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Renewed Denial of the Roman Catholic Church, part 3: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Recently, in a conversation on Facebook, I confessed that much of Protestantism annoyed me.  Longtime readers will know that I believe in consistency — hermeneutics should be consistent, interpretations of passages should incorporate what has gone before, and your bar of acceptable proof should be even across all areas of your life.

Protestantism just isn’t consistent.  The first post in this series laid the groundwork for why I don’t think Protestantism is very consistent with regard to Sacred Tradition.  The previous post discussed the concept of high church, how Protestantism lacks it, and why it is biblical.  However, submission doesn’t mean surrendering one’s mental faculties.  For an application of that idea, we turn to the main issue I’ve always had with Catholicism, and a true biblical contradiction in its teaching: the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.

To believe this doctrine, you have to totally subvert the meaning of Mark 6:3, when the crowd in Jesus’ hometown asks, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?”

The Catholic argument is that the word translated “brother” (αδελπηοσ) can be used for any close family member, since there wasn’t a Greek word for “cousins.”  Therefore, James, Joses, Judas, and Simon are actually Jesus’ cousins.  In fact, according to Strong’s, αδελπηοσ means “brother,”  “sister” or “fellow believer.”  However, we know from other New Testament passages that these folks are not fellow believers.

In fact, there is a Greek word meaning “cousin.”  It is ανεπσιοσ, and is used in Colossians 4:10 to describe Mark, cousin of Barnabas.  (The word actually refers to a niece or a nephew, and I’m at a loss to find out why it is universally translated “cousin.”)  Which means the Catholic argument normally presented for Jesus’ brothers being cousins holds no water whatsoever.

The January 1990 issue of This Rock magazine has an article by Father Mateo specifically stating that:

Kilmon obscures the state of the question by alleging a “premise that ‘brother’ in the New Testament, like its counterpart in the Old Testament really means ‘cousin’ or ‘kinsman.'” No one holds such a premise. Both Hebrew and Greek dictionaries report that there are words in both languages whose primary meaning conveys uterine brother/sisterhood, but that these words are also used in both languages with much wider meanings: half brother/half sister, wife, kinsman, fellow tribe member, and so on, but not, as a matter of fact, cousin. (emphasis added)

But Father Mateo has spoke too soon.  The Catholicism Answer Book (Sourcebooks, Inc: Naperville, IL, 2007), written by Catholic priests John Trigilio, Jr. and Kenneth Brighenti, does hold the very position that Father Mateo repudiates:

Scripture scholars have also delved into the question of brothers and sisters of Jesus.  It all centers around the Greek word adelphoi.  This word can be translated to mean brothers, cousins, or relatives, such as nephews and uncles.  Therefore, when we read in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 13:55 concerning the brothers of Jesus, it is ambiguous whether the word adelphos is refering to brothers, cousins, nephews, or uncles. (57, emphasis added)

Just a few pages prior, Trigilio and Brighenti make a similar point.  Ancient Hebrew (yes, they said Hebrew–remember that point) didn’t discern between close family (brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, and nephews), and thus the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus could have referred to other family members that didn’t have precise names (49).

The problem is that the New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew.  Greek is exceedingly more complex, and does have those distinctions.  The passages in question, read plainly, indicate family related by blood is under consideration.  One hardly mentions the mother of a person and then a few cousins without some sort of context key.  Nope, these are biological brothers and sisters, not close family or fellow Christians that are being discussed.  It is difficult to argue otherwise.

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Marian Dogmas Don’t Appear Before the Sixth Century and Other Things I Never Said

I heard nothing from the self-proclaimed Catholic Champion, Matthew Bellisario, for quite some time on the blog post where I exposed the gross fallacies committed by him and his friend when arguing against a Protestant commenter.

I made what I had admitted to be an erroneous statement about the Marian super-devotion.  I stated that it can’t be found before the sixth century; however, I have since offered a retraction.  I heard nothing, so I assumed the issue was closed.

Then, on a lark, I checked the comment section of Bellisario’s blog, on the post where he called me out.  I discovered that it wasn’t over with.  He and commenter scotju made some additional remarks, of which I was blissfully unaware until this afternoon.

Why?  Because I hate comment sections.  Many of the folks who use them aren’t the brightest bulbs.  I only read the comment sections which I believe will provide some amusement to me.

My own comment sections are limited to 30 days per post.  I’ve contemplated removing them all together, on the logic that if you have something to say, you should have the guts to e-mail it to me.  Start a direct conversation instead of posting and running, as so many commenters do.  I can usually predict the post-and-runs.  (In fact, I’m betting the comment on this post from Georgie will be a post-and-run.)

