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|The Nashville Statement
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
| Mary was human.
|I was born and raised a Catholic - baptized as a baby, and made to pray to icons, say the rosary, and as confused about justification as those who were teaching me.
Catholicism and reformed evangelical Christianity both believe that Adam's sin tainted the human race forever. The bible doesn't describe the mechanism by which original sin functions - that is, it doesn't say that our souls pick up a taint, or that perhaps our genetics pass along some predisposition to sin - it merely describes the effect of original sin - that sin came into the world (and consequently death came into the world through sin) and that because of sin in the world death spread to all men because all men have sinned thereafter. Through Adam's sin therefore, all men die, that is, as sin reigns - death reigns (c.f. Romans 5:12-21).
The distilled understanding of the verse is that there is "none righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10) - the rest of the doctrine, whether Catholic or Reformed - is a human construction used to explain how it works.
The Catholics define "original sin" as an hereditary "stain" which we are personally born with. It was passed on progenitically (from parent to child - generation to generation) from Adam to us. The stain itself is described as a lack of "sanctifying grace."
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Catholic dogma, "sanctifying grace" is regarded in a practical sense, as something that is possessed by one's soul when one is in a "state of grace." Anyone who is in a "perfect state of grace" at the time of their demise will go directly to heaven, anyone whose soul lacks grace entirely will go to hell, and anyone in between goes to purgatory. This is a greatly simplified explanation - my intent is not to define Catholicism, but to provide enough background information that their take on original sin is comprehensible. Original sin (according to the Catholic understanding) is described as the absence of this "sanctifying grace."
According to Rome, Adam lost this capacity in his own soul, and passed it on to all his children, who passed it on to their own children.
Reformed theology teaches something called "Federal Headship" - the idea is taken from the interaction between Abraham and Melchizedek. When Melchizedek blessed Abraham he was inadvertently blessing everyone who would come from Abraham's loins - including Levi - since all of Abraham's offspring were present in that sense when Melchizedek blessed Abraham. Since the greater blesses the lesser, and it was Melchizedek who was blessing Levi (through Abraham), the author of Hebrews reasoned that Melchizedek's ministry was superior to the Levitical priesthood, and therefore Christ, who is a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, has a ministry that is superior to that of the Levitical priesthood.
Federal Headship builds upon this idea. In 1 Corinthians 15:22 we hear Paul say that "in Adam" all die; Reformed Theology interprets this to mean that since all the human race was in Adam at the time Adam sinned - that "all sinned in Adam" - that is, that everyone born from Adam is culpable for Adam's sin. In this way, we are all born condemned by Adam's sin, which is federally imputed to us such that even if we were to live sinless lives - we would still go to hell on account of Adam's sin.
This contradicts scriptures such as Deuteronomy 24:16 (“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.") and Ezekiel 18:20 ("The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.") Likewise verses such as Jeremiah 31:30a ("But everyone will die for his own iniquity..."), 2 Chronicles 25:4, 2 Kings 14:6 echo the teaching. Some might argue that verses such as Exodus 34:7 ("keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”) show that sometimes God punishes the children for the sins of the parents - but such a position is indefensible - the verses that speak of condemnation agree - no one is condemned for the sins of another. The verses that speak about God "visiting the iniquity" of the fathers upon the sons etc. is not speaking in the condemnational sense, but rather in the temporal sense. An abusive father typically passes on that sinful behavior to his children - the idea being that our sin habits affect not only us - but are visited upon our children.
Either way, that is a digression - the reformed position is that original sin is also passed along from one generation to the next.
Both the Catholic and the Reformed positions on original sin stem from Augustine's battle with Pelagius over Augustine's published prayer "Grant what you command, and command what you desire." Pelagius was beside himself because Augustine was saying that men do not have the ability to obey God, and Pelagius believed that it would not be just for God to command anything unless men had the ability to obey the command. Augustine's argument was that men still had free will, but lacked moral liberty. The Catholics worked that out practically as the soul lacking "sanctifying grace" the reformers worked it out that men are born totally depraved being already culpable for Adam's sin at the moment of conception.
So where does Mary fit into all of this?
While scripture states that Mary was a virgin, it does not teach that Mary was sinless (In Luke 1:46 Mary calls God her Savior - if she were sinless, she would hardly require a savior, since her sinless life would offer her no peril from which to be saved.) But if, according to Catholic doctrine, sin passes from mother to child - then we have a problem. Jesus would inherit Mary's sin.
Clearly, Jesus did not inherit Mary's sin, so either the doctrine of original sin had to be re-thought, or a solution (apology) had to be made. In this case, the Catholic Church went the route of apology. Mary, they teach, was sinless. That means that not only was Mary not deprived of "sanctifying grace" - but from the moment she was born, until she gave birth to Christ - God (in a one-time act of profound grace) kept Mary from sinning. This is called the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception - that is that Mary was born without "original sin" and was kept sinless at least until the birth of Christ.
