original question: “Was she [Mary] also taken into the presence of God miraculously?”
No more miraculously than Lydia or Joanna or Euodia or any other NT follower of Jesus.



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Tim

posted August 15, 2007 at 2:34 pm


Church Fathers and the Immaculate Conception of Mary:
Irenaus: “Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying, “Behold, 0 Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word.” Eve . . . who was then still a virgin although she had Adam for a husband — for in paradise they were both naked but were not ashamed; for, having been created only a short time, they had no understanding of the procreation of children . . . having become disobedient [sin], was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient [no sin], was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. . . . Thus, the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith (Against Heresies 3:22:24 [A.D. 189]).”
Origen: “This Virgin Mother of the Only-begotten of God is called Mary, worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, one of the one (Homily 1 [A.D. 244]).”
Hippolytus: “He [Jesus] was the ark formed of incorruptible wood. For by this is signified that His tabernacle [Mary] was exempt from defilement and corruption (Orat. In Illud, Dominus pascit me, in Gallandi, Bibl. Patrum, II, 496 ante [A.D. 235]).”
Ephraim of Syria: “You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is neither blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these? (Nisibene Hymns 27:8 [A. D. 361]).”
Ambrose: “Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin (Commentary on Psalm 118:22-30 [A.D. 387]).”



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Wes Ellis

posted August 15, 2007 at 2:36 pm


One quick thought… I have a hard time believing that Mary was “taken into the presence of God miraculously” but I have an even harder time when protestants don’t even try to understand why Roman Catholics do.
thank you, Scot, for at least bringing up the question and wrestling a bit. i think we’re required to wrestle with the question if only to understand our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church.



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tom

posted August 15, 2007 at 2:47 pm


I find the argument that traditions about Mary aren’t scriptural and therefore not valid interesting. The doctrine of the Trinity isn’t supported by scripture either yet I think most people posting here accept it. In fact, I think scriptural support for the traditions about Mary is stronger and those traditions are older than the Trinity.
So, a question for those Trinitarians here that don’t accept the traditions of Mary: how do resolve this inconsistency? I’m not arguing in favor of any Marian doctrine, just curious.



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 2:50 pm


Becky, I see a real problem with the Western Protestant decision in the last two hundred years that the one verse which talks about the four brothers and sisters of Jesus has been part of that Gospel from the time it was written, possibly even while Mary was still alive. Yet those more closely situated in time and culture did not take such references to brothers and sisters in the same way we do today. The cultural concept of family was not the modern western nuclear family. Essentially, in the last couple of hundred years or so, people have imposed an interpretation on Scripture in order to show that Mary wasn’t a virgin which contradicts the long-standing orthodox interpretation of that scripture. This is not a matter of what scripture does or doesn’t say. It can be fairly interpreted either way. I’m more interested in the support and reasons for the new interpretation. I suspect it has more to do with a modern distaste for anything that smacks too much of supernatural grace AND which can be safely discarded than anything else.
And nobody things Mary was sinless through her own merit as Jesus was. Rather, they believe that through her cooperation with God and obedient spirit she was granted the grace through Jesus to hold to the obedience she desired. And once again, I wonder why the shift in the predominant interpretation within Protestantism over the last few hundred years. The circumstances and timing make me suspicious.



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Taylor Marshall

posted August 15, 2007 at 3:16 pm


For a treatment of the historical date of the Assumption:
http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2007/08/historical-date-of-assumption-of-mary.html



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BeckyR

posted August 15, 2007 at 3:17 pm


assumption – ain’t biblical but ain’t unbiblical. Beyond that can only be speculation isn’t it, unless one accepts the words of those 3 to 400 years after Jesus. I understand oral tradition, in tribes there was a person whose job was to be the storykeeper and storyteller and events and history was passed down that way. Probably places where that still is the way. I understand how we don’t grant that importance because we’ve had so many centuries of written word and that’s become written word is trustworthy. So, back to my opinion – it ain’t biblical but it ain’t unbiblical.



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 3:37 pm


BeckyR, however did the Church manage before it determined the canon of NT scripture? I’m not trying to be snarky, but I’ve been a Christian in the Protestant tradition now for many years and have never really grasped how people make that leap. Tradition (the big T sort) has also been called Scripture rightly interpreted based on the teaching and interpretation of the Apostles through the centuries. Since Scripture itself tells the church to hold to the teachings delivered both in written and oral form (most clearly in 2 Thess 2:15, but not the only place) I’ve never been able to grasp the mental gymnastics required to espouse the infallible authority of scripture on the one hand while rejecting its instructions for us to hold to the verbal teachings as well.



