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Author Topic: Denial of the Perpetual Virginity among some Protestants: exegesis?  (Read 2616 times) Average Rating: 0
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jordanz
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« on: April 01, 2011, 09:56:41 PM »

Over at the Queen of Heaven thread on Orthodox/Catholic, I posed this question:

Okay, so which Protestants believe in the perpetual virginity and which don't?

Anglicanism officially believes in the perpetual virginity.  Given the recent theological atomization of Anglicanism, it's hard to tell what "Anglicanism" means anymore.

Confessional Lutherans believe in the perpetual virginity.

Do most Reformed Christians still believe in the perpetual virginity?  How about Arminianist traditions?

My general question still stands: what is the spectrum of Protestant belief on the perpetual virginity?  By corollary, the question of whether Jesus had consanguineous brothers and sisters is also important.

The use of ἀδελφοί/fratres in the New Testament, especially in a Pauline context, refers not to blood relations but the Christian assembly.  I wonder if this is in the same vein as the African-American community's use of "brother" and "sister".  For some in the African-American community, all members of the community are "brother" and "sister" to one another in cultural solidarity and identity even if there is no blood relation.  This example parallels the use of ἀδελφοί/fratres in the Gospels and Epistles.  The Christian community is fraternal, even if only some members are consanguineous. 

So goes the Catholic and Orthodox interpretation of Holy Writ through the perpetual virginity of the Theotokos.  Some Protestants contend that Mary was not perpetually virginal.  Jesus was not the only child in the Holy Family -- Our Lord had blood siblings.

How do Protestant groups exegete the Holy Scriptures to arrive at this conclusion?  How does the denial of the perpetual virginity and orthodox understanding of the Holy Family in some Protestant denominations affect other Protestant scriptural interpretations?   
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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2011, 10:01:09 PM »

I can't speak in depth here, but fwiw when I was a Protestant (Wesleyan holiness) we definitely believed that Mary had other children. I suppose it might be based on simplistic understandings and bad exegesis (eisegesis?), such as with the verse about Joseph not knowing Mary "till" Jesus was born, and so forth. I think generally we just looked at Scripture, and it said that Jesus had siblings, so we assumed that they must have been Mary's children. I suppose part of it has to do with a larger idea about who Mary was, though. For example, Mary was considered the mother of Jesus, not the mother of God. She was just a human, albeit one with a special role in the salvation story--but not too special.
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« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2011, 10:14:15 PM »

FWIW pretty much every Protestant group has gone a long way from their founders on this particular subject.  Luther, Calvin, and even Wesley believed in the Perpetual Virginity, it wasn't called into question, IIRC, until the late 19th century.  Nowadays you'd be hard pressed to find any Protestant who'd actually proclaim such a belief.
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« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2011, 11:21:59 PM »

FWIW pretty much every Protestant group has gone a long way from their founders on this particular subject.  Luther, Calvin, and even Wesley believed in the Perpetual Virginity, it wasn't called into question, IIRC, until the late 19th century.  Nowadays you'd be hard pressed to find any Protestant who'd actually proclaim such a belief.
I've come across some former Protestants who believed it when they were Protestants, and an Anglo-Catholic sitting on the fence looking at Orthodoxy, so it isn't totally unknown, but nearly so.  From the literature, it is a reaction to the cult of the Virgin.  I remember as a Protestant pointing out that in talks with the Vatican, the issue of whether the Theotokos (not the word I used at the time) had other children was far more important to them than to us (Lutherans).  Besides the honorable mention in the Creed, and a guest appearance around Christmas, you never heard about her in the Lutheran church.  Hence, when one heard "Brothers of the Lord,' we all thought younger half brothers.

I've never known this to be a problem for Protestant converts to Orthodoxy, btw.
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« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2011, 11:41:54 PM »

FWIW pretty much every Protestant group has gone a long way from their founders on this particular subject.  Luther, Calvin, and even Wesley believed in the Perpetual Virginity, it wasn't called into question, IIRC, until the late 19th century.  Nowadays you'd be hard pressed to find any Protestant who'd actually proclaim such a belief.

I've come across some former Protestants who believed it when they were Protestants, and an Anglo-Catholic sitting on the fence looking at Orthodoxy, so it isn't totally unknown, but nearly so.  From the literature, it is a reaction to the cult of the Virgin.  I remember as a Protestant pointing out that in talks with the Vatican, the issue of whether the Theotokos (not the word I used at the time) had other children was far more important to them than to us (Lutherans).  Besides the honorable mention in the Creed, and a guest appearance around Christmas, you never heard about her in the Lutheran church.  Hence, when one heard "Brothers of the Lord,' we all thought younger half brothers.

I've never known this to be a problem for Protestant converts to Orthodoxy, btw.

