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Author Topic: The Final Proof: Mary had several children.....  (Read 7030 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #180 on: March 07, 2013, 03:58:01 PM »


Well, a few I asked are the following (refer to my previous email for context):

  • Why is it historically plausible to think an entire Church would enter quickly into heresy by accepting an error regarding the Theotokos without leaving a paper trail of opposition?
  • If the universal Church fell into heresy regarding the ever-virginity, then you have one of two choices: either the the Holy Spirit did not lead the Church to truth, in which case, Jesus lied, or the Holy Spirit was impotent and therefore somehow less than divine (in which case you are rejecting the Trinity) or somehow ineffectual. Which do you believe?
  • Your line of questioning begs the question of your own epistemology. Why should we trust your (or my) private interpretation? Why are your interpretations of Scripture better than that which the Church universal believed "everywhere, always and by everyone"?
  • Do you believe the New Testament Canon is closed? If so, why do you accept the Scriptures that a "corrupted" Church selected from amongst many more possible documents? Do you think Hebrews is Scripture? Who wrote it? Why is its inclusion in the Bible trustworthy?
  • Here is a list of Christian documents floating around during the time of the Early Church: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ The existing NT Canon says nothing about these books, so according to that which you are "sure of", we have no means to select the NT Canon. How do you do it without the Church and why is your decision normative?

Please have a go at any or none, but I would be interested in your epistemology, how you know what you know, given that you reject the consensus of a "corrupted" Church.


I'm sorry, if by e-mail you are referring to a private message, I don't seem to have gotten it. But I will try to answer your questions tonight. Unfortunately I have to go to work in a few minutes, and I don't want to give you any hasty, none-thought-out replies. But yes, I will be happy to answer them soon.

I think by email Clemente is referring to previous post(s). Yes, I like to speak for others.
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« Reply #181 on: March 07, 2013, 04:10:16 PM »

I'd like to ask the question to those who believe that Mary did have other children.  Why?  What does that mean to YOUR belief?  Other than polemics and the desire to prove the Orthodox Church is wrong, what does it mean to YOUR belief that Mary in fact had other children?

Personally, the doctrine of the ever-virginity of the Theotokos has very little baring for me. It is attested to in some very early sources, and it doesn't effect my faith either way. My concerns about the teachings on the Theotokos lies elsewhere. Mainly, I'm just arguing possible objections to see how well thought out the Orthodox point of view is. Are there good answers to the hard questions, or will it fall apart under scrutiny? I think most people who ask questions and posit objections are usually just trying to figure out where the truth, either consciously or subconsciously. And I'm one of the few people around who actually enjoys a good theological debate. For some of us, it helps keep us on our toes and thinking about the things we believe. But I'm certainly not hear to try to tear down Orthodoxy. I just want to understand what makes it tick.

I think this is, again, fair enough. You have asked a lot of questions and hopefully got some answers, but have been less forthcoming with answers posed to you. That is fine--you are not on trial here. But be careful that you don't consider Orthodoxy in a vacuum. We shall never get "all the answers". How do your current presuppositions stand up to scrutiny? Your certainty that Scripture is the only certain thing is self-defeating. Are you so certain you have "good answers to the hard questions"?

Honestly, I'm not aware of any questions posted toward me that I have failed to answer as best I could. But if anyone wants to ask me questions, I'll try to give a good answer. I'm not trying to say my opinions are iron-clad and yours aren't. I don't think I ever suggested that.

Well, a few I asked are the following (refer to my previous email for context):

  • Why is it historically plausible to think an entire Church would enter quickly into heresy by accepting an error regarding the Theotokos without leaving a paper trail of opposition?
  • If the universal Church fell into heresy regarding the ever-virginity, then you have one of two choices: either the the Holy Spirit did not lead the Church to truth, in which case, Jesus lied, or the Holy Spirit was impotent and therefore somehow less than divine (in which case you are rejecting the Trinity) or somehow ineffectual. Which do you believe?
  • Your line of questioning begs the question of your own epistemology. Why should we trust your (or my) private interpretation? Why are your interpretations of Scripture better than that which the Church universal believed "everywhere, always and by everyone"?
  • Do you believe the New Testament Canon is closed? If so, why do you accept the Scriptures that a "corrupted" Church selected from amongst many more possible documents? Do you think Hebrews is Scripture? Who wrote it? Why is its inclusion in the Bible trustworthy?
  • Here is a list of Christian documents floating around during the time of the Early Church: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ The existing NT Canon says nothing about these books, so according to that which you are "sure of", we have no means to select the NT Canon. How do you do it without the Church and why is your decision normative?

Please have a go at any or none, but I would be interested in your epistemology, how you know what you know, given that you reject the consensus of a "corrupted" Church.


I am going to play a bit of devil’s advocate even though I agree with you.  In regards to your first two points, these are some responses I have received.  I think the final three arguments are pretty strong though.  They are what got me interested in Orthodoxy to start with.

1.   If the Church quickly accepted an error regarding Theotokos, it is quite possible that the paper trail has been destroyed.  There are numerous documents that were destroyed because they did not follow what the Church taught.
2.   Christ’s statement says that the gate of hell will never prevail against the Church, not that all its teaching would be perfect.  It is possible that minor error such as Mary’s marital relations status could creep in.
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« Reply #182 on: March 07, 2013, 04:30:14 PM »

...I can't think of any Evangelical belief that relies on Mary having more children...

I might know one. I don't know if this is a widespread "official" belief that Evangelicals hold, or just one that a few  Evangelicals I've met hold, but I know that some Evangelicals believe that celibacy and monasticism/nunhood is unnatural and somehow offensive to God, that we're supposed to have families (like Islam). In theory, the Theotokos having more children could be important to them because in their mind, if it is true, then it would support their view.
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« Reply #183 on: March 07, 2013, 04:49:30 PM »

James, your latest posts have been excellent.
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« Reply #184 on: March 07, 2013, 05:03:22 PM »


Well, a few I asked are the following (refer to my previous email for context):

  • Why is it historically plausible to think an entire Church would enter quickly into heresy by accepting an error regarding the Theotokos without leaving a paper trail of opposition?
  • If the universal Church fell into heresy regarding the ever-virginity, then you have one of two choices: either the the Holy Spirit did not lead the Church to truth, in which case, Jesus lied, or the Holy Spirit was impotent and therefore somehow less than divine (in which case you are rejecting the Trinity) or somehow ineffectual. Which do you believe?
  • Your line of questioning begs the question of your own epistemology. Why should we trust your (or my) private interpretation? Why are your interpretations of Scripture better than that which the Church universal believed "everywhere, always and by everyone"?
  • Do you believe the New Testament Canon is closed? If so, why do you accept the Scriptures that a "corrupted" Church selected from amongst many more possible documents? Do you think Hebrews is Scripture? Who wrote it? Why is its inclusion in the Bible trustworthy?
  • Here is a list of Christian documents floating around during the time of the Early Church: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ The existing NT Canon says nothing about these books, so according to that which you are "sure of", we have no means to select the NT Canon. How do you do it without the Church and why is your decision normative?

Please have a go at any or none, but I would be interested in your epistemology, how you know what you know, given that you reject the consensus of a "corrupted" Church.


I'm sorry, if by e-mail you are referring to a private message, I don't seem to have gotten it. But I will try to answer your questions tonight. Unfortunately I have to go to work in a few minutes, and I don't want to give you any hasty, none-thought-out replies. But yes, I will be happy to answer them soon.

I think by email Clemente is referring to previous post(s). Yes, I like to speak for others.

You are exactly right. I was a bit hasty.

Just questions from my previous post.
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« Reply #185 on: March 07, 2013, 05:48:03 PM »

...I can't think of any Evangelical belief that relies on Mary having more children...

I might know one. I don't know if this is a widespread "official" belief that Evangelicals hold, or just one that a few  Evangelicals I've met hold, but I know that some Evangelicals believe that celibacy and monasticism/nunhood is unnatural and somehow offensive to God, that we're supposed to have families (like Islam). In theory, the Theotokos having more children could be important to them because in their mind, if it is true, then it would support their view.

Fair enough, it is the first time I've heard of it though.  But how do they get around St. Paul's call to celibacy?
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« Reply #186 on: March 07, 2013, 05:48:13 PM »

"For Your sake I bore disgrace; humiliation covered my face.  I am become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother's sons; for the zeal of Your house consumed me, and the insults of those who disgraced You fell on me"

Psalm 68:8-10, Orthodox Study Bible page 726

I think your questions are fair enough. But you have a very bad fact that you must tackle from the 5th Ecumenical Council:

Quote
The Capitula of the Council.

I.If anyone shall not confess that the nature or essence of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, as also the force and the power; [if anyone does not confess] a consubstantial Trinity, one Godhead to be worshipped in three subsistences or Persons:  let him be anathema.  For there is but one God even the Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit in whom are all things.

II.If anyone shall not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, the one from all eternity of the Father, without time and without body; the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Mother of God and always a virgin, and born of her:  let him be anathema.

If you are right that Scripture does not allow for the ever-virginity of the Theotokos, than the Church universal fell into significant error and material heresy rather quickly, manifesting itself in its declaration of an anathema at the 5th Ecumenical Council.

