Thursday, August 06, 2009

Transcript of Veneration of Mary Debate

The following is a transcript of the "Veneration of Mary" Debate that Mr. William Albrecht (GNRHead) and I conducted with Mr. Lane Chaplin moderating (the audio may be found here). Thanks very much to Matthew Lankford for providing this transcript. I've tried to smooth out irregularities of speech as much as possible without deviating from what the speakers were saying. If anyone notes any problems with this transcript, please let me know. The subtitle of the debate is my own creation, not an "official" subtitle to the debate.

Veneration of Mary Debate: Does the Bible Command Hyper-Dulia of Mary?

Lane: Welcome to today's debate. Today's debate is entitled: Does the Bible Teach Veneration of Mary? We have two debaters today: Mr. William Albrecht, who will be taking the affirmative position. He's a Roman Catholic Apologist who runs And TurretinFan who will be taking the negative position. He runs and also -- he's also a contributor to We will now begin the debate.

Mr. Albrecht you now have seven minutes for your first affirmative constructive, you may begin.

William: Today my goal is one that is quite simple. My goal is to simply see what the Bible says about the blessed Virgin Mary and repeat it. Today my goal is not to attempt to prove any of the Marian dogmas, but merely to show that true veneration, true honor, is due to the Mother of God and that such can be found within the New Testament.

While it is clear that Jesus Christ definitely honored his mother, since being a faithful Jew he would have not of broken the commandment to honor your father and your mother, we come to the question if it is the Christian's duty to honor his mother Mary.

Today I will make an attempt to come to the Scriptures as one who merely picks up the Bible and reads it and attempt to understand its plain meaning. There will be no hearkening to Church Fathers, Church Councils, or Papal encyclicals, or anything of the sort. Rather we will see that no matter what denomination you come from, that you can see the plain truth of Mary in Scripture.

Our first passage of examination is that of Luke chapter one verse twenty-eight (Luke 1:28). And the passage reads "And coming in he said to her, hail having been graced, the Lord is with you."

What we have here is a Greek word kecharitōmenē, which is a Greek perfect passive participle. Kecharitōmenē is from the Greek word charitoō. Mary is called having been graced, or woman who has been graced, since the gender is that of the feminine type. Whereas we may find the usage of this term in other places, it is only used in the titular form for Mary in all of Scripture, even including that of the Septuagint. This is what makes its appearance in Luke chapter one verse twenty-eight so unique. The Lord is with Mary. God is in Mary's womb.

We are told that Mary is the mother of our Messiah, our Savior, our God, in this direct address from the angel. This is quite significant. The goal of the Holy Spirit is to show us that God has chosen Mary for this special role in salvation history. Mary is chosen is chosen to bring our great God and Savior into the world and it is because of this that she has been graced. She is called kecharitōmenē because God's grace is in her. God is in her womb. She's blessed because of Christ and Christ alone. We must be quite clear: without Jesus Christ in Mary's womb, Mary would not be called kecharitōmenē.

Our next passage of examination is commonly called Mary's "Magnificat." And we'll be examining Luke chapter one, verse forty-six to forty-nine. Starting off with forty six. "And Mary said 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-holy is his name.'"

It is clear the New Testament shows us that we are to honor and venerate Mary for all generations, because, as Mary tells us, the Mighty One has done great things for her. It is because of this very reason that we can call Mary blessed and any other Christian that the Lord has done great things for. Mary is special, though, because she alone brought forth our Messiah and our God, Jesus Christ. We're told that all generations will call Mary "blessed." The actual Greek word -- Greek uses the word makariousin from makarizō, meaning just what our English translations tell us: that Mary was to be called blessed.

Of particularly interest is that even in the beatitudes -- where we can find those that are called blessed -- are the listener followers of Christ called blessed. The Greek word makarioi (from makarios) can be found used in the Gospel of Matthew. But there is a great variance of degree when we compare those in the beatitudes and Mary. Mary in verse forty-nine in the first chapter of Luke's Gospel tells us "for the Mighty One has done great things for me" and it is because of these great things that have been done for Mary, Christians are to honor and venerate her and to call her blessed for all generations.

Mary is blessed because of Christ and Christ alone. Be not mistaken: none of the grace and favor that have fallen upon Mary came to her through her own will. Nor are we honoring Mary and Mary alone. Our honor and respect for the Virgin Mary is because of the great things that have been done for her. From what is clearly shown in the Scriptures it is right to show veneration to Mary. No mere human ordained such honor or respect to be given to the blessed Virgin, but God Himself.

The Bible tells us in Galatians chapter five at verses thirteen to fourteen (Gal. 5:13-14), that we should serve one another in love. Here we find the plural from douleuo used. A loving service is to be given to fellow Christians. As we have examined in a previous debate, this veneration can and is used in a religious context, when its referring to the worship of God. But in such passages as these, with a strict order to serve your fellow Christians in Christ is given, we must also yield to the fact that such a religious context is ever so present. We are to honor one another in love, and in Mary's case we are to honor and call her blessed for all time.

The care and respect and love that Jesus also expressed for His mother on the cross should be emulated by all Christians. Remember those precious words of our Lord and God, when He said in John chapter nineteen, verses twenty-six to twenty seven (John 19:26-27). And the verses read: "When Jesus then saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, He said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!' From that hour the disciple took her to his own household."

His words to the beloved disciple forever reverberate in the hearts of all Christians. "Behold, you mother," he says, "Behold, your mētēr." In this particular instance, His great and deep love and care for His mother is so tremendous that He entrusts her care to that of the beloved disciple. Shouldn't we imitate Christ and show His mother a mere ounce of the profound love and respect that God has shown her? I believe, as a Bible-believing Christian, that it is our obligation for all generations.

Lane: Ok, TurretinFan you now have three minutes to cross examine Mr. Albrecht. You may begin.

TurretinFan: Thanks very much.

My first question for you: You spoke about Luke 1:28, and you said that there the term that's translated by the King James Version as "highly favored" is a titular form of that particular word, and that this is the only place its mentioned. I wonder whether you've considered Ephesians 1:6?

William: Absolutely I have. And it is not used in the titular form in Ephesians 1:6. And just to be clear, I wasn't saying that this kecharitōmenē only appears in Luke 1:28 -- I'm also aware that it appears in Sirach 18:17 and, I believe, in 2 Maccabees. But I'm contending that the difference is that it is used as a title for Mary. I understand that the verbal form that it comes from (charitoō) can be found in other places, but I'm contending that the difference is that it is used as a titular form for Mary.

TurretinFan: What makes you conclude that it's a titular form in Luke 1:28 and not in Ephesians 1:6?

William: I believe in Ephesians 1:6 in the way it is being used -- I don't find any usage of anybody calling somebody "having been graced" or using it as a title, replacing it for somebody's name. And in Luke Chapter one Verse twenty-eight (Luke 1:28) we find just that. We find the greeting, "Hail having been graced" or we could use, "highly favored" -- I prefer "having been graced" as the translation. And as we see, the angel comes in and he says, "Hail having been graced" "chaire kecharitōmenē" That's quite different from the usage in Ephesians chapter one, verse six [Eph. 1:6].