This is all so very ironic, as was pointed out on the Queen of Heaven thread:

Quote
Heck, I even read somewhere that Martin Luther confessed that Our Lady is the Queen of Heaven!  (no joke).  Then again, I also think I read somewhere that Martin Luther still held to the Holy Dormition/Assumption even after his official break with the Roman Church.

Luther also espoused the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God, as did, surprisingly enough, Calvin and Zwingli. The attempt to completely remove the Mother of God from the record (Mary reduced to a mere "vessel", or the notion that she and Joseph had further children) appeared centuries later in protestant thought and belief.

How did Protestantism fall so far afield from its 16th century genesis?  Luther was not necessarily opposed to Marian veneration.  He simply wished to reduce its excesses. 

I've come across some former Protestants who believed it when they were Protestants, and an Anglo-Catholic sitting on the fence looking at Orthodoxy, so it isn't totally unknown, but nearly so.  From the literature, it is a reaction to the cult of the Virgin.

I think you're quite right about the allergy to any veneration, even a hit of veneration, of Our Lady in many Protestant circles.  I suspect that this has to do with the cross-pollinization of Calvinism and Lutheranism, especially in the case of German Lutherans in North America.  It's important to remember that in the 17th to 19th centuries the Prussian royal house was Reformed, while her subjects were overwhelmingly Lutheran.  Orthodox Lutheranism, the Lutheranism of Bach, was very liturgical and displayed a muted Marian veneration.  When the Prussian house forced a merger of the Reformed and Lutheran churches of the realm, a new prayerbook was introduced that destroyed both confessional Calvinism and Lutheranism.  It was this Lutheranism that was brought by German settlers to the US.  The Swedes and Finns are still today Orthodox Lutheran in liturgy, but it appears that their North American immigrant brothers and sisters became Calvinized upon arrival in the new world.   

I've never known this to be a problem for Protestant converts to Orthodoxy, btw.

Are there any people here with different experiences?  I'm cradle RC, so I can't comment at all on this phenomenon.

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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2011, 01:16:41 AM »

Don't be so quick to blame a mix of Lutheranism and Calvinism. Both founders loved the Theotokos, believed in her perpetual virginity, and defended her honor. Calvin confessed her as the Mother of God, and I believe he even did some apologetic writing against radical reformers on Our Lady's behalf.

I believe the problem, and this is just my own thinking aloud, Protestantism is essentially theological entropy. They tend to "slow down" (i.e., lose Tradition) as time goes on. It seems that the original desire of the reformers to "get back" to the early church has caused a type of minimalism. What is absolutely necessary for salvation? That is their question, and they seek that one thing, to the detriment of everything else...namely the neglecting of the fullness of the Church in Her Holy Tradition. The shift in focus from the Church to the person, gradual as it was for mainstream Protestantism, caused most of them to lose any sense of the Church and the continuing of Tradition...that being anything outside Scripture itself. But, sola scriptura is yet another debate. Wink

Anyway, that's my rant...fwiw.
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2011, 03:59:48 AM »

Don't be so quick to blame a mix of Lutheranism and Calvinism. Both founders loved the Theotokos, believed in her perpetual virginity, and defended her honor. Calvin confessed her as the Mother of God, and I believe he even did some apologetic writing against radical reformers on Our Lady's behalf.

I believe the problem, and this is just my own thinking aloud, Protestantism is essentially theological entropy. They tend to "slow down" (i.e., lose Tradition) as time goes on. It seems that the original desire of the reformers to "get back" to the early church has caused a type of minimalism. What is absolutely necessary for salvation? That is their question, and they seek that one thing, to the detriment of everything else...namely the neglecting of the fullness of the Church in Her Holy Tradition. The shift in focus from the Church to the person, gradual as it was for mainstream Protestantism, caused most of them to lose any sense of the Church and the continuing of Tradition...that being anything outside Scripture itself. But, sola scriptura is yet another debate. Wink

Anyway, that's my rant...fwiw.
Yes, even Confessional Lutheranism, denying Tradition, forgets its own tradition: few would know what Luther said that wasn't in the Book of Concord.

The Hohenzollerns didn't force the Prussian Union until 1798.  The German Lutherans were already established in America by then. The first Speaker of the US House of Representatives (1789) was Rev. Frederick Muhlenberg, a Lutheran ministerw whose Father, the Rev. Henry Muhlenberg, founded the Lutheran church in America in 1742 by orgnaizing the Pensylvanian Lutherans who had been seeking a pastor since 1732 (the earlier and cotemporaneous Swedish church clergy went Episcopalian 1789-1845).  Since the German Lutherans in PA had formed Germantwon by 1683, forming the core of Muhlenberg's Ministerium (the first native American Lutheran "synod"), to which were added the Lutherans fleeing from the Prussian Union, they were quite free from Calvinist influence (I remember in catechism class the lines drawn between us and the Calvinists, and the reproach of the Prussian/German government to blurring them.  Nothing on the Theotokos though).
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2011, 08:24:35 AM »

As a Lutheran, I had a high view of the Theotokos and confessed her ever virginity.