However, that would suggest that the Church was not the "pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15). Christ promised He would be with the Church always: "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matt 28:20). So, if you are right, that would suggest that either Christ was not truthful, or that He was trying to be truthful but that He was ineffectual and impotent. Either way, I cannot imagine following that sort of Jesus.

Moreover, given that the Church universal disagreed with your interpretation (as expressed in this Council and at the 4th Ecumenical Council), you are effectively putting yourself above the Church in your understanding of Scripture. Scripture is our most reliable, "infallible" authority for Christian faith and praxis, but it is a material authority. Scripture does not interpret itself any more than the American Constitution interpretes itself. Both need a formal authority to do so. You have made yourself a formal authority above the Church, which begs the question: On what basis is your understanding of Scripture more normative than that which was believed "everywhere, always by everyone" in the Church.

St. Vincent of Lerins warns us that the worst heresies of the Early Church arose when individuals tried to interpret Scripture apart from the Church:
Quote
"But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church's interpretation? For this reason,—because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters .For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another.Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation".A Commonitory by St. Vincent of Lérins

The Holy Spirit never left the Church and we have no reason to believe she fell into universal error. The Church is the Bride of Christ and she is trustworthy. We should therefore interpret Scripture as she does.
If this is about interpreting the Holy Scriptures, exactly which scripture are you interpreting when you proclaim the perpetual virginity of Mary?
If you see Psalm 68 as prophetic of the Christ, then why do you not see Ezekiel 44:1-3 as prophetic of the ever-virginity of the Theotokos?
Well we know from the New Testament that the psalm has to do with Christ, and I gave you the scripture for that.
That doesn't make it prophetic of Christ as you envision prophecy to be.

We do not know from the New Testament that Ezekiel 44 has anything whatsoever to do with Mary or her alleged perpetual virginity.  Are you saying that this gate is a type of Mary's womb?  It seems very far-fetched
We do know what the Church says about this verse, since this prophecy of Ezekiel is read in very great feast of the Theotokos.

To answer your previous question, I believe that what is in the Bible is what God says.  That is my faith.  Basically what it's coming down to is that because someone or persons in your church decided to read in church this passage from Ezekiel on special days of veneration for Mary, then you believe that it applies to Mary.
 However what the verse in Ezekiel says, or what your church claims it says, about Mary is not confirmed in the New Testament scriptures.  There is no scriptural back-up for the interpretation that I can see.  Whereas what the Holy Spirit tells us about Christ in psalm 69, and the reaction of people to him, is clearly confirmed in the NT scriptures.
 You may say the reference to "his mother's sons" is not confirmed in the New Testament (I am aware that you will have a set of stock answers ready to anything I point out in this regard, such as considerations of the force of the word "until" and other possible meanings for "brother", none of which are conclusive as far as I know), but everything else in the original quotation I gave is confirmed, and so there is no reason for me to suppose his mother did not have sons.
In short, there is no positive written inspired statement that you can point to in the NT (that I know of) in support of your teaching, which nonetheless seems to be very central, if not essential to your belief system, going by what others are writing.  The whole discussion of your church in this matter, when referring to the NT, consists of objections to what other people point out, not any clear statement setting out your teaching.
This issue is never discussed, or preached upon, in my church.  I think it would be thought unimportant and a distraction to the main business.  I have not started the thread because I'm an anti-catholic bigot or anything like that, nor to offend anyone, just to make that clear
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« Reply #187 on: March 07, 2013, 06:10:55 PM »

I'd like to ask the question to those who believe that Mary did have other children.  Why?  What does that mean to YOUR belief?  Other than polemics and the desire to prove the Orthodox Church is wrong, what does it mean to YOUR belief that Mary in fact had other children?

It is what I have always believed, or at least believed possible.  I do not profess it because the Church does not profess it.  Likewise, I do not argue the point since it is one of the more stupid arguments.  Whether or not she had other Children has absolutely no bearing on my faith (although it could gain me an anathema if I say that she did).  I believe that she was a virgin at conception.  After that, I really do not care.  I guess if I was heavy into Mary worship such insignificant points would weigh heavy on me.  But I am not.  I revere her as Mother of God, and find no need to go farther than that.  In fact, isn't Mother of God about as high and far as one can go?  As to those that believe the other way, I really have not seen where their belief that she remained ever virgin did anything for their faith.  As I have written many times on this forum, I have seen more people live Christlike lives outside of the Church than I have inside.  Maybe it is because they spend more time trying to follow the commands of Christ instead of looking for unhewn mountains and locked gates and arguing if cousins are brothers and the like.

So, I think that your question is rather misguided, as is your assumption that those who believe this way are simply after polemics or any desire to prove the Church wrong.  I have no such desire because I really couldn't give a rodent's posterior about the issue.  There are many things that the Orthodox Church professes that I do not believe.  However, like the father of the demoniac in the Scripture,  my answer to these things is "I believe, Lord help my unbelief".  Perhaps one day He will give me the Grace to understand what I do not believe and the Faith to accept it.  If He does not, I do not worry since it must not really have been that big of a deal.  As to those that start stupid threads like this (as is any "final proof" idiocy), I cannot speak for them.  Perhaps you should have rephrased your question as ". . . to those that start stupid threads like this; why?" 
I hold my hands up - I started the stupid thread.  The "final proof" thing is no more than an attention seeking headline to get folks to read what I put so that I will then be able to glean information from whatever responses they give.  This sometimes helps one to gain understanding of an issue, I find.  The issue has no bearing on my faith either
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« Reply #188 on: March 07, 2013, 06:32:35 PM »

...I can't think of any Evangelical belief that relies on Mary having more children...

I might know one. I don't know if this is a widespread "official" belief that Evangelicals hold, or just one that a few  Evangelicals I've met hold, but I know that some Evangelicals believe that celibacy and monasticism/nunhood is unnatural and somehow offensive to God, that we're supposed to have families (like Islam). In theory, the Theotokos having more children could be important to them because in their mind, if it is true, then it would support their view.

Fair enough, it is the first time I've heard of it though.  But how do they get around St. Paul's call to celibacy?

I dunno. Same way they get around his order for headcoverings and Baptism being necessary for salvation I guess
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« Reply #189 on: March 07, 2013, 07:20:14 PM »

"For Your sake I bore disgrace; humiliation covered my face.  I am become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother's sons; for the zeal of Your house consumed me, and the insults of those who disgraced You fell on me"

Psalm 68:8-10, Orthodox Study Bible page 726

I think your questions are fair enough. But you have a very bad fact that you must tackle from the 5th Ecumenical Council:

Quote
The Capitula of the Council.

I.If anyone shall not confess that the nature or essence of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, as also the force and the power; [if anyone does not confess] a consubstantial Trinity, one Godhead to be worshipped in three subsistences or Persons:  let him be anathema.  For there is but one God even the Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit in whom are all things.

II.If anyone shall not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, the one from all eternity of the Father, without time and without body; the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Mother of God and always a virgin, and born of her:  let him be anathema.

If you are right that Scripture does not allow for the ever-virginity of the Theotokos, than the Church universal fell into significant error and material heresy rather quickly, manifesting itself in its declaration of an anathema at the 5th Ecumenical Council.

However, that would suggest that the Church was not the "pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15). Christ promised He would be with the Church always: "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matt 28:20). So, if you are right, that would suggest that either Christ was not truthful, or that He was trying to be truthful but that He was ineffectual and impotent. Either way, I cannot imagine following that sort of Jesus.

Moreover, given that the Church universal disagreed with your interpretation (as expressed in this Council and at the 4th Ecumenical Council), you are effectively putting yourself above the Church in your understanding of Scripture. Scripture is our most reliable, "infallible" authority for Christian faith and praxis, but it is a material authority. Scripture does not interpret itself any more than the American Constitution interpretes itself. Both need a formal authority to do so. You have made yourself a formal authority above the Church, which begs the question: On what basis is your understanding of Scripture more normative than that which was believed "everywhere, always by everyone" in the Church.

St. Vincent of Lerins warns us that the worst heresies of the Early Church arose when individuals tried to interpret Scripture apart from the Church:
Quote
"But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church's interpretation? For this reason,—because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters .For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another.Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation".A Commonitory by St. Vincent of Lérins

The Holy Spirit never left the Church and we have no reason to believe she fell into universal error. The Church is the Bride of Christ and she is trustworthy. We should therefore interpret Scripture as she does.
If this is about interpreting the Holy Scriptures, exactly which scripture are you interpreting when you proclaim the perpetual virginity of Mary?
If you see Psalm 68 as prophetic of the Christ, then why do you not see Ezekiel 44:1-3 as prophetic of the ever-virginity of the Theotokos?
Well we know from the New Testament that the psalm has to do with Christ, and I gave you the scripture for that.
That doesn't make it prophetic of Christ as you envision prophecy to be.

We do not know from the New Testament that Ezekiel 44 has anything whatsoever to do with Mary or her alleged perpetual virginity.  Are you saying that this gate is a type of Mary's womb?  It seems very far-fetched
We do know what the Church says about this verse, since this prophecy of Ezekiel is read in very great feast of the Theotokos.