TurretinFan: My second question has to do with the comment about Mary's own statement that all generations will call her blessed. What makes you conclude that that's a command, rather than simply a statement of fact?

William: I don't quite understand, whether its a command or a statement of fact, don't you believe that all generations should call her blessed? Regardless, of whether its a command or statement of fact, it's the truth of Scripture that all generations are to call Mary blessed.

TurretinFan: Well, you said you were going to prove your case from the Bible. So, I was trying to get whether this verse actually says that it is a command or whether that was something you had sort of imposed on the text.

William: Well, I don't think I'm imposing anything on the text. Whether it be a command -- it's a fact of Scripture that all generations are to call Mary blessed.

TurretinFan: Ok, well, my next comment was very similar -- when it says "Behold your mother" was that a command to John or to all Christians? In the text.

William: In the text, was it a command to John or to all Christians? I believe specifically when He says "Behold your mother" it is a command specifically to John in that context. He is entrusting her to John's care, therefore, I believe it would be a command to John in that context, since He calls her his mother. He entrusts her care to the beloved disciple.

Lane: Ok, that's time. Ok, thank you for that. Turretin[Fan] you now have your negative constructive, which consists of eight minutes.You may begin when you're ready.

TurretinFan: My presentation today is going to be on the veneration of Mary and the Bible -- what does it have to say about it? The Roman Catholic Church gives Mary worship in the form of hyper-dulia. Whether or not that should be called worship is a separate debate. The question today is whether this is Biblical. And I would tell you the answer is "no." And I'll try to explain why in three parts today. The first part will be Mary as she is portrayed in the Bible. Number two, what the Bible says about the veneration of Mary. And then the third section will be responding to what Mr. Albrecht has said.

So, the first part: Mary's portrayal in the Bible. She's portrayed in the Bible as a relatively minor character. She's only mentioned by name once outside of the Gospels and that's right at the beginning of the book of Acts. She's only mentioned once by name in the Gospel of Mark. And she's never mentioned by name in the Gospel of John. Now, of course, she is mentioned in John, but just not by name. And then there's no real mention of Mary by the Apostle Paul in any of his epistles. There's only one verse of the Old Testament that clearly relates to Mary and that's a single verse prophesying that Jesus would be born of a virgin. And so, in general Mary has a fairly minor role in Scripture.

What's her character like? She's portrayed as modest and humble. She's described as being highly favored by God. And the way in which she is highly favored is that she is the one who gives birth to Jesus Christ. This term means "highly favored," which is essentially how Mr. Albrecht has translated it, not "full of grace" as the Vulgate mistranslated it.

Another aspect of Mary is that she's a witness to Jesus' earthly life at a number of critical points. For example, at the conception, the birth, and the miracle at Cana, and the death of Christ. She's in all of these and we see that she was interviewed by Luke in the preparation of his Gospel and possibly also by Matthew as well. And the other sort of interconnection she has with the Apostles in addition to appearing with the Apostles after Jesus' ascension, in that one place in Acts, is that she was cared for by John, although John doesn't actually mention her by name anywhere in his Gospel (although, of course, John doesn't mention himself by name in his Gospel either).

The second section that I'd like to deal with here now is now: what does the Bible actually have to say about veneration of Mary? Since, you know, generally describing her is one thing, but what about the issue of veneration. There's sort of three general positive areas where someone might think that there's an inclination in that direction. The first is the angel's greeting to Mary. The second is Elizabeth's greeting of Mary. And then the third is some general principles of love of the brethren. As for the third, there's no call, just because there's a general love of the brethren and service to the brethren, for us to create a special cult of Mary, or a cult of Albrecht, or a cult of Lane, or a cult of anybody in particular. And when we talk about the veneration of Mary, we're not just talking about, you know, bringing her a cup of water when she's thirsty. We're talking about something that's especially particular to Mary -- in a special reverence that's shown to her -- that's different from just the ordinary reverence we show to other people in following the law of God. The greetings are interesting, but mostly they just show politeness. We'll come to the argument that Mr. Albrecht presented earlier from the idea that this was some kind of titular form of the word for saying that the person is highly favored, in just a minute.

Moving on from the positives to the negatives, there are actually three of the Gospels, the synoptic Gospels, they each relate an account that show that Mary is really nothing special in the Kingdom of God. Those are: Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; and Luke 8:19-21. They may all be the same account, they may be two or more accounts, but in these three accounts, which may or may not be more than one event, the situation is someone is trying to give Mary special attention -- Mary and Jesus' brethren special attention. And Jesus turns it around and says 'Look, anyone who believes in me, that's my mother, that's my brethren.' He's basically saying that there's an equality within the Kingdom of God among all the believes, such that His mother and His brethren are nobody special. That seems to be the point that's raised in each of those; in Matthew, and Mark, and Luke -- John doesn't have that same one, but that's fairly normal, John often doesn't include events that the synoptics include.

There's a second aspect in which we can see veneration of Mary is undone by the Scriptural evidence. This second area is when Paul talks about the mother of us all. Now recall that there's an argument that's made that Mary is our mother and, therefore, in some sense she's our mother, because we're in Christ and, therefore, we need to honor her. But when Paul talks about who's our mother, he says the mother of us all is the heavenly Jerusalem. He doesn't view it as Mary at all, but as the heavenly Jerusalem.

And then the third aspect is this title that's sometimes given in Roman Catholicism -- "The Mother of God" is given to Mary. But the author of Hebrews describes Jesus in this way: he says that He was "without mother." And now, of course, that can't refer to His humanity, since Jesus was the son of Mary. So, it must be referred to His divinity. And, so, therefore, in view of Hebrews, its inappropriate to call Mary by such exalted titles as "The Mother of God."

Now we'll turn to the third section, which is responding specifically to the points that Albrecht has raised. The first point he raised is this idea that the titular form of the word is used in Luke 1:28. But, on being pressed upon this, what we see is that it's simply a statement that when the participle essentially used as a reference to the person. In other words, this is a person who is highly favored. It's not that it's being used as a title -- like that it has a special capital letter in Greek -- of course, they didn't have that type of mechanism in Greek (in the original). Rather, what it is, is the fairly rare word is used only a couple of times. It's only used, maybe, in a similar way, only two times in the New Testament -- in this place and in Ephesians 1:6. And in Ephesians 1:6 of course its not used as a title. There's not any particular reason to view it as a title here, except for a desire to use it as a title later. No one ever else calls her by that title and we're not suggested in that passage to use that as a title. Let me move on to the second argument.

The second argument is that "all generations will call her blessed." This argument, again, is actually a statement of fact, that all generations will call her blessed -- its not a command to do so.

The third argument was an argument from Galatians, I believe it was, chapter five, verses thirteen and fourteen (Gal. 5:13-14)... perhaps it was chapter three. In any event, the idea was that we serve one another in love. Well, the idea is not that we shouldn't give Mary a glass of cold water if we see her and she's thirsty. The question is whether or not we are supposed to give some kind of special cultus -- in the terms that the Roman Catholic Church would use to describe the worship.

Then, the fourth argument was, "behold your mother," but as we brought out during the cross-examination this is not a command for all Christians, just a command for John. And, of course, John, in his Gospel, never commands us to worship Mary, or to venerate her in any way.

