Fragrant Mary on the North Wind

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden that the spices thereof may flow out.
– Song of Solomon 4:16 (KJV).

I.
In November of 2015, I was well into my Catholic ordeal. Arenda’s parents had come to visit for a few days, and we were saying farewell when James came bounding into the room saying, “Look, Mom, I found a necklace!” He jumped onto the couch and showed us a circlet of beads with a cross dangling from the end. What on earth? I thought. That’s no necklace – that’s a rosary. I was taken aback by it, and as soon as my in-laws had left I asked James were he’d found it. He took me to the basement, to the small workshop room, and showed me the nail on the wall shelves where it had been hanging. We’d lived in that house for four years and gone into that room countless times, and I’d never seen a rosary hanging there. The previous homeowners had been Polish, so I assumed that they were Catholic and had forgotten the rosary there. But why, at that tender point in our lives, had we suddenly found a rosary hanging in plain sight that we’d never before seen? I didn’t know what to think of it. I was nowhere near becoming Catholic at that point, much less willing to pray to Mary, so I left it as just one of those things in life. But I did say to Arenda, “If we start finding more rosaries hanging about the house, I’m going to take it as a sign.”

The interior of Notre Dame, "Our Lady", Cathedral in Paris, France. Courtesy, Traveldigg.com

The interior of Notre Dame, “Our Lady”, Cathedral in Paris, France.
Courtesy, Traveldigg.com

We didn’t find any more rosaries. I did, however, return often to the question as to why we’d found it. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe it was everything. But the whole question about Mary remained one of the biggest obstacles in my acceptance of the Catholic faith. From what I know of other converts from Protestantism, this is often the case. There are usually two major objections: first, the Catholic teachings on Mary are not found in Scripture; and second, they obscure the work and glory of Jesus Christ. Even after I’d accepted that the Catholic Church was who she said she was, the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, I still found myself holding out against her Marian teachings. How could Catholics say the exalted things they said about Mary? And what was the point of it all, anyways?

Because of this, I turned a good chunk of my attention to studying those teachings. And I doubt I’m alone in having found that looking into their scriptural and theological foundations has been among the most rewarding parts of the journey to the Catholic faith. Mary is a living sermon about Christ and the sheer gratuitousness of His love. But since Rome’s claims about her are perhaps the primary obstacle to embracing the Catholic faith, I thought I’d respond to my former objections. In this post I’ll address the second of the above objections: that the Marian teachings detract from Christ’s work and glory; and in a future post I’ll address the scriptural foundations.

II.
May as well dive right in with some of the Reformed-beard-sizzlers given to Mary by the Catholic Church: Queen of Heaven, Mother of Mercy, gracious Advocate, Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces. These offend Reformed ears because they appear to confer on Mary glory that belongs to Christ alone. Christ is our advocate [1Jn.2:1], the source of grace [Ep.4:7], the source of mercy [Ro.9:18], our Redeemer [Ep.1:7], and our royal Head [Ep.1:22]. These verses, and many others, proclaim these wonderful and rich truths about Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church, too, teaches those things about Christ, for she confesses every word of Scripture to be breathed out by God and binding for all men. But how on earth could she claim to uphold Scripture, honour Christ, and yet confer similar titles on Mary?

First of all, it’s important to be clear what is meant by these titles. Take “Mediatrix” for example. Paul writes in his first letter to Timothy,

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all [1Ti.2:5,6 ESV].

How can the Catholic Church call Mary a mediator when Scripture says we have only one mediator? We can see in the above Scripture quotation what Paul meant by referring to Christ as our “one mediator”: He was the one “who gave himself as a ransom for all.” Christ stood in the middle, between God and man, as payment on behalf of man to God for the sins of the world. That’s not what the Catholic Church means in conferring on Mary the title, “Mediatrix.” She did not give her life as a ransom to God for our sins. Rather, what the title means is that Mary intercedes on our behalf to Christ. She brings our requests to her Son and by her intercession wins every grace that God is pleased to grant us. In fact, the very mediating work ascribed by Rome to Mary is commanded of us by Paul only a few verses earlier: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” [1Ti.2:1]. If Mary’s mediating work detracts from Christ’s work, then so do our intercessions.

The same thing applies to Mary’s title of “Advocate.” The Apostle John writes,

If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sin, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world [1Jn.2:1-2].

Just as Paul does, John includes here what he means in calling Christ our advocate: Christ was the sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, the holes in His hands and feet a constant deflection of God’s wrath away from our sins. That is not what Rome means in teaching that Mary is our advocate. She was not the sacrifice for the sins of the world. She has no holes in her hands and feet to prove that our sins have been covered. Rather, Rome teaches that Mary pleads our case before Christ that He would show us mercy and bless us with the grace we need to obey Him.

This, too, is an activity that all Christians engage in. Is there a Christian parent on earth who has not advocated before God for the souls of their children? Especially if those children are straying? Or do we not advocate for our friends or fellow church members who are not living according to the gospel? Do we not advocate for our nations when they enact wicked legislation? We plead many different cases before our God, imploring Him to show mercy and not wrath. In doing so, we are not taking an ounce of glory from Christ. Rather, we are doing the opposite, for in appealing to Christ this way we acknowledge that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. If calling Mary our advocate detracts from Christ’s honour, then so does any of our advocacy on behalf of others.

Further, there’s a false dilemma behind objecting that Rome’s teachings about Mary obscure Christ’s work. If a dying Reformed person, for example, were to ask his pastor for prayer at the hospital bedside, no pastor in the world would say, “No – you need to look to Christ now, not to me. I’m just going to sit here with my coffee and watch you die.” Clearly, it’s not a question of turning either to the pastor or to Christ. You would be turning to Christ through your pastor. That’s the third option that renders the dilemma false. Catholics seek Christ through the intercession of Mary. Just like beseeching others for prayer doesn’t mean you are finding your salvation in them rather than in Christ, so beseeching Mary for prayer doesn’t mean Catholics find their salvation in her rather than in Christ.

The salvation to which we are called is to partake of the communal life of our Trinitarian God.

