Dec 132012
 
This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series The Bible Made Me Do It! by Tim Staples

The practice of praying to the saints is one that seems to go quite a ways back in Church history. Protestantism has held from its inception that praying to the saints is not only worthless in that those who have departed from us don’t hear our prayers, but misdirected because our prayers should only be in communion with God through Jesus the Messiah.  Towards the end of Tim Staples’ talk he brings this topic up which will complete this series of posts.

What the Scriptures Say

Tim mentions this topic as a part of the close of his discussion when he was at this point coming to grips with adopting Catholicism.  At the 68:35 mark he says:

…My roommate was out and I remember just collapsing on my bed and I slid down to my knees and looked up to the ceiling and for the first time in my life, I prayed to a saint.  I knew intellectually praying to saints, of course, Hebrews 12:1, Matthew 17:1-3, Revelation chapter 5, Revelation chapter 6, it’s all over the New Testament.  I knew praying to saints was real.  But I’d never done it.  I knelt in exhaustion and I looked up to the ceiling and I said ‘Mary…’

The practice of praying to saints is largely understood as asking the departed to intercede for us as we would ask our fellow believer’s on earth to intercede for us.  This practice isn’t isolated to the Catholic tradition as a few other traditions make this a part of their framework as well.  The question I have most is a matter of what Scripture says and what Tim, and subsequently Catholic apologetics, bring up in its defense.

The first reference Tim states is Hebrews 12:1 which reads:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us1

The primary problem with using this verse to substantiate prayer to saints is that this verse doesn’t talk about praying to saints in any way.  Put in context it should be noted that the writer to the Hebrews is exhorting the believers to run the race of faith as their predecessors had already done, going back to Creation.  He concludes by illustrating them as a crowd of spectators at this point who would be cheering us on.  I doubt the author had any idea that this would somehow be interpreted as justification for praying to saints, especially in light of verse 2 which reads:

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

If this passage had anything to do with prayer then it would only exhort us to focus our prayers on Jesus, but my argument is that this passage has absolutely nothing to with prayer but instead has everything to do with looking to the greats of our faith who have passed on before us as examples and encouragement for ourselves, the ultimate of which is Jesus.  Paul Ellingworth, in his Hebrews commentary, writes:

V. 2 will apply explicitly to the readers what was doubtless implicit, but not expressed, in chap. 11, namely that the goal of their journeying, the fulfilment of their faith, was to be found in the person of Jesus.2

While Hebrews comes up short in light of exemplifying prayer to saints, Matthew 17:1-3 doesn’t do much better.  It reads:

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

The transfiguration narrative has Peter, James and John accompanying Jesus up a mountain where He is transfigured before them and at that time Moses and Elijah appear.  The three disciples are obviously aware of this somehow as Peter then asks Jesus if he should go about putting up tents for them to stay in.  But where is prayer here?  At best this can only be used to substantiate that those who have passed before us are alive and in communion with Jesus to some degree.  But no Christian would argue this.

Some might turn to the passage in Luke where, in Luke 9:28, it states specifically that Jesus went up to pray.  But it never says that Jesus prayed to anyone but The Father.  Again, if we are looking to these passages to example or substantiate praying to the saints, this is another dead end.  But Tim did mention a couple chapters in Revelation.

I’m figuring Tim has his mind on Revelation 5:8 and Revelation 6:9-11. Revelation 8:3-4 is another often cited passage regarding the topic of prayer to saints.  Revelation 5:8 reads:

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

The saints here should be linked with the saints in Revelation 6:9-11 which reads:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

The question that should be asked here is who are the saints praying to? The answer is they are praying to God. The next question is why? Is it because they were petitioned to by their fellow man? I don’t think so, the text doesn’t allow for it.  Furthermore they are praying for themselves in that their blood would be avenged.

There is no example in these passages of Christians on earth praying to any other Christian who has departed.  What’s more is that of the several commentaries I read in regard to Revelation 5:8, 6:9-11, 8:3-4 they are all in agreement that these saints are not limited to those who have already been martyred but that this is figurative of the Christian body who have undergone and are presently going through persecution of various sorts.  For the final Scripture, Revelation 8:3-4 reads:

And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
Conclusion

While I don’t believe the idea of praying to saints is as grim as some make it out to be in that they suggest it has to do with conversing with the dead in the form of the occult, I do not find it a biblical practice by any stretch of the imagination.  Of all the passages Tim Staples cited in regard to knowing intellectually that praying to saints was real, not one actually addresses the topic in any meaningful sense so as to give us a picture that the practice is valid.  It would only make sense that Paul would not only mention but exhort such a practice if it were valid seeing as how he petitions Christians to pray for him in Colossians 4:3, he states that he continually prays for other Christians in Colossians 1:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:1 and he petitions that Christians pray for all people in 1 Timothy 2:1-2.  Not once does he, or any other writer in the Bible, suggest we pray to other people in order that they pray for us.

  1. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, use: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
  2. Ellingworth, P. (1993). The Epistle to the Hebrews: A commentary on the Greek text. New International Greek Testament Commentary (637). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

Dec 062012
 
This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series The Bible Made Me Do It! by Tim Staples

When you hear about the doctrine of The Immaculate Conception your initial reaction is to assume that it has something to do with the birth of Christ but this is not the case.  The Immaculate Conception is actually about the birth of Mary.  This doctrine holds that Mary was conceived without original sin and subsequently led a sinless life.  It is this idea that Tim Staples goes after Matt Dula with next.

I had originally hoped to get into some of the Marian doctrines during the series of posts reviewing Dr. Scott Hahn’s lecture on The Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture.  Dr. Hahn didn’t discuss much by way of doctrine so, in the end, it wasn’t entirely relevant to those posts.  While Tim Staples addresses the Immaculate Conception directly, the discussion is rather light and therefore doesn’t get into it extensively.  Of course, many of these doctrines could easily take up a series of posts individually but, for the sake of this review, I’ve endeavored to limit the discussion to what Tim brings up in the audio.

The Loaded Question

While getting into this topic, Tim brings up several Scriptures: Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:8-9.  All of these deal with the issue that all have sinned.  This is what Tim brings up to Matt in his next argument regarding the Immaculate Conception.  At the 49:42 mark he says:

I even got a little boldness back, I said ‘Matt, you mean to tell me, you gonna tell me Mary is without sin?  How can the Bible make it any more plain?  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!’  And then, I’m thinking in my mind please don’t give me an answer! … And sure enough, Matt comes back and he says … ‘Okay Tim, yeah I understand what you’re saying there, all have sinned, yeah.  But let me ask you this, if you’re gonna say that all have sinned, if that verse means, in a literal, absolute sense, all have sinned … if you’re gonna take that in an absolute sense, we’ve got a problem here, Tim, cause, if it says all and then it says if any man says he has no sin, he is a liar and the truth’s not in him, was Jesus fully man?’ [Tim:] ‘Yeah…’ [Matt:] ‘But was He fully man or what was He, 50% … 25% man?’ [Tim:] ‘He was fully man.’ [Matt:] ‘Oh so Jesus sinned then, right?’ [Tim:] ‘No.’ [Matt:] ‘Oh so there are exceptions, then, aren’t there?'[Emphasis in recording]

What happened in this discussion is easy to miss.  When Matt asks if Jesus was fully man and Tim replies yes he actually fell into a trap.  Matt had asked a loaded question.  A loaded question is an informal fallacy which presumes information that may or may not be correct.  The way the question is worded will only allow for a particular answer, forcing the respondent to answer in a manner that admits the presupposition.  The classic example is the question ‘Have you stopped beating your wife yet?’  The way the question is worded allows only for a yes or no response and either response admits guilt.

The way out of this is to either call the questioner out on the fallacy or answer the question in a manner that corrects the presuppositions.  The question ‘Was Jesus fully man?’ is invalid because Christian theology holds that Christ is fully God and fully man and never, at any time, one or the other.  This is called the Hypostatic Union, a theological term used to describe how the person of Jesus Christ subsists in two natures, man and the divine.  I’m sure Tim would never deny this as it is a doctrine held by Catholicism1, and yet without the clarification he is opening himself up to heresy.

I don’t fault Tim on this, nor do I think Matt realized what he was doing with the question.  You really have to pay close attention when involved in discussions like this and even at that many people aren’t quite sure how to handle it.  A good example, however, is in the movie My Cousin Vinny where D.A. Jim Trotter is determining whether Mona Lisa Vito is an acceptable witness by asking her a question in order to validate her expertise in the subject; the question happens to be a loaded question.  Mona Lisa Vito doesn’t attempt to answer, instead she calls the question bunk (edited here):

D.A. Jim Trotter: Now, uh, Ms. Vito, being an expert on general automotive knowledge, can you tell me… what would the correct ignition timing be on a 1955 Bel Air Chevrolet, with a 327 cubic-inch engine and a four-barrel carburetor?
Mona Lisa Vito: It’s a bunk question.
D.A. Jim Trotter: Does that mean that you can’t answer it?
Mona Lisa Vito: It’s a bunk question, it’s impossible to answer.
D.A. Jim Trotter: Impossible because you don’t know the answer!
Mona Lisa Vito: Nobody could answer that question!
D.A. Jim Trotter: Your Honor, I move to disqualify Ms. Vito as a “expert witness”!
Judge Chamberlain Haller: Can you answer the question?
Mona Lisa Vito: No, it is a trick question!
Judge Chamberlain Haller: Why is it a trick question?
Vinny Gambini: [to Bill] Watch this.
Mona Lisa Vito: ‘Cause Chevy didn’t make a 327 in ’55, the 327 didn’t come out till ’62. And it wasn’t offered in the Bel Air with a four-barrel carb till ’64. However, in 1964, the correct ignition timing would be four degrees before top-dead-center.
D.A. Jim Trotter: Well… um… she’s acceptable, Your Honor.
All Have Sinned

In the midst of this discussion the issue of the context surrounding the word all comes up.  Tim’s answer has wrongly created an exception to the rule that all have sinned and Matt corners him on it as indicated by the last question in the quote above.  It’s a matter of whether the statement that all have sinned is absolute and global in scale.  At the 51:25 mark Tim continues:

The word all is not meant to be interpreted as all in an absolute sense.  This is common in sacred Scripture.  For example, in Matthew chapter 3 verse 5, John the Baptist is baptizing in the river Jordan and what does it say?  All of Jordan and Judea and the surrounding countries came out to be baptized by John.  Do you think all of those countries came out there that day?  He couldn’t kerplunk ’em that fast.  … You see the word all … can mean a large number or a particular group and so forth and it’s used all over the Bible like that. … He got me thinking, are there more exceptions to Romans 3? … Of course there are, what about a baby in the womb?  Has he committed a personal sin? … No. How about the severely retarded, how much sinning have they done? None.  How about a 2 year old baby? None.  And so forth.  So there’s lots of exceptions then!

The question as to how the word all should be applied in this sense is certainly valid but the examples are poor.  Pointing to a child in the womb, a two year old baby or someone who is severely retarded and claiming that they are an exception isn’t entirely accurate since the issues Paul deals with in Romans 3 have to do with accountability, as Paul mentions in Romans 3:19.  In order to be accountable one must be able to understand or reason.  To state a 2 year old child doesn’t sin is incorrect – just ask any parent.  The question isn’t whether they are the exception to the rule and unable to sin, but rather, whether they have reached an ability to understand that they are accountable to God, that they are without excuse as Romans 1:18 states.  In that case, Paul makes it plainly clear in Romans 3 that all have sinned on a global scale, both Jew and Greek (any non-Jew in this context) and if he wasn’t clear enough, he quotes Psalm 14:1-3 which only puts greater emphasis in that there is none who does good, no not one.  As the Holman New Testament Commentary notes on Romans 3:23 states:

In light of Paul’s present tense fall short in 3:23, and in light of his just-concluded recitations of the actual sins of Jews and Gentiles, it seems that the all have sinned in 3:23 is a picture of mankind’s sinful characteristics. The 5:12 “all sinned,” on the other hand, seems to be a picture of mankind’s inherited character as a sinner. In other words, by 5:12 Paul will have said that as descendants of Adam, mankind is a sinner and proves it by sinning. All of which causes him to fall short of the glory of God.2

We sin because we are sinners.  That doesn’t change in either of the examples and so they aren’t exceptions.  What changes is our level of accountability which is going to be determined by our ability to understand our state before a holy and righteous God.  The idea of an age of accountability is one that is frequently debated amongst theologians but is only implied in Scripture.  People often ask what the ‘age of accountability’ is, but because Scripture never gives an affirmative answer, we shouldn’t attempt to either.  It is likely on an individual basis.