Lane: Ok, Mr. Albrecht, you now have three minutes to cross-examine TurretinFan, you may begin when you're ready.

William: Ok, that sounds good. TurretinFan, due to the fact that the Bible tells us that, "all generations," and literally in the Greek, "pasai geneai," all generations will call Mary blessed, and the fact that the Bible clearly shows us that Mary has been graced and will always continue to have that grace within her person, even after the birth of Christ, does this not entail that there is clear Biblical proof that honor and respect is due to Mary?

TurretinFan: There's a premise in there, that you stated, which was that the Scriptures suggest that she continues to have some special role beyond the giving birth to Jesus. Which is a questionable premise. And without that premise, of course, the conclusion doesn't follow -- that she has some continued desert of being called ... or ... of being given special reverence.

William: Well, what my contention basically is, is that she will continue to have that grace within her person even after the birth of Christ. That's all that I'm really contending. Moving on to another question now, I'll ask, I guess, I'll try and phrase this in a different way. Since God has preordained that we are to forever call Mary blessed, due to the fact that she is the woman who has been graced, called kecharitōmenē by the angel of the Lord, does the Greek of Luke 1:28 then entail that we're to give her true honor and respect, because she is continually one who is graced?

TurretinFan: No. When it says that "all generations will call her blessed" -- it just simply means that all generations will, indeed, call her blessed. And one way in which that can be the case, is that all generations will realize that she was given a special favor from God in that she was given the privilege of carrying in her womb, incarnate God.

William: Alright, I suppose I'll try and continue this a little bit more with you. I guess my question is pretty much since Luke 1:28 pretty much shows us that Mary will continue to be graced, I guess my question was whether it was/is alright to continue showing Mary honor and respect? I understand calling Mary blessed is not anything that we cannot call for other Christians, but wouldn't this be different in the case of Mary, since she will continually be graced even after birthing Christ?

TurretinFan: Yes, it doesn't say that she will continually be graced even after birthing Christ. That's an important, underlying, mistaken premise in your assertions that you're throwing at me.

William: So, the usage of kecharitōmenē in the perfect passive participle in the Greek, does not have the connotation that Mary will continue to have grace even after the birth of Christ?

TurretinFan: The idea of a perfect passive participle, as you should know, implies a past action that has continuing effects (William interjecting: Absolutely) at the present time, which is the time when the angel was speaking to Mary.

William: Yes, and is there anything in the verse that shows us that since she is continually being graced at that current present moment that the grace will cease to be after she births Christ?

TurretinFan: Oh, no, I'm not trying to make an argument from silence. I was leaving that up to your side, which was asserting that, in fact, it was continuing on -- which, of course, you could never get from that particular verb.

Lane: Ok, that's time. Ok, Mr. Albrecht you now have your first affirmative rebuttal. You have four minutes for it. You may begin when you're ready.

William: Alright, great. I think we can clearly see that the Scriptures are far from muddled when it comes to the subject of the Virgin Mary. Is honor and respect due to the Virgin Mary? We can clearly see that the answer is yes. Mary's "Magnificat" is the precious song of God's blessings bestowed upon a human being. When the earth was created, when the heavens were created, when the first human beings were created, never was such grace known to be given to a creature of the Lord. Yet we can clearly see that Mary was one who was found to have favor from God. Such favor that all generations are to forever recognize what God has done for her. All generations are to forever recognize the mighty things that God has done for her. The Scripture shows us that it is because of God, and God alone, that we are to give honor to Mary. God is the one that Mary tells us has done great things for her. Holy Writ shows us that God, being one who has given her the grace and blessings, then entails that we offer true honor and respect to Mary.

Examining the Bible clearer we can see in Luke chapter eleven verses twenty-seven to twenty-eight [Luke 11:27-28]. We read: "And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said to them, Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But He said, "Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." To be clear, Christ says "Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." In the Greek, Christ responds with "menounge makarioi." "Indeed blessed," He says, "are those who hear the word of God and keep it." With this comment He isn't saying that Mary is not blessed and that those who hear the word are instead. Instead He answers in the affirmative that Mary's very body was blessed and then reinforces that which is of greater blessedness is that His word be heard and obeyed and kept. Mary did hear the word of God and did obey it. And actually bore the Word incarnate in her womb.

TurretinFan says he would not like to argue from silence, yet his mere assertion that kecharitōmenē is not special is fallacious on its very face. We are shown that Mary has been graced in the past and that its effects continue and never are we told that it ceases; rather we have indications that it doesn't. The very fact that Mary is forever to be called blessed is an indication of her enduring grace and favor in the eyes of God. And as a Christian we should honor and we should respect that.

Lane: Ok, TurretinFan, you can now set forth your negative rebuttal. You may begin when you're ready.

TurretinFan: Thanks very much. It's been a pleasure to debate today. I'd like to thank Mr. Albrecht for his participation and for bearing with my questions and answers.

Now I'd like to sort of summarize the debate. The debate was over the question of whether or not the Bible promotes the veneration of Mary, and although we saw that Mary is praised in the Scriptures -- she's called blessed -- she's described as having been highly favored -- she's described as a modest and humble woman, and (as Mr. Albrecht pointed out) she was greatly privileged to have the incarnate Son of God at her breast. Nevertheless, there's nothing in Scripture that commands any Christian to give her any special reverence or honor. And so the Roman Catholic view of hyper-dulia is completely unbiblical, as we've discovered.

Remember, the first section that we talked was the fact that Mary's portrayal in Scripture relatively minor. She's only mentioned once outside of the Gospels by name. And only mentioned once by name in Mark, never by name in John, and never by Paul. In fact, as we discussed in the second section, when Paul talks about who's the mother of us all, he doesn't point, as many might expect, to Mary, but, instead, he points to the heavenly Jerusalem. She doesn't have a specific role that is taught by Scripture, as far as having any maternal relationship to us, such that the Fifth Commandment, that we should honor our father and mother, would apply in some sense, so that we would have to honor her using that sort of maternal honor, which would still not be hyper-dulia. But lets continue on.

We also saw that the Scriptures describe her as a witness to Jesus' life and that, as well as a great privilege that we can't experience because we're not around during Jesus' earthly ministry; and that she was cared for by the beloved disciple John, and interviewed by Luke, who was in the process of preparing the Gospel of Luke. All these things said, we also saw that there are three passages which may all be the same event, in which, far from suggesting that Mary is to be specially praised, it's suggested that she's simply just the same as any other believer. And Mr. Albrecht himself brought this out in his last speech, when he pointed out, pointed to the verse, which says, that, 'indeed, truly is blessed the person who believes.' See, all believers are equally blessed with Mary -- there's nothing particularly special about her and that's really the point to those verses.

We also saw as well, and this wasn't disputed at all by Mr. Albrecht, that when the author of Hebrew describes Jesus, he calls Him "without mother." And really, this undermines this special title, among many exalted titles, that the Roman Catholic Church uses. This title "Mother of God" is not only unbiblical, it's contrary to the Bible, in that it falls afoul of Hebrews 7:3, which describes Jesus as being like Melchizedek -- being without father or mother: "without father" as to His humanity, "without mother" as to His Divinity.