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 3:39 pm


Should be “the teaching and interpretation of the Apostles as preserved through the centuries”
One word can make a lot of difference in a thought. ;)



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 4:13 pm


sonja, I’ve been reflecting on your comment about witnesses. It dawned on me that it’s simply not the case that we are told about witnesses. No witnesses are mentioned for Enoch.



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John W Frye

posted August 15, 2007 at 4:15 pm


tom,
The term “Trinity” is not in the Scriptures, but the concept, identity and expressions of the Trinitarian God are in the Scriptures. We have no biblical text(s) for either the immaculate conception or assumption of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Protestants are not leaning on “traditions” for the doctrine of the Trinity as others lean on “traditions” for the assumption of Mary.



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Josh

posted August 15, 2007 at 4:20 pm


Tom,
Your assertion that the scriptures do not support the doctorine of the Trinity is simply wrong. I am not going to put out a list of texts but two books come to mind: Gordon Fee’s Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God(exegetical to the core;I seem to be recommending it alot for various reasons) and Robert Wilkens’ The Spirit of Early Christian Thought(for another dimension of the development of the Trinity). Comparing the Marian doctorines with the Trinity simply won’t do; not a good analogy.
I took a Western Arts History class last semester and was able to view the development(?) of Christian art in chronological order. What was most interesting was the tranisition of Jesus’ portrayal in art. He begins as shepherd in Greek clothing with Greek bodily and facial likeness. Some might not like Jesus being portrayed as a Greek but I believe it shows that the early church has such a close connection through the Spirit with their Lord that they saw him as one of them (kind of like Chesterton’s Everlasting Man). As time progresses, Jesus becomes more Jewish in likeness and clothed with royalty. He is also portrayed as the Heavenly King instead of a lowly shepherd. The penultimate portrait is Jesus with an ugly scowl on his face(and I mean ugly), looking harshly with almost demonic eyes at the viewer, with the book of judgement in his hand. I think this last one was in the late 4th or early 5th century. Around this time and sometimes earlier, Mary is featured more prominently in Christian Art. As Time goes on, she is featured more as the mother of God and then later (maybe 7th or 8th century) she is portrayed as a mediator to God.
My professor pointed out that as Jesus became more removed from the church’s experienced life, portrayed more as a King rather than a shepherd, and more identified with judgement rather than redemption, Mary became more deified because she seemed to possess a much more approachable and caring character.
I think that you add in the acceptance of Christianity as Rome’s official religion along with it’s (Rome) philosophical and religious assumptions, a popular Christian culture that created martyr cults and relic worship, along with a few generations of “born in the church” Christians and you get Marian doctorine.
My last professor (you know him Scot) taught that Mary should be seen as a model of discipleship rather than an object of worship. I wholeheartedly agree. Most academic studies point out that this is the authors’ (Synoptic gospels) intentions anyway.



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Peggy

posted August 15, 2007 at 4:22 pm


JACK (#36),
There is considerable difference, in my mind, between discerning what I believe the Spirit is speaking to me in the midst of my on-going conversation/relationship/discipleship as a follower of Christ, and the filling in of historical details that are not included in the canon of scripture–and making other doctrine based on them.
I guess that is the difference between illumination and inspiration. The Spirit can illuminate scripture as I study and wrestle with what to do in response to what I understand it to mean, but that is not the same as me taking this kind of personal illumination and calling it an inspired addition to scripture that is binding on all others as an example from God.
I believe that the scriptures, read and understood in their original context, are sufficient example for us, and that the Holy Spirit helps us understand and apply that truth in our context–as in James 1.
I will agree with you, though, in that there are far too many zealous believers (of all faiths) who presume to speak for God. Sometimes it is in the interpretation of scripture, sometimes it is in the expansion of scripture. The older I get, the less inclined I am to presume in this manner. I am also less inclined to use phrases like “God says” unless I have made my best understanding of the context clear. I present somewhat of a challenge to many teachers/preachers–but I do try to be both loving and truthful and humble if I feel I need to speak up (which is much less often that you might expect ;) )
There are a number of ways to test illiminated truth: is it consistent with scripture, is it consistent with the witness of the church (sometimes following through remnants) throughout the ages, is it consistent with what those who know you and are in your fellowship understand.
Of course there is a foundational context for presuppositions…but this is why I hold for a simple (not simplistic, again) faith. And many of these “extra” items just don’t pass the test–in my personal, non-inspired but possibly partially-illuminated opinion.