Hail, Full of Grace

All of this leads us to the idea that Mary was conceived without original sin and lived a sinless life.  The reasoning goes something like this: The Bible says all have sinned, but Jesus was fully-man and did not sin, therefore there are exceptions.  If there is one exception, there could be other exceptions which brings us to the possibility that Mary is an exception too.  But as I’ve already pointed out, Jesus wasn’t an exception because Jesus is fully God and fully man.  You cannot separate the two.

But if these premises were to hold, the next logical question is a matter of where we can find Mary’s sinless state in Scripture.  At the 52:35 Tim continues:

… [Quoting Matt] ‘Let’s turn to Luke chapter 1’.  We have an awesome, awesome verse.  And you know this story.  The angel Gabriel comes down to a 15 year old girl and says…?  Now the angel didn’t say ‘Hail Mary’ … he said ‘Hail, full of grace!’  Now listen, here’s what’s important.  When you look at that text … an angel is approaching a 15 year old girl.  Now in Scripture, when an angel comes into the presence of a human being, what happens?  Human beings have the tendency to do weird things.  … like fall on their faces, why?  Because an angel has a superior nature to ours.  If an angel, in fact, were to appear, right here, right now, remember this folks, apart from a particular grace of God, you and I could not discern whether it’s Jesus, an angel or the devil apart from grace, a particular grace that God gives us.  This is why St. Paul can say if I or an angel from Heaven preach to you any other Gospel, reject it.

I’m not entirely sure of how this is being reasoned.  Catholic interpretations allow for a lot of eisegesis in Luke 1:28.  The greeting of Χαῖρε (chaire, hail, in this sense) can be used to link back to Zephaniah 3:14 and Zechariah 9:9 where the use of χαίρω (chairo, rejoice) is used in the LXX.  In those arguments Mary becomes a fulfillment, or a type of the daughter of Zion or Jerusalem.3  While I do see merit in that reasoning the focus should never be taken away from the prophecy that Mary was to give birth to the Messiah.

The question is one of worthiness on Mary’s part.  There is no indication that Mary was highly favored or full of grace based on anything she did or didn’t do or that she can subsequently bestow grace and there is simply no reason to suggest that this greeting indicates she was sinless.  Tim’s points about humans doing weird things when angels appear and that only by a particular grace that God gives us would we be able to discern that it is even an angel seems to stem from the Vulgate translation of the verse.  Noted in the New International Greek Testament Commentary, Marshall writes:

The Vulgate rendering, gratia plena, is open to misinterpretation by suggesting that grace is a substance with which one may be filled, and hence that Mary is a bestower of grace. S. Lyonnet* saw a connection between this verse and Jdg. 5:24 where Jael is described as ‘most blessed’ (εὐλογηθείη; cf. Ps. 45:2 (44:3); Dn. 9:23), but this is far fetched. … The greeting conveys the message ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ. This is an OT greeting (Jdg. 6:12; Ru. 2:14), meant as a statement rather than a wish (ἐστίν is to be supplied). It prepares the recipient for divine service with the assurance ‘The Lord will help you’ (H. Gressmann). It does not, therefore, indicate the moment of conception (as in Sib. 8:459–472, in NTA II, 740), a thought excluded by the future tenses in 1:35.4

At any rate, the idea that humans do strange things when greeted by angels is not absolute in Scripture.  In Genesis 18 Abraham was greeted by two angels and God Himself.  His reaction was one of giving immediate respect and honor.  I do not deny that we wouldn’t be able to discern an angelic being apart from God’s help but this has nothing to do with our sinful state.  We know some specific sins of Abraham since the chapters cataloging his life tell us about them.

Conclusion

Because of the faulty reasoning used to come to the conclusion that there are exceptions to the teaching of Scripture that all have sinned we can dismiss the notion that there are exceptions.  I don’t believe we can rely on that in any meaningful sense to then point to Mary and say she could be an exception.  Even if it were the case there is simply no good biblical basis for determining that Mary was unstained by original sin and subsequently led a sinless life.  To get to that conclusion from reading Luke 1:28 is nothing but eisegesis and seems to be based on somewhat poor translational choices instead of the greater catalog of biblical and extra-biblical material.

  1. See the Catholic Encyclopedia entry for Hypostatic Union.
  2. Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Vol. 6: Romans. Holman New Testament Commentary (107). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  3. Marshall, I. H. (1978). The Gospel of Luke: A commentary on the Greek text. New International Greek Testament Commentary (65). Exeter: Paternoster Press.
  4. Same as footnote 3.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

Nov 292012
 
This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series The Bible Made Me Do It! by Tim Staples

The topic of justification is certainly one of the more heated items of discussion in Christendom and for good reason.  For the Christian, the issue of how the sinner can be justified before a holy God is the crux of all humanity.  In the Salvation page, I attempt to show the problem of sin with Christianity’s proposed solution as the only logically valid option.  Part of what makes Christianity unique is the insistence that man cannot bridge the chasm between he and God but rather, God must come to man.

The question of whether we are justified by works or faith would almost seem to create a false dilemma, but in reality, if we are not justified by faith alone then some form of works must be required for Salvation and so the options stand.  It is the doctrine of Sola Fide, or by faith alone, that Tim Staples brings up next in his presentation and as his debate with Matt Dula shows, he was ill prepared.

By Grace Through Faith

At the 43:00 mark Tim is coming off the heals of the previous accusation and mentioning the fact that Matt would always have an answer and was getting through but it wouldn’t stop Tim.  He introduces the next topic for discussion:

…And I would go to something more important, in fact like, most important.  What about justification, right?  Salvation?  Okay, maybe the Catholics got lucky on this or that but hey, Salvation baby, the Bible says, and it doesn’t get any more plain than this in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8 and 9, right?  For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, less any man should boast.  … Now let’s hear a come back on this one Matt.  Salvation, justification is by faith alone, by grace through faith.  It has nothing to do with works and what do these Catholics teach?  Justification by faith and works.  Heresy!  Heresy! [Emphasis in recording]

Tim is certainly right here but this isn’t the only example.  Paul explains numerous times in his Epistle to the Romans that justification cannot be of works.  Romans 3:20 reads:

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.1

Romans 3:28 reads:

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

And Romans 4:16:

That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all…

It would seem a pretty open and shut case but the problem arises in Matt’s response.  At the 46:09 mark Tim continues:

Well, Matthew says, alright, let’s check out James chapter 2 … verse 19 … he says: You believe there is one God you do well, the devil also believes and trembles!  But wilt thou know, oh vain man, that faith without works is dead!  And he’d go down to verse 24, he says something very important, I remember Matt making me read this, where it says You see how that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And then Matthew closed my Bible he looked at me and he said ‘Tim, I want you to look me in the eye and I want you to be honest with me, you believe in Sola Scriptura, right?’  And I said ‘absolutely, Jack, Bible alone’ … ‘You believe in the Bible alone? Okay, well I want you to look me dead in the eye and I want you to tell me that you’re gonna read this verse, you’re gonna read where the Bible says we’re justified by works and not by faith alone … Close your Bible and say well, gee, we must be justified by faith alone – cause the Bible says we’re justified not by faith alone!  Can you honestly tell me that, Tim?’  And of course I came back with the response ‘Well, you know, works, if you’re truly born again … works are going to be coming out…’ and I gave the Protestant line.

While Tim gave part of a Protestant answer the conversation really shouldn’t have ended there because Tim could have just as well gone back to Romans 3:20 or Romans 3:28 and turned it around on Matthew asking him the same question.  And I wonder what Matt’s response would have been.

Harmony of Scripture

Whenever Scripture confronts us with what seems to be a contradiction we are left with a few options.  We can accept the contradiction and claim we can’t know it, we can use it as an excuse to abandon the faith, or we can attempt to harmonize it and prove it’s not a contradiction at all.  The first option leaves us open to the second.  It creates a slippery slope.  It doesn’t seem to take many of these for most people to give up.  The third option may be difficult at times but is certainly the most fruitful. Christianity has stood the test of time and this conundrum is no exception.

At the start, there are some simple questions that should arise if we are to believe that justification, that is right standing before a holy God, is a mixture of faith and works, such as: What works?  How do we know that particular works will justify us?  What is the ratio of faith and works?  Who decides what works and how is it decided?  What are the implications to faith if works are also required?

These are valid questions that must be asked.  A discussion often goes on in Evangelical Christianity as to whether one must be baptized to be saved.  I often ask, if that is so, is that what you would plead when standing before God?  We need to think about what that would look like.  Would you exclaim that you put your trust in Christ’s work for salvation and you were baptized?  You see, the moment you put that and in place, you have taken something away from Christ’s completed work.

John MacArthur notes in his commentary on James that Martin Luther struggled with this passage and even went so far as to call the Epistle of James an ‘epistle of straw’.2   I’m not sure whether Luther saw the problems in the questions above or was simply that adamant in his opposition to Catholic doctrine but the unfortunate thing for Luther was that he was unable to harmonize what James was saying with the doctrine of Sola Fide.  He’s not alone in that problem even today.  Peter Davids writes his commentary on James 2:24:

James immediately moves to a concluding statement in his argument that sums up the results of the two scriptures previously considered. In so doing he comes closer than anywhere else in the epistles to directly contradicting Paul. Because of this possible conflict, 2:24 must be viewed as a crux interpretum, not only for James, but for NT theology in general.[Emphasis in original]3

To call it a crux interpretum doesn’t seem to give us much hope.  The term, meaning crossroad of interpreters, is used to suggest a text is difficult even to the point of impossible to interpret.  I hold that while it may be difficult the answer lies in the very passage being debated.

We have to remember that the difficult verses, specifically James 2:17, 19-20, 24 do not stand alone.  They have an overarching theme and when put in context demonstrate what James is taking issue with.  The entire chapter is full of discussion regarding how we should live – outward signs, not only for each other but for the unbelievers as well.  James deals with showing partiality, breaking the royal law – specifically, any outward sign that demonstrates love of neighbor (James 2:8), being merciful and then gives examples of such.  James 2:15-16 discusses sending someone off who is in need without giving them what they need and he asks ‘what good is that?’  Only then does James say that faith without works is dead.  At that point James gives what I think is his entire point, he says in verse 18:

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

Who is James showing his faith to and what happens when you show your faith?  The answer is that while justification by faith pertains to one’s standing before a holy and righteous God, justification by works pertains to a person’s standing before other men.  James has already said that Salvation is God’s gift in James 1:17-18.  If he’s contradicting Paul, he’s also contradicting himself.

Conclusion

The word justification (δικαιόω, dikaio’o) in Scripture doesn’t always mean justification before God which is the topic that gets so much attention.  John MacArthur notes in his commentary on James:

It’s important to understand that the Greek verb dikaio o (justified) has two general meanings.  The first pertains to acquittal, that is, to declaring and treating a person as righteous.  That is its meaning in relationship to salvation and is the sense in which Paul almost always uses the term.  He declares, for example, that we are “justified as a gift by [God’s] grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24) … The second meaning of dikaio o pertains to vindication, or proof of righteousness.  It is used in that sense a number of times in the New Testament, in relation to God as well as men.  Paul says, “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, ‘That You may be justified in Your words, and prevail when You are judged'” (Rom. 3:4).4

The context, in this case, certainly sheds light on what James is saying and the usage that should be employed for the word justification.  Taking a few verses out of the chapter in order to show that justification before God is a mixture of faith and works is to ignore the vast majority of the New Testament’s teaching on the subject.  Not only was Tim caught off guard at the thought of the contradiction, Matt didn’t do anything to resolve it.  Both of them should have set out to harmonize the passage with Paul’s teaching but instead they concluded with a poor understanding of what James was trying to convey.