Thank God I have a set of really good regular commenters.  Boz and Alex always have food for thought.  Not-a-Scientist isn’t bad, either, though he doesn’t comment very often.  I haven’t decided what I think about Ben Finney yet, but he has intelligent comments thus far.  So, thanks, guys.  I may not always respond, but I always think.  Some of the flood from DaGoodS’s blog has generally been good, too, even if I think that they’re trying excessively hard to ignore or downplay the points I’m making on the allegedly impossible questions.  You know, in the service of their atheism.

So, if I only sporadically check my own comment sections, then I’m really not going to check the comment sections of others.  Let’s take a peek at a few of their claims.

After “dismantling” my argument, Bellisario says, “True, and we can see Corey is nowhere to be found now.”  Okay.  So I vacated the premises.  I’m gone.  I’m scared of Bellisario and scotju’s obvious superiority of logic.  Or was it something else?

Something else.  That comment was made on February 25 at 7:28pm.  I made the retraction on the 24th at 8:13 am.  Bellisario issued a barb an hour later.  Scotju chimed in six hours later.  Then, less than a day after that, Bellisario whines that I’m nowhere to be found.

I’m sorry for having two children.  I’m sorry for having better things to do than check Bellisario’s crappy blog.  Please forgive me!  Internet apologetics isn’t the only thing I do with my life!  I prefer the company of my kids and my wife to the cold ramblings of a stranger’s keyboard.

Then, Bellisario says something that contradicts earlier charges.  He says, in regard to Protestant “groupies” that take claims at face value, “After all, if you believe that ‘sola scriptura’ nonsense, why bother to read church history?”  This is funny from someone who claims to read my blog when he waves my apology away by saying:

Corey, lets be honest here. You have made this claim more than once on your blog. Do you want me to go back and link to every time you have made this claim? You have said this numerous times, so it is not an isolated “mistake.” It is a firm postion that you have held for some time on your website.

If he was such a careful reader of my blog, then he would know a few things.  First, I have no groupies.  Who the hell comments on my blog and agrees with me, besides Sister Maria, who (by the way) is Catholic?

No one.  Everyone who comments here disagrees with something that I’ve had to say, including people I know in real life (like Craig French and Nate Reid).  I have no groupies.

Next, Bellisario would know that, while I used to be adamant about sola scriptura, I have seriously come away from it.  I believe that we should follow prima scriptura, which means Scripture should be in the first place.  The problem with sola scriptura is that you need to establish an hermeneutic, which is basically a traditional way to interpret it.  Otherwise, you run the risk of having everyone interpret Scripture their own way, and that’s the anarchy that Catholics whine about with sola scriptura.

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel every generation, which is what happens with pure, unadulterated sola scriptura.  That’s what we see a lot of in Protestantism today, which is a sore spot with me right now and one of the reasons I’ve been burned out on apologetics.

This evolution should have been apparent to regular readers, which Bellisario obviously isn’t.

How firm is this alleged position that I supposedly held about the Marian dogmas not appearing before the sixth century?  Well, I did a wee bit ‘o site searching.

In 2009, Bellisario wrote regarding Jame White and Mary, asserting that the early church (which to me, by the way, means first or second century) did pray to Mary and revere her in the same way as Catholics do today.  As “proof,” he offers up a quote from the sixth century.  Hmmm.  Sixth century.  Sounds familiar.  I wonder if Bellisario is the source of this make-believe position he insists I hold?  I replied:

Sixth century isn’t “early.” Bellisario offers nothing in his entire post earlier than this quote to back up his assertion that the early Christians paid special attention to Mary. Prayer to Mary, and the Marian dogmas, are simply not traceable to apostolic times in any form. I have no doubt that Mary was held in special reverence, but I doubt very much that prayers were offered to her the way that the Catholic Champion suggests. (source)

Where in that did I say that the Marian dogmas didn’t appear before the sixth century?  Oh, that’s right: I didn’t.  I said that they weren’t traceable to apostolic times, which I meant (but wasn’t clear) the modern formulation.  “In any form” was too extreme, and I shouldn’t have said it.  Either way, that’s a big difference between what I actually said and what Bellisario says I said.

Bellisario questioned me:

What? 6th century is not early? Says who? I find it quite amusing that the only argument this guy can provide is that this writing just isn’t early enough for him. Yet none of these guys have anything from this period attesting to their heretical beliefs. I have given a source from the 500s attesting to a Catholic practice and it just isn’t old enough for this guy. Is this the best this guy can do? Well as we know that is about par for the likes of James White’s fans don’t we? (source)

And I reply:

But I can provide Scriptural evidence for my beliefs, which dates back to the apostles. He’s providing non-inspired writings 500 years after the fact. I think that I am justified in asking him for earlier attestations. Asking me for earlier attestations is just deflecting the question, not answering the charge. (source)

Where’s my claim that nothing on Mary appears before the sixth century?  Did I miss it?