You can't throw everyone into the same basket.  Some of us as Protestants actually read our confessions and knew our history.  I agree the vast majority of Protestants don't adhere to the ever virginity of Mary, and in fact it was an issue for me at our last parish (our Pastor actively taught that Jesus had "younger brothers and sisters" and claimed this was Scriptural), but there are a whole lot of Lutherans and I'd guess Reformed as well who do hold to it.
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2011, 11:18:03 AM »

As a Lutheran, I had a high view of the Theotokos and confessed her ever virginity.

You can't throw everyone into the same basket.  Some of us as Protestants actually read our confessions and knew our history.  I agree the vast majority of Protestants don't adhere to the ever virginity of Mary, and in fact it was an issue for me at our last parish (our Pastor actively taught that Jesus had "younger brothers and sisters" and claimed this was Scriptural), but there are a whole lot of Lutherans and I'd guess Reformed as well who do hold to it.
What Synod/church, if I may ask?
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2011, 11:28:09 AM »

Yes, even Confessional Lutheranism, denying Tradition, forgets its own tradition: few would know what Luther said that wasn't in the Book of Concord.

The Hohenzollerns didn't force the Prussian Union until 1798.  The German Lutherans were already established in America by then. [...]

Thanks, iamistry, for correcting me.  Still, I have some more questions about Lutheranism in the New World.

I was wrong so far as the timing of the Prussian Union and Lutheran immigration to North America.  Still, before Christianity imploded in Scandinavia, the Swedes (for example) were high church compared to the EKD.  While confessionally Lutheran, their högmässa were often not that different from high Anglican or Roman Catholic Masses.  See Ingmar Bergman's film Nattvardsgästerna (lit. "The Communicants", titled "Winter Light" for anglophone audiences).  The priest celebrates a Mass that is rather high up the candle from American Lutheranism.  The church furnishings are certainly not iconoclastic: there are carved statuary reredoses over the altars, crucifixes, etc. 

How, then, did North American Lutheranism, until relatively recently, take on more of a evangelical liturgical style in some circles?  Is there any relationship between churchmanship and theology? 

From what I understand, the LCMS is rather conservative liturgically.  The ELCA is liturgically liberal and more Episcopal Eucharist/liberal Novus Ordo.

 
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2011, 11:54:08 AM »

When I was a Lutheran (LCMS upbringing and later WELS), my veneration of the Theotokos was next to non-existent.  In fact, it bordered on hostility.  I think that a lot of this was due to being raised around extremely anti-RC Baptists and Pentecostals in the South, and seeing the excesses of the Roman Catholics first hand when I moved to Wisconsin.  At no time did any of my teachers in the LCMS schools profess the ever-virginity of Mary.  If it was discussed at all, the teaching was "we don't really know.  The Bible says Jesus had brothers and we don't question that.  And, it has nothing to do with our Salvation anyway."  The fact that Mary was virgin at the time of conception, and that the father of Jesus was the God the Father through the Holy Spirit was without question.  Also, the entire issue of ever-virginity was discounted since we all believed that Jesus was born naturally as a human (in other words, a vaginal birth), and the idea that Mary remained intact as a virgin after giving birth was considered a Roman Catholic fiction.  One could go as far as to say that some of the writings of Luther to the contrary were taken with the understanding that he was Roman Catholic, in fact a monk in the church, and that it is only natural that it took a while to remove all traces of Latin error.

Now, what I was taught above in no way invalidates anything of what was written by other former Lutherans above.  The Lutheran Church, particularly the ELCA and LCMS are far from homogeneous in their beliefs.  Even the LCMS had a fairly liberal faction (not all of those that supported ELIM went to the ELCA) and an extremely conservative faction (Concordia - Springfield being one of the schools that put out the most conservative pastors).  My father was educated at Springfield, and while considered "liberal" by their standards, was known as one of the more “scripturally conservative” pastors in the Synod.  “Confessional” Lutherans were considered somewhat to be Pharisees.  “Scriptural Lutherans” believed strongly in Sola Scriptura and considered the book of Concord to be a work of man and not inspired by God.  “Confessional Lutherans” tended to hold the Book of Concord even with the Bible in authority.  Also, Districts within the LCMS are relatively autonomous, so to discuss “what Lutherans believe” would heavily depend upon which District in the LCMS you are discussing.  The “English District” was considered very liberal, and even moderate LCMS pastors wondered if it was even Lutheran (at least officially.  In private conversation they would say it was not).  The District of the LCMS here in Nebraska is also considered quite liberal.  The District my father served in Wisconsin, on the other hand, was rather conservative.  So a lot depended upon who you were talking to at the time, and who the District President was at the time.