To answer your previous question, I believe that what is in the Bible is what God says.  That is my faith.  Basically what it's coming down to is that because someone or persons in your church decided to read in church this passage from Ezekiel on special days of veneration for Mary, then you believe that it applies to Mary.
 However what the verse in Ezekiel says, or what your church claims it says, about Mary is not confirmed in the New Testament scriptures.  There is no scriptural back-up for the interpretation that I can see.  Whereas what the Holy Spirit tells us about Christ in psalm 69, and the reaction of people to him, is clearly confirmed in the NT scriptures.
 You may say the reference to "his mother's sons" is not confirmed in the New Testament (I am aware that you will have a set of stock answers ready to anything I point out in this regard, such as considerations of the force of the word "until" and other possible meanings for "brother", none of which are conclusive as far as I know), but everything else in the original quotation I gave is confirmed, and so there is no reason for me to suppose his mother did not have sons.
However, for your supposition to be conclusive and ours wrong, you would have to prove that it's impossible for Mary to have never given birth to other children through sexual procreation. This you can do no more easily than we can prove that she didn't give birth to other children. We Orthodox suggest only that there's nothing in Scripture, Old or New Testament, that refutes our belief in Mary's ever-virginity.

So what does this all mean for you? This: We cannot prove that Mary didn't give birth to children after Jesus. You cannot prove that she did. We, however, base our belief on a few extra-biblical documents dating back to the first couple of centuries and on what the Church has always taught. You, OTOH, reject this authority.

In short, there is no positive written inspired statement that you can point to in the NT (that I know of) in support of your teaching, which nonetheless seems to be very central, if not essential to your belief system, going by what others are writing.  The whole discussion of your church in this matter, when referring to the NT, consists of objections to what other people point out, not any clear statement setting out your teaching.
This issue is never discussed, or preached upon, in my church.  I think it would be thought unimportant and a distraction to the main business.  I have not started the thread because I'm an anti-catholic bigot or anything like that, nor to offend anyone, just to make that clear
The importance of our belief in the ever-virginity of the Theotokos is merely that it protects our belief in the full divinity of her Son, Jesus Christ.
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« Reply #190 on: March 07, 2013, 07:22:22 PM »

...I can't think of any Evangelical belief that relies on Mary having more children...

I might know one. I don't know if this is a widespread "official" belief that Evangelicals hold, or just one that a few  Evangelicals I've met hold, but I know that some Evangelicals believe that celibacy and monasticism/nunhood is unnatural and somehow offensive to God, that we're supposed to have families (like Islam). In theory, the Theotokos having more children could be important to them because in their mind, if it is true, then it would support their view.

Fair enough, it is the first time I've heard of it though.  But how do they get around St. Paul's call to celibacy?

I dunno. Same way they get around his order for headcoverings and Baptism being necessary for salvation I guess
Except for one thing: St. Paul never uttered a call to celibacy, if by celibacy you mean the lifelong celibacy of a monastic. He recommended it for those who could handle it, but he never commanded it.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2013, 07:22:54 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #191 on: March 07, 2013, 07:31:16 PM »

I am going to play a bit of devil’s advocate even though I agree with you.  In regards to your first two points, these are some responses I have received.  I think the final three arguments are pretty strong though.  They are what got me interested in Orthodoxy to start with.

1.   If the Church quickly accepted an error regarding Theotokos, it is quite possible that the paper trail has been destroyed.  There are numerous documents that were destroyed because they did not follow what the Church taught.
2.   Christ’s statement says that the gate of hell will never prevail against the Church, not that all its teaching would be perfect.  It is possible that minor error such as Mary’s marital relations status could creep in.

Good questions.

Regarding the first question, I understand your hypothetical to be the following:(1) the Church quickly made a 180 degree change in doctrine, from the Theotokos was not ever-virgin to the Theotokos was ever-virgin and (2) the Church destroyed the evidence.

Well, we know the Church did not destroy all the evidence, since we have evidence of both Helvidius and Bonosus questioning the belief in the ever-virginity in the late forth century, which led to rebukes by St Jerome and St Ambrose. The controversy led to the convening of the regional Council of Capua in 392, at which the Theotokos' ever-virginity was reaffirmed and defended. So, proposition (2) appears to be false. If the Church at some later date is going to destroy evidence, why just some? It would be a half cover up, which is no cover up at all.

Let's consider (1), though. Could the Church universal, from India to Africa to Iberia receive the Apostolic faith in the 1st century, including the message that the Theotokos was not ever-virgin, and then quickly reject this in favour of a belief in the ever virginity?

The Protoevangelium of James around 150 AD mentions the ever-virginity. Hyppolytus writes in 210 AD about the ever-virginity rather matter of factly. So, if there were a full about face in Church belief, it would have to have happened in about one generation after the Apostles, before 150 AD. It would also have to happen throughout Christendom, which no doubt would have stirred up some controversy. Yet, from the writings of the Fathers at the time (e.g. St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp), we have no indication of such controversy. Perhaps the Church destroyed all the anti-ever virginity polemics of this period. But did it destroy the polemics of St. Clement, St. Polycarp and St. Ignatius as well, well regarded saints, all of whom would no doubt have had an opinion on such a polemic, one should think? Moreover, the Church at this time faced far bigger doctrinal challenges than the ever-virginity. It strains credibility to think that the Ante-Nicene Church had a big cover-up concerning the ever-virginity and therefore (1) seems unlikely.

Regarding your second question, is it possible that some minor error entered the Church and this was universally believed?

First, why would one think material heresy regarding the Theotokos were a "minor error"? On what basis would this error be judged to be minor? The Church did not embrace doctrinal pluralism, whereby the faithful avoided major errors but did not worry about minor errors.  Rather they took great care that the entire Deposit of the Faith was taught. See, for example:

2 Thessalonians 3:6

"But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us."

Romans 16:17

"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them."

1 Timothy 1:3-4

"As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith."

Second, the Church in 1 Timothy 3:15 is described as the "pillar and foundation of the truth". So, Scripture does not give us reason to think that the Church would universally embrace falsehood, however minor. Is the Church infallible? No, I do not think Scripture or the Fathers spoke of "infallibility" regarding the Church. Individual Fathers certainly erred. Yet, we have good reason from Scripture and the Fathers to assume that the Church, when speaking in unison, spoke the truth concerning the Apostolic faith. The ever-virginity of the Theotokos is confirmed by the Church universal at several Ecumenical Councils (e.g 4th and 5th). The Church has subsequently confirmed these councils, so we have good reason to assume they faithfully transmit the Apostolic faith.
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« Reply #192 on: March 08, 2013, 03:34:07 AM »

OK, Clemente, I'm going to attempt to answer your questions. bare in mind that I'm not an ardent Protestant, though perhaps my previous posts might have given that suggestion. Truth is, I'm thinking about possibly joining the Orthodox Church, which is why my monicker says Orthodox Inquirer, and not Protestant or something like that. But I have a lot to figure out and a lot of ideas to sort through, and I can see an argument for and against issues like the ones we're talking about here. I'm a long way from knowing if the Orthodox Church is trustworthy and 'safe', so bare with me. I will attempt to impart my thoughts on the questions you have asked, and will appreciate honest feedback.

Why is it historically plausible to think an entire Church would enter quickly into heresy by accepting an error regarding the Theotokos without leaving a paper trail of opposition?

If anything the ancient Church believed about the Theotokos was heresy, it wasn't the ever-virginity per say, but what it and other ideas gradually led to over the course of centuries. I'm talking about the way, as it sometimes seems to me, that the Mother of God was exalted to near-goddess stature. I've talked about this in my Theotokos thread, and I won't derail the topic. But assuming the veneration of the Theotokos is excessive to the point of heresy, I would posit that, it escaped notice for two main reasons:

A, Because it crept in rather gradually compared to other heresies which seemed flare up over night, so gradually that few if any noticed the changes in teaching and emphasis from the grace of Christ to the graces of His mother. The teaching of the perpetual virginity, which is attested to in the mid-second century, would only have been one step in the long process I'm hypothesizing.

B, Because devotion to and veneration of Mary, along with belief in the perpetual virginity, were useful in combating other heresies. So when Nestorius tried to butcher the authentic doctrine of the Incarnation, he wanted to call Mary the Christotokos. The Church, rightly I think, responded by affirming Mary's identity as the Theotokos. And the Perpetual Virginity, even if unnecessary, turned out to be very useful for affirming the teaching. If God were in her womb, surely she could not be contaminated by the seed of sexual intercourse. She was like the ark that could not be touched, and thus she remained a virgin. This also fits with conceptions some of the Fathers had about sexuality, that it was a result of the fall and not a truly natural human faculty, less than perfectly honorable and not to be chosen, even in marriage, above the great and awesome glories of celibacy, which was seen as the 'angelic state'. These are teachings I'm not naturally inclined to agree with, for the same reason I'm uncertain about the rest. I don't see these ideas in the scriptures.       

If the universal Church fell into heresy regarding the ever-virginity, then you have one of two choices: either the the Holy Spirit did not lead the Church to truth, in which case, Jesus lied, or the Holy Spirit was impotent and therefore somehow less than divine (in which case you are rejecting the Trinity) or somehow ineffectual. Which do you believe?

Don't forget the Scripture promises there will be heresies, even at the heart of the Church.

"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears."

Acts 20; 28-31.