Other than those examples, I’m really not finding anything else on the introduction of the Marian dogmas.  So I don’t think Bellisario can make a case that I’ve said this repeatedly.  I can’t even find where I’ve said it all, except for that one time–which would make it an isolated mistake.

Am I going to get an apology?  Doubt it.

That’s all for now.  I’ll disseminate scotju’s counterpoint in another post.

Why I’m Not Roman Catholic

This post’s traffic numbers were up 33% for the week of July 15th.  Then it flatlined for two weeks.  This week, it’s up 495% in views thanks to this thread at the CARM forums.

The problem is that I no longer agree with a substantial amount of the content found in it.  (See comments below.)

Therefore, I have removed it and I’ve left this placeholder.  Fret not, however; I have an updated version of this post right here.

If you’d like to read more on why I’m not a Roman Catholic, please view these far more even-handed posts:

Another Reply to Matthew Bellisario

Matthew Bellisario replied to this post with a lengthy diatribe found here. In his reply, Mr. Bellisario goes to great lengths to prove that “co-” doesn’t imply an equal share. I said:

“Co-” does mean “with,” and implies (at least to me) an equal share in the action. Cooperate. Coworker. Both terms imply an equal share of action, and this is what is so reprehensible about the title.

Mary participated in God’s plan, but not in an equal share. Remember that the term “Co-” implies equal participation.

He replies:

This shows everyone that Corey will go to any lengths to justify his opposition to God’s salvific plan of salvation. Where on earth does the definition of co have to mean an equal share? This is absolute nonsense. Does the co-pilot share equal responsibility or action with the actual pilot? Co means with, not necessarily equal to. If you look in the dictionary you will see it defined just as commonly as, “Subordinate or assistant: copilot”. You can see that Corey has a one track mind to degrade God’s chosen plan to actualize the incarnation of Christ. No one has ever said that Mary has an equal share in God’s salvific plan. In fact the Church has over and over stated this, yet those who oppose Christ and His will reject the Gospel for their own preferred version. You can see this apparent personal pride here by the mere fact that Corey stated, “(at least to me)” in referring to the definition of the prefix co. It doesn’t mean what the dictionary says it means, or in the context that the Church uses it in. Its all about Corey and what he thinks.

The prefix “co-” doesn’t have to imply an equal share, as in Mr. Bellisario’s example of a copilot. But in many cases it does imply equal share. I restate my two examples of cooperate and coworker. My old job title at Wendy’s was co-manager, and I was expected to operate the store as the actual head manager would, and I functioned as an acting store manager on several occasions. The copilot would do the same thing: function as pilot with full and equal responsibility in the absence of a pilot. Read the rest of this entry

A Response to Matthew Bellisario about Mary

I finally got around to writing a response to Matthew Bellisario about my article regarding Mary, the “Blessed Mother.” Let me just state for the record that I believe Mary is to be held in high regard as an example of Christian obedience and humility, but I do not believe that she is to be held in the esteem that Catholics hold her. I don’t believe in offering prayers to her, I don’t believe that she is in any sense “Co-Redemptrix,” I don’t believe that she had anything to do with the Atonement nor does she play any role in salvation either today or in years past.

That said, let’s dive in:

Does the term co-mediatrix or co-redemtrix imply we are equating Mary as a fourth person of the Trinity? Obviously not, because the term does not imply anything of the sort. Co means with. If Mary participated in God’s plan of salvation, (which anyone who would deny this fact cannot call themselves a Christian) then she can be titled obviously a co-redemptrix, because she participated in God’s plan. I will say this plainly, it seems that [James] White is just (pardon my French) too damn stupid to understand what co means. Aside from all of this, this terminology has not been defined by the church as of yet.

Once again, a broken record. He repeats exactly what he said in the initial article but fails to clarify it. “Co-” does mean “with,” and implies (at least to me) an equal share in the action. Cooperate. Coworker. Both terms imply an equal share of action, and this is what is so reprehensible about the title.

Mary participated in God’s plan, but not in an equal share. Remember that the term “Co-” implies equal participation.

