Catholic Faith Defender

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THE BEREANS ARE NEITHER HERE NOR THERE by Atty. Marwil Llasos

Posted by catholicfaithdefender on March 9, 2009

THE BEREANS ARE NEITHER HERE NOR THERE

by Atty. Marwil Llasos

Link:http://marwil-n-llasos.blogspot.com/

http://thesplendorofthechurch.blogspot.com/2009/03/bereans-are-neither-here-nor-there-by.html

Madonna and Child with Prayer Book

BEREANS ARE NEITHER HERE NOR THERE!!!
A perennial source of embarrassment for many modern-day Protestants, evangelicals included, is when they are confronted with a question on how come they do not believe the same doctrines that the reformers taught, asserted and defended.

One such doctrine is the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. Catholics defend this belief in solidarity with the early church and virtually the whole of orthodox Christendom throughout the ages. Mary’s perpetual virginity is held by the Eastern Orthodox, many Anglicans and Lutherans. Moreover, the founding fathers of Protestantism like Luther, Zwingli and Calvin, among others.

In my reply to the blog of a faceless, anonymous and amateur “apologist” from a rag-tag aggrupation of evangelicals from various “faith traditions” – the so-called “Bereans Apologetics and Research Ministry” – I raised the following:
“Why did the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, teach the heretics the truth which He did not teach mainstream and orthodox Christians?”
Even the Reformers believed the “concocted spurious theory” of Mary’s perpetual virginity.

Martin Luther (1483-1546): It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a virgin. … Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact. (Weimer’s The Works of Luther, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, v. 11, pp. 319-320; v. 6. p. 510.)

This immaculate and perpetual virginity forms, therefore, the just theme of our eulogy. Such was the work of the Holy Ghost, who at the Conception and birth of the Son so favoured the Virgin Mother as to impart to her fecundity while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity.

In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such great good things were given her that no one can grasp them. … Not only was Mary the mother of him who is born [in Bethlehem], but of him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time and at the same time man and God. (Weimer’s The Works of Luther, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, v. 7, p. 572.)

John Calvin (1509-1564): It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor. … Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary as at the same time the eternal God. (Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, v. 45, p. 348, 35.)
Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531):
I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin. (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, v. 1, p. 424.)

These Reformers read the same Bible as RODIMUS and other evangelicals read. How come they had a different conclusion? In fact, my question to modern day Protestants is why they do not anymore believe in the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity, a doctrine which was asserted and defended even by their very own founders. The contradiction it seems lies in the position of the Reformers and modern evangelicals.

In believing Mary’s perpetual virginity, were the Reformers heretics? If so, Protestantism (and all its offshoots) was founded by heretics. If they were wrong on Mary’s perpetual virginity, they can be wrong on so many things.

If the belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity is not heresy, then what is my good friend and brother RODIMUS crowing about?

The answer that I got from the Bereans is neither here nor there. Their somewhat discombobulated reply miserably failed to answer the issues head-on. As is typical of their argumentation, the Bereans skirted the issue. This is the evasive reply of Rodimus of the Bereans –

Now, Atty. Llasos presented historical evidences that the Perpetual Virginity of Mary was believed even by the Reformers Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin. While it may be true that these Reformers believed Mary’s perpetual virginity, one has to consider their circumstances during their time. These men were reforming a 1,200 year old church from which they came (I say 1,200 year old church because I believe that the Church of Rome was founded only after 300AD and the reformation occurred after 1500AD). The focus of the Reformers was on the Lord Jesus Christ. They made sure that Christ was the one deified and not Mary. The process of changing wasn’t overnight and the task of reforming may have been extended to their successors.

Excuse me? This response is no response at all. It is simply not responsive to the questions I squarely raised. It’s like asking Rodimus “How are you?” and his reply is “I’m seven years old.” Can you beat that?

Before we analyze the totally flawed rationalization of the Bereans, let me remind you that I brought up issue of the reformers’ belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity in the light of Rodimus sweeping and unfounded accusation. He said: “the Roman Catholics are desperate that they concoct some spurious theories to obscure the truth without realizing it backfires on them.” So, my challenge to him was to identify who are these desperate Roman Catholics who concocted the “spurious theory” of Mary’s perpetual virginity and when did these desperate Roman Catholics concoct the “spurious theory” of Mary’s perpetual virginity. These questions were sadly not answered. The accountant cannot account for an answer.

Thus, if indeed it is true that “desperate Roman Catholics” concocted the spurious theory of the perpetual virginity of Mary, as Rodimus would have us believe, how come the early church fathers believed in it (to think that, according to Rodimus, there was no “Roman Church” before 300AD)? More so, the Protestant reformers also believed and defended it. Can Rodimus account for that?

He can’t. Notice the evasive answer that he gave. I also raised these questions:

These Reformers read the same Bible as Rodimus and other evangelicals read. How come they had a different conclusion?