  1. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, use: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
  2. MacArthur, John. 1998. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (136). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers
  3. Davids, P. H. (1982). The Epistle of James: A commentary on the Greek text. New International Greek Testament Commentary (130). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  4. Same as footnote 2, page 137.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

Nov 212012
 
This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series The Bible Made Me Do It! by Tim Staples

Much of Tim Staple’s talk on his conversion to Catholicism centers around discussions he had with a friend of his, Matt Dula, while stationed at Quantico in the Marines.  At that point Tim had been involved in apologetics as a response to questions that were surfacing in his own mind.  At the 27:11 mark he is noting that as he had been growing up, he was needing to own his faith.  He states:

But now I’m becoming a man and I realize, I’ve got to know in my heart.  … I want to challenge you to do the same thing.  I want to challenge you to ask yourself the question ‘Why are you Baptist?  Why are you Calvary Chapel?  Why?’  Especially considering if you’re Calvary Chapel that church has only been around since 1965.  See, I started thinking about things like this.  So I realized, wait a second now, how can this be the true church if they’ve only been around since 1965?  Where was the true church before then?  Or if you’re Lutheran.  They’ve been around for 460 years, well who was the true church before then?  And so, I started thinking … I started thinking about things like this.  I need to know why I believe what I believe and I got involved in apologetics.
The True Church

This idea of a true church in the manner that Tim is bringing up is the result of faulty reasoning.  When corrected, it can avoid a lot of the frustrations within the Christian body.  While the topic of what the church is is beyond the scope of this discussion, it is important to realize what the church is not.  The church is not a corporate body or entity on earth that one is to give allegiance to in order to be a member of.  The word church comes from the Greek ἐκκλησία (ecclesia) which means the called out ones.  The true church1 is the body of Christ, that is, anyone who holds to trust in Jesus Christ and His finished work on their behalf along with a few essential doctrines which the Bible clearly states must be in agreement.  This goes beyond tradition or denomination in the same manner that it goes beyond race.  For Tim to bring up Calvary Chapel or the Lutheran denominations in this manner is demonstrating faulty presuppositions, that there is a true church in this regard and that these church traditions esteem themselves to be the true church which is certainly not the case.  I am not aware of any Calvary Chapel or Lutheran denomination that claims to be the true church.  Some may claim they have completely correct doctrine but that is a different matter and few and far between.

I brought this up because I believe that the spirit behind this notion of a true church is much the same that Jesus is addressing in Matthew 23:9 where Jesus states we are to call no man father on earth because we have one father in Heaven.  This is the first point that Tim mentions he gave to Matt in their discussions regarding Christianity and Catholicism.  Tim was lodging it against Matt in that Catholic tradition addresses the priest as father.

Call No Man Father

At the 39:23 mark Tim is getting into the discussions that he and Matt had and states:

I remember one of the first arguments I used when I met Matthew was old faithful, you know, when I first met Matt one of the first things I said to him ‘Oh so you say you’re a Christian…‘, I remember saying this, I said ‘Oh Christian, hmm, well aren’t Christians…‘ I was so obnoxious, ‘aren’t Christians supposed to do what the Christ says?  Isn’t that what Christian means? Christ like?  Or little Christ?  Well does not the Christ say, in Matthew 23 verse 9, call no man on this earth father, for you have one father and he is in Heaven.‘  And I said, ‘Well Matt, there you have the Christ, right in the word of God saying call no man on this earth father, and what do you Catholics call your priest but father!  You’re directly contradicting the Christ!  How can you call yourself a Christian now?

These are the sorts of arguments that really don’t do anything other than demonstrate poor reasoning.  It takes an extremely literal approach at the text and then applies that meaning to everyone in all circumstances.  This is something militant atheism is so versed at doing – completely ignoring the context and spirit of the topic and lodging it against the opposition, most likely in an attempt to silence any further discussion.  Christians should not be so naive.  In reality, it illustrates that the accuser doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about, as Tim’s friend, Matt Dula, will demonstrate.

To start, we should look at the greater context.  Matthew 23 is the chapter of woe’s against the scribes and Pharisees which represent a counter balance to the Beattitudes from chapter 5.  Verse 9 is really a part of the introduction that Jesus gives leading up to the woe’s and subsequent lament over Jerusalem.  Matthew 23:1-12 reads:

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”2

The main thing that should be noted here is the conjunction in verse 8: But you are not to be called…  Jesus is introducing a contrast after pointing out the problems with the scribes and the Pharisees motives.  The explanations to what Jesus is meaning in Matthew 23:8-10 can be found in the examples he gives from Matthew 23:1-7.  Further he illustrates the spirit of the discussion in Matthew 23:11-12.  The problems are actually very simple.  The scribes and Pharisees do all their deeds to be seen by others.  They love the place of honor, the best seats and special greetings.  They love being called rabbi.  Their intentions have nothing to do with actually being a rabbi, a father or a teacher.  Rather, it is all a matter of self-righteousness.  Jesus is instructing us to not fall victim to the same selfish motives.  Incidentally, Tim’s argument is a good example of what the scribes and Pharisees did.  They recognized the letter of the law but completely ignored the spirit in which it was given.

Matt Dula proceeds to correct Tim as Tim continues:

He said ‘Well Tim, you know, that’s interesting but have you considered Luke 16:24?‘  And I went, wait a second, you know, I’m thinking in my mind, hold it now, isn’t there a canon law against, like, lay people reading the Bible or something?  You know, what’s up with this, this dude here, Matthew, quoting Luke 16:24!  You see, Matthew proclaimed the power of the Holy Spirit, wow!  And the story, of course, in Luke 16:24, it’s talking about Abraham’s bosom, right?  … And the story’s not so important for us now, but what did Jesus call Abraham?  He called him Father Abraham.  And Matt’s like, ‘Well, what’s up Tim?  Is Jesus confused?‘  And I’m going ‘uh…’ He says ‘Is Jesus confused because here’s Jesus calling Abraham Father Abraham‘.  And you know, he didn’t stop there, but Matthew proceeded to pummel me with Scripture.  He goes to Roman’s chapter 4 verses 1 through 18, 7 times Abraham is called Father Abraham by Saint Paul.  Acts chapter 7 verses 1 and 2, Saint Stephen calls the elders to whom he is speaking Father and Abraham Father 2 times.  1 John chapter 2 verse 13, John the apostle, speaking to the elders at Ephesus, calls them Fathers.  I’m going, oh my goodness.  I’ve read these things a million times… where?  Where was that?  1 Corinthians chapter 4, verses 14 and 15, Saint Paul says, listen to this one, You have 10,000 instructors in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have not many fathers.  I am your father for I have begotten you through the Gospel.  So by that time I was ticked.

Matt Dula gives us a good example here of using the totality of Scripture before we jump to presumptive conclusions about a particular verse.  Craig Blomberg puts it so well in The New American Commentary:

As with many of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, texts elsewhere in the New Testament make it clear that he is not promulgating absolute commands. People are properly called teachers in Acts 13:1; 1 Tim 2:7; and Heb 5:12. Paul will even refer to a spiritual gift that enables some people to be so identified (Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 12:28–29; cf. Jas 3:1). It remains appropriate to call a biological parent one’s father, and even one’s spiritual parent may be addressed with this term (1 Cor 4:15; cf. also 1 John 2:13; Acts 22:1). So the point of vv. 8–12 must be that such titles are not to be used to confer privilege or status.[Emphasis mine.]3

The Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible is also very forthcoming:

To construe these injunctions into a condemnation of every title by which Church rulers may be distinguished from the flock which they rule, is virtually to condemn that rule itself; and accordingly the same persons do both—but against the whole strain of the New Testament and sound Christian judgment. But when we have guarded ourselves against these extremes, let us see to it that we retain the full spirit of this warning against that itch for ecclesiastical superiority which has been the bane and the scandal of Christ’s ministers in every age.[Emphasis mine.]4

It really is foolish to be so haphazard in our handling of the text.  If there are verses that seem to illustrate something that goes against instruction elsewhere, then we need to make sure we properly understand both the instruction and the verses that seem to contradict it.  Harmonizing Scripture in this manner is often a fruitful endeavor and will lead to a more well reasoned understanding of the topic at hand.  To that end, Blomberg continues:

There is thus nothing inherently wrong with the Roman Catholic use of “Father” for priests or with the Protestant “Reverend” for ministers or even with the academic “Doctor” for people with certain degrees. But one wonders how often these titles are used without implying unbiblical ideas about a greater worth or value of the individuals to whom they are assigned. One similarly wonders for how long the recipients of such forms of address can resist an unbiblical pride from all the plaudits.5
Conclusion

Calling a priest father is a morally neutral form of respect towards an elder of the church.  But as Blomberg pointed out, it doesn’t come without warning.  James 3:1 reads: Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.  In Matthew 23:9, Jesus is speaking to the motives and desires of the heart, using the scribes and Pharisees as an example of what not to do.

The example argument that Tim Staples lodged against Matt Dula should serve as an illustration of mishandling Scripture.  To do so disparages not only yourself, if you get caught as Tim did, but ultimately the Scriptures themselves since most people, it seems, will not actually bother to validate what they have been told.  Furthermore, when we hear these sorts of accusations thrown at us, it is our duty to verify them.  We really have no reason to fear their outcome.  Christianity has stood through them before.

  1. The CARM article Which Church is the One True Church? is a great response to the assumption that there is a true church in the sense that Tim is suggesting here.
  2. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, use: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
  3. Blomberg, C. (1992). Vol. 22: Matthew. The New American Commentary (342–343). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  4. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Mt 23:9). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  5. Blomberg, C. (1992). Vol. 22: Matthew. The New American Commentary (343). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

Nov 152012
 
This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series The Bible Made Me Do It! by Tim Staples

The Bible Made Me Do It!The Bible Made Me Do It! is a lecture by Tim Staples that is distributed by Lighthouse Catholic Media.  This discussion primarily deals with Tim Staples testimony after he rededicated his life to Christ in his late teens.  His testimony goes into some detail about conversations and debates that he would get into with a friend of his in the Marines, Matt Dula, while stationed in Quantico, VA.  As Tim tells the story, he found himself unable to argue much of what Matt had been showing him in Scripture and eventually converted to Catholicism.  The description of this talk reads:

Tim Staples was raised Baptist and served as an Assembly of God Youth Minister. He used his extensive biblical knowledge to attack the Catholic Church but when he was challenged on his beliefs, a two-year search for truth led him right to Catholicism. Now he uses that same incredible gift to defend the Faith and help others to embrace the beauty and richness of Catholicism.

In the presentation, Tim talks a lot about the discussions and arguments that he and Matt would find themselves in during their time at Quantico.  In the process, Tim would lodge points of disagreement at Matt and wait for Matt to respond.  To Tim’s surprise, Matt was almost always able to give an answer, and if he wasn’t, he was still able to get an answer and present it to Tim at a later time.

Since most of the talk is centered on Tim’s testimony there isn’t a lot of content to evaluate.  However, in the midst of telling his story about the discussions between Matt and himself, Tim gives out three topics that Matt was able to address which this series will deal with.  Those topics are calling the priest father, justification through faith alone and the doctrine of the immaculate conception which teaches that Mary was sinless from birth.  A fourth item will be looked at that Tim briefly mentions which is praying to the saints.

Apologetics

Tim spends a great deal of time in this talk exhorting his listeners to learn and teach their faith to their children and he brings up some great points along the way.  Granted, Tim is primarily concerned with Catholicism, but it certainly applies to us in the Evangelical community as well.  At the 15:46 mark1 he states:

Folks, it is so crucial for us, I want you to be encouraged tonight, moms and dads, you don’t know how important it is, we don’t appreciate how important it is to teach our children the Catholic faith.  Man, pump it into them.  Mom, dad, you are the primary catechist.  Not father, not the DRE, you are.  You need to teach them, get them involved, they need to experience our Lord when they are children.  Proverbs tells us, train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart.