As a Lutheran, I had a high view of the Theotokos and confessed her ever virginity.

You can't throw everyone into the same basket.  Some of us as Protestants actually read our confessions and knew our history.  I agree the vast majority of Protestants don't adhere to the ever virginity of Mary, and in fact it was an issue for me at our last parish (our Pastor actively taught that Jesus had "younger brothers and sisters" and claimed this was Scriptural), but there are a whole lot of Lutherans and I'd guess Reformed as well who do hold to it.
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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2011, 12:17:46 PM »

Yes, even Confessional Lutheranism, denying Tradition, forgets its own tradition: few would know what Luther said that wasn't in the Book of Concord.

The Hohenzollerns didn't force the Prussian Union until 1798.  The German Lutherans were already established in America by then. [...]

Thanks, iamistry, for correcting me.  Still, I have some more questions about Lutheranism in the New World.

I was wrong so far as the timing of the Prussian Union and Lutheran immigration to North America.  Still, before Christianity imploded in Scandinavia, the Swedes (for example) were high church compared to the EKD.  While confessionally Lutheran, their högmässa were often not that different from high Anglican or Roman Catholic Masses.  See Ingmar Bergman's film Nattvardsgästerna (lit. "The Communicants", titled "Winter Light" for anglophone audiences).  The priest celebrates a Mass that is rather high up the candle from American Lutheranism.  The church furnishings are certainly not iconoclastic: there are carved statuary reredoses over the altars, crucifixes, etc. 

How, then, did North American Lutheranism, until relatively recently, take on more of a evangelical liturgical style in some circles?  Is there any relationship between churchmanship and theology? 

From what I understand, the LCMS is rather conservative liturgically.  The ELCA is liturgically liberal and more Episcopal Eucharist/liberal Novus Ordo.
That is the perception of my still Lutheran (at least nominally) mother.

As to the low church in America, America got a lot of dissident Swedes (the region of Smaland supplied a lot of Swedish immigrants, and it is also the hotbed of dissidents.  It is still the hotbed of religious observance as well).  Outside of the capital, there never was much funding for elaborate buildings to support a high church: the Växjö cathedral, of the diocese where my great-grandfather came from in the 1800's looked like this

His parish

It's not very different from the main church of New Sweden
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2011, 12:26:20 PM »

Generally speaking, it seems that most contemporary Evangelical Protestants really don't concern themselves much with the Theotokos. That they pay little attention even to Luke 1 is evident in these song lyrics. Makes a nice Hallmark moment I'm sure, but I'll take the Magnificat any day!
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« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2011, 12:27:24 PM »

“Confessional” Lutherans were considered somewhat to be Pharisees.  “Scriptural Lutherans” believed strongly in Sola Scriptura and considered the book of Concord to be a work of man and not inspired by God.  “Confessional Lutherans” tended to hold the Book of Concord even with the Bible in authority.
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Never heard a sermon/lesson like this when I was Lutheran, but his answer to the question on the first commandment and the Dark Ages is familiar.
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« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2011, 12:40:13 PM »

In fact, it bordered on hostility.  I think that a lot of this was due to being raised around extremely anti-RC Baptists and Pentecostals in the South, and seeing the excesses of the Roman Catholics first hand when I moved to Wisconsin.

What do you mean by "excesses"?

Marian devotion varies widely among Roman Catholics.  I was raised in the Irish tradition.  Irish Catholicism was heavily influenced by Jansenism, and to a lesser extent by the very Reformed Church of Ireland.  Marian devotion in my background was limited to preaching on Marian feast days (we did not have any special ceremonial, just the Mass), the Rosary, Christmastide decorations like the Creche, and a token statue here and there.  Mary was often mentioned in prayer and hymns, though.  Priests would often say a Hail Mary after a sermon, or sing the Salve Regina after Mass.  Outside of Rosary recitation before Mass, attention was focused on scriptural preaching and the Eucharist.