Paul also says this:

"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, even Christ"

Ephesians 4; 11-15

He said this indicating, I think, that the Spirit of God would eventually lead the Church out of errors and bring her to perfection, but no one in the scripture tells us that this process would be swift and easy going, or how long it would take, or what errors would manifest along the way. Perhaps the process is still ongoing. Perhaps it will take another 2000 years, or longer. Perhaps we are still the 'Early Christians' As C.S. Lewis suggested. Perhaps the heresies we've been discussing, if indeed they are heresies, along with all the schisms and divisions among Christians are simply growing pains. Perhaps one day we'll grow out of them.

Your line of questioning begs the question of your own epistemology. Why should we trust your (or my) private interpretation? Why are your interpretations of Scripture better than that which the Church universal believed "everywhere, always and by everyone"?

What you have posited is a real problem. How can we know? How do we tell what's right? The Orthodox answer is usually always, "trust the Church". But That's assuming that the Orthodox Church is really the Church, and the only Church, and has all the answers. Problem is, the Catholics make the same claim, and the Protestants don't feel themselves excluded from 'the Church', whatever it is. And everyone has their argument for how they can claim to represent the Church. How do we know?

Perhaps you think your Church's claim of authority more legitimate, and perhaps you're right. But the truth is, if my hypothetical scenario is right, and some of your teachings crept in gradually over time, then it means that your Church has not always and everywhere believed these things, but that from the beginning it was not so. Or if the true Church is 'invisible', not dependent upon Apostolic Succession and the alleged ecclesiastical necessity thereof; if these are merely human teachings, and not the design of the Apostles, then only God knows those who are truly His, and they will be His Church. And if many Protestants are a part of this Church, then of course there are many Christians and members of the Church in recent centuries who have not believed the things we are debating, not in the least, and their opinion would not be in the least less authoritative then that of the Orthodox Church, or any other.

In the end, I'm as confused as anyone. I admit, I don't have an absolute answer. How do we know? It's all a matter of faith what you put your trust it. And usually a matter of opinion too. God guide us.   

Do you believe the New Testament Canon is closed? If so, why do you accept the Scriptures that a "corrupted" Church selected from amongst many more possible documents? Do you think Hebrews is Scripture? Who wrote it? Why is its inclusion in the Bible trustworthy?

Here is a list of Christian documents floating around during the time of the Early Church: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ The existing NT Canon says nothing about these books, so according to that which you are "sure of", we have no means to select the NT Canon. How do you do it without the Church and why is your decision normative?

I think there are a few texts that could have been a part of the New Testament and wouldn't have hurt anything. Some of the books from the the Apostolic Fathers or the Didache for example I think are safe, but ultimately they don't really add anything major doctrinally to the books of the current canon, and as such they were not really necessary. Ultimately, I'm less concerned about exactly what books are in the canon as I am about sifting out the apostolic witness from the mess of heretical literature circulating around in the times of the early Church. This of course means you want books that were probably written in the first century, and that have relativity early historical attestation backing them up as authentic apostolic works, as in, written by the Apostles and their close associates. And of course you're going to need them to agree about basic doctrine. I think the books of the New Testament meet these criteria, and the Apostolic Fathers and later Fathers of the Church quoted the current books of the New Testament more than anything else long before the official canon was compiled. So I personally think the Church did a good job selecting the criteria, doing the research, and finding the right books. The some of the early Protestant reformers actually considered re-doing the canon, or so I have heard, but decided it was fine the way it was.

I don't think the undivided Church of the fist millennium was just wrong, through and through to the core about everything. I simply suspect based on my observations that they let some non-apostolic teachings creep into the heart of their beliefs and practices. Then again, I don't know, I wasn't there. But regardless, I have faith that the books that we have in the current Bible convey the essential Christian teaching accurately, and if I'm wrong about that, then you're wrong too and our whole religion is pointless. I have not found that to be the case in my own life, so I'm not too concerned.
     
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« Reply #193 on: March 08, 2013, 03:52:02 AM »

ArmchairTheologian wrote:

Quote
This also fits with conceptions some of the Fathers had about sexuality, that it was a result of the fall and not a truly natural human faculty, less than perfectly honorable and not to be chosen, even in marriage, above the great and awesome glories of celibacy, which was seen as the 'angelic state'. These are teachings I'm not naturally inclined to agree with, for the same reason I'm uncertain about the rest. I don't see these ideas in the scriptures.     
   

It has been said more than once here and in the sister threads to this, that not every pronouncement of a saint or Father is perfect. This is why the Church relies on not a single individual as arbiter of what is true and proper, but on all its members, clerics and laymen, monastics and married, men and women.

Monastic celibacy is indeed glorious for those who are truly called to it, but no less so is marriage, which is blessed by the Church as a great mystery. It is no accident that the Epistle reading appointed for the Orthodox marriage service is Eph. 5: 20-33. There is much wisdom and food for thought there.


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« Reply #194 on: March 08, 2013, 03:54:04 AM »

There is more to suggest the Theotokos was and is ever virgin than there is to suggest she was not.  It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.
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« Reply #195 on: March 08, 2013, 04:05:37 AM »

...I can't think of any Evangelical belief that relies on Mary having more children...

I might know one. I don't know if this is a widespread "official" belief that Evangelicals hold, or just one that a few  Evangelicals I've met hold, but I know that some Evangelicals believe that celibacy and monasticism/nunhood is unnatural and somehow offensive to God, that we're supposed to have families (like Islam). In theory, the Theotokos having more children could be important to them because in their mind, if it is true, then it would support their view.

Fair enough, it is the first time I've heard of it though.  But how do they get around St. Paul's call to celibacy?

I dunno. Same way they get around his order for headcoverings and Baptism being necessary for salvation I guess
Except for one thing: St. Paul never uttered a call to celibacy, if by celibacy you mean the lifelong celibacy of a monastic. He recommended it for those who could handle it, but he never commanded it.

You mean him saying that it is better for the unmarried that are called by Christ remain unmarried isn't a call to celibacy?
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« Reply #196 on: March 08, 2013, 04:09:11 AM »

ArmchairTheologian wrote:

Quote
This also fits with conceptions some of the Fathers had about sexuality, that it was a result of the fall and not a truly natural human faculty, less than perfectly honorable and not to be chosen, even in marriage, above the great and awesome glories of celibacy, which was seen as the 'angelic state'. These are teachings I'm not naturally inclined to agree with, for the same reason I'm uncertain about the rest. I don't see these ideas in the scriptures.    
 

It has been said more than once here and in the sister threads to this, that not every pronouncement of a saint or Father is perfect. This is why the Church relies on not a single individual as arbiter of what is true and proper, but on all its members, clerics and laymen, monastics and married, men and women.

Monastic celibacy is indeed glorious for those who are truly called to it, but no less so is marriage, which is blessed by the Church as a great mystery. It is no accident that the Epistle reading appointed for the Orthodox marriage service is Eph. 5: 20-33. There is much wisdom and food for thought there.




I absolutely agree with your interpretation. And I'm glad that the Orthodox church does not proclaim such teachings as doctrine. That would have been a huge issue for me. And I absolutely love the Orthodox understanding of marriage as a sacred mystery and sacrament. Something Protestants almost altogether miss, which might be one reason the divorce-rate among Protestants actually parallels that of unbelievers.      

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« Reply #197 on: March 08, 2013, 05:04:18 AM »

OK, Clemente, I'm going to attempt to answer your questions. bare in mind that I'm not an ardent Protestant, though perhaps my previous posts might have given that suggestion. Truth is, I'm thinking about possibly joining the Orthodox Church, which is why my monicker says Orthodox Inquirer, and not Protestant or something like that. But I have a lot to figure out and a lot of ideas to sort through, and I can see an argument for and against issues like the ones we're talking about here. I'm a long way from knowing if the Orthodox Church is trustworthy and 'safe', so bare with me. I will attempt to impart my thoughts on the questions you have asked, and will appreciate honest feedback.

Why is it historically plausible to think an entire Church would enter quickly into heresy by accepting an error regarding the Theotokos without leaving a paper trail of opposition?

If anything the ancient Church believed about the Theotokos was heresy, it wasn't the ever-virginity per say, but what it and other ideas gradually led to over the course of centuries. I'm talking about the way, as it sometimes seems to me, that the Mother of God was exalted to near-goddess stature. I've talked about this in my Theotokos thread, and I won't derail the topic. But assuming the veneration of the Theotokos is excessive to the point of heresy, I would posit that, it escaped notice for two main reasons:

A, Because it crept in rather gradually compared to other heresies which seemed flare up over night, so gradually that few if any noticed the changes in teaching and emphasis from the grace of Christ to the graces of His mother. The teaching of the perpetual virginity, which is attested to in the mid-second century, would only have been one step in the long process I'm hypothesizing.

B, Because devotion to and veneration of Mary, along with belief in the perpetual virginity, were useful in combating other heresies. So when Nestorius tried to butcher the authentic doctrine of the Incarnation, he wanted to call Mary the Christotokos. The Church, rightly I think, responded by affirming Mary's identity as the Theotokos. And the Perpetual Virginity, even if unnecessary, turned out to be very useful for affirming the teaching. If God were in her womb, surely she could not be contaminated by the seed of sexual intercourse. She was like the ark that could not be touched, and thus she remained a virgin. This also fits with conceptions some of the Fathers had about sexuality, that it was a result of the fall and not a truly natural human faculty, less than perfectly honorable and not to be chosen, even in marriage, above the great and awesome glories of celibacy, which was seen as the 'angelic state'. These are teachings I'm not naturally inclined to agree with, for the same reason I'm uncertain about the rest. I don't see these ideas in the scriptures.       