This is one of those things that cannot be over stated.  Here in the United States, Christians seem surprised by the direction the culture has taken over the last few generations, but we really have no valid reason to be.  We have given our children over to the state and allowed special interest groups to determine what they can and cannot learn.  As a society, we are more concerned with how well our children will do in life by way of career than we are by way of spiritual and moral maturity.  It is to our own demise.

What’s worse is thinking that our local church will have any sort of impact.  For those who do attend church regularly, do you really think that having your children there for a few hours on a weekend can compete with 30-35 hours throughout the week at a public or private school?  I can tell you from experience, it cannot.  Even if your kids are involved in some sort of youth group, they are still largely surrounded by influences you’d rather them not have.

What most parents don’t seem to realize is that it isn’t just a matter of what your kids are learning in the classroom but what they are learning from their peers.  If the ratio of student to teacher is somewhere around 20-1, they really aren’t getting much adult interaction and you can’t control what goes on in the homes of their peers that is brought back to school with them.  When both parents work full time and children are out of the home full time, how much time do the exhausted parents and children end up spending together at the end of the day?  We really should think more realistically about this.

Tim spends time discussing this because he had fallen away as a teenager.  While his story takes him back to the church, it is not the norm.2  We have got to quit fooling ourselves into thinking that our family is somehow going to be the exception when we do the same thing that everyone else is doing.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 reads:

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.3

The primary teacher for our kids are their parents; Scripture couldn’t be any clearer.  This means that we, as parents, need to be studying as well.  Theology and apologetics go hand in hand and are the most important topics for establishing a proper worldview.  Everything else is secondary.

  1. I originally received this talk on a CD but since it was damaged, I am working off of the audio available at this link.
  2. An excellent book that details what is happening with kids today who are raised in church is called Already Gone by Ken Ham, Britt Beemer and Todd Hillard.
  3. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, use: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

Nov 082012
 
This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series The Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture by Dr. Scott Hahn

In this lecture Dr. Hahn has introduced three primary concepts: the new Eve, the woman and the Queen of Heaven.  Dr. Hahn’s presentation has aimed to show that Mary is the fulfillment or antitype of these concepts thus allowing for, or giving credibility to, the Marian doctrines that are held by Catholic tradition.  While Dr. Hahn didn’t spend much time dealing with any particular Marian doctrine in this lecture, I contend that if these types are relied upon in order to substantiate said doctrines, then it is reasonable to disregard them if the types do not actually fit.   You can find the chief doctrines discussed briefly in Part 1 of this series.

Throughout this series I have aimed to show that Mary is not the culmination of these types and that these types find fulfillment elsewhere.  In this final post I will put the pieces to the puzzle back together and show that, not only do they not need to be forced, but when properly understood, they demonstrate the cohesive design and supernatural origin of Scripture.

The New Eve

In Part 2 I addressed the concept of the new Eve.  Dr. Hahn, of course, holds that Mary fulfills the role of the new Eve but he introduced this in a very specific manner.  He said, if Jesus is the new Adam, Mary is the new Eve.  Now we know that Jesus is the new, or last, Adam as Paul tells us so in 1 Corinthians 15:45.  The problem is that if we press on the idea that Mary is the new Eve then the patterns simply do not hold together.  Recall that in Genesis 2, Adam was put to sleep and had a part of his side removed in order to form the woman whom he called Eve.  When Adam had woken up he said this at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!  This did not happen with Jesus to produce Mary, rather, Mary gave birth to Jesus in human form. Another major problem is that Adam and Eve are used by Jesus as a picture for marriage.  This turns the idea of Mary as the new Eve on its head as Mary and Jesus certainly did not share that sort of relationship.  As we can see, the idea that Mary is the new Eve simply doesn’t fit.

So is the concept of the new Eve worth investigating?  I believe so and have already given some clues above as to who she is.  I also hold that this has much greater implications for the believer than it ever could if the patterns were to stop with Mary.  The New Testament is replete with illustrations of the new Eve and to start, we need to take a look at something Paul says to his protégé Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:13-14.  It reads:

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.1

Note first that verse 13 completely destroys the Marian antitype since it states that Adam was formed first, then Eve.  Second, note that in verse 14 Paul says that Adam was not deceived, however, Eve was.  This is pointing back to Genesis 3 when Eve ate of the fruit and subsequently gave some to Adam.  This suggests that Adam, at some level, knew what he was doing when he ate of the fruit and had a reason for doing so.  From this, we should start to see some patterns emerge.

We know that Jesus willingly gave up His life on the cross.  The New Testament is certainly full of references to this but Matthew 16:21 explains that this is what Jesus was teaching:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

There are many other verses2 which all show that Jesus knew what He was doing and did so willfully.  But there is something else to be noted which Paul specifically points out to us and that is who Christ gave himself for.  In Ephesians 5:22-33 Paul shows us the antitype for the concept of marriage and that is the relationship that Christ has with His bride, the church.  In so doing, he quotes Genesis 2:24, which is the same passage that Jesus quotes when discussing divorce in Matthew 19:5.

In Ephesians 5:25, Paul illustrates that husbands are the representative of Christ while wives are the representative of the church in giving the instruction that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  Indeed, the church is the bride of Christ as Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 11:2 that we (the church) were betrothed to one husband and are to be presented as a pure virgin.  But the imagery doesn’t stop there because the church is also the body of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 12:27 Paul tells his readers that they are the body of Christ.  This concept is found throughout the New Testament3 and in Matthew 18:20 Jesus says that where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name He is among them.  Why is this?  Because we (the church) collectively make up the body of Christ and are His representatives on earth.  But there’s another aspect to being the body of Christ which echoes back to Genesis 2:22-23 where Adam sees Eve for the first time and exclaims she is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.  Adam, the man (אישׁ, ish), calls her woman (אשׁה, ishah) because she was taken out of man.  Even in the transliteration of the Hebrew you can see that the woman is an extension of the man.

It is worth taking a quick look at John 19:34-37 which reads:

34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

Many speculate as to the symbolic meanings behind the water and blood but that is beyond the scope of this discussion.  The point of interest here is that Jesus’ side was pierced and blood and water came out, demonstrating that He had died.  John states that he saw it and as we know from John 19:25-27 numerous people, including John and Mary were standing nearby at this time.  We can note that Adam was put to sleep for a time when Eve was formed from his side just as the church is birthed through trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  With all this in mind, who other than the church could the concept of the new Eve find culmination in?  I think it is safe to say that if we still insist on Mary, we are fooling ourselves.  Augustine saw this as well in Tractate IX.10 in his Lectures on the Gospel According to St. John regarding the Wedding at Cana:

…. Since the Lord has enlightened us through the apostle, to show us what we were in search of, by this one sentence, “The two shall be one flesh; a great mystery concerning Christ and the Church;” we are now permitted to seek Christ everywhere, and to drink wine from all the water-pots. Adam sleeps, that Eve may be formed; Christ dies, that the Church may be formed. When Adam sleeps, Eve is formed from his side; when Christ is dead, the spear pierces His side, that the mysteries may flow forth whereby the Church is formed. Is it not evident to every man that in those things then done, things to come were foreshadowed, since the apostle says that Adam himself was the figure of Him that was to come? “Who is,” saith he, “the figure of Him that was to come.” All was mystically prefigured.4

Finally, as the first and last authority, Paul, in 2 Corinthians 11:1-3 draws an allusion directly from Eve and applies it to the church:

I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Adam was not deceived and chose to join Eve in some fashion just as Christ willingly became man and went to the cross.  Eve was birthed through the side of Adam as the church was birthed through the side of Christ.  Adam slept that Eve would be formed, Christ died that the church would be saved.  Eve was Adam’s bride just as the church is Christ’s bride.  What Dr. Hahn should have said is: If Jesus is the new Adam, the church is the new Eve.

The Woman

In Part 3 the concept of Mary as the woman in John’s Gospel was introduced.  In both of Mary’s only appearances in John’s Gospel she is addressed by Jesus as ‘woman’ and Dr. Hahn takes special note of this.  Dr. Hahn sees Mary as a fulfillment of this concept, noting that Adam calls Eve ‘woman’ when he wakes up from his sleep in Genesis 2.  Mary, or the woman, is also entrusted to John in John 19 and Dr. Hahn presents this as though we, as beloved disciples, are to take Mary, our mother, into our homes.  But I suggest that Mary is actually given the title of ‘woman’ in John’s Gospel because John is depicting her as the woman figure of Israel, found throughout the Old Testament.

In Ezekiel 16 God addresses Jerusalem which is often representative of greater Israel and gives his account of taking her as his wife, crowning her as queen.  Throughout Scripture, the nation of Israel, Judah, and the city of Jerusalem5, are presented as a woman, one betrothed to Yahweh and in Ezekiel 16:8-14 we have the language specifically detailing the relationship Israel was to have with God; it reads:

8 “When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine. 9 Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 10 I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. 12 And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. 14 And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD.

Notice in verse 8 where God spread His garment over her, made a vow and she became His.  This is the imagery we see when Ruth is asking Boaz to redeem her in Ruth 3:9-11.  Boaz accepts Ruth’s request which puts Ruth in the lineage of King David and ultimately Christ, Himself.  This is the imagery of Israel becoming the wife of Yahweh.  LeMar Eugene Cooper notes in the New American Commentary on Ezekiel:

As a beautiful young woman of marriageable age, she became the wife of Yahweh. “Spreading the corner” of a garment over a young woman was the ritual for claiming a bride. Unlike a marriage arranged by the parents, the arrangement in which the woman had no part, God made a “covenant” with her in which he pledged to care for her with words that are reminiscent of Sinai (Exod 19:1–8).6

Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:14, Jeremiah 6:2 and Jeremiah 31:31-32 all lend more to this imagery of Israel as the wife of Yahweh.  But there is something else that should be noticed and that comes from Ezekiel 16:12 where Israel is given a crown.  Cooper continues in his commentary:

The language of the marriage ritual continues through the passage. Ezekiel reported how God cleansed her (v. 9), clothed her luxuriously with the garments of a princess (v. 10), gave her bridal jewelry, the best food usually reserved for royalty, and crowned her as his queen. As a result she became renowned for her beauty (vv. 10–14). Israel was the orphan who became a queen. All the figures used in the description were reminders of the providential care God gave Israel from the time of Abraham to nationhood and onward.7

Recall in Part 4 that Dr. Hahn presents the woman in Revelation 12 as Mary who is now the Queen of Heaven because of her crown:

And so a sign appears in Heaven, a woman, clothed with the son, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  What is the significance of the crown?  This makes the woman a queen.  What is the significance of the crown being 12 stars?  She is the queen of Heaven.  Her royal authority is a cosmic queenship, just like her sons is a cosmic kingship

By Dr. Hahn’s own assessment the crown makes the woman a queen but he fails to mention that Israel is also being crowned by Yahweh in Ezekiel 16:12, never mind the numerous other matrimonial images of Israel found throughout Scripture.  Dr. Hahn identifies the woman in Revelation 12 as Mary because she births the Messiah in Revelation 12:5 but the keys to identifying the woman are actually given in Revelation 12:1 which describes her as a woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  These pictures point back to a dream of Joseph’s which subsequently had him betrayed by his brothers.  Genesis 37:9-10 reads:

9 Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”

Notice Jacob’s response: Shall I (the sun) and your mother (the moon) and your brothers (the eleven stars) bow before you?  Jacob’s name had been changed to Israel and these symbols are identified as the family that brought forth the 12 tribes.  The woman in Revelation 12 is Israel.  Israel birthed the Messiah.  In Part 3 it was noted by Dr. Hahn that John is called the beloved disciple because he is symbolic of all of us, that all of us are beloved disciples.  This can be applied to Mary in that Mary, in John’s Gospel, is symbolic of Israel, the woman, who becomes destitute when her first born is murdered.  Jesus entrusts her to John, the beloved disciple because she no longer has a home, just as the woman is driven into the wilderness after the man-child is caught up to God in Revelation 12:6.  James 1:27 tells us to care for orphans and widows in their distress and Genesis 12:3 tells us that those who care of the Jewish people are blessed.