We are called to a salvation of communion with God and with each other, bound together by the glory of God’s Trinitarian Love.

It’s the very nature of the salvation Christ has purchased for us that we are not spectators of each other’s salvation. We don’t just sit back and watch as our friends and family struggle or grow, find happiness or despair. Christ did not purchase for us a salvation that looks merely to its own interests. Rather, Christ purchased for us a communal salvation. God is Himself a fellowship of love, three Persons existing as one Being in a mystery that exceeds the striving of all thought, and He calls us into fellowship both with Him and with each other. That is why the two greatest commandments are what they are. The two greatest commandments are about participation: participation in the life of God, and participation in the lives of our neighbours.

But God has given some of His children a greater role in this communion than others. The Apostles laid the foundation of the Church. Pastors and teachers exert more influence in the Church than others, which is why James teaches that they will be judged more strictly [Ja.3:1]. James also teaches that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” [Ja.5:16 NIV], so the prayers of those who are more righteous are more powerful than those who are less righteous. Those of us who are weaker members of the body of Christ are thus called to seek the prayers of the stronger members, for their prayers are more effective than ours. The weaker are called to be humble, and the stronger are called to be generous, and so the whole body is built up together in love. The fact that there are greater and lesser members of the communion of saints doesn’t mean that the greater members rob Christ of glory. Christ promised twelve thrones to His twelve Apostles [Mt.19:28], and those thrones in no way diminish the glory of Christ’s throne. On the contrary, the court of a king is his glory, and the more majestic the court the more glory to the king.

"Do whatever He tells you." Mary's whole existence is a Christocentric sermon.

“Do whatever He tells you.” Mary’s whole existence is a sermon about the greatness of her Son.

According to the Catholic Church, Mary has been given the greatest role of all in the communion of saints. She is the Mother of all believers, and advocates for her spiritual children just as any earthly parent would advocate for their physical children. Because she’s the greatest saint, her prayers are the most effective. And just as Queen Esther did not rob King Ahasuerus of glory, but magnified his glory, so the presence of the Queen of Heaven in the divine court does not rob the eternal King of His glory, but magnifies it more than any other thing God has created.

So it’s important to understand what the Catholic Church means by the titles she confers on Mary. Rome does not attribute any of Christ’s unique work to Mary, nor do any of her titles, when properly understood, even suggest such a thing. Mary is not God; she is not the Word made flesh; she is not seated at the right hand of the Father; she was not the payment for sins; she is not the Judge of the world; it was not her death, resurrection, and ascension that accomplished the salvation of mankind; it is not her spirit that sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts. She is a creature, and thus falls infinitely short of the glory of her divine Son. Even “Co-redemptrix” and “Queen of Heaven,” which I’ll get into more when I discuss Mary in Scripture, are not meant to imply any kind of equality between Mary’s work and Christ’s work. In fact, many of Mary’s titles refer to work that all Christians are called to do.

III.
But secondly, essential to all this is the nature of God’s glory itself, for this lies at the heart of the gospel. Scripture teaches that God is jealous for His glory. Through Isaiah, the Lord says, “I will not yield my glory to another” [Is.48:11], and “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” [Is.42:8]. That second quote especially shows the importance of the context of these statements. God does not share His glory with His enemies. God does not share His glory with false gods or with prideful and ambitious sinners. But Scripture teaches that He does share it with those whom He has brought into friendship with Himself. From the same prophet:

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising [Is.60:1-3].

In fact, Christ Himself spoke plainly about sharing God’s glory: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” [Jn17:22]. And Paul confirms this as part of the essence of the gospel: “Those whom he justified he also glorified” [Ro.8:30]. Those whom God has brought into friendship with Himself He also makes worthy to share in His glory, and this glory becomes through them a light to the world.

Further, there’s a relationship of glory between God and the goodness of His creation, for “the heavens declare the glory of God” [Ps.19:1]. And how do the heavens do that? By being themselves glorious. I hope you’ve had a chance to see Venus blazing in the winter twilight. It’s one of the most glorious sights you will see, and it doesn’t cost a thing. No one who stares at that jewel in awe and says, “Wow,” is going to be rebuked by his friend for robbing God of glory. Of course not, because we all understand that by praising Venus we at once praise the God who made it. The fact that people travel from all over the world to see the Rocky Mountains doesn’t mean that they are glorifying the Rockies instead of Christ. On the contrary, the great beauty of the Rockies is a testimony to the great beauty of the Creator. Again, we all understand that to praise the works of God’s hands is at the same time to praise God Himself. His glory is manifest through His works, and the greater the work the greater the glory.

Yet the glory of creation is nothing compared to the glory of the saints. God did not become a star, or a mountain. God became a man. And He took the form of a human being for the purpose of conforming human beings, not stars or mountains, to God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” [Ga.2:20]. No star can say that. No majestic peak can say that. But human beings can. Where fallen man lives in perpetual conflict with God for glory, as the first sin was an attempt to “be like God” [Gn.3:5], regenerated man is turned in the opposite direction. Regenerated man becomes a mirror for God’s glory, not a black hole. The holiness that the Spirit forms in the hearts of the saints is a greater sermon of divine glory than all the heavens, for that holiness is the very life of God Himself.

Lake Louise, Courtesy, Discover Lake Louise.

Lake Louise in the Alberta Rockies.
Courtesy, Discover Lake Louise.

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary is the greatest saint, the most fragrant spice carried aloft by the Spirit from the garden of the Lord, the one whose will in this life was most perfectly conformed to her Son’s. Because of this she is also the most glorious creature in the universe. She magnifies the Lord more than anything else in all creation. So if mankind marvels at the stars, how much more ought mankind to marvel at Christ-magnifying Mary, the woman who found favour in the eyes of God? There’s a converse to all this, too. And that is, to deny Mary glory is to deny the glory of Christ. There are two kids standing on the shore of Lake Louise. One kid stares at the scene with shining eyes and says, “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life.” The other kid glances around, says, “It’s not bad,” and goes back to thumbing his iPhone. Which of the two has given glory to God? Which of the two has robbed God of glory? If the answer is obvious when it comes to the Rockies, inanimate and merely natural objects, how much more obvious is it when it comes to Mary, animated entirely by the supernatural life of her Son?