Why do modern day Protestants do not anymore believe in the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity, a doctrine which was asserted and defended even by their very own founders?

Why is there contradiction between the position of the Reformers and modern evangelicals?

In believing Mary’s perpetual virginity, were the Reformers heretics? If so, Protestantism (and all its offshoots) was founded by heretics. If they were wrong on Mary’s perpetual virginity, they can be wrong on so many things.

If the belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity is not heresy, then what is Rodimus crowing about?

The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind… Let us now analyze the ratiocination of the Bereans:

Now, Atty. Llasos presented historical evidences (sic) that the Perpetual Virginity of Mary was believed even by the Reformers Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin.

Notice how Rodimus misappreciated the issues I raised. I did not merely raise historical evidence (which Rodimus by the way did not refute), I raised categorical questions. These were not answered.

While it may be true that these Reformers believed Mary’s perpetual virginity, one has to consider their circumstances during their time.

This is also not responsive to any of the questions. Rodimus skirted the issues. Note that Rodimus tried to explain away the faith of the reformers by appealing to the “circumstances during their time.” What were these circumstances? Rodimus said:

These men were reforming a 1,200 year old church from which they came (I say 1,200 year old church because I believe that the Church of Rome was founded only after 300AD and the reformation occurred after 1500AD).

This is where the Bereans display their utmost ignorance of church history. What 1,2000 year old church? Notice that Rodimus merely expressed his “belief” that the “Church of Rome” was founded only after 300AD. Hello? What’s your proof? The Bereans call themselves the Bereans “Apologetics and Research Ministry.” Is this the quality of their research? Is this the best that the Bereans have to offer? Pure guesswork!

Let’s press the Bereans to back up their unfounded assertions with solid and credible evidence. Can Rodimus tell us who founded the Church of Rome and when exactly the Church of Rome founded?

The focus of the Reformers was on the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is again an unfounded allegation. Aside from the bare assertion, Rodimus offered no exact quotes from the Reformers that their focus in teaching the perpetual virginity was on the Lord Jesus Christ (see: my quotes above).
Nevertheless, the Bereans’ ignorance of Catholic teaching is all too apparent. For us Catholics, Mary’s perpetual virginity is not much about her but about Him.
Rodimus is woefully incompetent to tell us Catholics what we believe. As a cradle evangelical, Rodimus is unqualified by any to pose as an expert on the Catholic faith.

As a Catholic apologist and Marian lecturer, I think that I am in a much better position than Rodimus or any of the Bereans to state what we Catholics believe regarding Mary’s perpetual virginity and why. I have consistently pointed out in my writings and lectures that: “The Catholic Church emphatically affirms the truth of Mary’s perpetual virginity because it is a corollary truth to the Virgin Birth of Our Lord. It is intended to safeguard the virginal conception of Jesus Christ which is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity. The Virgin Birth points out the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mary’s perpetual virginity is a sign of that uniqueness. Hence, God’s wisdom decreed Mary’s perpetual virginity to safeguard the Virgin Birth of Our Lord. An only child was unusual during the time of Christ. If Jesus were not the only child of Mary, His birth would not appear miraculous. If Jesus had brothers and sisters, the people of His time would always suspect that He was born the normal way.”

Likewise, I had occasion to state: “Jesus’ unique Sonship from Mary reflects His unique Sonship in eternity. Christ is the only-begotten Son of the Father, who begets Him eternally without the help of a mother. He is also the only Son of Mary, who conceives Him in time without the help of a man. It is also further affirmation of the holiness and Deity of Jesus. It would not have been fitting for the womb which bore the Savior to bring sinners into the world (which any hypothetical child of Joseph and Mary would have been). As the ancient Ark of the Covenant was consecrated for sacred use, so the New Ark could not be defiled by common usage.

Moreover:Jesus’ unique Sonship from Mary reflects His unique Sonship in eternity. Christ is the only-begotten Son of the Father, who begets Him eternally without the help of a mother. He is also the only Son of Mary, who conceives Him in time without the help of a man.

An early church father, Theodotus of Ancyra (d. before 446 AD), saw the perpetual virginity of Mary as proof of the divinity of her Son. He said:

No mother of a man has ever remained a virgin. Have you seen how this birth offers us a twofold consideration regarding the One who is born? If he had been born like us, he would have been a man, but if he kept his Mother a virgin, it is clear, for those who know how to think, that the One who is born is God” [Theodotus of Ancyra, Homily 2, cited in Luigi Gambero, S.M., Mary and the Fathers of the Church (San Francisco, California: Ignatius, 1999) pp. 262-263].

Simply, the focus of the Catholic Church in teaching Mary’s perpetual virginity is on Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, and not on Mary herself. They made sure that Christ was the one deified and not Mary.