Then, when we investigated the arguments that Mr. Albrecht made, we didn't hear what you would expect -- we didn't hear any verses where there was a command to honor Mary or an example even of someone giving special honor, or special reverence, to Mary. Aside from the greeting of the angel and the greeting of Elizabeth, that we already talked about, there's no examples of anyone giving her special attention; and the one case where we saw something close to giving her special attention is the point where Jesus took the opportunity to say, 'Oh, no, no, she's nothing special, she's just the same as all the other believers.'

Mr. Albrecht tries to make an argument from silence on Luke 1:28. He says 'well, she was given this privilege in the past and it had a continuing effect at the time the angel spoke to her and there's nothing that ever tells us it stopped.' Well, indeed, there's nothing that tells us whether it stopped or it continued -- and it's just simply an argument from silence on that point.

He makes a point about something being in a titular form only in Luke 1:28, but it's hardly ever used throughout Scripture. The word itself is hardly ever used throughout Scripture -- and its not particularly rare to have people described in terms of characteristics; and in this case the characteristic that was salient was the fact that she had been privileged with having the Son of God come and be in her womb.

The next argument that we heard was one about all generations calling her blessed, which Mr. Albrecht continually seemed to try to convert from a simple statement of fact, that all generations will, indeed, call her blessed, to a command that we must -- as though this were an order: you must call her blessed. It doesn't say that. I think we tried to bring that out in the cross-examination. And, instead, we got a: 'well, but... shouldn't we?' You know, that... It's not in the text. It doesn't say that we are to do so -- it just says that people will call her blessed. And the reason why we call her blessed, of course, is that she received an enormous blessing from God. Its quite true, it was an immense privilege for her to be the mother of Jesus, to have the incarnate Son of God in her womb. It was an extraordinary blessing. And she is blessed. And we call her blessed. But that's a far cry from giving her hyper-dulia.

The next argument was one from Galatians -- about how we serve one another in love. But, of course, again, that's not hyper-dulia. That's not veneration in the sense of a cultus, and the sense of what we talk about religious veneration in theology, we're not talking simply about obeying the second table of the Law.

The fourth argument was this argument from, "Behold your mother," but, as we discovered, that was specifically made to John and there's no where in Scripture that suggests, or implies, or states that this is to have any broader application than John. Of course, John himself, while he did care for Mary, he never mentions her by name in his Gospel (although, of course, he does mention her without using her name).

We hear from Mr. Albrecht that Scriptures are very clear on this issue. He started his initial speech with that, he mentioned in his last one, and I wouldn't be surprised if he mentions it in his final speech. But, what they're clearly here, is clearly silent. They never give any examples of people venerating Mary in any special way, without Jesus coming and saying, 'Wait a minute, she's just the same as anyone else.' And, we never have any commands, or instructions, or exhortations, to venerate Mary in any particular way.

And, instead of that, and instead of those commands, instead of those instructions, we have a relegation of Mary essentially to the Gospels -- with a brief mention at the very beginning of Acts. No mention throughout Paul's epistles. She's not this central figure next to Jesus. She's not described as the "Queen of Heaven" or any of these other exalted titles that are given in Roman Catholicism today. In short, what we see is that the entire cult of Mary, the entire worship in the form of hyper-dulia of Mary that we see in Roman Catholicism today -- is unbiblical.

And consequently, when Christians are seeking to follow the Bible and to follow what the Apostles taught, which we know through Scriptures -- we are not to worship Mary, we're not to give her special reverence, special attention, and we're not to treat her any different from any other believer -- although she was greatly privileged and although she was given great favor from God.

Lane: Ok, Mr. Albrecht, you now have four minutes for your second affirmative rebuttal. You may begin when you're ready.

William: I think that anyone that comes to the Scriptures without any pre-conceived notions or bias will find that Mary was special, because of God and God alone. They will find that Mary is called 'forever blessed' and 'the one who has been graced'. We find a mighty angel of the Lord even greeting her with a unique title that no other creature in all the Scripture is addressed with.

If anyone has noticed, they will see that I came to this debate with one goal -- not to appeal to any doctrines, not to appeal to the authority of any church, any denomination, or any church council. I didn't quote an Catholic scholars, Protestant scholars, Church Fathers, or even Protestant Reformers for that matter. I presented passages from the Bible and put them forth and examined their relevant portions in the Greek. I didn't attempt to yank any doctrines from the Scriptures. My goal was to merely present that the mother of Christ, the mother of our Savior, the Mother of our God (a term which TurretinFan is clearly confused about) was due religious veneration and that such a fact was present in the New Testament.

The religious veneration of Mary clearly differs from that of other creatures. Only Mary had the favor to carry God in her womb and to bring God the Second Person of the Trinity into this world. With that clear examination of Scripture we find that only Mary has been graced with this type of gratia from God. Mary's "Magnificat" is evidence enough for those that are faithful to the word of God, that it is right and good to call her blessed forever. The very word of God, which Christians should cherish as inerrant, tells us that her grace is enduring and shows us a precious and loving image of our Lord giving His mother into the care of the disciple whom He loved dearly.

The Scripture continues to show us Mary's special role in Luke chapter one, verses forty-one to forty-four (Luke 1:41-44). Upon reading this, we see that Elizabeth has recognized that Mary is carrying her Lord, and her Messiah, and her God, in her womb. After that, being filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth says that Mary is blessed among women and blessed is the Messiah that she carries in her womb. And, indeed, Mary was more blessed than any other woman and more special than any other woman that we see in the Bible, because of the love and grace of God.

TurretinFan further says that the Apostle Paul doesn't point to Mary as mother of us all, yet his usage, Paul's usage, in the passage of Jerusalem is not in a maternal connotation. Furthermore, this isn't a debate about Mary's heavenly motherhood, but rather a debate about veneration that is due to Mary.

TurretinFan also points to some verses in which it is argued that Jesus replaces His biological family for His spiritual family. This argument holds no water at all. If Jesus were replacing His family for His spiritual family, then we would have to exclude His family from what Jesus says. Jesus says, "Whoever does God's will is my brother, and sister, and mother." And we know that Mary did, indeed, do God's will. Her very "Magnificat" shows us that her soul rejoices in her Lord, because of the great things God has done for her. Jesus never has the intention to remove His familial bond from His mother or he wouldn't have his continual care for His mother shown in the Scripture.

Furthermore, we are told that Mary is portrayed as a minor character in the New Testament, in the Bible. Yet if we examine the Old Testament (we'll relegate ourselves to the Old Testament), there is no explicit, notice how I say explicit, description of the Trinity; yet, we wouldn't claim that the Trinity plays a minor role at all. Arguments from silence are quite weak.

Furthermore, TurretinFan also says the Vulgate mistranslates by saying, "full of grace," in Luke 1:28. Brother Jerome's usage of, "full of grace," is a viable translation. If we realize that the gratia that Mary has been given to her is by God and God alone, Mary is, indeed, full of grace, since Christ is in her womb and has bestowed this grace on her. Just as we can call Mary, 'highly favored,' -- yet the 'favoring' is not intrinsic in the text, but, rather, the grace is. And, as the Greek title kecharitōmenē shows us, Mary's grace endures forever, because all generations will called her blessed, all generations will recognize her grace and her favor, and as such we should honor and respect and venerate the Mother of our God.