The situation is quite different where I now live when in the United States (I spend most of the year in Canada now).  Our parish is mostly Tridentine, although the pastor has one or two Novus Ordo Masses.  The Tridentines are mostly of the Irish mold and do not care for Marian devotions besides the Rosary.  The Hispanic and Filipino parishioners often parade around Marian statues, pin dollar bills to statues of Mary, etc.  This scandalizes many of the traditionalists!  We are Protestantized to some degree, even if we won't admit it!  We Tridentines love Benediction, so we are still pagan Roman Catholics.  Still, notice the divergence in Marian belief between different cultures.     
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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2011, 12:41:04 PM »

I don't get You-tube here at work, so I cannot watch the link.  Also, I do not know if you wrote this seriously or humorously, but in either case, you could not be more correct.  This HAS broken up marriages, as well as families.  A lady that I know and went to school with comes from a family torn apart by this.  She has sisters that have not spoken to her parents for years over this.  I never really got a chance to dicuss this with her in detail, but I guess that some of the family stayed LCMS (this lady and her parents), some went ELCA, and some went WELS.  There was some friction in my family when I went WELS having a LCMS pastor for a father.  We got over that when we found out that the LCMS in Eastern Nebraska is more like the ELCA, and the WELS more like the LCMS.  However, it did forshadow the friction of my converson to Orthodoxy.

I won't even discuss what it was like in the mid '70's when ELIM was active and the split in the LCMS occured.  I saw several families torn apart by this.  My father had to deal with this in his first church in Southern Illionios.  In fact, he was sent there from Springfield BECUASE about 1/4 of the church was ELIM and they needed a conservative pastor to sort things out.

“Confessional” Lutherans were considered somewhat to be Pharisees.  “Scriptural Lutherans” believed strongly in Sola Scriptura and considered the book of Concord to be a work of man and not inspired by God.  “Confessional Lutherans” tended to hold the Book of Concord even with the Bible in authority. 
That could break up a marriage:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3HuShaTNoY
'Cheers' Demonstrates Why Lutherans Should Not Follow The Episcopalians
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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2011, 12:49:27 PM »

What do you mean by "excesses"?
     

As you state, and as I have written before, practices vary.  In some areas, the veneration of Mary came closer to Mary Worship than I am comfortable with even as an Orthodox Christian.  I never have liked statues, paintings, or Icons of Mary outside of the context of her as Theotokos (in other words, Mary alone without Jesus).  Jesus Christ died for my sins, and suffered on my account.  My devotion to Him as God at one time bordered on fanatical (unfortunately, it has cooled since I have become Orthodox).  I bristled at anything that drew even the least bit of attention away from Jesus Christ.  There were times that I wanted to destroy the statues in front of one church that thad Mary on a pedistal and statues of people bowing down and worshiping her.  Not a cross in sight.  My passion on this matter has muted somewhat, but some of my writing betrays the fact that 16 years of Orthodoxy has not completely put out the fire of 34 years of radical Lutheranism.
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« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2011, 01:04:12 PM »

As you state, and as I have written before, practices vary.  In some areas, the veneration of Mary came closer to Mary Worship than I am comfortable with even as an Orthodox Christian.  I never have liked statues, paintings, or Icons of Mary outside of the context of her as Theotokos (in other words, Mary alone without Jesus).  Jesus Christ died for my sins, and suffered on my account.  My devotion to Him as God at one time bordered on fanatical (unfortunately, it has cooled since I have become Orthodox).  I bristled at anything that drew even the least bit of attention away from Jesus Christ.  There were times that I wanted to destroy the statues in front of one church that thad Mary on a pedistal and statues of people bowing down and worshiping her.  Not a cross in sight.  My passion on this matter has muted somewhat, but some of my writing betrays the fact that 16 years of Orthodoxy has not completely put out the fire of 34 years of radical Lutheranism.

Yeah.  I'm also deeply bothered by the Catholic cultural traditions that place too much emphasis on Mary, or inappropriately venerate her.  In my opinion, parading a statue of Mary not-Theotokos, or pinning money to her like a good-luck charm, is not Christian.  I also think that the "veneration" of Our Lady of Guadelupe is Mariolatry.  Many Roman priests agree, but try to rationalize these practices as "cultural differences" even if they offend the sensibilities of other parishioners.  If I were a priest, I would not permit any of this.  I would celebrate a votive Mass for OL Guadelupe, but I would not allow the superstitious practices.  Yeah, maybe I'm prejudiced, but I'm also concerned about Christian orthodoxy.

However, prayers that properly venerate Mary as Theotokos implicitly or explicity (such as the Hail Mary or the Salve Regina), are orthodox and fine.  The votive Masses of Our Lady are scriptural and constantly revere her as Theotokos.  I have no problem with proper honor for Our Lady.  However, she always points to her Son as our eternal life.    
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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2011, 01:27:37 PM »

What Synod/church, if I may ask?

LCMS is where I was formed in the faith and came to appreciate the Theotokos as ever virgin.  WELS is the parish where we learned some Lutherans don't know what their Confessions say about the Theotokos.