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The Irish One

posted August 15, 2007 at 4:37 pm


Thanks for the questions/answer Scott M & Scot
I guess what disturbed me most was the fact there appeared more reference to Mary than Christ in the service. It was not a wedding of a couple who follow Christ nor were there many in the congregation I know who would. So a lot of the words said about their lives were words of hypocrisy.
I don’t know a great deal about the Catholic Church here in N Ireland having grown up in Africa. So I don’t yet know how much emphasis is put on Mary, as last wk was the first time I’ve attended a chapel.



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Peggy

posted August 15, 2007 at 4:37 pm


And can I get a NT Greek scholar out there to explain what Matthew 1:25 means about Joseph not “knowing” Mary “until” her FIRSTborn son was delivered.
Wouldn’t that be the place to record “and Joseph agreed to protect Mary and God’s son, but she was not truly his wife because they never consummated their marriage–ever–and therefore his name and land was lost in his family history because he had no children of his own.”
Just wondering….



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tom

posted August 15, 2007 at 4:48 pm


John @ 48: Thanks for your thoughts. I see the beginnings of Trinitarian doctrine in the NT writings (i.e. the words are there). I think you go to far in saying they are descriptions of God though. That came later from what I understand. In fact, Paul reads more as a binitarian (sp?) than trinitarian but maybe that’s an argument from silence.
Josh @ 49: I think it’s telling that you say my assertion about scripture is wrong and use books to back it up. If it’s scriptually based, I shouldn’t have to go to Barnes and Noble to find it.



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 4:50 pm


Well, Peggy, time for an advert for me: I have a brief explanation in the Real Mary. Most would admit that the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of it meaning “not before or until” but “yes he did know her after the birth.” But, it is not necessary to conclude that. There are exceptions. Which is just what some wanted.



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 4:54 pm


Peggy, I have read what at least some Greek scholars have to say and the impression I get is that the language in the verse you cite doesn’t really imply anything about what happens after Jesus is born. And again, assumptions, and cultural differences. We don’t know much about Joseph. Some have thought he may have been a widower with one or more children of his own. But the general statement is that Joseph continued to refrain from sex out of respect for the womb which had borne Jesus.



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Peggy

posted August 15, 2007 at 5:19 pm


Thanks Scot…glad for the opportunity to plug the book (which, sadly, isn’t even on my list yet…) 8)
To my way of studying, overwhelming evidence is important. And jumping on an exception is suspect.
Scott M,
This is just so interesting to me that people would prefer to accept the unusual rather than the normal–when we really don’t know the actual facts.
I find that God has a scriptural record of being quite straightforward about human relations–blunt, really–and to expect that Joseph and Mary would not be true husband and wife overburdens the text…in my obviously simple (under-educated?) perspective!
Does this mean that God felt that bearing Jesus would make sexual relations between Mary and Joseph less than holy and sanctified? I guess this tips their hand to their general idea of sex as fallen, eh?
What a trip….why do we think God would mean this when Matthew went out of his way to include prostitutes, adulterers and gentiles (Rahab, Bathsheba and Ruth) in Christ’s lineage?
I’m just sitting here shaking my head….



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JACK

posted August 15, 2007 at 5:58 pm


Peggy,
But your difference is built on a presupposition: that if it isn’t in scripture, it’s a “filling in of historical details.” Whether you mean to imply that it’s just “overzealous piety” (I don’t read you to think it is outright lying), you clearly refuse to entertain other reasonable explanations that, frankly account for more, in that they can coincide both with Scripture and the historical understanding that predates the Reformation in both the West and East.
I read your posts, Peggy, and you seem like a nice and well meaning person, but if you can’t see the countless modern presumptions you read back into the tests, I am surprised. Just read your last post.
Scott M, I appreciate your candor and honesty. I realize that might sound biased in so much as you have given a noble explanation of many Catholic/Orthodox points. But I say it because I appreciate knowing a Protestant who recognizes that there is a real question raised by making arguments that historical Christianity got all these things wrong before the Reformation occurred. I don’t know why Protestants are so satisfied at times with saying everyone that came before them must have gotten so much wrong. Do they not realize that they are saying something implicitly in that remark about the nature of the Church and of Jesus’ promises to all of us through time?