Lane: Ok, that now concludes our debate. Mr. Albrecht your contact information is: and TurretinFan has and

Thank you both for being with us at today's debate and thank you everyone for listening.

"We Don't Worship Statues"

How many times have I heard the line, "We don't worship statues"! It seems that whenever one brings up the subject of idolatry with a Roman Catholic, they invariably think it is a defense that they are not venerating the statue itself, but the thing it represents. My intuitive response has typically been: do you think the pagans think that the statue is actually the god itself?

Just in case they think that, I happen to have found an interesting article that makes the following claim:
P. Sivaraman, the chairman of the temple's board of trustees, explained to the 80 [Roman] Catholics that Hindus do not worship the images -- they are only there to help devotees focus their minds on an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God.

Now, where have we heard that before?

Recall what Augustine said:
Why have I said this? Please consider carefully the chief point I’m making. We had started to deal with the apparently better educated pagans — because the less educated are the ones who do the things about which these do not wish to be taken to task — so with the better educated ones, since they say to us, “You people also have your adorers of columns, and sometimes even of pictures.” And would to God that we didn’t have them, and may the Lord grant that we don’t go on having them! But all the same, this is not what the Church teaches you. I mean, which priest of theirs ever climbed into a pulpit and from there commanded the people not to adore idols, in the way that we, in Christ, publicly preach against the adoration of columns or of the stones of buildings in holy places, or even of pictures? On the contrary indeed, it was their very priests who used to turn to the idols and offer them victims for their congregations, and would still like to do so now.

“We,” they say, “don’t adore images, but what is signified by the image.” I ask what images signify, I ask what the image of the sun signifies; nothing else but the sun, surely? For yes, perhaps the explanation of other images convey deeper, more hidden meanings. For the time being let’s leave these, and put them on one side to come back to shortly. The image of the sun, certainly, can only signify the sun, and that of the moon the moon, and that of Tellus the earth. So if they don’t adore what they see in the image, but what the image signifies, why, when they have the things signified by these images so familiarly before their very eyes, do they offer adoration to their images in stead of directly to them?
Augustine, Sermon 198, Sections 16-17

Of course, the Hindu claims must be taken with a very large grain of salt. For example, the same folks are trying to suggest that Hinduism is somehow analogous to monotheistic Trinitarianism:
In Hinduism, Dhoraisingam explained, "The universe manifested from Brahman, is sustained by him and will return to him." She added that Hindus believe in a trinitarian God personified by Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Sustainer, and Shiva the Transformer.
That title "transformer," aside from making one chuckle about there being more to Shiva than meets the eye, appears to be an attempt to downplay the more traditional title of Shiva as "the destroyer."

Nevertheless, despite the obvious propaganda nature of the piece, it is simply intuitive. When a Hindu looks at a statue of Brahma, or Vishnu, or Shiva, the Hindu doesn't think that the statue is the god, any more than the Greeks thought that the statue of their gods were the gods themselves. But the true and living God is not worshiped with the works of man's hands, as though he needed anything, as Scriptures teach. Therefore, whether your idolatry is Roman Catholic or Hindu, flee it. Keep yourselves from idols.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Non-English Reformation-Era Bibles - Index Page

The Reformation in the British isles was quite remarkable. In fact, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that other nations and tongues in Europe also experienced the Reformation. That said, I thought I'd try to track down some Reformation-era Bibles in other languages than English and provide those to the interested reader.

Olivetan (French) (Google Books - 1616 Printing)

Diodati (Italian) (Google Books - 1877 printing)(New Testament - 1665 Printing)

Reina (Spanish)

Luther's Bible of 1545 (German) (Modern Letter Version)

Dutch Authorized Version - 1637

- TurretinFan

From Seventy to More than a Million?

Two posts ago, I pointed out how Mr. Camping's chronology falls apart under Scriptural scrutiny over something as simple as the name of Moses' father (link). In the immediately preceding post, I demonstrated that a rebuttal based on there needing to be 430 years in Egypt was wrong based on the plain teachings of Scripture (link). As I explained then, the claim that there were 430 years in Egypt is based on misreading the text of Scripture.

In addition to the argument based on misreading a text as suggesting that Israel would be in Egypt for 430 years, there was also an argument made based on population growth. "How could it be that in only 210 years," we might paraphrase the question as stating, "the population of Jacob's family grew from 70 people to over two million?" The short answer is that the Israelites had large families.

For a more detailed answer, first of all, let's confirm that the numbers are correct:

Exodus 1:5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.

Genesis 46:26-27
All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six; and the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

Specifically that 70 number is (breaking it down by their maternal connection to Jacob): 7 sons and grandsons of Bilhah (Genesis 46:25); 14 sons and grandsons of Rachel (Genesis 46:22); 16 (15 sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons and 1 daughter) offspring of Zilpah (Genesis 46:16); and 33 (32 sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons and 1 daughter) offspring of Leah (Genesis 46:15), for a grand total of 70 sons, daughters, grandsons, and great-grandsons of Jacob.

Additionally, as Genesis 46:26 informs us, there were wives that were not included in that number (nor, as we note above, was Israel himself included in that number). So, in essence, there were 69 men of Israel (Israel himself and 68 sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons, as well as two daughters) at the beginning of the 210 year period in Egypt.

Two years after the Exodus, there were 603,550 men (counting only those 20 years old and older) and not counting the Levites (Numbers 1:46-47). That's huge population growth in only 210 years. How did this happen? They had very large families. Scripture expresses it this way:

Exodus 1:7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

They didn't just have a lot of kids, they:
  • were fruitful
  • increased abundantly
  • multiplied
  • waxed exceeding mighty [numerically]
  • land was filled with them
You can easily imagine why the Egyptians did not like the way this was headed. So they began persecuting the Israelites, and trying to have the midwives kill them off at birth.

But again, after the initial wave of persecution (which the midwives resisted) Scripture tells us that the fecundity continued yet more:

Exodus 1:20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

There was an enormous boom in the population of Israel. How could this happen? The answer is simply that there were really enormous families. This is revealed to us in Scripture:

In Numbers 3:43, Moses and Aaron counted all the firstborn males of Israel - not counting the Levites. Now, keep in mind that the total number of males (over 20 years old) was 603,550. What Moses and Aaron found was that the firstborn males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward were 22,273 (Numbers 3:43).

That's a ratio of 1 firstborn male for every 27 males. Even if Israelites rarely had girls in those days (an unlikely proposition), that's an average family of 27 children. And actually, we've understated the matter, since the first-born males were counted from a month old and upward, but the total males were only counted from 20 years old and upward, and only those that were able to go forth to war (presumably this excludes any disabled or elderly men) (But see FN1, below). If we further assume that there were about an even number of girls born to boys born, then the average Hebrew family had over 50 children. These children may not have been born serially, since it possible that the Israelites were polygamists. If they were, their ever-increasing need for wives would tend to be met by taking Egyptian girls as the wives for their sons, something that would further have caused concern to the Egyptian Pharaoh, who would see it as decreasing his own population in each successive generation.