In John’s Gospel, Mary is a symbol of the woman, Israel and Israel is the woman in Revelation 12.

The Queen of Heaven

The issue of Mary as the Queen of Heaven is one that is well beyond the scope of this series of posts but it should be noted that, for the Christian, attributing the title Queen of Heaven to Mary and subsequently offering adoration to her is to handle the spiritual realm in an incredibly irreverent manner.  The Queen of Heaven is a title often in reference to Astarte, Ashtoreth or Ishtar, the moon goddess.  She is figured as the wife of Baal or Molech.  Women would knead round flat cakes as a symbol of the moon and offer them along with drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.8  Israel did this as noted in Jeremiah 7 and Jeremiah 44 and was severely disciplined for it.

No positive imagery can be found in Scripture for even holding the Queen of Heaven in high esteem yet Catholic tradition does this and much more.  Regardless of whether or not the veneration of Mary is to re-establish the worship of the moon fertility goddess, as some suggest, it is clearly inappropriate for the Christian to participate in what the Scripture so specifically denounces.  No matter how you try to justify Marian doctrine, the Queen of Heaven is a title that we simply have no business playing around with.

Conclusion

Dr. Hahn has tried to demonstrate several types in Scripture as finding culmination in Mary.  He says that Mary is the new Eve but as I have shown, the patterns fall apart if we hold to that idea.  Instead a much more sound conclusion is that the church is the new Eve.  Dr. Hahn also suggests that Mary is a fulfillment of the woman figure in Scripture but the woman figure is specifically associated with Israel throughout the Old Testament and Revelation 12:1 leaves little room left.  Israel is the woman figure found in Scripture.

In John’s Gospel, the woman is entrusted to the care of the beloved disciple.  The beloved disciple is symbolic of the Christian and the woman is symbolic of Israel.  We are commended to care for orphans and widows just as John was to care for Mary.  Those who care for the Jewish people are blessed.

Whenever symbols in Scripture are being twisted around in order to obtain a particular picture it may be wise to take a step back and re-evaluate our motives.  Typology is indeed one of the most enjoyable interpretive methods but it should never have to be forced.

  1. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, use: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. Emphasis mine.
  2. John 10:11, John 13:1, Matthew 26:2, Phillipians 2:5-8 are a small sampling which demonstrate that Jesus willfully went to the cross.
  3. See Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 10:17, Ephesians 4:12, Hebrews 13:3
  4. Augustine of Hippo. (1888). Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John J. Gibb & J. Innes, Trans.). In P. Schaff (Ed.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume VII: St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies (P. Schaff, Ed.) (66–67). New York: Christian Literature Company.
  5. These terms are often used interchangeably to refer to Israel as a whole as context will dictate
  6. Cooper, L. E. (1994). Vol. 17: Ezekiel. The New American Commentary (170). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  7. Same source as footnote 6; emphasis mine.
  8. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Je 7:18). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

Nov 012012
 
This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series The Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture by Dr. Scott Hahn

In Part 2 of this series we were introduced to the concept of the new Eve which Dr. Hahn holds as being fulfilled by Mary.  As I have noted, that pattern cannot be true since Eve came from Adam, not Adam from Eve and that Adam and Eve had a spousal relationship, a type of relationship that Jesus and Mary certainly did not share.  In Part 3 we saw that John presents Mary with a title, specifically, the woman, in both of the only two appearances she makes in the Gospel.  Dr. Hahn correctly notes that John’s title as the beloved disciple makes him a model for the believer but incorrectly suggests that this gives credence to the idea of Mary as the Queen Mother and Queen of Heaven due to the beloved disciple taking her to his home that same hour.

So who is the Queen of Heaven?  What does Scripture have to say about it?  And how does this title get applied to Mary?  While Dr. Hahn’s presentation will answer the last of these questions, the other two are simply not addressed but are perhaps most important since they have the greatest impact on how the Christian should respond.

The Queen Mother

Turning from the woman in John’s Gospel, Dr. Hahn goes to the Old Testament.  He starts in Genesis 3:15 which reads:

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.1

Often called the protoevangelium or the first gospel, Genesis 3:15 is the first major hint of the coming Messiah and what should be noted here is that the word offspring comes from the Hebrew זֶרַע (zerah) and Greek σπέρμα (sperma) which hint at a virgin birth.  While Dr. Hahn mentions this, he takes a peculiar position on track 7 at the 3:10 mark.  He states:

…And it goes on to describe how he shall crush the head, and you shall bruise the heel.  Once again, another foreshadowing of how God will use, not a man in this case, but a woman, to bring the humiliating defeat, the crushing humiliation upon the serpent.

Dr. Hahn is incorrectly focusing on the woman in place of the offspring.  Granted, the woman here is a title, similar to what we see in John’s Gospel, which I’ll discuss in Part 5, but the woman does not bring about the humiliating defeat, the offspring does.  Dr. Hahn specifically says that God will use, ‘not a man in this case’, but he does use a man!  God specifically says to the serpent: he (that is, her offspring) shall crush your head.

Dr. Hahn continues at the 3:55 mark:

[Speaking of a dissertation done by one of his students, Dr. Edward Sri] …when biblical scholars apply themselves to the terminology and the imagery in Genesis 3:15 where the woman and her seed shall crush the head of the serpent, biblical scholars have come away looking at that in its ancient historical light and they see, quote, the woman of Genesis 3:15 is a proto-typical queen mother figure.  Where Eve failed, a new Eve will succeed.  Where the first queen mother sinned, a new queen mother will arise in righteousness … No doubt the queen mother has her place here in Genesis 3:15.  She is clearly the queen mother from whom royal offspring will arise to crush the serpents head.  So what we find in the Davidic kingdom is the restoration of what God established in the Creation kingdom, way back in the beginning.

The thing I find most baffling about this is that this focus on the woman arising in righteousness, or the woman having any part in the destruction of the seed of the serpent, apart from birthing the Messiah, is nowhere outlined in Scripture.  At best, this is nothing more than conjecture, plain and simple.  Interestingly, in Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship, Dr. Edward Sri does not seem to take such a concrete position when it comes to the concept of the queen mother being found in Genesis 3:15:

We have seen how the queen mother was associated with two key Old Testament texts, bound up with Israel’s messianic hopes.  The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 involves the sign of a queen mother who will conceive and bear the future Davidic King, Immanuel.  The queen-mother figure also may appear prototypically in Genesis 3:15, which also associates a mother with her royal offspring in a context that has important Davidic kingdom overtones.  [Emphasis mine.]2

It’s one thing to say the queen-mother figure may appear in Genesis 3:15, it’s another thing entirely to say it is without doubt.  It’s at this point that Dr. Hahn gives two examples in Judges of where a woman crushes the head of an adversary.  The first is Judges 4 where Jael drives a tent peg into the head of Sisera and the second being the death of Abimelech, where a woman threw a millstone upon his head in Judges 9.

Of course, I agree with Dr. Hahn that these are messianic types reflecting back to Genesis 3:15 and looking forward to the ultimate defeat of the seed of the serpent, but Dr. Hahn continues to suggest that this is important because in these cases a woman is the one who has carried out the deed.  On track 8 at the 4:21 mark he closes the Genesis 3:15 discussion with:

Again and again, in ancient Israel’s history, there is an anticipation, or a foreshadowing, of how God will raise up a woman to bring humiliation and defeat to those that the serpent uses to keep us from salvation.

As I’ve shown, Genesis 3:15 specifically points to the seed of the woman; the woman is not in focus, her seed is, and her seed is male.  The Old Testament is indeed replete with examples of such as well.3  It is absolutely incredible how Dr. Hahn seems to so casually take the focus away from the Messiah and apply it to Mary.

From there Dr. Hahn works to demonstrate the queen mother role found in the Davidic monarchy.  On track 9 at the 1:10 mark he has just discussed Solomon’s coronation where King Solomon is put on King David’s donkey.  Obviously this is a foreshadowing to what is often called the triumphal entry.  He discusses this in order to show how the Davidic monarchy foreshadows the coming Messiah.  But Dr. Hahn takes a peculiar turn because the focus is not going to be on the office of the king, but on the office of the queen mother.  When looking at 1 Kings 2:19, Dr. Hahn discusses how Solomon treats his mother and focuses on the imagery shown, in that he bows to her and sits her at his right hand.  He states:

But what’s so interesting to me, when I recall vividly, studying as a protestant, focusing on the biblical record of David’s kingdom, what really jumped off the page was a passage in 1st Kings chapter 2 verse 19.  For there we see Solomon’s mother, going into the royal court, the royal chamber, where everybody bows before King Solomon now that he is newly crowned, freshly anointed.  When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Solomon’s half brother, Adonijah, the King rose to meet her.  And he bowed down to her, and then he sat on his throne and had a throne, or a seat, brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right hand.  And, from that position, at the king’s right hand, she gave to him royal petitions.  Not just from royal subjects, but from his own brethren, who preferred to go through his mother, rather than going directly to Solomon, himself.

There is no doubt Solomon is giving his mother due respect, reverence and honor as should be done by any son,4 and that the queen mother holds an office of sorts within the kingdom, although this may not have been unique to the Davidic monarchy.  As Jamieson, Fausset & Brown note in the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible:

The filial reverence and the particular act of respect, which Solomon rendered, were quite in accordance with the sentiments and customs of the East. The right hand is the place of honor; and as it expressly said to have been assigned to “the king’s mother,” it is necessary to remark that, when a husband dies, his widow acquires a higher dignity and power, as a mother over her son, than she ever possessed before. Besides, the dignity of “king’s mother” is a state office, to which certain revenues are attached. The holder has a separate palace or court, as well as possesses great influence in public affairs; and as the dignity is held for life, it sometimes happens, in consequence of deaths, that the person enjoying it may not be related to the reigning sovereign by natural maternity. Bath-sheba had evidently been invested with this honorable office. [Emphasis mine.]5

The problem with what Dr. Hahn gave as an example above is what Bathsheba actually petitions on behalf of Solomon’s brother Adonijah.  Dr. Hahn suggests that the kings own brothers would rather go to him through their mother, instead of directly to the king himself, as though they are recognizing the office that the queen mother holds.  But what Dr. Hahn gives no mention of is the fact that Adonijah had just tried to make himself king before David could hand the throne over to Solomon.

Seeing as how Adonijah had just tried to usurp the throne, it only makes sense that he wouldn’t want to deal with Solomon directly.  You can only imagine how strained their relationship would be at this point.  In going to Bathsheba to make his request for him, he isn’t doing anything as an example for us.  It is much more likely that he is trying to sneak around out of fear for how Solomon will react.  It’s also worth noting that Adonijah still sees himself as the appropriate king because when he petitions Bathsheba, he says to her that the kingdom was rightfully his and that Israel expected him to reign.  Now, Solomon has been anointed King and Adonijah is asking to be given one of his fathers concubines as his wife.

Solomon sees this as yet another attempt to usurp the throne.  His response?  He doesn’t bother with Bathsheba’s request but instead he has Adonijah executed.  If this is the example Dr. Hahn chooses to illustrate the office and petitions of the queen mother, it’s certainly not a very good one.

The Queen of Heaven

It’s at this point that Dr. Hahn is going to wrap the concept of the Queen Mother into the concept of the Queen of Heaven, whom he will attempt to show as the virgin Mary.  On track 10 at the 0:33 mark he says:

But there is one text that is all important, in Matthew, chapter 1, verses 22 and 23, all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, Behold!  A virgin shall conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Immanuel.  You go back to Isaiah 7:14 and you’ll discover that the prophet Isaiah confronted the king, Ahaz, and said your faith is sagging, ask the Lord for a sign.  But Ahaz had already decided to disobey.  He already decided to ignore the covenant.  He was already secretly bargaining with the enemies of God to enter into strategic alliances.  And so Isaiah said, you won’t ask the Lord for a sign, well he’ll give you a sign anyway.  If the king, if the man, won’t cooperate in faith with the Lord then the Lord will give a sign with the woman, a virgin, the almah, she shall conceive and bear a son.