As mentioned, my purpose here was not to show where Scripture supports Rome’s teachings about Mary. My purpose was to demonstrate that Rome’s teachings about Mary do not detract from the work and the glory of Christ. On the contrary, Mary magnifies the work and glory of Christ. Further, diminishing her glory does not increase Christ’s glory any more than flattening the Rockies would increase Christ’s glory. It was not by reducing Solomon’s wisdom that the Lord brought glory to Himself, but by inflating it to the ends of the earth. It wasn’t because Solomon was no wiser than any other king that the Queen of Sheba, when she recovered her breath, exclaimed, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel!” [1Ki.10:9]. It was precisely because of Solomon’s great wisdom that she praised God. That’s how God’s glory works with His friends.

The best resource I found on the doctrines of Mary was a 12-part lecture series by Dr. Lawrence Feingold. The first two (hour-long) lectures are spent on Mary in the OT alone. You can find the lectures here.


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21 thoughts on “Fragrant Mary on the North Wind

  1. Teaching that we reach Christ through Mary as mediator and advocate does reduce the work of Christ. The bible plainly teaches that the very work of Christ was to bridge the gap between us and God that we made by our fall into sin. Every Christian is able to directly communicate with God through bible reading and prayer. We don’t need any additional mediator. Christ imputed to us his righteousness. Furthermore no Christian is more righteous than another. Our righteousness is not predicated on our deeds- for if it were we would all be condemned- but on the deeds of our saviour. Therefore we are all able to pray for each other, and to commune directly with God to plead for his mercy and to thank him for his grace.

    • Liam,

      You wrote,

      The bible plainly teaches that the very work of Christ was to bridge the gap between us and God that we made by our fall into sin.

      Yes, which I addressed directly in my post. See my discussion on 1 Timothy 2:5,6 and 1 John 2:1,2.

      Every Christian is able to directly communicate with God through bible reading and prayer.

      Right, and I didn’t imply otherwise. I wrote more than once about our duty to pray to God for each other, and referred to 1 Timothy 2:1 to that end.

      We don’t need any additional mediator.

      If by “mediator” you mean, “someone to pray for me,” which is what Catholics teach about Mary, this is false. We need all the prayers we can get. Have you never asked anyone to pray for you?

      Christ imputed to us his righteousness. Furthermore no Christian is more righteous than another. Our righteousness is not predicated on our deeds- for if it were we would all be condemned- but on the deeds of our saviour.

      I don’t see how Scripture supports the claim that “no Christian is more righteous than another.” The Holy Spirit makes us alive, makes us into new creations “after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” [Ep.4:24]. After being created anew, do we just sit there? Or does the Spirit equip us to walk in this new life, to grow, and to constantly mature in our conformity to Christ? Scripture gives us no grounds to deny that the Spirit works true righteousness and holiness in our hearts, nor to deny that we as individuals mature to varying levels of that righteousness and holiness. The Reformed confessions certainly don’t deny this, for QA 114 of the Heidelberg Catechism refers to “the holiest” among us. How can there be “the holiest” if we are all at the same level?

      Therefore we are all able to pray for each other, and to commune directly with God to plead for his mercy and to thank him for his grace.

      Again, this is true and in line with everything I wrote in my post.

      – Jeremy

  2. Hi Jeremy,
    I have a few questions:
    You wrote, “She [Mary] brings our requests to her Son and by her intercession wins every grace that God is pleased to grant us.”
    1. I am wondering how Mary learns of our requests. Can she hear us when we, presumably, speak to her? Can I ask her to intercede / pray for me in much the same way that I may ask my (living) friend to pray for me?
    2. If I can ask Mary, who has entered into Paradise to intercede for me, can I ask, e.g., my father who has gone to Paradise to intercede for me?
    3. Please expand on what you mean by Mary winning every grace that God is pleased to grant us. How does a human being, dead or alive, “win grace” for us? What does “to win” here mean? If Mary wins the grace, does she confer it upon us? Or if it is Chris who confers it upon us, how is the grace that Mary wins transferred to Christ? If I ask a friend to pray for me, does he, in a similar way, win grace for me, grace that God is, then, pleased to grant me?
    4. How do you define “grace”?
    Thanks, Jeremy

    • Hi George,

      Thanks for your questions.

      1. Yes, you can ask Mary and the saints for prayers just like you’d ask a friend. It can be as simple as, “Mary, please pray for me.”

      As to how the saints learn of our prayers, I don’t know. The answer lies in the mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 16 Paul sees a vision of a man in Macedonia saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” [16:9]. Already in the Apostles’ ministry we see the Spirit communicating the requests of one part of Christ’s Body to another part. If this was possible already in this life, where Paul says “we see in a mirror dimly” [1Co.13:12], how much more possible is it in heaven, where the saints’ vision of God is unimpaired and their life in the Spirit utterly full and perfect? But how that all works is beyond me – beyond any of us, I think.

      2. You can seek the intercession of anyone whom you believe died in a state of friendship with the Lord. I wrote here mainly about Mary, but it applies to the whole communion of saints. The life that binds together the communion of saints is the life of Christ, and it’s a life over which death has no power. Someone who was united to the Body of Christ in this life is not severed from that Body when they die. The Apostles, and all the saints since, are still as connected to Christ’s Body as any believer today. Because they are still members of the Body, they are still responsible to be “working properly, mak[ing] the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” [Ep.4:16]. Indeed, by virtue of their being perfectly united to Christ in glory and love, they are far more equipped to that end than they were on earth.

      3. I was referring here to the effectiveness of Mary’s prayers. When the Apostle James speaks of the power of prayer, he points to Elijah, who prayed, and the rains stopped for three and a half years, and who prayed again, and the rains started again [Ja.5:17]. It was the Lord, of course, who started and stopped the rain, but He did so in response to Elijah’s prayers. This is what I meant with “winning every grace”; in other words, getting what is asked for. The grace is all Christ’s, but He grants that grace in response to our prayers. So indeed, your friend may “win grace” for you in the sense that the Lord grants what your friend had asked for on your behalf.