It is a shame, according to Catholic theology, that Mary was given this grace and not Adam - since had God been on the ball back then we could have avoided this whole sin thing altogether (a notion which when pondered demonstrates just how ridiculous the immaculate conception of Mary really is!)
Some reformed apologists insist that original sin is passed through the father - again, in a "federal headship" sort of way - that it is your father who passes Adam's sin to you, such that Jesus, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit did not inherit sin. Of all the theological guesses, this one is perhaps the most tidy, but it still leaves some questions unanswered.
Nowadays many answer the question of why Jesus was born without sin in this way - God didn't use any of Mary's DNA in creating Christ's incarnate body - that is, Mary was only the mother of Christ in the incubational sense - Christ was not her biological child, she was only the surrogate mother. But this is a rationalization that falls apart when we examine the scriptures. The bible speaks of Mary as the mother of Christ - and of Christ as the seed of David. If Mary were simply a surrogate, Christ would have no legitimate claim to his required heredity.
All that however, is an aside. The point is that Mary was human. She was not sinless as some believe, but a sinner. In bringing Mary the news that she had been elected by God to be the mother of the Messiah, Gabriel addresses Mary thus, "Hail, favoured one..." Catholic apologists argue that this greeting (which they translate as "Hail [Mary], the one who is full of [sanctifying] grace" - meaning that Mary was sinless. As far as stretches go - this is a quite a stretch. Not hearing, someone say, "Bless you" and interpreting it to mean, "God has kept you sinless." Nevertheless - the whole idea can't be taught from scripture unless you allow such stretches.
The reality is, according to what we know from Mary's own testimony, Mary was a sinner, who in no way earned the right to be the Mother of Christ. God elected her to that appointment, not because she was sinless, since "sinlessness" was never a prerequisite, rather the sign was that she would be virgin. If Mary was sinless - surely such a thing would have shown up in Old Testament prophesy, and it doesn't.
Mary was a sinner, blessed in this way by God - she was given the privilege of being Christ's incarnate mother. When Mary died, she went to judgment just as all of us will (it is appointed once for men to die, and after that the judgment!).
Is it right therefore to pray to Mary?
Of course not. She cannot intercede on anyone's behalf any more than any other Christian who has ever died. It is proper to regard her as blessed amongst women - but not to pray to her, nor to assign her any spiritual functions that rest solely in Christ. (Christ is the only mediator between God and man. Christ is the only redeemer, the only advocate, and the Holy Spirit the only comforter and helper!).
Mary has no role in the Christian life, other than as an historical footnote in the story of Christ.
posted by Daniel @
Great post once again!
Mary has a much bigger role in the Christian life for me -- as an example of a person:
(1) who was raised well by her parents to fear God,
(2) who trusted God implicitly, even at the tender age of about 14,
(3) who kept her eyes focussed on what God was doing instead of what the world around her was saying,
(4) who stuck the distance even when all seemed hopeless,
(5) who, having fully performed all that was asked of her by God in terms of a very high-profile ministry, gladly accepted a place of obscurity among the believers.
I see her as more than a footnote in the story of Christ ... more of a classic example to us all of what kind of people God needs in order to bring salvation to this world. Pray to her, etc: no way! But she still holds a very special place for me (as do many other godly heroes -- see Heb 11).
Andrew - (nice avatar btw) I agree that Mary, as a woman of faith, was more than an historical footnote in the bible - that is, she was a godly woman and can be held up and extolled as such. I did not intend to suggest that Mary was insignificant as a believer.
My intent was to point out that Mary's role in the redemption of mankind is far less significant than Catholicism would have the world believe.
The veneration of Mary is not unlike the veneration the Jews were giving to the bronzed snake that Moses lifted up in the wilderness. By the time of Hezekiah's reforms, Jews had already began to worship it. Hezekiah destoyed it as part of the sweeping reforms his rule brought to Israel.
I hope I don't give the impression that Mary was less than she was - rather I wanted to paint Mary *as* she was, and to reintroduce her to the only role she plays in redemptive history - as one name in a long list of those who were related through ancestry to Christ.
Like yourself I marvel that Zachariah - who ministered in the holy place at the hour of incense - lacked faith to believe God's promise regarding the birth of his son John the Baptist (he was a priest ministering in God's house!) where Mary was an otherwise obscure person. I don't mean to suggest that she was not exemplary - but only that with regards to our soteriology she is insignificant.