This is very misleading.  Again, Dr. Hahn is focusing on the woman in this passage as though God has to give a sign through a woman because Ahaz wouldn’t man up.  But the focus of the virgin in Isaiah 7:14 isn’t a matter of defaulting to someone else because Ahaz wouldn’t do what he was supposed to.  To explain, the entire issue that is going on with Ahaz is his lack of trust in God’s promises that the Davidic monarchy would not be broken.  Ahaz is fearful that he will be deposed and the throne of Israel will be vacant.  God gives Ahaz an opportunity to ask for a sign to demonstrate that what Ahaz fears will not come to pass but Ahaz refuses and so God gives him one anyway, that the virgin will conceive.  In this sign God is reaffirming His promises and there is nothing anyone could do to break them.

Dr. Hahn then goes on to discuss Dr. Edward Sri’s handling of Isaiah 7:14, that the term עַלְמָה (almah) used for virgin here would have, in Isaiah’s day, been understood as the queen mother because she’s bearing forth the royal son.  But this is irrelevant since, as I have just shown, the point of the text isn’t concerned with the office of the queen mother, it is only concerned with the heir to the throne of the Davidic monarchy.  On track 10 at the 3:45 mark, Dr. Hahn wants to suggest that because the office of the queen mother would be a part of the Davidic monarchy we would see it’s fulfillment in Christ’s work since Jesus is the Son of David and heir to the throne and thus Mary, His mother, must be exalted as the queen of Heaven.  He says:

You cannot understand Jesus’ ministry, you can’t understand Christ’s mission apart from the Davidic covenant.  But once you see the Davidic covenant as the background for the Gospel presentation of Jesus, you’re going to be ready to understand the role, and the office of Mary, and why it is that Mary, who fulfills her role as a royal counselor, as a queen mother, is eventually exalted, when her son, the royal son of David, ascends into the Heavenly Jerusalem.

While there are certainly some aspects of Christ’s ministry and mission that would be difficult to grasp without an understanding of what He is to ultimately fulfill, there is nothing to understand in regards to Mary.  If there is one thing that can be taken away from this study it is that Scripture is simply silent on the office and role of Mary as royal counselor, queen mother and queen of Heaven – the work that Dr. Hahn has to go through to get to this point is unnecessary eisegesis.  He goes on:

Turn with me to Revelation chapter 11.  In Revelation chapter 11 we hear the 7th angel blowing his trumpet.  And then a voice in Heaven crying the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, His Messiah.  And He shall reign forever and ever, just as God had sworn.  He will reign forever through the son of David.  And this is the kingdom that the angel announces that Christ has established, in his death and resurrection, in his ascension, in his royal enthronement in the Heavenly Jerusalem.  We read in Revelation 12, just a couple of verses later, a great sign appeared in heaven.  It’s the same Greek word that you’ll find in Isaiah 7:14 … And so a sign appears in Heaven, a woman, clothed with the son, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  What is the significance of the crown?  This makes the woman a queen.  What is the significance of the crown being 12 stars?  She is the queen of Heaven.  Her royal authority is a cosmic queenship, just like her sons is a cosmic kingship.

Of course, what Dr. Hahn fails to mention is that the woman in Revelation 12 is actually identified for us in Scripture.  There is no need to contrive any other meaning than what Scripture has to say unless you are trying to force it to say what it doesn’t.  In this case, Scripture doesn’t say that Mary is the queen of Heaven but rather gives clues as to who this woman is, clues that take us back to Genesis and a dream that Joseph had.

Conclusion

Dr. Hahn has presented us with three primary concepts, namely, the new Eve, the woman in John’s Gospel and the Queen of Heaven in Revelation 12.  Dr. Hahn wants to suggest that Mary fulfills all of these roles and of course uses this to justify Marian doctrine.  It is my position that this is not the case and that once these concepts are properly identified we will find they fit together much more comfortably than could be hoped for Catholic tradition.  In the next and final post for this series I will put the pieces back together and show that they have greater implications for us personally than they could if the concepts ended with Mary.

  1. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
  2. Dr. Edward P. Sri, Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship, (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2005), 66.
  3. One of the greatest examples is David & Goliath.  The imagery is undeniable where the stone, an idiom for the Messiah, sinks into Goliath’s head, killing him.  It was slung by David, a messianic figure, who then proceeds to cut off Goliath’s head.
  4. Exodus 20:12; Exodus 21:17; Ephesians 6:2; Matthew 19:19; Matthew 15:4
  5. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1 Ki 2:19–20). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

Oct 252012
 
This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series The Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture by Dr. Scott Hahn

In Part 2 of this discussion Dr. Hahn had introduced the concept of the new Eve in a very specific manner, he said: if Jesus is the new Adam, then Mary is the new Eve.  As I stated, this couldn’t possibly be true for two very important reasons.  For the first, Adam and Eve were husband and wife while Jesus was Mary’s earthly son.  If Dr. Hahn’s position were true it would have Jesus being married to His earthly mother; an idea, I’m sure, most, if not all, Catholic theologians would greatly discourage.  The second reason is that Eve came from Adam’s side, not the other way around.  Since Jesus was actually birthed by Mary and Mary did not come from Jesus’ side, the pattern simply cannot hold together and so, the notion that Mary is the new Eve is simply incoherent.

So where does that leave the concept of the new Eve and does Mary have a typified role to play?  Certainly, the idea of the new Eve is not foreign to Scripture and Mary does indeed have a substantial role to play as a fulfillment of Old Testament type.  What’s more, the patterns hold together in incredible detail, further demonstrating the overarching theme and supernatural design of Scripture.  But before all of that can be put together, we need to identify some key players.  Fortunately, Dr. Hahn’s presentation gets into all of it and provides a great opportunity for an exciting study in typology.

John’s Creation Motif

After quoting Justin Martyr and Irenaeus in an attempt to demonstrate that the early church fathers had the concept of Mary as the new Eve in mind, Dr. Hahn takes us to Scripture, particularly John chapters 1 and 2.  What then follows is a presentation of the creation motif in John’s Gospel.

As an overview, what Dr Hahn presents is that while John 1:1-18 has numerous parallels to the Creation narrative of Genesis, it doesn’t stop at John 1:18 but rather, that the term ‘The next day…’ in John 1:29, 35, 43 is representative of successive day’s and thereby echo the 2nd, 3rd and 4th day of Genesis 1:8, 13, 19.  He then suggests that where John 2:1 reads ‘On the third day…’ we would use that to add three days to the 4th day of John 1:43 which then brings us to day 7 of Creation in Genesis 2:1-3.  That means the wedding at Cana is paralleling the 7th day of Creation.

Because this particular discussion goes on for about 7 minutes, instead of quoting everything Dr. Hahn says to explain how the first chapters of John parallel the creation account in the first chapters of Genesis, I’ll try to pick up on the key points and respond accordingly.  On track 5 at the 4:17 mark Dr. Hahn states:

Let’s take a part of the Bible.  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  What is that?  The first verse taken from the Gospel of John.  Ring any bells?  Of course!  You not only recognize that from the Gospel of John but you also hear how it echoes Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  What a coincidence, right?  Not even close!  What a deliberate echo!

Of course I agree with this entirely.  There is nothing in Scripture that is a coincidence.  It is all there by deliberate design.  There are so many parallels to the Creation narrative in the first verses of John that scholars have to argue about which ones are or aren’t really there.  Dr. Hahn continues on track 6 at the 0:28 mark:

But I wonder did John leave it behind at that point after the opening 4 verses of his Gospel?  No.  If you keep reading in John chapters 1 and 2 you’ll discover that John kept reading from Genesis 1 and 2.  He didn’t leave Genesis 1 behind after the first 4 verses.  What do you have in John 1 verses 29, 35 and 43?  The next day, the next day, the next day.  What does that remind us of in Genesis 1?  Day 2, day 3, day 4!  And then where do we see the 4th occurrence of the next day?  We don’t.  Oh darn!  Just when I thought I was on a roll.  But what you do find is not the 4th occurrence of the phrase the next day, instead you find this very significant phrase, in John 2:1 … we read On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there.  So what does John mean when he says On the third day there was a marriage at Cana?  So the next day the first time would be day 2.  The next day the second time would be day 3.  The next day the third time would be day 4.  On the third day would bring us suddenly to the 7th day.

I want to note that up to this point I largely agree with what Dr. Hahn is presenting.  What we disagree on is where the phrase on the third day takes us which I’ll explain as we continue.  Dr. Hahn goes on:

And what happened in Genesis 1 and 2?  On day six God made man – male and then female.  And in Genesis 2 we discover he [Adam] wakes up the morning of the seventh day and what does he spy?  Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh and he says ‘Woman!’  And so there, on the seventh day is the sign of a marriage covenant between the first Adam and the first Eve.

This is where things start to get a little confusing.  There isn’t any indication that Adam woke up on the 7th day and saw Eve for the first time.  While the text doesn’t really specify what day Adam woke up to find Eve, I think that as far as Scripture is concerned, in terms of how we understand the creation of the first human beings, these things happened within the confines of the 6th day.  I think this reasoning holds better in light of how Scripture seems to reveal redemptive history.  Dr. Hahn continues:

So what did the early church fathers discover in John chapters 1 and 2? [re-establishes parallels] … leading us up to day 7 and there is this beautiful marriage, a wedding at Cana in Galilee.  What is the first thing that Jesus says to His mother?  ‘Woman, what have you to do with me?’  That is a euphemism, an idiomatic expression, in the Greek and Hebrew implying no disrespect whatsoever, in fact, it implies mutuality.  So here on day 7, the new Adam coming to redeem the old Creation that the first Adam had plunged into ruin.  And along with the new Adam comes a new Eve.  And along with the new Adam and the new Eve comes a mystical marriage a mystical covenant, the new covenant, and on that occasion He turns water into wine.  This was the first sign to reveal His glory.

I’m not sure which of the early church fathers wrote of this.  I read through several of Augustine’s homilies on John 2 and he seems rather unaware of the thinking that Mary is the new Eve.  In fact, Augustine held to the same view that I do in terms of the fulfillment of the new Eve as will be shown later in Part 5 of this series.  What Augustine is concerned about regarding the wedding at Cana is its symbolism and how it reflects redemptive history with Jesus in view.1

I propose a slight variation to what Dr. Hahn has presented in terms of the Creation narrative in the opening chapters of John, specifically around where we land in light of John 2:1.  Further there are greater allusions to Exodus 19 through chapters 1 and 2 of John that I think help to establish that what John has in mind is the new Creation that we have in Christ which John is going to present throughout the rest of his Gospel.

In Exodus 19 Israel arrives at Mount Sinai and camps at the foot of the mountain, while Moses goes up to meet with God.  In this process, Israel was told to consecrate themselves, to wash their garments and to make themselves ready for the third day.  The third day brought them to the 6th of Sivan, Shavuot, when God gave Israel the Torah.  The Talmud notes that Shavuot was a wedding ceremony between Yahweh, the groom, and Israel, the bride, the Torah being the marriage contract.  Shavuot marks the culmination of the redemption of Israel from the slavery of Egypt.  This is all very important because Shavuot, also called the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost, was the day that the church was birthed in Acts 2.

The Mekhilta on Exodus notes that leading up to Shavuot were 4 remote days of preparation and that the third day from the fourth would bring them to the 6th of Sivan, or Shavuot.  Since there would be 6 days leading up to Shavuot which pictures the wedding ceremony between Yahweh and Israel, it is easy to see the same in John’s Gospel, where we end up in the echo of the 6th day of Creation, a wedding at Cana.  It is reasonable to see the phrase in John 2:1, On the third day, as two days later.  As the UBS Handbook on the Gospel of John notes:

In Greek the phrase “on the third day” would normally be taken to mean “the day after tomorrow,” since it was generally the practice to count both the first and the last day in any sequence. Other solutions are possible, but it seems best to understand that the wedding occurred two days after the call of Philip and Nathanael, the last day mentioned in the narrative up to this point (1.43).2

This does not mean we would abandon the wording in John 2:1.  It is there for good reason, specifically pointing to the resurrection and The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  But it is important to note that it is somewhat idiomatic rather than thinking of it as a precise three days later.

