It is by these manners of speech, when we speak of things that do not happen to God as though they did, that we acknowledge it is he who makes them happen to us, those things at least that are praiseworthy, and these only to the extent that scriptural usage allows it. I mean, we certainly ought not to say anything of the sort about God, which we do not read in his scriptures.- Augustine, Commentary on the Literal Meaning of Genesis, Book IV, Chapter 9, Section 17 (PL34:302); translation in The Works of Saint Augustine: a Translation for the 21st Century, Part I (Books), Volume 13, On Genesis, p. 251 (New City Press, Hyde Park, NY: 2002)
Latin Text: His locutionum modis, cum ea quae non accidunt Deo tamquam illi accidant loquimur, eum facere agnoscimus ut nobis accidant; ea duntaxat quae laudabilia sunt: et haec quantum Scripturarum usus admittis. Neque enim nos temere aliquid tale de Deo dicere debemus, quod in Scriptura eius non legimus.
Augustine would say that we should not say things about God that we do not read about in His Scriptures, yet we see Rome trying to create extra-biblical traditions about God and what God has done, all the time.
We see it in the Immaculate Conception dogma and the Assumption of Mary dogma. These dogmas cannot be defended from Scripture. Nevertheless, Rome (through many of her apologists) attempts to defend these dogmas on the grounds of fitness.
It is very nice to say that something would be “fitting,” but would it not be as “fitting” to preserve Mary entirely from having to watch her firstborn child [FN1] be crucified? Would it not be “fitting” for God to preserve Mary from the sword piercing her heart [FN2]?
If you think it would not be fitting for his mother to be a sinner, how much less fitting that his maternal grandparents be sinners? How much less fitting that he be descended from the illicit tryst of Judah and Tamar [FN3], or from the illicit union of Lot and his eldest daughter [FN4]?
If you think it would not be fitting for such a great woman as Mary to be assumed into heaven, how does the end of John the Baptist [FN5] square with you? To have his head lopped off as the prize for an exotic dancer? Why should not the greatest of all the prophets [FN6] meet an end like Enoch [FN7] or Elijah [FN8]?
Man's ideas of "fitness" are an untrustworthy and reliable measure of things. God himself declares, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9) The proper measure is God's revelation of himself through Scripture. Even so, let us measure, rather than harkening unto fables and judging things according to our weak sense of "fitness."
FN1: Matthew 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. & Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
FN2: Luke 2:34-35 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Notice that, in context, the indication is that Mary will be one of those who speak against the sign. This prophesy of Simeon appears to have been fulfilled at least Mark 3, where Mary and Jesus’ brethren come to retrieve him, because they think he is insane:
And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, “He is beside himself.”
And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, “He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.”
And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. Verily I say unto you, ‘All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:’” because they said, “He hath an unclean spirit.”
There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, “Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.”
And he answered them, saying, “Who is my mother, or my brethren?” And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”
FN3: Matthew 1:3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.
And Judah said unto Onan, "Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother."
And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.
Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, "Remain a widow at thy father's house, till Shelah my son be grown:" for he said, "Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did."
And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house. And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah's wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.
And it was told Tamar, saying, "Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep."
And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.
When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her by the way, and said, "Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee;" (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.)
And she said, "What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?"
And he said, "I will send thee a kid from the flock."
And she said, "Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?"
And he said, "What pledge shall I give thee?"
And she said, "Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand." And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.
And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood. And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman's hand: but he found her not.
Then he asked the men of that place, saying, "Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side?"
And they said, "There was no harlot in this place."
And he returned to Judah, and said, "I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place."
And Judah said, "Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her."
And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, "Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom."
And Judah said, "Bring her forth, and let her be burnt."
When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, "By the man, whose these are, am I with child:" and she said, "Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff."
And Judah acknowledged them, and said, "She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son." And he knew her again no more.
And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb. And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, "This came out first." And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, "How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee:" therefore his name was called Pharez. And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.
FN4: Matthew 1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
Ruth 4:10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.
And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt. And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
And the firstborn said unto the younger, "Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father."
And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, "Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father." And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.
But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, "Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger."
And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; and when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, "Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee." And he sware unto her, "Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom."
And she went forth, and said unto her mother, "What shall I ask?"
And she said, "The head of John the Baptist."
And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, "I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist."
And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.
Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Luke 7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
2 Kings 2:9-14
And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee."
And Elisha said, "I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me."
And he said, "Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so."
And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.