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 6:13 pm


JACK, it’s worse than you think on some things. On the Mary doctrines like sinlessness and perpetual virginity, you have present-day Protestants saying that not only the pre-Reformation church got it wrong, but that virtually all the reformers from Luther to Calvin to Zwingli to Wesley got it wrong. It’s only been in the last few hundred years that we’ve finally figured out the right interpretation. I don’t have any particular vested interest in Marian doctrine, but the over-arching nature of that claim tweaks my postmodern sensitivities. It smells more like the story of the Enlightenment applied to Christianity. The eighteenth century was the climax of history when we finally got everything right…



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Peggy

posted August 15, 2007 at 6:32 pm


JACK,
I certainly am aware that I have presuppositions–no one is free from presuppositions. To suggest that my presuppositions are all modern is interesting–I would suggest pre-modern…and to further suggest that I am precluding “reasonable explanations” is going back to finding ways to get what you want when it isn’t explicitly founded in scripture, but rather has been developed by tradition over time.
You can hold your tradition, but you can’t be shocked that I chose not to hold to your tradition when I come from another one that values scripture more.



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Peggy

posted August 15, 2007 at 6:36 pm


…let me clarify–values scripture more than tradition. Not to suggest that you don’t value scripture.



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 7:03 pm


Well Peggy, since it’s either the Roman Catholic or the Orthodox Church (according to what you think about the great schism of 1054) which gave you the canon of Scripture you value, I would tend to say they both value Holy Scripture a great deal. And neither see any tension between Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. Personally, I’m more hesitant about the Roman Catholic Church’s claim that Holy Tradition can be infallibly added to than I am about either the RCC or Orthodox claims that the Church has been entrusted with both the written and oral teachings of the apostles (and those included in the canon of NT scripture even though they were not apostles).



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Scott M

posted August 15, 2007 at 7:14 pm


I would also say that without the care and reverence with which the early Church treated the Scripture and the interpretation of the Scripture entrusted to its care, we might all be Arians or Marcionites today. Those were very “sola scriptura” sorts who held their understanding of Scripture over against the Tradition of the Church from a very early time. I’ve been a Protestant for more than a decade now. And still the most I’ve gotten from the “sola scriptura” claim is an assertion of the right of the individual to their own interpretation of Scripture. And while nothing can stop an individual from interpreting Scripture as they please, I’m not particularly interested in doing so.



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 7:25 pm


Scott M,
Thanks to you for carrying on good conversation today — and to the others in dialogue here today.
This issue of sola scriptura is far more significant than most realize, and your point that it leads to individualistic interpretations is right. I’m reading through some stuff on this right now.



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Matt Dabbs

posted August 15, 2007 at 8:27 pm


Scott,
Off topic here but I thought I would mention a couple more birds here near the house in St. Pete, Florida that I missed on the Do you collect things thread…No Red whiskered Bulbuls but there are Great Cormorants, Anhingas (I like to call these “snake birds”), Roseate spoonbills, wood storks (these things sound like two wood boards slapping each other when the eat…it is kind of creepy), Osprey, Sanderlings, lots of Eurasian collard doves, red-bellied woodpeckers, and some kind of little bird with a yellow beak with a big red mark above it.
Thanks for the recent summation of several critical theological moves over the past century or so. It is very helpful to hear it put so succinctly. God bless,
matt



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Peggy

posted August 15, 2007 at 8:49 pm


Scot, Scott, JACK and all,
I certainly am not interested in interpreting scripture however I please. I certainly am beholden to those who have come before and have done their best to be true to scripture. I am doing the best I can with what I have. I diligently pray that the Holy Spirit helps me in this sincere quest–one that will never stop until my last breath.
I am very reluctant to give up and give in to the pressure I feel to abdicate my responsibility to understand and obey as I am convinced. It worries me that some people interpret this as my being bent on making scripture say what is convenient for me. I am the one who will have to answer for my actions….
I look forward to having you share what you’re reading about this topic, Scot, whenever it percolates down to us!



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:18 pm


Matt,
I’ve seen them all but not that last one … can you check out a Western Tanager, which finds its way to Florida in winter, to see if that is what you are watching. Lucky guy if you are.



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voxstefani

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:20 pm


This issue of sola scriptura is far more significant than most realize, and your point that it leads to individualistic interpretations is right. I’m reading through some stuff on this right now.
I’m eagerly looking forward to hearing more about this in the future!



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:20 pm


Peggy,
I wasn’t commenting about you but about the whole issue of learning to read the Bible in our tradition. Of course, we are responsible to read, listen, and interpret and do, but eccentric, uninformed, methodologically careless interpretations seem to be accompanied more often than not by confidence in one’s view. That’s what I was picking on.