What’s interesting is how the dialogue around the wedding at Cana closes, specifically, in John 2:11, it reads:

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.3

Jesus revealed His glory on the third day to His disciples and mirrors the revelation of the glory of Yahweh to Israel on the third day in Exodus 19:16.4  Leading up to this point, in Exodus 19:10-11, Israel was told to prepare for the third day by consecrating themselves and washing their garments.  Meanwhile in John 1 we see the consecration of baptism and the calling of the disciples until, finally, in John 2:6, at the wedding in Cana there are six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, and that water is about to be turned into wine.5

The following table should help to illustrate the parallelism that has been presented here from the first few chapters of John.  While this is far from exhaustive it should also serve to wet the appetite for further study into the Johannine text.  There is a reason why the Gospel of John is often considered easily understood by a child, yet beyond the ability of the greatest minds in human history to fathom.6

The Woman In John’s Gospel

It is at this point our attention is brought to the woman.  As Dr. Hahn had just pointed out, in John 2:4 Jesus addressed His mother as ‘Woman’ and he uses that to look back to what Adam says when he first sees his wife.  What I find most interesting about Dr. Hahn’s analogies is that right here, In John 2:1-12 he presents the parallels of the wedding at Cana and the marriage of Adam and Eve with Christ as the new Adam, coming to redeem the old Creation in a mystical marriage, but still insists that Mary is the new Eve.  It’s perplexing because most Christians know that Christ has a bride and it isn’t Mary.  But there is another area where Jesus addresses Mary as ‘Woman’ and that’s at the foot of the cross.  On track 6 at the 3:41 mark, Dr. Hahn takes us to John 19:26-27:

John notices the first time Jesus performed a sign, He referred to His mother as ‘Woman’.  So the first sign is turning water into wine, what is the last sign that Jesus will offer in His public ministry?  His own death and resurrection.  How He will die and on the third day, He will be raised and He will become the new temple.  The first sign that He performs, Mary is there as a new Eve.  The last sign He performs is His own death and resurrection and guess who’s there again… Mary.  Turn with me to [John 19:26-27] … what does Jesus say when He looks down and sees Mary?  ‘Woman!’  Once again, as with the first sign, so with the last.  ‘Woman, behold your son!’ in chapter 19 of John.  And then He turned to the Beloved disciple and said ‘Behold your mother!’ … From that hour the beloved disciple took her to his own home. Why? Jesus wasn’t playing favorites. He didn’t name John, the beloved disciple, because John knows that he’s merely a symbol, a sign that points to all of us!  All of us are beloved disciples!  All of us are called to suffer with Jesus!  All of us are called to the foot of the cross!  All of us are called to stand beside Mary and to take her into our homes from the very hour that Christ offers himself!

Of course the natural question is why, in the two places that Mary makes an appearance in John’s Gospel, Jesus addresses her as ‘Woman‘.  Dr. Hahn correctly notes that it is not a term meaning any disrespect.  There is a lot of symbolism going on and for good reason.  As Dr. Hahn states, in this Gospel, John refers to himself as the beloved disciple, pointing out that in doing so, John becomes a symbol, a picture, or perhaps even better, a model for the believer.  If that is true for the title of the beloved disciple, then it is certainly true for the woman.  But Dr. Hahn is going to take this occasion to look back to King Solomon and his mother, Bathsheba, King David’s wife.  Ultimately, this is done to present Mary as the Queen Mother, the Queen of Heaven, which, as I will show, has a disastrous affect to the biblical narrative.

Conclusion

Perhaps most staggering in this series is how much I agree with Dr. Scott Hahn, but come to some very different conclusions; conclusions that ultimately polarize doctrine.  We agree that there is a new Adam and a new Eve but Dr. Hahn insists that the new Eve is Mary.  We largely agree on how the opening chapters of the Gospel of John echoes the Creation narrative in Genesis.  We agree that the titles of the beloved disciple and the woman are deliberate in design and that the beloved disciple is a model for the believer.  But Dr. Hahn sees the woman as a pointer back to Adam seeing Eve for the first time and uses that as a catalyst to present Mary as the Queen Mother and Queen of Heaven, concepts that I will introduce in the next post, Part 4.

These patterns presented by Dr. Hahn do not hold firm under biblical scrutiny as I’ve already shown with Mary as the new EveThe woman has now been introduced as a title for Mary which has great implications for why she is entrusted to the beloved disciple and what that means for the believer.  All of this will be put back together with clear biblical support in Part 5.

  1. See Tractate VIII and IX in Augustine’s Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel According to St. John.
  2. Newman, B. M., & Nida, E. A. (1993). A handbook on the Gospel of John. UBS Handbook Series (55). New York: United Bible Societies.
  3. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. Emphasis mine.
  4. The LXX for Exodus 19:16 on the third day is the same wording to the Greek opening of John 2:1 on the third day.
  5. Catholic theologians Francis J. Moloney and Daniel J. Harrington present an excellent analysis of the first days of Jesus mirroring the theophany at Sinai in their Sacra Pagina series commentary on the Gospel of John, pages 50-57.
  6. John MacArthur states this from simply the prologue alone in the MacArthur New Testament Commentary on the Gospel of John 1-11, page 13.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

Oct 182012
 
This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series The Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture by Dr. Scott Hahn

At the beginning of this lecture, Dr. Hahn spends a little bit of time explaining typology.  By way of example, he uses much of the analogies that Paul uses in Romans and 1 Corinthians to demonstrate that Jesus is the new Adam.1  This is a great introduction for anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept.  On track 4 at the 1:04 mark he states:

There are similarities between Adam and Jesus as well as dissimilarities.  What are the similarities?  Well, Adam was the firstborn son of God in the human race and so was Jesus.  Adam was made in the image of God and Jesus is the image and likeness of God.  Adam was given dominion as the king of creation and Jesus is the king of kings.  Adam was created sinless and so was Jesus when He came to us.  Adam was the representative head of the Old Covenant just as Jesus is the representative head of the New Covenant.  And we could draw out other parallels and similarities.  What are the dissimilarities?  Unlike Jesus, Adam sinned.  Unlike Jesus’ humility, Adam succumbed to pride and didn’t bring life upon us like Jesus but he brought death in the form of original sin.  That’s how typology works and we learn our basic lessons right from the apostle Paul himself, who, along with the other New Testament writers and the 12 disciples, learned all of this straight from the lips of Jesus.  Throughout the Gospels, you will hear Jesus repeatedly speaking about himself and his redemptive work in these analogical terms, in terms of typology.

As great an introduction to typology as that is, unfortunately things take a dramatic turn.  This is where it gets interesting because Dr. Hahn immediately begins to apply this process to Mary.  On the same track, at the 2:41 mark he states:

Now you might be thinking how does this apply to Mary?  Quite simply.  You see if Jesus is the new Adam, Mary is the new Eve.  If Jesus is the new Moses then Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant.  If Jesus is the new Solomon, the son of David, then Mary is the Queen Mother of the son of David.

If you aren’t paying attention, it can be very easy to miss.  Dr. Hahn calls Mary the new Eve and determines this because Jesus is the new Adam.  But once the parallels are evaluated, the type actually begins to fall apart.  How can Mary be the new Eve if Christ is the new Adam?  Eve wasn’t Adam’s mother, rather she came from Adam’s side.  Adam and Eve were married and Christ certainly wasn’t married to his mother.  It doesn’t take a lot of work to determine that this idea is incoherent.  What Dr. Hahn should instead be saying is that if Jesus is the new Adam, then Mary cannot possibly be the new Eve.  Is there such a thing as the new Eve?  Absolutely.  However, the answer to who she is may surprise you and it has greater implications for the believer than could ever be suggested if the parallels stopped with Mary.

Justin Martyr

Dr. Hahn begins his presentation of Mary as the new Eve with a couple of quotes from Justin Martyr and Irenæus.  On track 4 at the 3:31 mark Dr. Hahn begins with Justin Martyr.  He states:

The earliest surviving testimony to Mary as the new Eve as Jesus was the new Adam is found in, really, practically the oldest of the church fathers who was writing.  St. Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho.  Trypho was a rabbi living in Ephesus around 135AD and in their exchange, this is what Justin wrote: Christ became man by the virgin in order that the disobedience that proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin.  For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent brought forth disobedience and death whereas the virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her, that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, that the power of The Most High would overshadow her; wherefore this Holy Thing begotten of her is the son of God; and so she replied ‘be it done unto me according to they word’.  And by her has he been born to whom we have demonstrated by so many Scriptures and by whom God destroys both the serpent and the fallen angels and the men who are like them.

This quote comes from Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Tryphos, Chapter 100 (or Roman numeral C in many books).  While the quote is accurate, the question is more a matter of what Justin Martyr has in mind in this discussion.  Is it the concept of the new Eve as Dr. Hahn suggests, or is it something else?

Justin Martyr is indeed drawing some parallels between Eve and Mary but the reasoning behind it isn’t to show Mary as the new Eve in the manner that Christ is the new Adam, but rather, to demonstrate that Christ is the Son of Man and the Son of God.  In this section of the Dialogue, Justin Martyr is expositing Psalm 22 as being fulfilled by Christ in his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection; but the person in Psalm 22 has to be a man and he has to be a descendent of Israel.  This is why, at the beginning of the section that Dr. Hahn is quoting, it reads:

and that He became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. [Emphasis mine.]2

And so the quote continues where Dr. Hahn leaves off at the beginning of Chapter 101:

Then what follows of the Psalm is this, in which He says: ‘Our fathers trusted in Thee; they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them. They cried unto Thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people;’ which show that He admits them to be His fathers, who trusted in God and were saved by Him, who also were the fathers of the Virgin, by whom He was born and became man; and He foretells that He shall be saved by the same God, but boasts not in accomplishing anything through His own will or might. [Emphasis mine.]3

It is a stretch to present the idea that what Justin Martyr has in mind in this section of his Dialogue is a presentation of Mary as the new Eve in the same manner that Christ is the new Adam.

Irenæus

Dr. Hahn continues with a quote from Irenæus of Lyons.  On the same track, at the 4:55 mark he states:

St. Irenaeus, the same way, writing in the second century, up in France, having studied under St. Polycarp who had studied directly under St. John.  This is what St. Irenaeus writes in the second century: The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary.  The knot which the virgin Eve tied by her unbelief, the virgin Mary opened by her belief.  If the former Eve disobeyed God, the new Eve was persuaded to obey God, so that the virgin Mary became the advocate of the old Eve and thus the human race which fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin was then rescued by a virgin.

This quote is actually misleading for two reasons, the first being that this is a compilation of two different sections from Irenæus Against Heresies which were certainly not intended to be read together as one quote (I have them demarcated by color); and the second, perhaps most discouraging, is that Irenaeus does not use, in any manner, the terms ‘new Eve’ or ‘old Eve’.  In fact, I did a search for both of these terms in Volume 1 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers which consists of the works of Clement, Mathetes, Polycarp, Ignatius, Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus and came up empty.4  It really is disheartening to see someone of such prominence so commonly resort to what is either laziness on his part or just plain dishonesty.

The first portion of the quote comes from Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter XXII.4:

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.5

In all of the 4th passage from Chapter XXII, Irenaeus is largely discussing the idea of the disobedience of Adam and Eve being reversed due to the obedience of Joseph and Mary.  He draws parallels from the fact that both Eve and Mary were virgins at this point in their stories and yet married (considering that Joseph and Mary were betrothed already which Irenaeus determines as an already sealed union that no one could tear apart).  Is Irenaeus intending to demonstrate Mary as the new Eve in the manner that Dr. Hahn suggests?  No.  Dr. Hahn introduced the concept of the new Eve from the fact that Jesus is the new Adam.  If that’s the case, then Irenaeus can not possibly have this idea in mind in this passage.