      4. I was using grace here to refer to gifts from God.

      – Jeremy

  3. Hi Jeremy,

    Thanks for your reply. The Lord Jesus is the only mediator between man and God. 1 Tim. 2:5 says that there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. The context is instructive: On the one hand, the verses 1-4 of 1 Timothy 2 say that we are to pray for all people, including kings, etc., because there is only mediator. Then, on the other hand, verse 6 goes on to say that this mediator gave himself as a ransom. That Christ is the only mediator pertains not only to his atoning work on the cross (v. 6) but also to the prayers we pray for others (1-4). He is the only mediator. This excludes the mother of our Lord. As much as we love and respect her, we cannot honour her has a mediatrix.

    We here on earth are to pray for each other (and I do pray for you). We are clearly instructed to do so. I can refer back to 1 Tim. 2:1-4 and also to James 5:14-16. When we pray for each other we are incited to love for one another. There is a clear command in scripture for the living to pray for one another. But we are not told to pray for the dead; neither does scripture teach that the dead can pray for us. Eccl. 9:5-6 is instructive. I will quote it here at length: “5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.”

    The dead know nothing. All of their former human emotion, good and bad (love, hate, and envy), perish with them. They have no share with what is happening among the living. My prayers to a departed saint are just words cast into the air or that I speak in my mind. This scripture is rather clear that a departed saint has no knowledge of what is happening in my life or among us. Nowhere does scripture command the dead to pray for us.

    There is an intermediate state where the dead pass into Paradise and begin to enoy greater communion with God, but the departed have no contact with those still in the land of the living.

    George

    • Hi George,

      You wrote,

      That Christ is the only mediator pertains not only to his atoning work on the cross (v. 6) but also to the prayers we pray for others (1-4). He is the only mediator. This excludes the mother of our Lord.

      As I’ve explained, when it comes to Mary, and this goes for all the saints, too, the word “mediator” is interchangeable with the word “intercessor.” If you want to say that Christ is our only mediator in the sense that Catholics use that word for Mary and the saints, then you are saying that Christ is our only intercessor. This would exclude not only Mary, but it would exclude all of us who have ever interceded for anyone else. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood you, but I don’t see how you’ve offered an objection to Catholic teaching here that doesn’t end up objecting to the whole practice of interceding for each other.

      Second, I don’t understand why you chose a passage from Ecclesiastes from which to draw conclusions about the afterlife. The Old Testament authors generally wrote despairingly of death, as a going down to “the pit, “dust,” and “Sheol”. The New Testament writers, on the other hand, with one voice wrote hopefully of death, as a going up to Christ. Clearly, that should be the core truth from which to draw conclusions about the afterlife. The fullness and light of the revelation we have in Christ ought to inform our reading of the Old Testament, not the other way around.

      As it is, the interpretation you’ve derived from those verses has troubling implications. It means that Christ’s Body, bound together by the Holy Spirit, is severed by death. It means that the fellowship that God enjoys within Himself, and which He now shares with those united to Him in Christ, is weaker than death because death breaks that fellowship. It means that to be promoted to glory and to behold God as He is, is to be in a state where we “know nothing.” And it means that our love has perished. All of this runs hard against the grain of the gospel.

      But more importantly, the New Testament evidence does not support those conclusions. In the book of Revelation, heaven is not a place that is ignorant of earth. The whole book is full of activity happening between heaven and earth, with messengers going back and forth, decrees being made, the praise of the earth being heard in heaven, and the history of the earth unfolding in full view of the heavenly court. Nor are the saints tucked away in a corner, oblivious to it all. Martyrs cry out, “O sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” [Rv.6:10], and elders bring before God “golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” [Rv.5:8]. These are not saints who “know nothing”, who are ignorant of the Church on earth. The martyrs supplicate God to act in this world, and the elders bring before God the prayers of the Church. The few glimpses we have of the saints in heaven show us a body who are actively involved in both their own prayers and the prayers of the Church.

      Further, whatever that passage from Ecclesiastes means for us, it cannot mean that our love perishes. The Apostle Paul says, “Love never ends” [1Co.13:8]. Love is the permanent thing, the perfect thing. In fact, “love” is the single word that unlocks the entire Catholic doctrine of the communion of saints. Paul writes only a few lines later, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” [1Co13:12]. The saints in heaven directly behold the object of their love, and it is Love Himself. In this vision of love the saints “know fully” where they once knew “in part”. But just as the God whom they now fully know is not a unity, but a Trinity, so they themselves are not merely individuals, but a communion. This perfect love, then, is fixed not only on God; it is fixed just as much on their neighbours. The two greatest commandments apply not only to us on earth, they apply equally to the saints who are now perfectly conformed in every way to the One who is the fulfillment of the law. And who are their neighbours? Those whose fellowship is the same as theirs, that is, whose fellowship is with the Father and the Son – which includes believers on earth. Their love, as communal lovers of a Triune God, is wild beyond our reckoning and is directed at us.

      When saints enter into glory, they do not enter into a place of blissful forgetfulness. They enter into a place where they see God. Paul describes this not as a place of knowing nothing, but of fully knowing. He describes it as a place not where love perishes, but where love achieves a fullness of divine proportions. If a church service is a foretaste of heaven, is a church service a place of forgetting, a place where love perishes? Or is it a place of heightened awareness of everything that matters, and a place where love reaches and yearns? If that’s true of a church service, how much more must it be true of the divine worship of the heavenly court in which God Himself is immediately present and known in a vision of eternal love?

      Finally, a quick note about the intercession of the saints not being commanded in Scripture, as this response is already long. Even from the Reformed angle, a thing need not be commanded in Scripture for us to do it. Scripture doesn’t command infant baptism, profession of faith, or two Sunday services, for example. But the principles that underlie the Catholic doctrine are certainly there in Scripture, as shown above.