If the universal Church fell into heresy regarding the ever-virginity, then you have one of two choices: either the the Holy Spirit did not lead the Church to truth, in which case, Jesus lied, or the Holy Spirit was impotent and therefore somehow less than divine (in which case you are rejecting the Trinity) or somehow ineffectual. Which do you believe?

Don't forget the Scripture promises there will be heresies, even at the heart of the Church.

"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears."

Acts 20; 28-31.

Paul also says this:

"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, even Christ"

Ephesians 4; 11-15

He said this indicating, I think, that the Spirit of God would eventually lead the Church out of errors and bring her to perfection, but no one in the scripture tells us that this process would be swift and easy going, or how long it would take, or what errors would manifest along the way. Perhaps the process is still ongoing. Perhaps it will take another 2000 years, or longer. Perhaps we are still the 'Early Christians' As C.S. Lewis suggested. Perhaps the heresies we've been discussing, if indeed they are heresies, along with all the schisms and divisions among Christians are simply growing pains. Perhaps one day we'll grow out of them.

Your line of questioning begs the question of your own epistemology. Why should we trust your (or my) private interpretation? Why are your interpretations of Scripture better than that which the Church universal believed "everywhere, always and by everyone"?

What you have posited is a real problem. How can we know? How do we tell what's right? The Orthodox answer is usually always, "trust the Church". But That's assuming that the Orthodox Church is really the Church, and the only Church, and has all the answers. Problem is, the Catholics make the same claim, and the Protestants don't feel themselves excluded from 'the Church', whatever it is. And everyone has their argument for how they can claim to represent the Church. How do we know?

Perhaps you think your Church's claim of authority more legitimate, and perhaps you're right. But the truth is, if my hypothetical scenario is right, and some of your teachings crept in gradually over time, then it means that your Church has not always and everywhere believed these things, but that from the beginning it was not so. Or if the true Church is 'invisible', not dependent upon Apostolic Succession and the alleged ecclesiastical necessity thereof; if these are merely human teachings, and not the design of the Apostles, then only God knows those who are truly His, and they will be His Church. And if many Protestants are a part of this Church, then of course there are many Christians and members of the Church in recent centuries who have not believed the things we are debating, not in the least, and their opinion would not be in the least less authoritative then that of the Orthodox Church, or any other.

In the end, I'm as confused as anyone. I admit, I don't have an absolute answer. How do we know? It's all a matter of faith what you put your trust it. And usually a matter of opinion too. God guide us.   

Do you believe the New Testament Canon is closed? If so, why do you accept the Scriptures that a "corrupted" Church selected from amongst many more possible documents? Do you think Hebrews is Scripture? Who wrote it? Why is its inclusion in the Bible trustworthy?

Here is a list of Christian documents floating around during the time of the Early Church: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ The existing NT Canon says nothing about these books, so according to that which you are "sure of", we have no means to select the NT Canon. How do you do it without the Church and why is your decision normative?

I think there are a few texts that could have been a part of the New Testament and wouldn't have hurt anything. Some of the books from the the Apostolic Fathers or the Didache for example I think are safe, but ultimately they don't really add anything major doctrinally to the books of the current canon, and as such they were not really necessary. Ultimately, I'm less concerned about exactly what books are in the canon as I am about sifting out the apostolic witness from the mess of heretical literature circulating around in the times of the early Church. This of course means you want books that were probably written in the first century, and that have relativity early historical attestation backing them up as authentic apostolic works, as in, written by the Apostles and their close associates. And of course you're going to need them to agree about basic doctrine. I think the books of the New Testament meet these criteria, and the Apostolic Fathers and later Fathers of the Church quoted the current books of the New Testament more than anything else long before the official canon was compiled. So I personally think the Church did a good job selecting the criteria, doing the research, and finding the right books. The some of the early Protestant reformers actually considered re-doing the canon, or so I have heard, but decided it was fine the way it was.

I don't think the undivided Church of the fist millennium was just wrong, through and through to the core about everything. I simply suspect based on my observations that they let some non-apostolic teachings creep into the heart of their beliefs and practices. Then again, I don't know, I wasn't there. But regardless, I have faith that the books that we have in the current Bible convey the essential Christian teaching accurately, and if I'm wrong about that, then you're wrong too and our whole religion is pointless. I have not found that to be the case in my own life, so I'm not too concerned.
     

Thanks for your very thorough response. I can sympathise with your situation. I was of very much the same mind a few years back.

I am sure others here will have much to say about your answers, but thanks for taking the time and having the courage to lay it all out. God bless!
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« Reply #198 on: March 08, 2013, 06:30:43 AM »

It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You're not alone in this regard.
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« Reply #199 on: March 08, 2013, 07:51:15 AM »

There is more to suggest the Theotokos was and is ever virgin than there is to suggest she was not.  It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You also did it a few times, confusing EO and RC. Heal yourself...
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« Reply #200 on: March 08, 2013, 08:12:01 AM »

It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You're not alone in this regard.

Well, I do not really sympathise with either of you. You are reading a subforum that, by its very nature, encourages debate and honest questions. St. Paul stood in the Areopagus (Acts 17:22) and welcomed debate from a hostile audience. That is where we are as well. It is hopefully not fruitless: "But certain men joined unto him and believed (Acts 17:34).

For the most part, the Orthodox here seem to be vigorously defending Church doctrine.

So, if you do not like Protestants questioning Church doctrine, I would avoid this subforum.

Forgive me, in any case.
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« Reply #201 on: March 08, 2013, 09:39:04 AM »

It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You're not alone in this regard.

Well, I do not really sympathise with either of you. You are reading a subforum that, by its very nature, encourages debate and honest questions. St. Paul stood in the Areopagus (Acts 17:22) and welcomed debate from a hostile audience. That is where we are as well. It is hopefully not fruitless: "But certain men joined unto him and believed (Acts 17:34).

For the most part, the Orthodox here seem to be vigorously defending Church doctrine.

So, if you do not like Protestants questioning Church doctrine, I would avoid this subforum.

Forgive me, in any case.


Your points are well taken except where purportedly Orthodox seem to be squishy on our beliefs and those-not-yet-Orthodox are confused and/or confusing. I assumed Kerdy was referring to the tone across more than just this sub-board.
The entire forum, sub or otherwise, was created originally for us Orthodox. Non-Orthodox noise is to be expected here were debate is encouraged or allowed.
Am I clearer now? And thanks anyway, I need not your sympathy in any event.
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« Reply #202 on: March 08, 2013, 12:31:17 PM »

...I can't think of any Evangelical belief that relies on Mary having more children...

I might know one. I don't know if this is a widespread "official" belief that Evangelicals hold, or just one that a few  Evangelicals I've met hold, but I know that some Evangelicals believe that celibacy and monasticism/nunhood is unnatural and somehow offensive to God, that we're supposed to have families (like Islam). In theory, the Theotokos having more children could be important to them because in their mind, if it is true, then it would support their view.

Fair enough, it is the first time I've heard of it though.  But how do they get around St. Paul's call to celibacy?

I dunno. Same way they get around his order for headcoverings and Baptism being necessary for salvation I guess
Except for one thing: St. Paul never uttered a call to celibacy, if by celibacy you mean the lifelong celibacy of a monastic. He recommended it for those who could handle it, but he never commanded it.

You mean him saying that it is better for the unmarried that are called by Christ remain unmarried isn't a call to celibacy?
No, it's not a call to celibacy. A recommendation, but not a call.
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« Reply #203 on: March 08, 2013, 02:05:48 PM »

No, it's not a call to celibacy. A recommendation, but not a call.

But a call doesn't necessarily  mean "mandatory".  I think we are interpreting "call" differently.  At least from my understanding, a "call" isn't something that is made an absolute requirement, but rather encouraged.  Besides, in the same bit of Scripture, St. Paul clarifies that he isn't advocating an across-the-board celibacy rule.
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« Reply #204 on: March 08, 2013, 09:33:51 PM »

There is more to suggest the Theotokos was and is ever virgin than there is to suggest she was not.  It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You also did it a few times, confusing EO and RC. Heal yourself...

When you make blanket (empty) statements like this, it helps if you provide context.  Otherwise, my only response is, "What?"  To my knowledge, on this forum, I have never questioned her virginity.
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« Reply #205 on: March 08, 2013, 09:40:23 PM »

It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You're not alone in this regard.

Well, I do not really sympathise with either of you. You are reading a subforum that, by its very nature, encourages debate and honest questions. St. Paul stood in the Areopagus (Acts 17:22) and welcomed debate from a hostile audience. That is where we are as well. It is hopefully not fruitless: "But certain men joined unto him and believed (Acts 17:34).

For the most part, the Orthodox here seem to be vigorously defending Church doctrine.

So, if you do not like Protestants questioning Church doctrine, I would avoid this subforum.

Forgive me, in any case.


I was not seeking sympathy.  Merely making an observation and responding to that observation.  I have no problem with dialogue which is clear from my interaction here, but when the Church has made a distinct and clear teaching, there is no room for interpretation.  Other areas where it is not clear and distinct, sure, as this is how we learn and grow.  The virginity of the Theotokos is not debatable by Orthodox Christians.  As my priest repeated states, you either accept the Orthodox Church or you reject the Orthodox Church.  There is no middle ground.  If the questions come from outside the Orthodox Church, no problem, as long as those questions are sincere for the sake of learning and understanding.  I didn’t mean for my comment to be snippy or anything like that.  My apologies if anyone was offended.  I am still learning about Orthodoxy.  The joy is, it is a lifelong education process. 
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« Reply #206 on: March 08, 2013, 09:41:37 PM »

It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You're not alone in this regard.