Yes he like James White follows a heresy condemned by the Church [Calvinism]. I never said Mary was divine as Cory here writes, “Whatever you believe about Mary, she was a mere human and not divine.” Well we all know that you do not have to be divine to participate in God’s redemptive plan of salvation. Anytime we pray or lead someone to the faith we become participants of God’s plan to save other people. So his argument here is nothing more than pure rhetoric. (emphasis added)

Then why are we not all termed “Co-Redeemers?” Because we do not participate in the plan of salvation in equal footing with God’s action in salvation. We are merely a cog in the wheel of the ultimate plan, doing our role defined by God when we lead someone to the Lord (Eph 2:8-11). Why does Mary get special consideration and her own title? She, too, is a cog like us.

What? 6th century is not early? Says who? I find it quite amusing that the only argument this guy can provide is that this writing just isn’t early enough for him. Yet none of these guys have anything from this period attesting to their heretical beliefs. I have given a source from the 500s attesting to a Catholic practice and it just isn’t old enough for this guy. Is this the best this guy can do? Well as we know that is about par for the likes of James White’s fans don’t we?

But I can provide Scriptural evidence for my beliefs, which dates back to the apostles. He’s providing non-inspired writings 500 years after the fact. I think that I am justified in asking him for earlier attestations. Asking me for earlier attestations is just deflecting the question, not answering the charge.

I have posted my video. I don’t need to go on his radio show to refute White. My video is on the web for all to see. By the way, this guy can’t even spell my name correctly either.

Chicken? I’d like to see some actual interaction between you and White. I think that everyone would. So what do you say? Are you up to the challenge?

By the way, I corrected all of the misspellings. Sorry, won’t happen again.

Matthew Bellisario and Mary

Matthew Bellisario’s love for Dr. James White, a friend of this blog, is well documented. His attitude toward Dr. White is always charitable, so it is no wonder that Dr. White has never offered a reply to Bellisario’s comments. I will offer an answer for Dr. White in this short article to the latest diatribe by the Catholic Champion.

Bellisario has this to say about Mary:

Does the term co-mediatrix or co-redemtrix imply we are equating Mary as a fourth person of the Trinity? Obviously not, because the term does not imply anything of the sort. Co means with. If Mary participated in God’s plan of salvation, (which anyone who would deny this fact cannot call themselves a Christian) then she can be titled obviously a co-redemptrix, because she participated in God’s plan. I will say this plainly, it seems that [James] White is just (pardon my French) too damn stupid to understand what co means. Aside from all of this, this terminology has not been defined by the church as of yet.

Let’s first assume an Arminian perspective on salvation for the sake of argument. By virtue of human free will, we all would participate in our salvation by making a decision to follow Christ. Therefore, are we not all Co-Redeemers in salvation by this logic?

But, like James White, I follow the Reformed view of salvation, which means that salvation is solely God’s work. We mere humans do not participate in it. Whatever you believe about Mary, she was a mere human and not divine. Therefore, she does not participate in salvation in any way–to suggest otherwise is blasphemous.

White says that it is blasphemous to ask the Blessed Mother to pray for us, to intercede for us. Is it? Then I ask why in the world does every ancient Liturgy have petitions to her? You see, White knows that when it comes to the Church and her Liturgies he has no defense of for his outlandish heretical rants. The Liturgies of the Church show us plainly that Christians of the early centuries gave the Blessed Theotokos praise, and they asked for her intercession.

Livias in the 6th century wrote, “Raised to heaven, she remains for the human race an unconquerable rampart, interceding for us before her Son and God.” Theoteknos of Livias, Assumption 291(ante AD 560),in THEO,187

Sixth century isn’t “early.” Bellisario offers nothing in his entire post earlier than this quote to back up his assertion that the early Christians paid special attention to Mary. Prayer to Mary, and the Marian dogmas, are simply not traceable to apostolic times in any form. I have no doubt that Mary was held in special reverence, but I doubt very much that prayers were offered to her the way that the Catholic Champion suggests. Dr. White need not offer a defense for something that the other side has not sufficiently established as a fact.

Now lets also call out James White on his video regarding the liturgy and Transubstantiation in which I posted responses to a few months back? I flat out called him on his erroneous conclusions he formed from his “12 century” arguments on the tabernacle, the host elevation etc. He loves to attack Catholics and mock them on his blog and his radio show, yet he cannot defend his own foolish arguments. Where is he and his arrogant response on this? We are waiting.

If Bellisario is so anxious to call James White out, why doesn’t he call The Dividing Line? If Dr. White’s assertions are so foolish and easily refuted, why not embarrass him on his own podcast? That would prove once and for all that James White is not worthy of as many followers as he has and it would show all of his listeners that Catholicism is the way to go. Alas, I doubt that that will ever happen because we all know how it would really turn out and who the loser would be. We know that Dr. White would make Matthew Bellisario look like a complete idiot, and look good doing it.