So, that's the answer to the objection to a 210 year stay in Egypt based on the massive population growth of the Israelites: they grew from 69 males to over 600,000 males (an 8,700-fold increase) by having enormous families. [FN2]


FN1: One further caveat is that the firstborn would tend to be the first to die of old age. Given that the 600,000 number counts those able to go to war, and excludes the elderly, the "old age effect" should roughly be canceled out.

FN2: For those interested in such things: 68 x 25 x 25 x 25 = 1,062,500, which shows how 68 men can, in three generations, become over 1,000,000: first generation multiplies 25-fold, second generation does the same, and third generation also does the same.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mormonism 101 - Index Page

In 2007, Dr. White provided a helpful series on Mormonism, entitled, "Mormonism 101." Until now, there does not seem to have been a handy index of those posts. I've provided such an index below, using the headlines that Dr. White provided at the time. I've also thrown in a special item that was released on Mormonism during the series, and a link to a pdf version of an article on Mormonism that was released shortly after the series completed.

Mormonism 101: Badly Needed in our Culture Today

Mormonism 101: The First Vision Continued

Mormonism 101: More on the LDS Scripture's View of God

Mormonism 101 Continued

Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#1)

Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#2)

Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#3)

Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#4)

Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements (More)

Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements (Final)

Mormonism 101: Third Level Statements (#1)

- Special - Jesus and Lucifer: Spirit Brothers?

Mormonism 101: Third Level Statements (#2)

Mormonism 101: Third Level Statements (#3)

Mormonism 101: Third Level Statements (#4)

Mormonism 101: Fourth Level Statements (#1)

Mormonism 101: Fourth Level Statements (#2)

Mormonism 101: Fourth Level Statements (#3)

Mormonism 101: Fourth Level Statements (#4)

Mormonism 101: Fourth Level Statements--Final You Graduated!

"Truth and Honesty in Evaluating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (pdf format) - Reprinted at the link with permission from reformation21. The Online Magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, 24 (Sept. 2007).



Mary Crowned in Revelation?

In a previous point (link), I pointed out the glaring reality of Marian idolatry and the fact that such idolatry was unknown and foreign to Tertullian. I finally have received one of the responses that I expected to receive. This response comes from someone who posted using the name "John":
Mary is depicted with a crown because scripture does (Rev 12).
I answer:

Revelation 12 is not about Mary, it is about the ancient church. I could quote the standard Reformed expositors on this, but perhaps you'd be more persuaded by the fact that this interpretation is, as far as I have been able to find, the unanimous consent of the fathers. Victorinus of Petau (died about A.D. 303) explained:
“And there was seen a great sign in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child, she cried out travailing, and bearing torments that she might bring forth.”] The woman clothed with the sun, and having the moon under her feet, and wearing a crown of twelve stars upon her head, and travailing in her pains, is the ancient Church of fathers, and prophets, and saints, and apostles, which had the groans and torments of its longing until it saw that Christ, the fruit of its people according to the flesh long promised to it, had taken flesh out of the selfsame people. Moreover, being clothed with the sun intimates the hope of resurrection and the glory of the promise. And the moon intimates the fall of the bodies of the saints under the obligation of death, which never can fail. For even as life is diminished, so also it is increased. Nor is the hope of those that sleep extinguished absolutely, as some think, but they have in their darkness a light such as the moon. And the crown of twelve stars signifies the choir of fathers, according to the fleshly birth, of whom Christ was to take flesh.
- Victorinus, Commentary on the Apocalypse, at Revelation 12:1-2

Likewise, Hippolytus (about A.D. 170 – 236) concurs:
60. Now, concerning the tribulation of the persecution which is to fall upon the Church from the adversary, John also speaks thus: “And I saw a great and wondrous sign in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she, being with child, cries, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man-child, who is to rule all the nations: and the child was caught up unto God and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath the place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And then when the dragon saw it, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child. And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast (out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast) out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the saints of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus.” [Rev. xii. 1–6, etc.]

61. By the woman then clothed with the sun,” he meant most manifestly the Church, endued with the Father’s word, whose brightness is above the sun. And by the “moon under her feet” he referred to her being adorned, like the moon, with heavenly glory. And the words, “upon her head a crown of twelve stars,” refer to the twelve apostles by whom the Church was founded. And those, “she, being with child, cries, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered,” mean that the Church will not cease to bear from her heart the Word that is persecuted by the unbelieving in the world. “And she brought forth,” he says, “a man-child, who is to rule all the nations;” by which is meant that the Church, always bringing forth Christ, the perfect man-child of God, who is declared to be God and man, becomes the instructor of all the nations. And the words, “her child was caught up unto God and to His throne,” signify that he who is always born of her is a heavenly king, and not an earthly; even as David also declared of old when he said, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” [Ps. cx. 1.] “And the dragon,” he says, “saw and persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child. And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” [Rev. xi. 3.] That refers to the one thousand two hundred and threescore days (the half of the week) during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church, which flees from city to city, and seeks concealment in the wilderness among the mountains, possessed of no other defence than the two wings of the great eagle, that is to say, the faith of Jesus Christ, who, in stretching forth His holy hands on the holy tree, unfolded two wings, the right and the left, and called to Him all who believed upon Him, and covered them as a hen her chickens. For by the mouth of Malachi also He speaks thus: “And unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings.” [Mal. iv. 2.]
- Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, Sections 60-61

Furthermore Methodius of Olympus and Patara (about A.D. 260 – 312), explained:
John, in the course of the Apocalypse, says: [Rev. xii. 1–6.] “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she, being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” So far we have given, in brief, the history of the woman and the dragon. But to search out and explain the solution of them is beyond my powers. Nevertheless, let me venture, trusting in Him who commanded to search the Scriptures. [St. John v. 39.] If, then, you agree with this, it will not be difficult to undertake it; for you will quite pardon me, if I am unable sufficiently to explain the exact meaning of the Scripture.
The woman who appeared in heaven clothed with the sun, and crowned with twelve stars, and having the moon for her footstool, and being with child, and travailing in birth, is certainly, according to the accurate interpretation, our mother,[Editor's note in Schaff's edition: "i.e., the Church. See p 337, note 4, infra."] O virgins, being a power by herself distinct from her children; whom the prophets, according to the aspect of their subjects, have called sometimes Jerusalem, sometimes a Bride, sometimes Mount Zion, and sometimes the Temple and Tabernacle of God. For she is the power which is desired to give light in the prophet, the Spirit crying to her: [Isa. lx. 1–4.] “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see; all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.” It is the Church whose children shall come to her with all speed after the resurrection, running to her from all quarters. She rejoices receiving the light which never goes down, and clothed with the brightness of the Word as with a robe. For with what other more precious or honourable ornament was it becoming that the queen should be adorned, to be led as a Bride to the Lord, when she had received a garment of light, and therefore was called by the Father? Come, then, let us go forward in our discourse, and look upon this marvelous woman as upon virgins prepared for a marriage, pure and undefiled, perfect and radiating a permanent beauty, wanting nothing of the brightness of light; and instead of a dress, clothed with light itself; and instead of precious stones, her head adorned with shining stars. For instead of the clothing which we have, she had light; and for gold and brilliant stones, she had stars; but stars not such as those which are set in the invisible heaven, but better and more resplendent, so that those may rather be considered as their images and likenesses.
Now the statement that she stands upon the moon, as I consider, denotes the faith of those who are cleansed from corruption in the laver of regeneration, because the light of the moon has more resemblance to tepid water, and all moist substance is dependent upon her. The Church, then, stands upon our faith and adoption, under the figure of the moon, until the fulness of the nations come in, labouring and bringing forth natural men as spiritual men; for which reason too she is a mother. For just as a woman receiving the unformed seed of a man, within a certain time brings forth a perfect man, in the same way, one should say, does the Church conceive those who flee to the Word, and, forming them according to the likeness and form of Christ, after a certain time produce them as citizens of that blessed state. Whence it is necessary that she should stand upon the laver, bringing forth those who are washed in it. And in this way the power which she has in connection with the laver is called the moon, because the regenerate shine being renewed with a new ray, that is, a new light. Whence, also, they are by a descriptive term called newly-enlightened; the moon ever showing forth anew to them the spiritual full moon, namely, the period and the memorial of the passion, until the glory and the perfect light of the great day arise.
- Methodius, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Thekla (Discourse 8), Chapters 4-6