Well, I do not really sympathise with either of you. You are reading a subforum that, by its very nature, encourages debate and honest questions. St. Paul stood in the Areopagus (Acts 17:22) and welcomed debate from a hostile audience. That is where we are as well. It is hopefully not fruitless: "But certain men joined unto him and believed (Acts 17:34).

For the most part, the Orthodox here seem to be vigorously defending Church doctrine.

So, if you do not like Protestants questioning Church doctrine, I would avoid this subforum.

Forgive me, in any case.


Your points are well taken except where purportedly Orthodox seem to be squishy on our beliefs and those-not-yet-Orthodox are confused and/or confusing. I assumed Kerdy was referring to the tone across more than just this sub-board.
The entire forum, sub or otherwise, was created originally for us Orthodox. Non-Orthodox noise is to be expected here were debate is encouraged or allowed.
Am I clearer now? And thanks anyway, I need not your sympathy in any event.

This was what I meant.  Thank you.
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« Reply #207 on: March 08, 2013, 09:50:13 PM »

It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You're not alone in this regard.

Well, I do not really sympathise with either of you. You are reading a subforum that, by its very nature, encourages debate and honest questions. St. Paul stood in the Areopagus (Acts 17:22) and welcomed debate from a hostile audience. That is where we are as well. It is hopefully not fruitless: "But certain men joined unto him and believed (Acts 17:34).

For the most part, the Orthodox here seem to be vigorously defending Church doctrine.

So, if you do not like Protestants questioning Church doctrine, I would avoid this subforum.

Forgive me, in any case.


Your points are well taken except where purportedly Orthodox seem to be squishy on our beliefs and those-not-yet-Orthodox are confused and/or confusing. I assumed Kerdy was referring to the tone across more than just this sub-board.
The entire forum, sub or otherwise, was created originally for us Orthodox. Non-Orthodox noise is to be expected here were debate is encouraged or allowed.
Am I clearer now? And thanks anyway, I need not your sympathy in any event.
Isn't that an accusation you have made on others on this forum?

Are you even Orthodox? Or just trying to justify your politics?

I can play this game too.

Maybe we should all have our baptismal ceritifcates in our signatures.
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« Reply #208 on: March 09, 2013, 08:22:49 AM »

It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You're not alone in this regard.

Well, I do not really sympathise with either of you. You are reading a subforum that, by its very nature, encourages debate and honest questions. St. Paul stood in the Areopagus (Acts 17:22) and welcomed debate from a hostile audience. That is where we are as well. It is hopefully not fruitless: "But certain men joined unto him and believed (Acts 17:34).

For the most part, the Orthodox here seem to be vigorously defending Church doctrine.

So, if you do not like Protestants questioning Church doctrine, I would avoid this subforum.

Forgive me, in any case.


Your points are well taken except where purportedly Orthodox seem to be squishy on our beliefs and those-not-yet-Orthodox are confused and/or confusing. I assumed Kerdy was referring to the tone across more than just this sub-board.
The entire forum, sub or otherwise, was created originally for us Orthodox. Non-Orthodox noise is to be expected here were debate is encouraged or allowed.
Am I clearer now? And thanks anyway, I need not your sympathy in any event.
Isn't that an accusation you have made on others on this forum?

Are you even Orthodox? Or just trying to justify your politics?

I can play this game too.

Maybe we should all have our baptismal ceritifcates in our signatures.

I will ask my mother where she's got my certificate from 1950 when I was baptized at age 60 days. Regardless, I have personally seen the documentation in my home parish records when I researched my family going back to 1910 and finding both of my grandfathers to have been charter members of the parish at its founding. Not that I'll share the details with you.

Yes, we are aware of your games, and dodges, as well as the stalled catechumens we have here.

Oh, yeah... I did decline the honor of ordination because I know myself too well.
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« Reply #209 on: March 09, 2013, 01:13:36 PM »

There is more to suggest the Theotokos was and is ever virgin than there is to suggest she was not.  It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You also did it a few times, confusing EO and RC. Heal yourself...

When you make blanket (empty) statements like this, it helps if you provide context.  Otherwise, my only response is, "What?"  To my knowledge, on this forum, I have never questioned her virginity.

I didn't state you had questioned virginity of Theotokos. I only wrote you questioned a few times EO teachings and that didn't bother you.

some examples:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,49432.msg876514.html#msg876514
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,49356.0.html
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« Reply #210 on: March 09, 2013, 01:46:51 PM »

OK, Clemente, I'm going to attempt to answer your questions. bare in mind that I'm not an ardent Protestant, though perhaps my previous posts might have given that suggestion. Truth is, I'm thinking about possibly joining the Orthodox Church, which is why my monicker says Orthodox Inquirer, and not Protestant or something like that. But I have a lot to figure out and a lot of ideas to sort through, and I can see an argument for and against issues like the ones we're talking about here. I'm a long way from knowing if the Orthodox Church is trustworthy and 'safe', so bare with me. I will attempt to impart my thoughts on the questions you have asked, and will appreciate honest feedback.

Why is it historically plausible to think an entire Church would enter quickly into heresy by accepting an error regarding the Theotokos without leaving a paper trail of opposition?

If anything the ancient Church believed about the Theotokos was heresy, it wasn't the ever-virginity per say, but what it and other ideas gradually led to over the course of centuries. I'm talking about the way, as it sometimes seems to me, that the Mother of God was exalted to near-goddess stature. I've talked about this in my Theotokos thread, and I won't derail the topic. But assuming the veneration of the Theotokos is excessive to the point of heresy, I would posit that, it escaped notice for two main reasons:

A, Because it crept in rather gradually compared to other heresies which seemed flare up over night, so gradually that few if any noticed the changes in teaching and emphasis from the grace of Christ to the graces of His mother. The teaching of the perpetual virginity, which is attested to in the mid-second century, would only have been one step in the long process I'm hypothesizing.

B, Because devotion to and veneration of Mary, along with belief in the perpetual virginity, were useful in combating other heresies. So when Nestorius tried to butcher the authentic doctrine of the Incarnation, he wanted to call Mary the Christotokos. The Church, rightly I think, responded by affirming Mary's identity as the Theotokos. And the Perpetual Virginity, even if unnecessary, turned out to be very useful for affirming the teaching. If God were in her womb, surely she could not be contaminated by the seed of sexual intercourse. She was like the ark that could not be touched, and thus she remained a virgin. This also fits with conceptions some of the Fathers had about sexuality, that it was a result of the fall and not a truly natural human faculty, less than perfectly honorable and not to be chosen, even in marriage, above the great and awesome glories of celibacy, which was seen as the 'angelic state'. These are teachings I'm not naturally inclined to agree with, for the same reason I'm uncertain about the rest. I don't see these ideas in the scriptures.
 
There is a problem, however, in that early on (from the Gospels onward) the Church nurtured the Tradition of
a) the "Despocynoi" the relatives of the Lord according to the flesh, who continued the leadership of the Church at Jerusalem from the Ascension, when St. James the Brother of God was consecrated bishop at least through his successor St. Simeon, the Lord's cousin, into the second century.  (btw, there are bishops elsewhere in the second century who claimed descent from St. Joseph).  If any half brothers of the Lord through the Holy Theotokos existed, they would be counted among this group.
b) the Tradition of the Holy Theotokos living out her days in the care of St. John, as the Lord mandated at the Cross. If she had sons (and the Desposynoi are all protrayed as being with her after the Ascension in the Church in Acts 1), where were they?

We know of deniers of the Virgin Birth in the 1st century. Surely they would have used the existence of any other sons of the Holy Theotokos to bolster there case, if they existed. But no such appeal was made.  In fact, some apocryphal gospels have St. James at the Birth, obviously St. Joseph's son, and, given the status of Jesus as her "first-born," obviously then not the Holy Theotokos'.

One could argue that the Ever-Virginity arises out of dogmatic development, but that admits the connection between the Virgin Birth and the Ever-Virginity.  The question then becomes, did the second century Fathers defend the Ever-Virginity because it flowed from the Virgin Birth, or did they defend the Ever-Virginity because they believed in the Virgin Birth.

The Holy Theotokos, aside from her birth-giving and the result that Christ is both God and man, was not and is not part of the public preaching of the Church.  The story of the Dormition, that the Church of Jerusalem kept it to herself for centuries, demonstrates that.  That those who attacked her virginity in the first and second centuries did so on the issue of Christ's birth, and not his brothers, who are never thought of as her sons, would imply that those who first designated the Desposynoi as her sons did so in a vaccum of tradition and facts.  That those who first did so, did so to fit their own conceptions (Tertullian to emphasize Christ's humanity against the gnostics, Helvidius to promote marriage to disparage monasticism (Jerome would do the opposite in dreaming up his cousin hypothesis) etc.) would indicate that they, not the Orthodox, had the ax to grind on the perpetual virginity.