Daniel, very well done! A great descriptive and chronological history of this wicked Marian doctrine. Of course, the average Catholic has no idea that while praying to Mary, he is in fact worshiping a variant of the goddess Diana, mentioned in Acts. Prior to that, Diana was referred to as Isis by the Egyptians.
We should not think that this was a mere mistake by some early Catholic theologians, but rather a concerted effort by the enemy of God to corrupt the truth of the gospel, and add conditions to the finished work of Christ.
I think you can safely conclude that the sin nature is somehow passed through the male, and the case of the virgin birth makes this clear.
Your mentioning of us all being in the "loins" of Adam is a good and pertinent point, and yet we must still confess that we have all sinned individually and come short of God's glory, holiness, and righteousness.
Keep up these thought provoking and intriguing posts!
Jim - I am not convinced that our "sin nature" is defined well enough for us to really say if it is passed from Father to son. We use words to describe it that the bible does not use - "inherit" for instance. The bible tells us that death entered the world through Adam's sin etc. but it doesn't describe it as transmitted progenetically - that is just a convenient model that we use to look at it.
I confess, I don't really know how death is transferred through sin, nor do I understand how every man rejects God - but I do understand my own curiosity to figure out precisely how that could work. I suspect that others have shared this curiosity and have offered all manner of solutions to the problem - some which can be dismissed on biblical grounds, and even some (as in the federal headship) which are at best a guess - and while the bible cannot dismiss them outright - that in and of itself ought not to be sufficient reason to believe them - or worse (and this is my concern of course) to build doctrines upon them.
One of the reasons there is so much diversity in Christian theology is because we build line upon line, and precept upon precept - our theology becomes a house of cards, and each level we add, we give ourselves greater potential to be farther from the truth. Even if it turns out that our theological end products are somehow correct - we must recognize that once we step off the solid ground of what God's word says, and onto the sifty sands of how we think that works - and start to build a tower out of our own cleverness - well, it is enough to say we have greatly increased the probability that we are going to come up with something divisive, and likely useless except as "conversational theology."
I plan to gather my thoughts on original sin and make a post one day - but it will be a long one. :-)
Suffice to say, I am not convinced that the current model satisfies my own curiosity.
Daniel, I agree and would not want to build a theological castle upon a few shaky presuppositions.
But perhaps, when a question like this arises, it causes us to seek more deeper for truth in the Word.
I too was born, baptised, and raised a Roman Catholic--I know where you're coming from, we certainly agree on our assessment of MAry--I am sure you've heard all the answers RC's give to refute what you've written.
Part of the roblem is that Mary is only a piece of the puzzle. The RC teachings on Mary rest on the 2 big issues of the Reformation-
Justification & Authority.
For myself, and I am sure this is the same with you Pilgrim, I wasn't "reasoned" out of the catholic faith by an evangelical apologist. I don't know of even one Catholic who ever was (though I am sure there are some!)
When I heard the truth, and read the bible for myself, all my Catholicism dried on the vine. I don't know why it is, but I have always regarded God's word (the bible) as having unquestionable authority. When I was a Catholic I didn't really bother to read the bible because I was sure that I couln't properly understand it, and frankly it alternately bored me, or convicted so me fiercely that I was in fear for my soul.
But it was God's word that eventually showed me that almost everything I was taught about Mary was not in the bible.
You are right of course - if a Catholic really believes that the "Living Catholic Talmud" (the magesterium, the papacy etc.) has more authority that God Himself speaking in scripture (Peter tells us that all scripture is/was inspired by the Spirit of Christ), then one must deal with the question of authority. It is this very authority that has presented their false gospel - so dealing with justification must follow dealing with authority.
Because I was not convinced through apologies or reason, but through God's word, I would be a very poor apologist for the question of authority, or the justification that this same authority presents. Yet, I do concur with you, Mary is only a piece of the puzzle.
Wow...excellent writing here and well explained in my opinion...liked what the commentors said as well.
Hebrews is a problemic book and there are some serious questions about some of what it says...we have recently learned. One teacher wants to gather experts to really dig into it and see what ought to be done. That scares people to death...never considering how the NT anyway, came to be just as it is in our Bibles. I think the biggest hurdle is in truly going from one language to another...at least it is probably impossible to achieve 100% accuracy...good reason we are told to be Bereans and study things out the best we can. I do believe HE answers our prayers for wisdom and guidance in all these things.
I too feel that sometimes Protestants in trying to distance themselves from Catholics (though in the last decade it seems to be a reversal of that in at least some denominations) have gone too far. They do not seem to have respect for Mary. In my thinking, she must have been (and Joseph too) the best set of parents God could have chosen to rear HIS son! I think based on that alone they deserve our respect...but as you say, NOT our worship and as Jim stated, she really comes from a totally different perspective than most Believers ever heard about.
Thanks for sharing this!