      – Jeremy

      • Hi Jeremy,

        Thanks for taking the time to write your lengthy reply. I think this will be my last comment on this thread. I have yet to see anyone convinced of another opinion by way of a blog discussion. You may wish to comment on my last reply, and I will have no issue with that. After all, it’s your blog. But I think I’ll leave it at this. I remain happily bound by, and convinced of, what we confess, in Article 26 of the Confession of faith.

        After saying: “We believe that we have no access to God except through the only Mediator1 and Advocate Jesus Christ the righteous2….” the confession goes on to state:

        “Therefore it was pure lack of trust which introduced the custom of dishonouring the saints rather than honouring them, doing what they themselves never did nor required. On the contrary, they constantly rejected such honour according to their duty,7 as appears from their writings. Here one ought not to bring in our unworthiness, for it is not a question of offering our prayers on the basis of our own worthiness, but only on the basis of the excellence and worthiness of Jesus Christ,8 whose righteousness is ours by faith.9”

        1 1 Tim 2:5. 2 1 Jn 2:1. … 7; Acts 4:12. 9 1 Cor 1:30. 10 Jn 10:9; Eph 2:18; Heb 9:24. 11 Rom 8:34. 12 Heb 13:15. 13 Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4. 14 Jn 14:13.

        And also Lord’s Day 11 of the Heidelberg Catechism:

        30. Q. Do those who seek
        their salvation or well-being
        in saints, in themselves, or anywhere else,
        also believe in the only Saviour Jesus?
        A. No.
        Though they boast of him in words,
        they in fact deny the only Saviour Jesus.1
        For one of two things must be true:
        either Jesus is not a complete Saviour,
        or those who by true faith accept this Saviour
        must find in him all that is necessary
        for their salvation.2
        1 1 Cor 1:12, 13; Gal 5:4.
        2 Col 1:19, 20; 2:10; 1 Jn 1:7.

        By way of my signature under the Form of Subscription I promised the only Head of the Church, and the Church itself, that I am convinced of this and will write and teach accordingly.

        Best wishes, Jeremy!

        George

        • Hi George,

          Thanks for your reply. You wrote,

          I have yet to see anyone convinced of another opinion by way of a blog discussion.

          Reading blog discussions, both Reformed and Catholic, played a decisive role in convincing me that the Catholic faith was true. Also, I sometimes saw those who took part in the debates slowly have their minds changed, as well. The value of a good debate is that there’s a lot of rhetorical baggage and distortion of other people’s beliefs that disappears when both sides get a chance to make their case. For example, question and answer 30 of the Heidelberg Catechism suggests that the Catholic Church teaches that we find our salvation in saints or in ourselves. Blog debates can help make clear that this is a distortion of Catholic teaching.

          You can read that Catholics do indeed honour the saints very highly, but just as the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was highly favoured in the eyes of God [Lu.1:28,30]. You can read that Catholics do indeed devote themselves to the saints, but just as a student devotes himself to a great and wise teacher. The student seeks truth, and knows that he can find it through his teacher’s words. The Catholic seeks to love God and his neighbour as himself, and knows that he can find this through both his own prayers and through the powerful prayers and life examples of those who are beholding God in the fullness of love. Catholics are aware and believe wholeheartedly that the salvation itself is Christ’s. But they also believe that Christ kneads this salvation into our lives through loving parents, devoted pastors, and the prayers of all His children, just as the Lord worked the salvation of Israel through Moses’ love, devotion, and prayers. But this is a very different picture than the one suggested by QA 30. In my experience, reading blog discussions played a major role in helping me understand what Catholics actually believe, as opposed to what I’d imagined them believing. And I found that when I was confronted with the Catholic faith as it is understood and practiced by Catholics, many of my objections fell away.

          Best wishes, Jeremy!

          Thanks, George. May the Lord bless you as you pursue Him in faith, hope, and love.

          – Jeremy

  4. vanpopta, regarding your quote of the Heidelberg Catechism – I am a once-Reformed-now-Catholic convert. Our New Zealand Reformed Churches use the Heidelberg Catechism as well. The problem with the statement is that we Catholics do not “…seek [our] salvation or well-being in saints, in [our]selves, or anywhere else…” than the self-offering of the Lord Jesus Christ. Part of the problem here, I think, is in the word ‘pray’ when applied to asking the saints for their prayers. When I ask Mary for her help, I do not imagine she can somehow zap blessings down; she goes to her Son, as do we all.

    As to how she ‘hears’ my prayers, don’t know! But I don’t think her relation to time is ours. The key issue here is her hearing numerous prayers ‘at the same time.’ What can ‘the same time’ mean in Heaven?

    jj

  5. George:

    I have yet to see anyone convinced of another opinion by way of a blog discussion.

    Me :-). To be accurate, the discussion was in the early 1990s and the platform was usenet discussion groups – but from a human point of view, much the same.

    jj

  6. wmphelder – you posted:

    Teaching that we reach Christ through Mary as mediator and advocate does reduce the work of Christ.

    Mary’s intercession, like yours and mine, exalt the work of Christ. Except by God’s grace, my prayers fall to the ground empty. That grace is complete in Christ – and means that, indeed, my prayers can be effective.

    And Mary’s prayers are that much more effective – for her prayers are in and through her Son’s self-offering. Our prayers – yours, hers, mine – are made effective by His promise:

    12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:12-14)

    The problem here is taking the words ‘mediator’ and ‘advocate’ in too narrow a sense. A mediator is a go-between. I pray for my wife and children; I am a mediator between them and God. Moses prayed for the people and God spared them. Mary, the mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, prays for us. ‘Advocate’ is even broader. Anyone who takes your side is your advocate. The Holy Spirit is the Advocate par excellence. I am your advocate when I pray for you, as I have done and will. Mary loves all her Son’s adoptied brothers and sisters and is their advocate with him.

    jj

  7. Hi Jeremy,

    I appreciate your willingness to explain what convinced you to become Catholic and your openness to interact about it here in the comments-section of your blog. Better late than never, I suppose.

    I’ve been reading your posts with great interest when opportunity allows and I’ve found that you’ve quickly out-flanked all other Catholic-apologists as far as I’m concerned.