If the universal Church fell into heresy regarding the ever-virginity, then you have one of two choices: either the the Holy Spirit did not lead the Church to truth, in which case, Jesus lied, or the Holy Spirit was impotent and therefore somehow less than divine (in which case you are rejecting the Trinity) or somehow ineffectual. Which do you believe?

Don't forget the Scripture promises there will be heresies, even at the heart of the Church.
Not ones that will prevail over her.

"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears."

Acts 20; 28-31.

Paul also says this:

"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, even Christ"

Ephesians 4; 11-15

He said this indicating, I think, that the Spirit of God would eventually lead the Church out of errors and bring her to perfection, but no one in the scripture tells us that this process would be swift and easy going, or how long it would take, or what errors would manifest along the way. Perhaps the process is still ongoing. Perhaps it will take another 2000 years, or longer. Perhaps we are still the 'Early Christians' As C.S. Lewis suggested. Perhaps the heresies we've been discussing, if indeed they are heresies, along with all the schisms and divisions among Christians are simply growing pains. Perhaps one day we'll grow out of them.
First we have to be able to distinguish healthy tissue from heretical tumor.

Your line of questioning begs the question of your own epistemology. Why should we trust your (or my) private interpretation? Why are your interpretations of Scripture better than that which the Church universal believed "everywhere, always and by everyone"?

What you have posited is a real problem. How can we know? How do we tell what's right? The Orthodox answer is usually always, "trust the Church". But That's assuming that the Orthodox Church is really the Church, and the only Church, and has all the answers. Problem is, the Catholics make the same claim, and the Protestants don't feel themselves excluded from 'the Church', whatever it is. And everyone has their argument for how they can claim to represent the Church. How do we know?
Look for the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which has an unbroken chain of witnesses from the Apostles until today, who teach what was-and still is-taught everywhere, always and by everyone, i.e. the Church that can point to someone in every generation from the Apostles' first converts until today who would be welcome at their chalice.

Perhaps you think your Church's claim of authority more legitimate, and perhaps you're right. But the truth is, if my hypothetical scenario is right, and some of your teachings crept in gradually over time, then it means that your Church has not always and everywhere believed these things, but that from the beginning it was not so. Or if the true Church is 'invisible', not dependent upon Apostolic Succession and the alleged ecclesiastical necessity thereof; if these are merely human teachings, and not the design of the Apostles, then only God knows those who are truly His, and they will be His Church. And if many Protestants are a part of this Church, then of course there are many Christians and members of the Church in recent centuries who have not believed the things we are debating, not in the least, and their opinion would not be in the least less authoritative then that of the Orthodox Church, or any other.
Then the gates of Hell have prevailed over the Church and Christ has not remained with her "all of the days until the end of the Age", and so He has been shown a liar, and we need not bother worrying about anything He taught or said.

You are talking about crept in like a virus.  Either the healthy Orthodox Body of Christ has repelled the infection of heresy, or cut off the tumors of doctrinal development-i.e. dogmatic drift-or she hasn't, in which case He is a God of the dead, not of the living.

In the end, I'm as confused as anyone. I admit, I don't have an absolute answer. How do we know? It's all a matter of faith what you put your trust it. And usually a matter of opinion too. God guide us.
 
It is a matter of the Spirit.

Do you believe the New Testament Canon is closed? If so, why do you accept the Scriptures that a "corrupted" Church selected from amongst many more possible documents? Do you think Hebrews is Scripture? Who wrote it? Why is its inclusion in the Bible trustworthy?

Here is a list of Christian documents floating around during the time of the Early Church: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ The existing NT Canon says nothing about these books, so according to that which you are "sure of", we have no means to select the NT Canon. How do you do it without the Church and why is your decision normative?

I think there are a few texts that could have been a part of the New Testament and wouldn't have hurt anything. Some of the books from the the Apostolic Fathers or the Didache for example I think are safe, but ultimately they don't really add anything major doctrinally to the books of the current canon, and as such they were not really necessary. Ultimately, I'm less concerned about exactly what books are in the canon as I am about sifting out the apostolic witness from the mess of heretical literature circulating around in the times of the early Church. This of course means you want books that were probably written in the first century, and that have relativity early historical attestation backing them up as authentic apostolic works, as in, written by the Apostles and their close associates. And of course you're going to need them to agree about basic doctrine. I think the books of the New Testament meet these criteria, and the Apostolic Fathers and later Fathers of the Church quoted the current books of the New Testament more than anything else long before the official canon was compiled. So I personally think the Church did a good job selecting the criteria, doing the research, and finding the right books. The some of the early Protestant reformers actually considered re-doing the canon, or so I have heard, but decided it was fine the way it was.

I don't think the undivided Church of the fist millennium was just wrong, through and through to the core about everything. I simply suspect based on my observations that they let some non-apostolic teachings creep into the heart of their beliefs and practices. Then again, I don't know, I wasn't there. But regardless, I have faith that the books that we have in the current Bible convey the essential Christian teaching accurately, and if I'm wrong about that, then you're wrong too and our whole religion is pointless. I have not found that to be the case in my own life, so I'm not too concerned.
The point being, you are just as dependent on that Church giving you that current Bible (Nestle and Aland came long after 1517) as for anything else it teaches. For instance, there are manuscripts (e.g. the Sinaitic Syriac) which "correct" the Gospels to make Jesus the natural son of Joseph.  The Church (of Sinai) possesses it, it wasn't destroyed, but it wasn't used as a examplar for copying either.  Trust such good judgment on the dogma as well.
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« Reply #211 on: March 09, 2013, 01:52:35 PM »

ArmchairTheologian wrote:

Quote
This also fits with conceptions some of the Fathers had about sexuality, that it was a result of the fall and not a truly natural human faculty, less than perfectly honorable and not to be chosen, even in marriage, above the great and awesome glories of celibacy, which was seen as the 'angelic state'. These are teachings I'm not naturally inclined to agree with, for the same reason I'm uncertain about the rest. I don't see these ideas in the scriptures.     
   

It has been said more than once here and in the sister threads to this, that not every pronouncement of a saint or Father is perfect. This is why the Church relies on not a single individual as arbiter of what is true and proper, but on all its members, clerics and laymen, monastics and married, men and women.

Monastic celibacy is indeed glorious for those who are truly called to it, but no less so is marriage, which is blessed by the Church as a great mystery. It is no accident that the Epistle reading appointed for the Orthodox marriage service is Eph. 5: 20-33. There is much wisdom and food for thought there.
It might be pointed out that the Church has adopted, during the Western Captivity, the schema of seven great mysteries.  Although not entirely Orthodox (but not heretical nor perhaps unorthodox), the fact remains the the Seven Great Mysteries include Marriage (indeed, it is the only one called a Mystery in Scripture) but not monastic profession (which, like the Great Blessing of Water, is included in the Traditional Orthodox sacramentary).  It also remains true that only those Churches who have monasticism consider marriage a sacrament.  Those who do not have monks, don't.
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« Reply #212 on: March 09, 2013, 02:15:05 PM »

Honest question:

What is the importance to the Orthodox that she stayed ever virgin?

Personally, I think it's important to recognize her as one of the great saints of Christian/Jewish history, but her sex life (after the birth of Christ) is utterly unimportant. Maybe I have this opinion because I'm missing something?

Honest Question:

What is the importance to the Lutherans that she was a virgin when Christ was born? It seems utterly unimportant.
Many Lutherans, to the scandal of Luther, have come to that conclusion.
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« Reply #213 on: March 09, 2013, 02:18:23 PM »

Yawn Roll Eyes

Feel free to read Isaiah 7:14 in Luther's own translation.

Can't ask an honest question around here. I also never said she wasn't. Just asked why it's so important to Orthodox. Thanks to the others who gave generous non condescending replies.
Part of the importance is that denying her virginity often comes with heretical implications-like Unitarianism.
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« Reply #214 on: March 09, 2013, 02:27:37 PM »

I must confess that I am astounded to read posts here by posters who profess their Orthodoxy,  often quibbling over this or that liturgical variation or custom, who seem to doubt the necessity for a true believing Orthodox Christian to profess belief in the Ever-Virginity of the Mother of God. Perhaps I am careless in my reading here, but this link points one to what is taught in those jurisdictions under the protection of the ecumenical throne.

"The Orthodox have no difficulty, then, considering the ever-virginity of Mary a nonnegotiable fact and its alternative unthinkable. "  
http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith9174

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« Reply #215 on: March 09, 2013, 02:34:03 PM »

I'd like to ask the question to those who believe that Mary did have other children.  Why?  What does that mean to YOUR belief?  Other than polemics and the desire to prove the Orthodox Church is wrong, what does it mean to YOUR belief that Mary in fact had other children?

Personally, the doctrine of the ever-virginity of the Theotokos has very little baring for me. It is attested to in some very early sources, and it doesn't effect my faith either way. My concerns about the teachings on the Theotokos lies elsewhere. Mainly, I'm just arguing possible objections to see how well thought out the Orthodox point of view is. Are there good answers to the hard questions, or will it fall apart under scrutiny? I think most people who ask questions and posit objections are usually just trying to figure out where the truth, either consciously or subconsciously. And I'm one of the few people around who actually enjoys a good theological debate. For some of us, it helps keep us on our toes and thinking about the things we believe. But I'm certainly not hear to try to tear down Orthodoxy. I just want to understand what makes it tick.