In Luke 2:29
49And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come
and Luke 8:21
And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
Mary was out of line
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
She was there for Pentecost
Good write Daniel
Thank you Brother
What's up Daniel. Just thought I'd check on my favorite Canuck. I like the new design, but that profile picture still freaks me out.
I wasn't "reasoned" out of the catholic faith by an evangelical apologist either--but I did have a skeptical friend who became a Christian, and that ended up forcing me to come to terms with what I really believed--and to confront my RCism.
But that process involved Scripture-and it started in Grade 3 or 4 I believe (maybe grade5-but I think it was grade 4) when I read all 4 gospels and the start of Acts over Easter holidays. I borrowed a Bible.
I've been accused of following various dubious "apologists"--but the truth is--I wasn't--I never even heard of most of them until after I was a believer, and out of the RCC.
It's a tricky thing to deal with family--especially when joining a Protestant Church may be viewed by some as worse than going New Age or atheist to some of them.
Pec - I feel like Isaac on my dying bed, and someone has just come into my tent bearing savory stew and claiming to be Esau! Is it really you??
I have to change that avatar one of these days. I am waiting for my hair to grow in a bit more so that I can snap a new pic. I am letting my beard grow too - just for the winter (keeps my face warm) - so I would like to have it looking like a beard before I change the photo :-D)
All is well up here in the north Pec. We sure miss you in blogoland - but we are all aware of your grueling schedule. I for one am thankful that you are disciplined and refrain from posting too much. Enjoy the season - I know it won't be the same without the blistering cold - but try and get by.
Pilgrim - I hear you brother, I hear ya.
Hi Daniel! You have written about something that has occupied more then its fair share of my mental energy. I aslo was raised Catholic, Catholic school, etc... My mother is so devout and it is so difficult for her to see that it is CHRIST she needs, not sacraments, and certainly not Mary, Jesus' mother.
Like you, she (and others like her) need to really bow to the authority of scripture, that they say they believe in. I once asked my mother and grandmother about the statue of the "blessed mother" that has her standing on the serpent. They insisted it was from the Bible. So, I read them the whole passage that I figured they had been told about. (Gen 3)
"Oh yes, that is it! That is the Blessed Mother, way back in the OT, right at the beginning of mankind!" I then pointed out to them that it says, "he [woman's offspring] will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." I pointed out that it says "HE" will crush the serpent's head. I thought for sure that would make them see that their statue and their adoration was based upon a false understanding. They were not moved. My grandmother is now dead, but I pray that my mother would stop this virgin worship and see the true God and His salvation.
On a personal note, I had discarded the Catholic faith when I went through confirmation classes (6th grade?) because the answers to my many questions were not sufficiently answered. When I heard the gospel about 8 years later, I was an agnostic.
One more thing! I was just reading a booklet on "covenant theology" and it discussed this "Federal Headship", so it was kind of interesting to read your talk of it.
Finally, I want to say that I especially appreciated this comment of yours here:
One of the reasons there is so much diversity in Christian theology is because we build line upon line, and precept upon precept - our theology becomes a house of cards, and each level we add, we give ourselves greater potential to be farther from the truth.
That is a real problem, isn't it?
May you be blessed (happy) this Christmas.
-sorry for the long comment.
Wow. I'm going to link to this one.
No, I got your point and recognise that you weren't diminishing Mary's role as an example in Scripture. I was just adding in my $0.02 worth in a poorly written way. [cheesy grin]
This is a fabulous line of comments, conducted in a wonderful spirit of candour and humility. Well done!
Andrew - sometimes the comments are better than the posts!
LOL ... the certainly are on my blog!
Oh, I just had to add one more thought ...
(Mary was a human sinner just like the rest of us, but yes, a very obedient, humble, faithful one at that. Much respect, absolutely. I don't mean to be disrespectful of the real person that bore the Lord Jesus Christ ... but ...
the imagined Mary that is the product of the Catholic religion is another matter.)
Here's my other thought: women's lib, equal rights. The Catholic religion seems to have been a pioneer of equal rights in their doctrine of Mary.
The Bible gives us a sinless man concieved without sin - Catholicism gives us a sinless woman, the Immaculate Conception
The Bible gives us a man that ascended into heaven - Catholicism ggives us a woman that was assumed into heaven (I was born on the feast of the Assumption - so my parents named me Rosemary, that is what the '~' stands for, 'mary')
The Bible gives a mediator between God and sinners, the man Jesus Christ - Catholicism gives us the Mediatrix of all graces, a woman
How does that saying go - If a man can do it, a woman can do it better?
(rather than an interest in truth, it is a system that appeals to women's desire for a false importance - like women's lib does)
sorry for the long comment again
Rose - no worries - great insight too. thanks for the comment.