    That said, I’ve been pondering and processing what you’ve written and could not help relating it with something that struck me anew from the recent CRTS conference. Dr. Chad VanDixhoorn spoke on the gradual transformation that Luther underwent as he broke with the Church of Rome. It wasn’t a sudden flip-of-the-switch change where his theology went from Catholic to Lutheran/Reformed overnight, but it was a slow development spanning over some length of time, even years. I cannot help but think you’ve made the same type of gradual-switch in reverse, especially with regard to your understanding of Mary; that you haven’t reached the end of the trajectory. You clearly still seek to give glory to Christ and maintain a high regard for the Scriptures, but that seems to be more in spite of Catholic teaching than as a result of it. It was curious to me that you hope to deal in a later post with the Scriptural foundation of Marian teachings, when that support is not really essential for a Catholic to have if the Church/tradition so much as declares it. This indicates to me that you haven’t jettisoned the remnants of your Reformed upbringing in wholesale fashion.

    I’d like to simply address a few things that this post triggered for me:

    In the first place, you claim that the elevation of Mary is something that does not detract from the glory and work of Christ but in fact enhances them. Don’t you think the Judaizers in Galatia could have argued the same about circumcision? Yet Paul adamantly opposes the necessity of the practice because it was eclipsing the complete work of Christ. That leads me to the question: at what point would you say that Mary is elevated too high? Is it not true that millions of Catholics have mistaken the distinction the Church makes between Mary being worthy of special honour but not of adoration, and therefore have given her more than she was due (which biblically-understood is idolatry and blasphemy)? What, if anything, has the Church of Rome done to correct or discipline such error? And finally, if Mary’s place in the Church is of such an honourable position, then why would Christ bypass the excellent opportunity to venerate her, opting instead to deflect attention away from her in Luke 11:27-28?

    Secondly, I also have serious reservations about what you assert about prayers (or pray-ers) of greater or lesser value (which you extrapolate from James 3:1 & 5:16). I would specifically note the context in James 5 where in verse 17 Elijah is singled out as an example for us, not for his own greatness, worthiness or righteousness, for he is said to be “a man just like us” (NIV84) or “a man with a nature like ours” (ESV). James’ point here is clearly that the power of prayer is with God, not with man or his merits. If James’ intention was to teach the greater value of intercession of (greater) saints then he sure missed a golden opportunity to point back to Elijah’s intercession on behalf of the widow’s deceased son in 1 Ki. 17:23. Yet James doesn’t go there, and neither should we.

    The last point I wish to raise is that it seems that you understand “mediator” in two different senses. You say (in your second reply to George) that for Mary and all the saints the word ‘mediator’ is interchangeable with the word ‘intercessor’. What about the sense that Christ is our mediator – is He only our intercessor? I doubt you’d say that, thereby setting aside his mediatorial atoning work. So why then introduce so much unnecessary confusion calling both Christ and Mary by the same title “mediators” if we should understand their work differently?

    Thanks in advance for your response and I look forward to your follow-up post on this topic. But before I go, I want to commend to you the short but incisive article by John Piper found here: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/bless-the-mother-of-jesus-but-mainly-be-the-mother-of-jesus

    Sincerest regards from our family to yours,

    Calvin

    • Calvin – you addressed your remarks to Jeremy, but I hope he won’t mind if I just make a brief remark about the word ‘mediator.’

      The fact is that what can be said about creatures is true of them only by analogy with their originals in God. That is why St Paul (in a hurry so I won’t look it up :-)) talks about human fathers, who take their name from the fatherhood of God. The fatherhood of God is the original; our fatherhood is analogous. We don’t actually create our children from nothing; we are subcreators under God.

      So it is with our participation in the work of Christ. In Christ, my sufferings, if accepted in willing submission to the will of God, do participate in Christ’s passion. That’s what St Paul means when he says that he ‘fills up’ that which is lacking in the work of Christ. It is not that Christ’s Passion was insufficient; it was that it was and is intended to embrace ours.

      And so it is with mediation. My prayers can effect real benefits in the world – and it matters whether I pray. Otherwise, I could simply sit back and say, well, God knows what everyone needs and He will provide. I don’t need to pray.

      But God’s intention is for all His children, in union with His Son, to act as ‘other Christs’ – to offer their prayers, their sufferings, their labours, all their lives as part of the fulfilment of Christ’s own all-sufficient mediation. It is fulfilment in something like the flowering and fruiting of the seed of a plant is the fulfilment of that seed.

      Don’t know if this helps, and pardon me for butting in, but I, who am also a convert from having been Reformed, have had to think about these things.

      jj

    • Hi Calvin,

      Thanks for your comment. You are wholly responsible for the length of my reply!

      I’ve been reading your posts with great interest when opportunity allows and I’ve found that you’ve quickly out-flanked all other Catholic-apologists as far as I’m concerned.

      Thanks – but almost everything I’ve learned I learned from Catholic apologists 🙂

      I cannot help but think you’ve made the same type of gradual-switch in reverse, especially with regard to your understanding of Mary; that you haven’t reached the end of the trajectory… It was curious to me that you hope to deal in a later post with the Scriptural foundation of Marian teachings, when that support is not really essential for a Catholic to have if the Church/tradition so much as declares it.

      At the heart of my thinking is the idea of “faith seeking understanding.” It’s similar to what any Christian would understand about the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. You believe that the New Testament bears divine authority, and you strive to understand the Old Testament through it. You don’t first study the Old Testament, and then decide whether or not the New Testament agrees with your analysis. And where you don’t yet see how a given OT passage is fulfilled by the NT, you don’t then reject the divine authority of the New Testament. So, too, with the Catholic who believes that the Spirit works through the Church to define the contents of the Christian faith. Rather than holding that faith against his own analysis of Scripture, he accepts that faith on the basis of divine authority and reads Scripture through it. When it comes to Mary, then, I accept the teachings of the Church on the basis of divine authority, and then seek to understand how those teachings glorify Christ and flow from Scripture. Where there are things that I still don’t understand, I don’t then reject the divine teaching authority of the Church.