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RJS

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:39 pm


This discussion of sola scriptura vs tradition is interesting – but what I was trying to say way back (#26) is that the major Mary traditions cannot be traced back to the initial development of Christology in the frame of ca. 30 AD to 170 AD. They appear, as far as I can tell, to be a subsequent development concurrent with the evolution of a popular Christology that emphasized more and more the divinity of Jesus over his equally intrinsic humanity. The kind of Christology that led to the infancy gospels and the protoevangelium of James and so forth.
The closest thing to an exception brought forth here is Tim’s quote from Irenaus ca. AD 189 (#39). Here I would want to look at all available from Irenaus – but it is still at the very end of the early church era, more than 150 years post crucifixion.
Is there any evidence at all for this kind of veneration of Mary within the first century and a half of Christianity? If not – I don’t think that the tradition argument here, on what is not actually a major issue but usually more of a side issue, is a compelling argument.



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:48 pm


RJS,
Most Catholic scholars will contend that the traditions in the Protev James are old and deep. Gambero’s books are the best out there on the history of Marian developments.



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RJS

posted August 15, 2007 at 9:55 pm


Oh great – I already have about 10 books on the to be read list.
For immediate consumption, to be followed up by more detailed reading – In your opinion is the evidence that devotion can be traced early compelling?



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Scot McKnight

posted August 15, 2007 at 10:00 pm


RJS,
Nope not compelling to me at all. I think the later Marian dogmas arose out of celibacy issues, the rise of women in ministry, christology, and some potent theological reasoning. The argument from “fitting” instead of “evidence” seems to be a guiding hand.



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Peggy

posted August 16, 2007 at 12:47 am


Scot,
Thank you. This description is spot-on: “eccentric, uninformed, methodologically careless interpretations seem to be accompanied more often than not by confidence in one’s view” and every single person I know who has tremblingly accepted the challenge to teach has had to deal with these types.
RJS and Scot,
Thanks for the questions and opinions about how compelling the evidence is. Of course, “celibacy issues, the rise of women in ministry, christology, and some potent theological reasoning. The argument from “fitting” instead of “evidence” seems to be a guiding hand.” would be strong motivators.
I try to hang in there in these deep subjects when I think I may be able to contribute from 40 years of practical and “normal” scholarship (as opposed to highly specific technically robust theological scholarship) and day to day discipleship and ministry…thanks for throwing out the lifeline every now and again to keep me from going under. 8)



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Matt Dabbs

posted August 16, 2007 at 6:22 am


Scot,
I figured out what it is, a Purple Gallinule. We also have lots of skimmers (not sure if black skimmers or which ones off the top of my head). I haven’t seen the western tanager that I know of.



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carrie

posted August 16, 2007 at 1:53 pm


Where in Scripture does it state the the doctrine of sola scriptura? I was a reformed believer for 25 years, and I’d call that doctrine a big-T Tradition of the reformed faith. One of my steps away from reformed faith came when I realized everyone has a Tradition passed on by men, and do not really believe or practice sola scriptura in any strict sense. I tried going back and reading the Bible without filtering it through my reformed theology, and I was amazed at what I read! I had to stop trying to make round pegs fit in square holes.



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Jason

posted August 16, 2007 at 2:52 pm


My question is so what? What are the implications for us? I honestly see this as a fruitless discussion. Whether she died naturally or not would not change how I understand Mary. Nice thoughts but empty.



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Tesfaye Hunde

posted July 17, 2014 at 4:55 am


concerning the assumption of Mary i used to be very cynical due to the fact that i misunderstood so many thing. thank God i have discovered logical insight she might be assumed to heaven..this is my notion and reasoning
1st..Enoch was taken up to heaven because he walked faithfully with God as a result he was taken up to heaven, it is logically right if Jesus her beloved and only son assumed his mother who suffered with Him from birth to painful death to heaven because she was more than faithful before God,
2nd..All christian believes the faithful Christians will be assumed at the second advent of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, so there might be a possibility to assumed her to heaven because He was ascended to heaven with the body incarnated from the virgin, which means that body did not see corruption and it applies the same to virgin Mary’s body,it is united eternally with divine.the Lord Jesus might not be willing His mother’s body not to see corruption and assumed her to heaven.this is a logical faith.
3rd.. Christians must recall she is full of grace, she is blessed among the woman,she was called the mother of my Lord by Elizabeth, the Lord has done mighty thing in her, she has found favour with God and so on..comparing to this her assumption to heaven is not exaggeration. as for me all my doubt concerning virgin Mary assumption, intercession was wiped out from my mind and i thank God for that because it took ten years of my life..amazingly the early church fathers embraced this fact, therefore the protestant should study discreetly without the audacity of disrespecting the mother of their Lord,,,May God enlighten them.



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More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




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