Gregory the Great (about A.D. 540 - 604) takes the same position:
For in Holy Scripture when the 'sun' is used figuratively, there is designated sometimes the Lord, sometimes persecution, sometimes the display of an open sight of any thing, but sometimes the understanding of the wise. For by the 'sun' the Lord is typified, as is said in the Book of Wisdom, that all the ungodly in the day of the last judgment, on knowing their own condemnation, are about to say: "We have erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined unto us, and the sun rose not upon us." [Wis. 5:6] As if they plainly said: The ray of inward light has not shone on us. Whence also John says: "A woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet." [Rev. 12:1] For by the 'sun' is understood the illumination of truth, but by the moon, which wanes and is filled up every month, the changeableness of temporal things. But Holy Church, because she is protected with the splendour of the heavenly light, is clothed, as it were, with the sun; but, because she despises all temporal things, she tramples the moon under her feet.
- Gregory the Great, Morals, Book XXXIV, at Job 41:21

Still further, in his Golden Chain, Aquinas provides the following patristic commentary on the list of the twelve apostles in Matthew 10:1-4, drawing specifically from Rabanus (about A.D. 780 - 856):
Rabanus, and cf. Tertullian, cont. Marc. iv, 13: This number is typified by many things in the Old Testament; by the twelve sons of Jacob, by the twelve princes of the children of Israel, by the twelve running springs in Helim, by the twelve stones in Aaron’s breastplate, by the twelve loaves of the shew-bread, by the twelve spies sent by Moses, by the twelve stones of which the altar was made, by the twelve stones taken out of Jordan, by the twelve oxen which bare the brazen sea. Also in the New Testament, by the twelve stars in the bride’s crown, by the twelve foundations of Jerusalem which John saw, and her twelve gates.
- Rabanus, according to Aqunias, on Matt. 10:1-4

Now, I realize that modern Romanism teaches that the woman is both Mary and the Church (see, for example, sections 103-04 of Evangelium Vitae, pope John Paul II, 1995, although pope Pius X seems to have thought that it referred only or primarily to Mary, see Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, Section 24, 1904 - see also pope Paul VI Signum Magnum, 1967, and Redemptoris Mater, pope John Paul II, 1987, and contrast the tenuous identification with Mary, with the Church being the primary referent in the Haydock's Bible Commentary, 1859 ed.), but my point is that nowhere do we see the fathers making this identification. In the 19th century we see a tenuous identification being made to Mary, and then in the 20th century we see that tenuous identification becoming the primary identification within the evermore mariolatrous religion of Rome.

The same commenter also added:
And with all due respect to Tertullian's ignorance of what priests and rulers wore crowns, priests wore a kind of a crown (Exod 39:28), people getting married wore a crown (Is. 61:10), kings of Israel wore crowns (2 Sam 12:30), saints in heaven wear crowns (Rev. 4:4) and so forth.
I answer:

Exodus 39:28 mentions the priests wearing a "mitre of fine linen, and goodly bonnets of fine linen, and linen breeches of fine twined linen," and provides no reference to a crown. Not everything that covers a man's head is a crown.

Isaiah 61:10 also does not mention a crown. It states:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Yes, the kings of Israel wore crowns, but the King of Spiritual Israel, the fulfilment of national Israel, is Christ.

While the elders had gold crown in Revelation 4:4, they cast those crowns before the throne of the Lord in Revelation 4:10, saying:

Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

So ought the prayer of all Christians to be.

- TurretinFan

Monday, August 03, 2009

Why Say Mass Sacrifices Christ Again?

Luka asked:
If You truly understand how both biblical statements: that Christ died once for sins, and that -at the same time- He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, are simultaneously correct, then why do You persist in Your conviction that Mass or Liturgy sacrifice Christ "again"? :-|
I answer:

a) As I pointed out at this link, the term "from the foundation of the world" is best understood as modifying "written" not "slain."

b) As also pointed out there, if the term were to be referred to "slain" we would simply understand that as being a figurative expression as to the intent and purpose of the lamb from all eternity, namely to be slain.

c) One of our complaints about the Roman masses is that they don't claim to represent the sacrifice of Christ, but actually to involve the sacrificing of Christ. The Lord's Supper does illustrate for us the death of Christ: it is the true icon of his body and blood, which was shed for many for the remission of sins. The historical event of the cross, however, is complete. It is finished. It cannot be repeated or continued.


How then Four Hundred, Thirty Years?

One person asked (anonymously, against which I have nothing):
Hi Turretin Fan, I just have one quick question about the Camping Jenga article. If Amram was Aaron's dad, how on earth do we account for the 430 year sojourn in Egypt? Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond.
I answer:

The Israelites did not sojourn 430 years in Egypt. Look at the verses that are relevant more closely:

Exodus 12:40-41
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

Genesis 15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

You will notice that neither of these verses say that the Hebrews were in Egypt for 430 years, but that they were sojourning for 430 years. When we compare Scripture to Scripture, we discover what the starting point of the 430 years is:

Galatians 3:16-17
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

Paul here clearly explains that the promise came to Abraham 430 years before the giving of the law. Therefore, the 430 years should be counted not from the entry into Egypt by Jacob and his sons and grandsons, but from the date of the promise.

This particular commenter didn't specifically state whether he accepts Mr. Camping's chronology, but let's be perfectly clear: if one accepts Mr. Camping's chronology, one contradicts Paul in Galatians 3:16-17, because Mr. Camping's chronology makes the period from the promise to the law much longer than 430 years. In fact, Mr. Camping dates the birth of Isaac at 2068 B.C. and the exodus at 1447 B.C., over 600 years later. (Biblical Calendar of History, pp. 6-7)

Recall as well the remainder of the promise:

Genesis 15:13-16
And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. but in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

Abraham died seeing only his grandson Jacob, but not his great-grandchildren from Jacob. We know this from the fact that Abraham died at 175 (Genesis 25:7), that his son Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 (Genesis 17:17), and that Jacob was born when Isaac was 60 (Genesis 26:26).