      You clearly still seek to give glory to Christ and maintain a high regard for the Scriptures, but that seems to be more in spite of Catholic teaching than as a result of it.

      On the contrary, if you look at the lives of Catholic saints (those who were the most completely the fruits of the Catholic faith), these were people who both highly regarded the Scriptures and sought to glorify Christ above all. They are the examples I have set before me to follow in my thinking and writing. Or read through the text of the Mass , which is both rooted in Scripture and entirely Christocentric. The great force of the Catholic faith as it is experienced by Catholics is toward Christ – His glory, His power, His work, His joy. I’m hoping, if nothing else, to communicate at least that truth through these posts.

      Don’t you think the Judaizers in Galatia could have argued the same about circumcision? Yet Paul adamantly opposes the necessity of the practice because it was eclipsing the complete work of Christ.

      The work that the Judaizers ascribed to the law was work that the law was powerless to accomplish. Obedience to the law had no power to shed abroad the love of God in our hearts – only the Spirit received in faith could do that. But the work that the Catholic Church ascribes to Mary is work that she is indeed empowered to accomplish, for it is the work that is commanded of all of us: to live in prayer and humble devotion to Jesus Christ.

      That leads me to the question: at what point would you say that Mary is elevated too high? Is it not true that millions of Catholics have mistaken the distinction the Church makes between Mary being worthy of special honour but not of adoration, and therefore have given her more than she was due (which biblically-understood is idolatry and blasphemy)? What, if anything, has the Church of Rome done to correct or discipline such error?

      No, that isn’t true. The Catholic distinction between Mary and God is not one of degrees, but of kind. Mary is a creature, while God is not, and whatever veneration Catholics give to Mary, they understand that they are venerating a creature, not a god. Idolatry would be the belief that Mary is a deity of sorts, and worshipping her, but I don’t know of any Catholics who believe that Mary is divine and worthy of worship. In fact, idolatry is a mortal sin, whether directed toward Mary or otherwise, which the Catholic Church teaches is a sin that severs one from friendship with God and thus from salvation.

      The Arian controversy can shed some light on this. The Arians believed that Christ was divine, saviour of the world, the ransom for our sins, exalted above all, worthy of worship, and so on and so forth. What they denied was that He was equal in divinity to God the Creator. Christ was a creature. But the Church did not condemn Arianism for getting it almost right. The Church condemned Arianism for falling infinitely short of the truth. By declaring that Christ was a creature, the Arians had placed Christ on the other side of the infinitely wide Creator/creature divide.

      The Catholic Church is very clear in her teaching that Mary is a creature. Mary has more in common, ontologically, with an ant or a blade of grass than she does with her divine Son. Further, Catholic teaching does not come close to saying about Mary what the Arians said about Christ, and yet the Arians fell infinitely short of the glory due to God. So from the outside looking in, a lot of the exalted language used for Mary appears to detract from God. But from the inside of Catholic faith and practice, the distinction between Mary as a creature and Christ as divine makes all the difference in the world. In fact, for a Catholic to hear that he honours Mary too highly makes him think that his accuser honours God too lowly.

      And finally, if Mary’s place in the Church is of such an honourable position, then why would Christ bypass the excellent opportunity to venerate her, opting instead to deflect attention away from her in Luke 11:27-28?

      I think Christ did venerate His mother in that verse. Luke writes, “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” And this is what Luke had recorded Elizabeth saying of Mary: “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” [Lu.1:45].

      Mary’s blessedness lay not in the fact that she was merely Christ’s biological mother. It lay in the fact that she responded in faith to what the Lord had revealed to her through Gabriel. It wasn’t that Christ was deflecting attention away from Mary; rather, He was deflecting attention to the real reason for her blessedness: her faith. It was her faith that was showcased at the beginning of Luke’s gospel, and here again Luke draws us back to that faith. That’s the heart and soul of her veneration in the Catholic Church. She is the model of all Christian faith and virtue, the embodiment of everything the Church and her members ought to be. We are saved by faith, and it is Mary who shows us what that looks like.

      I would specifically note the context in James 5 where in verse 17 Elijah is singled out as an example for us, not for his own greatness, worthiness or righteousness, for he is said to be “a man just like us” (NIV84) or “a man with a nature like ours” (ESV). James’ point here is clearly that the power of prayer is with God, not with man or his merits.

      I am unsure how you are deriving your conclusions from the text. “The prayer of a righteous person” is the subject, and “powerful and effective” is what is predicated of that subject. Elijah was someone just like you and me, that is, not God, not superhuman, yet when he prayed, the rains stopped. When he prayed again, the rains started again. It was God of course who stopped and started the rains, but that was in response to Elijah’s prayers. James is using Elijah as the example of a righteous man, and he uses the stopping and starting of the rains as the example of the power and effect of Elijah’s prayers. James wants us to see that prayer is effective, and that its effect is indeed dependent on the person’s righteousness (which of course is itself the result of God’s grace).

      So why then introduce so much unnecessary confusion calling both Christ and Mary by the same title “mediators” if we should understand their work differently?

      The only confusion I’ve encountered is from Reformed people (including myself at one point) looking in, not among Catholics themselves. What helps is that terms like “mediator” and “advocate” are used not just of Mary, but of all the saints in glory. It’s a description of their ongoing contribution to the Body of which they remain members. They, glorified and fully knowing, take the side of us, earthly and still seeing dimly, by interceding for us before the throne of grace. When that category of mediatorial work is understood as a whole, there really is no confusion.

      Further, as John Jensen pointed out, where Mary’s and our work overlaps with Christ’s work, it’s a participation in, not a competition with, that infinitely powerful work, the same way that all the members of a body work in participation with the head. When a person plays the piano, the whole body is involved. It’s not a competition between the hands and the head, and it’s not a question of “diminishing” the hands in order to give more glory to the head. In fact, the more the skill of the hands, the more the whole person is glorified. It has pleased Christ to redeem a Body for Himself, not just a bunch of scattered individuals, and He has chosen to exercise His work through that Body.

      May the Lord bless you, Calvin, as you strive to serve Him in the fullness of truth and love.