Of course, as has rightly been pointed out, there are people in both Synods holding to both viewpoints, so realistically it's a parish by parish, parishioner by parishioner and Pastor by Pastor issue.  Which is another reason I began looking elsewhere -- there is no real catholicity among Lutherans.
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« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2011, 01:35:31 PM »

“Confessional” Lutherans were considered somewhat to be Pharisees.  “Scriptural Lutherans” believed strongly in Sola Scriptura and considered the book of Concord to be a work of man and not inspired by God.  “Confessional Lutherans” tended to hold the Book of Concord even with the Bible in authority.
That could break up a marriage:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3HuShaTNoY
'Cheers' Demonstrates Why Lutherans Should Not Follow The Episcopalians

I LOVE that episode.  I laughed for days over that (we had been Lutheran maybe 2 years when I first saw it)!
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« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2011, 01:59:39 PM »

I don't get You-tube here at work, so I cannot watch the link.  Also, I do not know if you wrote this seriously or humorously, but in either case, you could not be more correct.  This HAS broken up marriages, as well as families.  A lady that I know and went to school with comes from a family torn apart by this.  She has sisters that have not spoken to her parents for years over this.  I never really got a chance to dicuss this with her in detail, but I guess that some of the family stayed LCMS (this lady and her parents), some went ELCA, and some went WELS.  There was some friction in my family when I went WELS having a LCMS pastor for a father.  We got over that when we found out that the LCMS in Eastern Nebraska is more like the ELCA, and the WELS more like the LCMS.  However, it did forshadow the friction of my converson to Orthodoxy.

I won't even discuss what it was like in the mid '70's when ELIM was active and the split in the LCMS occured.  I saw several families torn apart by this.  My father had to deal with this in his first church in Southern Illionios.  In fact, he was sent there from Springfield BECUASE about 1/4 of the church was ELIM and they needed a conservative pastor to sort things out.

“Confessional” Lutherans were considered somewhat to be Pharisees.  “Scriptural Lutherans” believed strongly in Sola Scriptura and considered the book of Concord to be a work of man and not inspired by God.  “Confessional Lutherans” tended to hold the Book of Concord even with the Bible in authority. 
That could break up a marriage:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3HuShaTNoY
'Cheers' Demonstrates Why Lutherans Should Not Follow The Episcopalians
Sorry if I thoughtlessly opened wounds.  The video is light hearted, but I did think when I saw it, besides the humor, a rather serious note that wasn't being taken serious.

In our parish there was no such problems, except many had family where there was no intercommunion (between us and other Lutherans, that is). We were on the conservative end of the ALC.  Our problems came when the ELCA was formed, and a woman pastor was sent to get us to "get with the program." I was gone by then, though (for unrelated reasons, namely, finding the Truth of Orthodoxy).
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« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2011, 10:43:10 PM »

Why are Lutheran denominations particularly concerned about closed communion?  The strong aversion to intercommunion between the various American Lutheran denominations appears to be even stronger than the RC and Orthodox intercommunion "ban".

What are the doctrinal or theological issues that fuel closed communion?  Are liturgical issues also a consideration?  The ordination of women by some Lutheran denominations?

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« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2011, 11:21:52 PM »

In my opinion, parading a statue of Mary not-Theotokos, or pinning money to her like a good-luck charm, is not Christian.  I also think that the "veneration" of Our Lady of Guadelupe is Mariolatry.  Many Roman priests agree, but try to rationalize these practices as "cultural differences" even if they offend the sensibilities of other parishioners.  If I were a priest, I would not permit any of this.  I would celebrate a votive Mass for OL Guadelupe, but I would not allow the superstitious practices.  Yeah, maybe I'm prejudiced, but I'm also concerned about Christian orthodoxy.

Orthodox Serbs venerate a golden-guilded three armed icon of Mary, and they put money all over the icons and underneath them in the churches. I really appreciate the "Hispanic" American Roman Catholic tradition. Much of it reminds me of what most of Orthodoxy is like with its folk lore and borderline superstitious practices. Such a nice divergence from the tired brainy/philosophical/scholastic etc. Christianities which like to make the faith a mental exercise. These people are just living in it!
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« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2011, 11:31:24 PM »

In my opinion, parading a statue of Mary not-Theotokos, or pinning money to her like a good-luck charm, is not Christian.  I also think that the "veneration" of Our Lady of Guadelupe is Mariolatry.  Many Roman priests agree, but try to rationalize these practices as "cultural differences" even if they offend the sensibilities of other parishioners.  If I were a priest, I would not permit any of this.  I would celebrate a votive Mass for OL Guadelupe, but I would not allow the superstitious practices.  Yeah, maybe I'm prejudiced, but I'm also concerned about Christian orthodoxy.