Who then is the fourth generation? It is the fourth generation of descendants that Abraham did not see.

1) Levi, the son of Jacob

2) Kohath, the son of Levi

3) Amram, the son of Kohath

4) Aaron and Moses, the sons of Amram

But again, if one takes Mr. Camping's view, one must deny the truth of the promise to Abraham, because if Amram was not Moses' and Aaron's father, then they were more than four generations past Abraham's death. I realize that Mr. Camping attempts to defuse this objection by suggesting an odd way of doing the chronology, such that "generation" is actually not the way we consider generations today.

So, as you can see, Mr. Camping's error regarding the relatively simple question of "who is Moses' father?" (correct answer, according to Exodus 6:20, Numbers 26:59, 1 Chronicles 6:3, and 1 Chronicles 23:13, is "Amram") actually ends up in his having not only to deny the plain sense of the term "four generations" but having to contradict Paul's chronology in Galatians.

Before signing off, for those interested, I'd like to add one additional plain contradiction to the growing pile. You'll recall that Mr. Camping's chronology calculated 430 years thus:

Levi (77 years in Egypt)
Kohath (133 years in Egypt)
Amram (137 years in Egypt)
Aaron (83 years in Egypt)
Total = 430 years total time

The last plain contradiction that I'll point out is this. Kohath was Levi's son (Exodus 6:16), Kohath lived a total of 133 years (Exodcuse 6:18), and Kohath came into Egypt with Levi (Genesis 46:8-26, especially vs. 11). Thus, Kohath was born before he and Levi came into Egypt, and Levi's time in Egypt is not properly added to Kohath's time in Egypt, since their time in Egypt was overlapping.

In case anyone thinks that this was a different Kohath in Genesis 46 as opposed to Exodus 6, Scripture confirms the identity of Kohath for us:

Genesis 46:11 And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.


Exodus 6:16 And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years.


Addendum: For those interested in what more significant Bible scholars than myself have said about this topic, the following quotations are provided from John Gill, John Calvin, and Matthew Henry

Gill explains:
The Septuagint version adds, "and in the land of Canaan"; and the Samaritan version is,"the sojourning of the children of Israel, and of their fathers, in the land of Canaan, and in the land of Egypt.''Agreeably to which are both the Talmuds: in one (o) of them the words are,"in Egypt and in all lands,''and in the other (p),"in Egypt, and in the rest of the lands;''and in the same way Aben Ezra interprets the words. And certain it is, that Israel did not dwell in Egypt four hundred and thirty years, and even not much more than two hundred years; but then they and their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, dwelt so long in Mesopotamia, in Canaan, and in Egypt, in foreign countries, in a land not theirs, as the phrase is, Gen 15:13 where the place of their sojourning, and the time of it, are given by way of prophecy. The Jews reckon from the vision of God to Abraham between the pieces to the birth of Isaac thirty years, so the Targum of Jonathan; but that cannot be, though from his coming out of his own native place, Ur of the Chaldeans, to the birth of Isaac, might be so many years, since he was seventy five years of age when he came out of Haran, and if he stayed at Haran five years, as probably he did, then there were just thirty from his coming out of Ur of the Chaldees to Isaac's birth, since he was born when he was one hundred years old; and from the birth of Isaac to the birth of Jacob was sixty years, and from thence to his going down to Egypt was one hundred and thirty, and from thence to the coming of Israel out of Egypt were two hundred and ten years, as is generally computed, which make the exact sum of four hundred and thirty years.

Calvin explains:
The beginning of this period is not reckoned from the coming down of Jacob, for it is very clear from other passages, that, from the time that Jacob entered into Egypt to the Exodus, not more than 230 years at most had passed. The Jews generally only reckon 210; but Moses includes also the period during which Abraham and his children were not in possession of the promised land. The meaning therefore is, that from the time that the inheritance of the land of Canaan was given to Abraham, the promise was suspended for 400, years before his posterity enjoyed their right. For Paul also thus explains this difficulty, (Gal. 3:17) where he says, that God had confirmed his covenant with Abraham 430 years before the law was promulgated. Moses, therefore, dates the commencement of this period from the sojourning of Abraham, when he was still the lord of the land of Canaan by the just title of donation. With respect to the omission of the thirty years in the 15th chapter of Genesis, in this there is no contradiction, because the land had already been promised to Abraham some years previously, though, so far from obtaining dominion over it, he had scarcely been permitted to occupy it as “a stranger.” Therefore God apprizes him, that 400 years still remained before he would put his descendants into possession of it; and, consequently, that the little time which had elapsed was not sufficient for the trial of his patience, but that both for himself and for his posterity there was need of extraordinary endurance, lest they should faint under the weariness of the long delay. Moreover, there is no departure from the usual manner of speaking, in His not exactly reckoning the number of years. More than 400 years, some twenty, or thereabouts, indeed, remained; but, since God had no other object than to exhort His people to patience, He does not accurately compute or define the exact number of years, because it was sufficient to put before them 400 years in a round sum. In the same way, it is added in the next verse, “at the end of 430years,” viz., from the time that Abraham had begun to be the legitimate lord of the land; for Moses wished to show, that although God had long delayed the fulfillment of His promise, still His truth and faithfulness were certainly proved, not only because He had precisely performed what He had promised, but because He had observed the: foreappointed time. He calls the people, weak as they were, by an honorable title, “the hosts of the Lord,” both to enforce again the power of God’s blessing,and to give due honor to His grace in ruling and marshalling so confused a band. Although soldiers may be accustomed to obedience, and have learnt from exercise to keep their ranks; although they may have generals, commandants, and captains, and banners also under which to range themselves, still it is a very difficult thing to march an army of 20,000, or 30,000 men by night without. confusion, and in good order; how great a miracle was it, then, for 600,000 men, with women and children, much baggage, herds, and flocks, and other encumbrances, to pass by night through the midst of enemies, and all to escape safely without a single exception! To the same effect, Moses repeats in the last verse of this chapter, that “the Lord did bring the children of Israel out — by their armies,” as much as to say, that there was no confusion in that immense multitude; since God performed the part of an incomparable Leader in His marvelous power.

Matthew Henry explains:
5. Of the date of this great event: it was just 430 years from the promise made to Abraham (as the apostle explains it, Galatians 3:17) at his first coming into Canaan, during all which time the children of Israel, that is, the Hebrews, the distinguished chosen seed, were sojourners in a land that was not theirs, either Canaan or Egypt. So long the promise God made to Abraham of a settlement lay dormant and unfulfilled, but now, at length, it revived, and things began to work towards the accomplishment of it. The first day of the march of Abraham's seed towards Canaan was just 430 years (it should seem to a day) from the promise made to Abraham, Genesis 12:2, I will make of thee a great nation. See how punctual God is to his time; though his promises be not performed quickly, they will be accomplished in their season.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Paul Helm on Calvin and the Stoics

If you are interested in the relationships, both similarities and differences, between Calvinism and Stoicism, I highly recommend Paul Helm's excellent recent philosophical post on Calvin and the Stoics (link). The article is also helpful in terms of explaining how Calvinism is not fatalism, a pit into which William Lane Craig, with many of his followers, falls.