      God bless,
      Jeremy

    • I should explain myself. There is no exegetical basis for prayer to saints. If there were, there would be no exegetical basis for the veneration of Mary in particular because she holds the same “status” in Scripture as Jael, a virtually unknown lady in Scripture. The only place in Scripture that I see people “speaking” with the dead is when Saul goes to the witch in Endor and summons up Samuel. That’s a freaky situation and ultimately Saul gets shut down. I’m thankful for the tradition handed down from the Reformation where they went back to a close exposition of Scripture and sought to bring back the Roman Catholic Church to the true Catholicity of the Church as defined by the Scriptures and not by the traditions of men.

      • Hi Nathan,

        You wrote:

        There is no exegetical basis for prayer to saints. If there were, there would be no exegetical basis for the veneration of Mary in particular because she holds the same “status” in Scripture as Jael, a virtually unknown lady in Scripture.

        The core problem, the one that I understand to lie at the heart of Reformed thinking, is the words “exegetical basis.” On the basis of your exegesis you claim that Mary has no greater status than Jael. Okay, but the second-century Church Father, Irenaeus, read Scripture to mean that Mary was the New Eve: “And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith” [Against Heresies, 3.22.4]. And the fourth-century Church Father, Ambrose, read Scripture to mean that Mary was the Mother of God: “The first thing which kindles ardor in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose?” [The Virgins 2,2(7)].

        Both Mary as the New Eve and Mary as the Mother of God are interpretations of the scriptural evidence that confer on Mary a much greater status than your exegesis confers on her. So if I’m sitting at a table with you and Ambrose, should I go with your exegetical basis? Or with Ambrose’s? Or should I go with my own? And what would be the exegetical basis for the answer to those questions?

        The only place in Scripture that I see people “speaking” with the dead is when Saul goes to the witch in Endor and summons up Samuel. That’s a freaky situation and ultimately Saul gets shut down.

        I agree that it’s exegetically possible to understand the Catholic doctrine of the communion of saints as a form of necromancy. That’s how I used to think of it, too. But there are other exegetical possibilities, as we find for example in Ps. 103:20-21:

        Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.

        Here the psalmist directly addresses the heavenly hosts. When you sing these words in church, do those in the heavenly court hear you and can they respond to your words? The Catholic practice of seeking the intercession of the saints has nothing in common with using witchcraft to conjure up the dead in order to seek their advice; and it has everything in common with the psalmist’s exhortation here. Further, Augustine taught, “It is true that Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers.” (Against Faustus the Manichean, 20.21). So should I go with Augustine on this, or with you, or should I trust that I’m the guy the Holy Spirit has enlightened to the truth and go with my own exegesis?

        I’m thankful for the tradition handed down from the Reformation where they went back to a close exposition of Scripture and sought to bring back the Roman Catholic Church to the true Catholicity of the Church as defined by the Scriptures and not by the traditions of men.

        That’s fine, but this is simply a statement about yourself. Mormons are thankful that the true apostolic faith was revealed to Joseph Smith. Jews are thankful that they managed to preserve their religion despite the disastrous effects of the false prophet, Jesus of Nazareth. Muslims are thankful that the pure faith was delivered to Mohammed, free of all the corruptions devised by the writers of the Bible and the Church. But thankfulness is not a demonstration of truth.

        Further, by the standard of the confessions, “the tradition handed down from the Reformation” is a tradition of men. The teachings of the Reformers are human interpretations of the divine Word and are therefore not to be considered equal to it:

        Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself [Belgic Confession article 7].

        If the Reformers, along with everyone else, were “of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself,” then there is no reason to adopt their merely human exegesis over my own or anyone else’s. In fact, only the most heinous presumption could lead anyone to call anyone else a heretic. If you believed yourself to be a liar, and more vain than vanity itself, on what grounds could you condemn someone else for refusing to accept your exegesis? If the doctrine of sola scriptura, being itself the result of human exegesis of Scripture, is nothing more than the product of lying and vain interpreters, then what is there to be thankful for? On what grounds would you have me share in your thankfulness for that particular exegetical tradition of men over and against any other exegetical traditions of men, including my own?

        – Jeremy

        • Hey Jeremy!

          Thanks for the answer! We’ve had a couple online interactions, which it’s too bad we can’t have at pipes & steins… 🙂 Especially since I didn’t get to know you too well while you were at seminary. I do recall one such conversation where we spoke positively about Chesterton and Lewis, and I would love to have more of such conversations 🙂

          I have had a couple conversations with RCC friends, and I think where we really come to loggerheads is on the issue of epistemology. RCC says that it is the Church + Scripture and the Reformation said that the Church was subject to Scripture (but did not reject the church). I think we both recognize that 🙂

          I’ve noticed that the RCC is willing to live with contradictions between earlier and later theologians on these issues as long as the Church verifies a certain statement either through popes or councils (different times seem to put different emphases on whether this is up to the pope or the council). One thing I have noticed is that in none of your statements from the Church Fathers is there a veneration of Mary. Yes, the Church holds saints & martyrs in high esteem, and there seems to be a variation in the amount of esteem, but veneration of Mary comes much later. As history progresses, this estimation gains prominence, until eventually Luther points out that the Church seems to blindly hold to contradictions in their theology and with the word of God “For popes and councils have often erred and contradicted themselves…” Of course, the Church is so entrenched in their contradictions by that point, that Luther’s consistency scares them, like the consistency of Wycliffe and Hus scared them.

          The RCC cautiously allowed the Utraquists (following Hus) to begin some reform, but then reform started happening too fast. The invitation is still open to the Roman Catholic Church to reform themselves according to Scripture, the same Scriptures that Augustine and Ambrose and Ireanaus sought to reform themselves too. When that happens, maybe Protestants won’t see a contradiction between Scripture and the traditions of the RCC, as many in the RCC church noticed leading up to the Reformation: including, Pope Gregory VII, the Waldensians, Wycliffe, Huss, Luther… That was what Knox, Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Bucer, Bullinger, in faith looked forward too.

          In Christ,
          Nathan Zekveld

  8. Pingback: On Becoming Catholic – The Upcast Eye

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