This is an old, old regurgitated lie! Catholics don’t deify Mary, period. Rodimus again did not bother to present proof that in teaching Mary’s perpetual virginity, we are making her a goddess. I challenge Rodimus to give us some quotes from official Catholic sources that teach that Mary’s perpetual virginity makes her a goddess.

Evangelical Prof. Tim Perry, in assessing the patristic teaching on Mary’s perpetual virginity, states: “It is in these christological and soteriological contexts that Mary’s virginity – whether ante partum, in partu or post partum – arises” [Tim Perry, Mary for Evangelicals (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2006) p. 150].

Pope Leo the Great (ca. 400-461) affirmed Mary’s perpetual virginity in its incarnational context in his letter to the Bishop of Constantinople:

He was truly conceived of the Holy Spirit within the womb of his Virgin Mother, who bore him while preserving her virginity just as, preserving her virginity, she conceived him … Fecundity was given to the Virgin by the Holy Spirit, but the reality was taken from her body … He was born in a “new type of birth” in that undefiled virginity experienced no concupiscence, yet supplied the material for the flesh. From the Mother the Lord took his nature, but no fault; and the Lord Jesus Christ, born from a virgins womb, does not have a nature different from ours just because his birth was an unusual one” [Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon 22: 25 December 441; quoted in Tim Perry, Mary for Evangelicals (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2006) p. 159].

In the quotation I gave above, Theodotus of Ancyra underscored the Lord’s divinity when he defended Mary’s perpetual virginity. In no way did he deify Mary. That’s our Catholic faith. Sadly, the Bereans are like ostriches who bury their heads in the sand. They don’t see the real score. Their anti-Catholic prejudice and bias have blinded them no end. I pray for God’s grace alone to penetrate their opaque minds.

MORE: I asked Rodimus the question that if in believing Mary’s perpetual virginity, were the Reformers heretics? If so, Protestantism (and all its offshoots) was founded by heretics. If they were wrong on Mary’s perpetual virginity, they can be wrong on so many things. Rodimus cannot categorically say if the Reformers were heretics in believing the perpetual virginity of Mary. All Rodimus could say is that the focus of the reformers was on Christ and not on Mary and they made sure that Christ was “deified” and not Mary.

It is thus clear that for Rodimus and the Bereans, the issue is not Mary’s perpetual virginity per se but the motive, reason or intent for such a belief. It would thus seem that for Rodimus, it is alright for you to believe in Mary’s perpetual virginity as long as you focus on Christ and not on Mary and as long as you deify Christ and not Mary.

So why is Rodimus especially hard on us Catholics who believe in Mary’s perpetual virginity when, as I have explained, the focus of our belief that Mary is ever-virgin is her Son Jesus Christ. In teaching and believing the perpetual virginity of Mary, we Catholics in no way make her a goddess or a member of the Godhead.

Rodimus’ and the Bereans double standard explains their implacable hatred for Catholicism. Their hardcore hatred for all things Catholic has clouded their rational judgment.

If the belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity per se is not heresy, Rodimus has absolutely nothing to crow about Catholics who believe that teaching.
The process of changing wasn’t overnight and the task of reforming may have been extended to their successors.

That’s not reform. It is a REGRESSION! The belief that Mary had other children, which modern evangelicals now believe contrary to the unanimous voice of Christianity up until the reformation, is a drawback to the belief of heretical individuals and sects like Helvidius, Jovinian, the Antidicomarianites, Ebionites, certain Arians, Eudocius and Eunomius [Cf. Luigi Gambero, S.M., Mary and the Fathers of the Church [San Francisco, California: Ignatius Press, 1999] pp. 122-123].

And so, my question remains hanging in the air: “Why did the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, teach the heretics the truth which He did not teach mainstream and orthodox Christians?”

May I add: “Why did the Holy Spirit teach to the evangelicals of today what He taught to the heretics of yesterday?”

And by the way, of the THOUSANDS of Protestant groups’ who are the successors of the reformers? Many Lutherans (Martin Luther’s successors) and Anglicans believe in Mary’s perpetual virginity. Were they not touched by the so-called on-going reform?

The accountant miserably failed to account for the following:

1. The Reformers read the same Bible as Rodimus and other evangelicals read. How come they had a different conclusion?

2. Why do modern day Protestants do not anymore believe in the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity, a doctrine which was asserted and defended even by their very own founders?

3. Why is there contradiction between the position of the Reformers and modern evangelicals?

4. In believing Mary’s perpetual virginity, were the Reformers heretics? If so, Protestantism (and all its offshoots) was founded by heretics. If they were wrong on Mary’s perpetual virginity, they can be wrong on so many things.

5. If the belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity is not heresy, then what is Rodimus crowing about?

The accountant has clearly settled for something unbalanced. The “apologetics auditor,” after having been audited, has been weighed but found wanting.

[Note: more on the other issues]

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