I think this is, again, fair enough. You have asked a lot of questions and hopefully got some answers, but have been less forthcoming with answers posed to you. That is fine--you are not on trial here. But be careful that you don't consider Orthodoxy in a vacuum. We shall never get "all the answers". How do your current presuppositions stand up to scrutiny? Your certainty that Scripture is the only certain thing is self-defeating. Are you so certain you have "good answers to the hard questions"?

Honestly, I'm not aware of any questions posted toward me that I have failed to answer as best I could. But if anyone wants to ask me questions, I'll try to give a good answer. I'm not trying to say my opinions are iron-clad and yours aren't. I don't think I ever suggested that.

Well, a few I asked are the following (refer to my previous email for context):

  • Why is it historically plausible to think an entire Church would enter quickly into heresy by accepting an error regarding the Theotokos without leaving a paper trail of opposition?
  • If the universal Church fell into heresy regarding the ever-virginity, then you have one of two choices: either the the Holy Spirit did not lead the Church to truth, in which case, Jesus lied, or the Holy Spirit was impotent and therefore somehow less than divine (in which case you are rejecting the Trinity) or somehow ineffectual. Which do you believe?
  • Your line of questioning begs the question of your own epistemology. Why should we trust your (or my) private interpretation? Why are your interpretations of Scripture better than that which the Church universal believed "everywhere, always and by everyone"?
  • Do you believe the New Testament Canon is closed? If so, why do you accept the Scriptures that a "corrupted" Church selected from amongst many more possible documents? Do you think Hebrews is Scripture? Who wrote it? Why is its inclusion in the Bible trustworthy?
  • Here is a list of Christian documents floating around during the time of the Early Church: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ The existing NT Canon says nothing about these books, so according to that which you are "sure of", we have no means to select the NT Canon. How do you do it without the Church and why is your decision normative?

Please have a go at any or none, but I would be interested in your epistemology, how you know what you know, given that you reject the consensus of a "corrupted" Church.


Thank you for this post. I have asked Protestant friends and relatives these very questions since my long ago college years and never have I received an answer which does anything other than evade the basic premise you raise.
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« Reply #216 on: March 09, 2013, 07:17:24 PM »

There is more to suggest the Theotokos was and is ever virgin than there is to suggest she was not.  It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

You also did it a few times, confusing EO and RC. Heal yourself...

When you make blanket (empty) statements like this, it helps if you provide context.  Otherwise, my only response is, "What?"  To my knowledge, on this forum, I have never questioned her virginity.

I didn't state you had questioned virginity of Theotokos. I only wrote you questioned a few times EO teachings and that didn't bother you.

some examples:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,49432.msg876514.html#msg876514
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,49356.0.html
You should learn what serious inquiry is.
Quote
   I have no problem with dialogue which is clear from my interaction here, but when the Church has made a distinct and clear teaching, there is no room for interpretation.  Other areas where it is not clear and distinct, sure, as this is how we learn and grow.  The virginity of the Theotokos is not debatable by Orthodox Christians.  As my priest repeated states, you either accept the Orthodox Church or you reject the Orthodox Church.  There is no middle ground.  If the questions come from outside the Orthodox Church, no problem, as long as those questions are sincere for the sake of learning and understanding.  I didn’t mean for my comment to be snippy or anything like that.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 07:25:38 PM by Kerdy » Logged
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« Reply #217 on: March 09, 2013, 08:17:12 PM »

You should learn what serious inquiry is.

Confusing Eastern Orthodoxy with Roman Catholicism two years after conversion is a serious inquiry?
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« Reply #218 on: March 09, 2013, 10:23:14 PM »

You should learn what serious inquiry is.

Confusing Eastern Orthodoxy with Roman Catholicism two years after conversion is a serious inquiry?
You, again, make strange discussion.
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« Reply #219 on: March 10, 2013, 01:26:40 PM »

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Personally, I don't, either. The ever-virginity is certainly part of our Tradition, but it's never really been proclaimed in a way that can clearly be recognized as dogmatic, unlike the dogmas of the Trinity and the Incarnation and the fact that Mary was a virgin when she conceived and when she gave birth to Christ. You could say that the ever-virginity of the Theotokos just isn't a part of our public message to the world.

There is a post of mine waiting to be approved which shows that the matter of the ever-virginity of the Mother of God was, indeed, proclaimed as a proper and necessary teaching of the Church in the Quinisext Council in trullo.
Okay, I must have confused the ever-virginity of the Theotokos with the stories about her entry into the Temple as a child.

The entry into the Temple of the Mother of God is a feast, indeed one of the twelve highest feasts of the Church, and an ancient one at that. The Church celebrates realities, not allegories, in her feasts, despite what certain contemporary writers might claim.

What about last Sunday?
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« Reply #220 on: March 10, 2013, 08:36:01 PM »

In an attempt to keep this thread on topic, I've moved the back-and-forth between LBK and me to Orthodox-Other Christian Private Discussions.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=50438.0
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« Reply #221 on: March 10, 2013, 10:23:19 PM »

There is more to suggest the Theotokos was and is ever virgin than there is to suggest she was not.  It really disturbs me how often Church doctrine is questioned on this forum.  I understand much of is not from Orthodox Christians, but it still bothers me.

+1
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I would suggest most persons in general avoid any question beginning with why.
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« Reply #222 on: March 10, 2013, 10:29:06 PM »

I must confess that I am astounded to read posts here by posters who profess their Orthodoxy,  often quibbling over this or that liturgical variation or custom, who seem to doubt the necessity for a true believing Orthodox Christian to profess belief in the Ever-Virginity of the Mother of God. Perhaps I am careless in my reading here, but this link points one to what is taught in those jurisdictions under the protection of the ecumenical throne.

"The Orthodox have no difficulty, then, considering the ever-virginity of Mary a nonnegotiable fact and its alternative unthinkable. "  
http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith9174


Amen!

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« Reply #223 on: March 10, 2013, 10:31:32 PM »

The Synodikon of Orthodoxy anathematizes all who do not confess the ever-virginity of the Most Holy Theotokos. It's a very serious matter.
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« Reply #224 on: March 10, 2013, 11:58:07 PM »

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The problem is, it's not in Scripture, or at least, not explicitly
Neither is sola scriptura, nor the "sinner's prayer", nor that the Eucharist is only symbolic.

I know! I personally think the sinner's prayer is silly (though if that's how a genuine Christian life begins, I won't criticize), I'm at least part way convinced of the real presence at the Eucharist (Jesus said "This is my body" and "This us my Blood", so in some sense it must be true), and I wouldn't argue that the whole of the divinely inspired truth is only found in the scripture. All I'm saying is, the ever-virginity is not in the scripture, and that's why protestants rejected it, right or wrong. I think many Protestants reject things that ARE debatably in the scripture, and sometimes believe things that aren't (like the per-tribulation rapture, which I also find ridiculous). I'm not totally protestant in all my beliefs, and pretty far from being evangelical.
It is, however, a matter of historical record that Protestant Reformers Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Wesley all believed in and defended the perpetual virginity of Mary; we cannot therefore simply speak of "protestant rejection" without qualification.

Further, it is widely acknowledged that NT exegesis in and of itself leaves the matter an open question. A major exegetical study by an ecumenical group composed of both Catholic and Protestant biblical scholars concluded that NT data in and of itself is ambiguous as to whether Jesus' brothers must be understood as biological half brothers born of Mary (Helvidius),[1] or possibly something like brothers by a previous marriage by Joseph (Epiphanius, most Greek fathers) (Raymond Brown, Karl P. Donfried, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and John Reumann, eds., Mary in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars (Fortress Press, 1978). The Protestant and Catholic scholars who participated in Brown, Donfried, Fitzmyer, and Reumann's project ultimately concluded any firm decision as to whether Mary remained a virgin or not after the birth of Jesus can only be decided on extra-biblical grounds; on the other hand the traditional Roman Catholic view that the brothers of Jesus were cousins is considered the most problematic). Further, there are major Protestant scholars who defend the Epiphanian view (traditional Orthodox view) as being the most probable on historical critical grounds (extra-biblical/historical), e.g. Richard Bauckham).

For an 2008 review of the status of the Protestant/Catholic Collaborative Assessment three decades later see http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/Rossier.html "...the biblical text allows one to identify the so-called “brothers and sisters” as Jesus’ siblings as well as other sorts of close relatives. Thus exegetes may either accept Mary’s post partum (i.e. after Jesus’ birth) virginity--in the literal meaning of the word--or reject it, without having to surrender their intellectual integrity. Both interpretations are acknowledged as being consonant with Scripture. Second, and since both interpretations are scripturally legitimate, readers will see in Jesus’ "brothers and sisters" either siblings or close relatives, depending mostly on the tradition they belong to and by the way they relate to that tradition" (Rossier, op cit). Cf. also Richard Baukham's article on the family of Jesus posted on my blog. http://katachriston.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/richard-j-bauckham-on-the-relatives-of-jesus/
__________
[1] There are three main views about the brothers of Jesus in the NT:
1. Epiphanian: Joseph’s children from a previous marriage; stepbrothers (Epiphanius; most Greek fathers; earliest attested/100's AD).
2. Helvidian: Mary's biological children born after Jesus.
3. Hieronymian: Cousins of Jesus (originated with Jerome and held by most Latin fathers after Jerome).
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