Orthodox Serbs venerate a golden-guilded three armed icon of Mary, and they put money all over the icons and underneath them in the churches. I really appreciate the "Hispanic" American Roman Catholic tradition. Much of it reminds me of what most of Orthodoxy is like with its folk lore and borderline superstitious practices. Such a nice divergence from the tired brainy/philosophical/scholastic etc. Christianities which like to make the faith a mental exercise. These people are just living in it!

I know I should not be a bigot and accept these cultural manifestations of Marian veneration, but my deeply analytical orthodox Roman side just can't grasp it.  Either Our Lady is Theotokos-Genetrix Dei, or she is some weird pagan goddess.  Note that I am also deeply opposed to the "co-redemptrix" heresy.  I also affirm the Orthodox interpretation of the Dormition/Assumption, and have a "weak" assent to the IC.  I accept the IC dogma as required, but I can also understand and appreciate the Orthodox perspective.  It would have been better for Rome to keep the IC "pious opinion", but I must assent.

If I ever were to erect a church, I would forbid statues.  Any icon of Our Lady would have to be strictly Theotokos.  I would never allow a statue or image of her alone.  She is the saints of saints and the path to the Son, Jesus Christ.  Mary is not a goddess.

Again, I understand that the Immaculate Heart parades and the money statue practices are cultural and the result of poor catechesis.  Also, "anglos" have weird customs like burying St. Joe headfirst in the backyard to sell a house.  All Christian cultures have bizarre practices.  Still, any pastor of souls must defend the unchanging apostolic belief that the Virgin is always mortal and never a participant in Christ's atonement and resurrection. 

 
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« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2011, 11:33:27 PM »

Any icon of Our Lady would have to be strictly Theotokos.  I would never allow a statue or image of her alone.  

I don't really follow... Could you please clarify what you are saying here?  Smiley

EDIT #2--Ok, you posted below, so I will respond there...
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« Reply #25 on: April 02, 2011, 11:36:40 PM »

If I ever were to erect a church, I would forbid statues.

Even if you funded the building of an entire church building, I don't think you would get to call all of the shots. There is no such thing as a one-man church, thank God.
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« Reply #26 on: April 02, 2011, 11:39:35 PM »

Any icon of Our Lady would have to be strictly Theotokos.  I would never allow a statue or image of her alone.  

I don't really follow... Could you please clarify what you are saying here?  Smiley

In Orthodox iconography, Our Lady is always depicted with God the Son.  She is never alone.  Our Lady always points to her Son as our source of eternal life.  This is the epitome of orthodox apostolic Christian belief in the role of Our Lady as Theotokos.

Roman-style statuary often depicts Mary separate from Our Lord.  I find that this can lead to abuses like the ones I have mentioned.  While I don't have an issue with the adoration of the Sacred Heart, I do have some issues with Immaculate Heart statuary and imagery.  Some people "adore" the Immaculate Heart.  The Immaculate Heart is not the same as the humanity of Christ in the Sacred Heart.

I personally think that Roman Catholicism should move away from statues of the Virgin without Christ.  All of my images of Our Lady are of her as Theotokos, with the Son.  I do not have statues of her (or of the Lord, for that matter).

If I ever were to erect a church, I would forbid statues.

Even if you funded the building of an entire church building, I don't think you would get to call all of the shots. There is no such thing as a one-man church, thank God.

Can't y'all play hypothetical with me?
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« Reply #27 on: April 02, 2011, 11:43:00 PM »

In Orthodox iconography, Our Lady is always depicted with God the Son.  She is never alone.  Our Lady always points to her Son as our source of eternal life.  This is the epitome of orthodox apostolic Christian belief in the role of Our Lady as Theotokos.

Roman-style statuary often depicts Mary separate from Our Lord.  I find that this can lead to abuses like the ones I have mentioned.  While I don't have an issue with the adoration of the Sacred Heart, I do have some issues with Immaculate Heart statuary and imagery.  Some people "adore" the Immaculate Heart.  The Immaculate Heart is not the same as the humanity of Christ in the Sacred Heart.

I personally think that Roman Catholicism should move away from statues of the Virgin without Christ.  All of my images of Our Lady are of her as Theotokos, with the Son.  I do not have statues of her (or of the Lord, for that manner).

Ok, thank you. But fwiw, there are Orthodox icons that have just Mary (for example, I've had this one in my icon corner, which matches nicely with this one put opposite it).

EDIT--Though I suppose in that case the icon of Jesus is suppose to be included, so Mary isn't really all by her lonesome...
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« Reply #28 on: April 02, 2011, 11:45:58 PM »

Conservative Lutherans take communion VERY seriously.  They tend to "guard the chalice" much more rigedly than most Orthodox that I have come accross.  The idea behind closed communion is this: if you are WELS (the ones most "closed" about communion), we know exactly what you were taught, and to a large degree what you believe.  As such, the danger of giving you communion to your damnation is minimized.  Keep in mind also that a large number of WELS members were educated in WELS schools and have been thouroghly indoctrinated in what WELS believes.  LCMS will commune WELS, but not ELCA.  Given the ordination of women and their views on various other matters (such as homosexuality and freemasonry), WELS and LCMS hardly consider ELCA to be a Christian denomination, let alone Lutheran.  As such, we would have absolutely no idea what a person from the ELCA believes when they come for communion.