The second portion of the quote comes from Against Heresies, Book V, Chapter XIX.1

And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness (advocata) of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience.6

To start, Dr. Hahn uses the word advocate in place of the choice of patroness.  The problem with advocate in the sense that we use the word today, is that it implies Mary is somehow involved in the intercession for Eve.  This, of course, fits with Catholic tradition as noted in Marian doctrine which I specified in Part 1 of this series, however, that is not the idea Irenaeus has in mind with this passage.  The notes for patroness in Volume 1 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers reads:

This word patroness is ambiguous. The Latin may stand for Gr. ἀντίληψις,—a person called in to help, or to take hold of the other end of a burden. The argument implies that Mary was thus the counterpart or balance of Eve.7

I quoted an additional line, which I’ve italicized, because I think it helps to capture the spirit of what Irenaeus is trying to convey.  The entirety of Book V, Chapter XIX.1 is a presentation of a sort of counter balance between Eve and Mary, not a demonstration of Mary as the new Eve in the sense that Dr. Hahn suggests.

Conclusion

It is simply not true that either Justin Martyr or Irenaeus had the concept of the new Eve in mind in the manner presented by Dr. Hahn.  We have to remember that Dr. Hahn said specifically that if Jesus is the new Adam, then Mary is the new Eve.  As I showed, those patterns simply fall apart as Mary was Jesus’ earthly mother, not his earthly bride and Eve came from Adam’s side, not Adam from Eve.  But that doesn’t mean the concept of the new Eve should be abandoned; nor does it mean that Mary doesn’t have a typified role to play in all of this.  This series will reveal the identity of the new Eve and who Mary represents, but first, some other key players need to be discussed.  The next post will look at the presentation of Mary as the woman in the Gospel of John.

  1. Scripture uses the term ‘last Adam’ in 1 Corinthians 15:45 which may be a better way to understand the idiom but I am using the terms new Adam and new Eve since that is what Dr. Hahn uses in his presentation.
  2. Justin Martyr. (1885). Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (249). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.
  3. Same reference as footnote 2
  4. Screen captures of search results can be seen here and here.
  5. Irenaeus of Lyons. (1885). Irenæus against Heresies. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (455). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.
  6. Same reference as footnote 5; page 547
  7. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. 1885 (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

Oct 112012
 
This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series The Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture by Dr. Scott Hahn

The Virgin Mary Revealed Through ScriptureThe Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture is a lecture by Dr. Scott Hahn that is distributed by Lighthouse Catholic Media.  This particular discussion deals primarily with Mary demonstrated through the Scriptures as a type that finds its fulfillment in the New Eve and Queen Mother.  This series of posts will discuss some of the typology that is claimed in the lecture along with the leaps that ultimately must be taken in order to justify Marian doctrine.  While the lecture itself doesn’t get into much doctrinal discussion, there are some incredible elements to Marianism that have to be addressed.  Dr. Hahn’s lecture rather presumes Marian doctrine and works to show that the Virgin Mary can be found in types throughout the Old Testament which find culmination in Revelation 12.  The description of this talk reads:

Once a Protestant minister, Dr. Scott Hahn was a militant opponent of the Catholic Church.  Now one of the foremost Catholic theologians in the world, he responds to key misunderstandings about the Virgin Mary.  This captivating presentation explains the biblical and historical basis for the Church’s teachings that the Virgin Mary is the New Eve and the Queen of Heaven.

From the start of the lecture, Dr. Hahn doesn’t waste much time by way of an introduction probably due to the amount of material he gets into.  There is a lot of content that could be addressed and is worth further discussion but the sheer volume would make this a much larger series of posts than I’m currently interested in working on.

Doctrines of Demons

Of the three talks by Dr. Hahn that I have listened and responded to this is certainly the most difficult and I think the reason for that isn’t so much the material presented as it is the material that is left out, namely, Marian doctrine.  I believe that Marianism is possibly one of the most dangerous doctrines that Catholicism teaches because, at best, it directs worship away from Jesus, The Messiah but ultimately makes Mary the ruler in place of God, no matter how hard Catholic theologians try to get around this.1

Because I am limiting this series of posts on items specifically brought up in Dr. Hahn’s lecture, I will not be going into any detail or study of Marian doctrines.  Unfortunately, Dr. Hahn really doesn’t try to address any of this.  I’d imagine this is due to the fact that this particular talk aims to demonstrate Mary in Scripture and Marian dogma simply isn’t there.  Of course, this isn’t a problem for Catholicism since Catholicism holds Sacred Tradition and Scripture on equal grounds.  While this is convenient for Catholicism, it is logically incoherent as I worked to show in Part 1 of the Why Do We Have A Pope? series of posts.

The doctrines that I am speaking of that do not get addressed in the lecture are:

The Immaculate Conception: While the initial thought around this doctrine would be that it has to do with the conception of Christ, this is not the case.  The doctrine of the immaculate conception holds that Mary, from her conception in the womb was created without the stain of original sin and subsequently led a sinless life.  This is unbiblical in that Romans 3:23 is quite clear that all have sinned.2

Perpetual Virginity: This is the teaching that Mary was a virgin before and during the birth of Christ and remained a virgin afterwards.  Not only is there no reason to believe such a thing but this as well goes against the the fact that Jesus had brothers and sisters.3

Mother of God: This doctrine would be presumed on the one hand since Mary was the mother of Jesus, her human son.  The doctrine however refuses to differentiate between Jesus’ divinity and His humanity.  Mary could not possibly be the mother of Jesus’ divinity since all things came into being through Jesus as specified in John 1:3; this would include herself.4

The Assumption of Mary: The idea that Mary was assumed into heaven in bodily form at the time of her death.  There is no historical background or record for this.  It is simply nothing more than contrivance.5

Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix: While these two doctrines are not necessarily dogma (yet), they have been confirmed by several popes and date back numerous centuries.  These two serve as titles for Mary.  Co-Redemptrix holds that Mary is a co-redeemer with Christ in that she willingly gave life to Him and suffered with him at the cross.  You will find no hint of this anywhere in Scripture but rather numerous passages that specifically state that Christ alone is the only way to Salvation.6  Mediatrix is the teaching that Mary plays a role as intercessor between us and Christ, specifically that Christ shows grace through Mary.  Again, there is simply no mention of this anywhere in the New Testament.7

None of these Marian doctrines can be substantiated by Scripture in any meaningful sense.  Not only is Scripture incredibly silent on these ideas but it is also incredibly vocal about the very items these doctrines distort.  As far as Marianism is concerned, it is nothing more than pagan goddess worship that dates back to the earliest of Biblical times.  While Dr. Hahn’s presentation is to reveal Mary throughout the Scriptures and not necessarily Marian doctrine, it is reasonable to presume that the intent is to help justify said doctrine.  Therefore, if this presentation is found invalid, then it seems reasonable to rule out any further merit of these doctrines.  In other words, if Mary is not found in Scripture in the manner that Dr. Hahn suggests then there is no reason to believe any of the Marian doctrines taught by Catholic tradition.

Typology

One of the items I can appreciate about Dr. Hahn is his zeal for typology which is perhaps due to the role typology has played in my own testimony.  In fact, if I were to try to tell the story of my own conversion while leaving out any sort of discussion having to do with typology, it likely wouldn’t make much sense.  I can still remember, as clear as yesterday, sitting in traffic on route 28, under the 234 overpass in Manassas, Virginia, listening to a sermon given to me by a friend about imagery in the Old Testament.  At that time, I thought I was a Christian, but in reality I was not a believer.  In the sermon, the pastor was discussing the story of David and Goliath, a story I had heard countless times having grown up the son of a minister, but in a manner I had never heard before.  The pastor, after explaining the descriptions of Goliath, said that to the boy reading this growing up in biblical times, he wasn’t necessarily interested in Goliath’s size, which is how we tend to read it in the West, but rather he saw who, or what, Goliath represented: evil and he had the stamp of 666 in his description.  It’s impossible to put into words how my worldview shifted in what seemed a matter of seconds.  From that moment on I’ve never looked at the Bible the same again.  The Bible very quickly went from the bottom shelf of interesting collection of stories, to the top shelf of entire system of thought for every facet of life in a matter of weeks.

What I soon learned as I looked further into what this pastor discussed was that the story of David and Goliath was a prototype of what we commonly call the battle of Armageddon.  The imagery was inescapable and the text itself continually confirmed what I was finding; but this was disturbing to me because, as a non-Christian, I didn’t want the Bible to demonstrate any sort of design, let alone verification of its authenticity.  Eventually my hands were figuratively thrown in the air and I had nothing left to cling on to; I was a dried sponge ready to take in the Gospel.

While I didn’t know it at the time, what that pastor was discussing was called typology and I say all of that to show that I have a care and appreciation for typology like that which I hear coming from Dr. Scott Hahn both in this discussion and in his lecture entitled The Lamb’s Supper. On track 3 at the 4:00 mark, Dr. Hahn is coming off his introductory story in order to begin the lecture which will largely focus on types in Scripture.  He says:

I’d like to share with you how I found the Blessed Virgin Mary in Scripture.  Typology.  One of my favorite interpretive principles that is taken straight from the Bible itself, straight from our Lord Jesus Christ and the New Testament writers.  Typology is the study of types.  You can read all about it in the catechism of the Catholic church paragraphs 128, 129 and 130.  What is typology?  It is the study of types.  What is a type?  It is a divine analogy of the New Covenant found in the old.  But what many people might not realize is that the notion of typology, the study of types is actually taken from the New Testament itself.  In Hebrews chapter 8, verse 5, we read about how in the law of Moses, there were types and shadows of the good things to come, that have arrived now with the New Covenant.  The word for type in the Greek is literally typos or tupos, and so the study of types is actually a study of how the New Testament writers interpreted the old in the light of Christ.

There really isn’t anything in this quote that I would disagree with in terms of what typology is and how it is affirmed in the New Testament.  Hebrews 8:5 reads:

They [gifts offered according to the law] serve [as] a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”8

Colossians 2:16-17 is another verse that affirms typology.  It reads:

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

This is why it can seem strange to western readers of the Bible, how some of the Gospel writers make use of Old Testament writings in order to show fulfillment in Jesus Christ.  They are making use of pattern in a way that can be very unfamiliar to us.  Dr. Hahn correctly states that typology is affirmed in the New Testament as a valid form of interpretation but as much as I agree with him, it doesn’t give us license to be reckless with it and where he goes in interpretation is simply far from a manner that the New Testament allows for.

In Need of an Anchor

James 1:6 states that a man who lacks trust in God is like a wave of the sea being tossed about by the wind.  The imagery is that of something in the midst of the sea with nothing to hold it in place.  I think this idea can be applied to typology.  It is very easy to get carried away in typology, and there are many who do, therefore it is very important to remain grounded in Scripture.  Scripture then becomes the anchor for our interpretation.  In Jewish exegesis, which allows for mystical and hidden interpretations of the text, the anchor prior to allowing any further interpretation is called the peshat.  Peshat is understood as the literal plain meaning of the text in context.  It is the ‘P’ in the PaRDeS interpretive method.  It is generally understood that while the Remez, Derash and Sod allow the allegorical and hidden interpretations of the text, they must not confuse or contradict the Peshat.  In other words, the literal reading of the text is the anchor for anything else.

I’ve taken the time in this introduction to point this out because, as we’ll see in Dr. Hahn’s lecture, the types he works to show really aren’t affirmed in Scripture.  As I have demonstrated in previous posts, Dr. Hahn has a tendency to read into the text the presuppositions that are already held.  As we’ll see, this doesn’t give us any sort of solid footing and, unfortunately, much of Marian doctrine is a direct result of that.

  1. There really isn’t any way to substantiate this in a simple manner but I highly recommend the series of teachings entitled Explaining the Heresy of Catholicism by Dr. John MacArthur.  In that series are 4 lectures devoted to the issues of Mary worship.
  2. See the Catholic Encyclopedia: Immaculate Conception
  3. See the Catholic Encyclopedia: The Virgin Birth of Christ
  4. See the Catholic Encyclopedia: The Blessed Virgin Mary
  5. See the Catholic Encyclopedia: The Assumption of Mary
  6. See Wikipedia article: Co-Redemptrix for further information
  7. See Wikipedia article: Mediatrix for further information
  8. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.