As an aside, I was an usher in the LCMS and an elder in the WELS.  Both churches kept very close eye on membership and attendence.  If we had a member fail to attend for two weeks in a row, either tha pastor or an elder would call upon the member to see if anything was wrong.  If we noticed a new person in church on a given Sunday (and believe me, we did), we would make contact with them to see if they were WELS (or LCMS), and if not, explain that they were welcome to attend, but not commune.  Usually the ushers (if well trained) or the elders would not allow a person they did not know to approach the altar for communion unless the pastor agreed.  In fact, most of the pastors that I served under would state just before communion that we practiced closed communion, and if someone that was not a member of that church wished to commune, they would have to speak with the pastor before communing.


Why are Lutheran denominations particularly concerned about closed communion?  The strong aversion to intercommunion between the various American Lutheran denominations appears to be even stronger than the RC and Orthodox intercommunion "ban".

What are the doctrinal or theological issues that fuel closed communion?  Are liturgical issues also a consideration?  The ordination of women by some Lutheran denominations?


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« Reply #29 on: April 02, 2011, 11:48:09 PM »

In Orthodox iconography, Our Lady is always depicted with God the Son.  She is never alone.  Our Lady always points to her Son as our source of eternal life.  This is the epitome of orthodox apostolic Christian belief in the role of Our Lady as Theotokos.

Roman-style statuary often depicts Mary separate from Our Lord.  I find that this can lead to abuses like the ones I have mentioned.  While I don't have an issue with the adoration of the Sacred Heart, I do have some issues with Immaculate Heart statuary and imagery.  Some people "adore" the Immaculate Heart.  The Immaculate Heart is not the same as the humanity of Christ in the Sacred Heart.

I personally think that Roman Catholicism should move away from statues of the Virgin without Christ.  All of my images of Our Lady are of her as Theotokos, with the Son.  I do not have statues of her (or of the Lord, for that manner).

Ok, thank you. But fwiw, there are Orthodox icons that have just Mary (for example, I've had this one in my icon corner, which matches nicely with this one put opposite it).

Byzantine iconography is much less prone to misinterpretation because of the semiotic integrity of icon writing.  Roman style statues do not bear the same semiotic significance as icons.  Even your icon of Our Lady without Christ clearly says "maria theotokou" on it.  There's no denying her role in the economy of salvation.  Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart images often look quite similar.

Orthodoxy is more orthodox than Catholicism when it comes to iconography in worship.
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« Reply #30 on: April 02, 2011, 11:55:47 PM »

Conservative Lutherans take communion VERY seriously.  They tend to "guard the chalice" much more rigedly than most Orthodox that I have come accross.  The idea behind closed communion is this: if you are WELS (the ones most "closed" about communion), we know exactly what you were taught, and to a large degree what you believe.  As such, the danger of giving you communion to your damnation is minimized.

When discussing matters Lutheran I always have to keep the doctrine of Sacramental Union in mind.  As I understand it, Luther contended that the Eucharist had no objective meaning (in the Orthodox/Catholic sense of eucharistic sacrifice), but rather the Real Presence for the forgiveness of sins or the damnation of a person according to his or her preparation for the sacrament. 

When discussing Protestant theology I often find myself having to "shift gears" to keep up with discussions.
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« Reply #31 on: April 03, 2011, 08:16:32 AM »

Why are Lutheran denominations particularly concerned about closed communion?  The strong aversion to intercommunion between the various American Lutheran denominations appears to be even stronger than the RC and Orthodox intercommunion "ban".

What are the doctrinal or theological issues that fuel closed communion?  Are liturgical issues also a consideration?  The ordination of women by some Lutheran denominations?

Officially, the LCMS and WELS hold to closed communion because they take seriously the notion that communion is fellowship and full doctrinal agreement is required before sharing the table.  This is quite Orthodox.

Unofficially, only WELS is likely to hold this consistently (to varying degrees of strictness), while the LCMS has some congregations which are very strict with closed communions and others that allow wide open communion.  And all of them are in communion with each other.

ELCA is, to my understanding, typically open communion.
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« Reply #32 on: April 03, 2011, 02:45:31 PM »

Officially, the LCMS and WELS hold to closed communion because they take seriously the notion that communion is fellowship and full doctrinal agreement is required before sharing the table.  This is quite Orthodox.


This is also true.
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