Is Mary Virgin after Jesus?

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The Catholic Church keeps refering to Mary as the "Virgin Mary". Is this the name for her before Christ was born or after? If it is so, does it meant that she "Virgin" all her life until she die?

-- Henri (kxhenri@yahoo.com), June 02, 2004

Answers

Yes. Mary was a consecrated virgin, a practice not uncommon in the Jewish culture of the first century. Young women who were professed consecrated virgins would sometimes marry, often an older man or widower, but would nevertheless remain virgins throughout their entire lives. The option of consecrated virginity is still open to women today. I know three women who are so professed. Rarely does one of these women marry today.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 02, 2004.

How can this be?

Matthew 12:46 says, While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and brothers came and stood outside because they wanted to talk with him.

Clearly, Matthew says that Jesus's mother and brothers came for him. If the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus had no brothers, how can it be correct? If Jesus had brothers, Mary did not remain virgin until she die.

-- Henri (kxhenri@yahoo.com), June 02, 2004.


In the Bible it says this because back then cousins were called brothers and sisters.

Look at when Christ was on the crucifix and said to Saint John to behold his Mother. And he told His Mother to behold her son. Thus he entrusted her to a disciple. Had he any brothers, he would not have done this.

-- Sonya (johnsonya2003@hotmail.com), June 02, 2004.


A study of the Greek language and context of the Bible make it CLEAR Mother Mary was FOREVER a Virgin. Also, Mary obviously understood how children are born (through sex) so Mary wouldn't likely say "How can this be" while knowing it is a possible future event that she will have from the Angels statement "You will bear a son, and shall call him Jesus." But since she was a Virgin, she did not understand how such an event would happen until the Angel told her about the Holy Spirit that would come upon her.

-- Jason (Enchanted fire5@aol.com), June 02, 2004.

Matthew 12:46 does not say his mother and cousins. Was there something (James's ashes) Archeologist just found written "James brother of Jesus" on it? Matthew also mentioned James as one of Jesus blood brothers.

When Jesus on the cross told John to take Mary home as her mother had nothing to indicate that Mary had no other children. Jesus knew John can be trusted.

-- Henri (kxhenri@yahoo.com), June 03, 2004.



Henri,

Some scientists have found eveidence that the ossuary you're thining of might be a counterfeit. Even if it isn't, there is no word in Aramaic for "cousin." The same word for brother was used to indicate close relatives like cousins.

-- Andy S ("aszmere@earthlink.net"), June 03, 2004.


Matthew wrote that Jesus has sisters..I believ in bible

-- Henri (kxhenri@yahoo.com), June 03, 2004.

In the Greek text, the word used in Matt 12:46 for "brothers" is "adelphoi". The same word is used in many places in the New Testament, most of which clearly do not refer to familial siblings. For example ... "After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren [adelphoi] at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:6) If Matt 12:46 proves that Mary had other children, then 1 Cor 15:6 proves that she had over 500 children. The argument simply doesn't stand.

The ossuary is apparently a genuine artifact, but the inscription on it has been officially declared a forgery. Besides, even if the inscription were genuine, so what? James WAS a brother [adelphoi] of Jesus, as were all the Apostles and disciples. Romans 8 says that Jesus was the firstborn of "many brothers" (Rom 8:29). This obviously refers to His followers, not to His immediate family. Therefore Matt 12:46 clearly means "His mother and his disciples were standing outside".

There is a world of difference between actually believing the Bible, and believing your own personal interpretation of the Bible. Unfortunately most Protestants don't appreciate the difference.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 03, 2004.


If you read further, Jesus said those people that the real brothers are his followers. Clearly, the people around Jesus knew about his real brothers and mother were outside. That is why Jesus said to them that we all are Jesus's brothers if we are his disciples.

It is not interpretation, the bible says plainly that Jesus had brothers and sisters. Catholic misinterpret the bible by trying to use outside sources.

-- henri (kxhenri@yahoo.com), June 03, 2004.


henri, I would recommend that you read the rules of this forum as stated in our "RULES OF THE FORUM" thread. Non-catholics who have a "genuine" interest in learning more about the faith are invited to participate. This forum is not an apologetics site that defends the faith against all manner of accusation. If one's interest in this forum lies in "educating" Catholics about the error of their ways, then I suggest this might not be the ideal forum for him.

Moderator

-- Ed (catholic4444@yahoo.ca), June 03, 2004.



I am finding faith and I can only have faith if I can find out about the truth.

But if this I cannot find the truth, how can my faith be built upon? Maybe I am in the wrong forum.

Good bye.

-- Henri (kxhenri@yahoo.com), June 03, 2004.


If we have now a person determined not to believe the Catholic Church, then it's better to let him go his own way. We only remind you Henri: Christ sent the Holy Spirit to only one church. This is the one; and with Him is all the truth. You don't want truth? Go to any other church. We don't have to allow you to deny what Jesus taught us.

-- eugene c. chavez (loschavez@pacbell.net), June 03, 2004.

Henri, if I've been too quick to judge then I am sorry. As our rules indicate, we welcome all who have a genuine interest in our faith. If your interest is legitimate then welcome!

Moderator

-- Ed (catholic4444@yahoo.ca), June 03, 2004.


"Catholic misinterpret the bible by trying to use outside sources."

A: The "outside sources" the Catholic Church uses (outside the Bible that is) are the same sources the early Christian (Catholic) Church used BEFORE the New testament was even written, and long before the Bible was compiled. These "outside sources" are simply the Word of God, as given by Jesus Christ to the Church through oral teaching. Some of this teaching is recorded in the Bible. Other teaching it does not record. But as difficult as this may be for a Protestant to grasp and appreciate, the Bible is not now and never was an original SOURCE of Christian truth. It is a written RECORD of Christian truth which was taught by the Catholic Church for nearly 400 years before the bible was compiled - truths given by Jesus Christ to His Church, not in a book but by preaching and teaching - which remained the principle means of passing on the Word of God for 1,200 years after the Bible was compiled. The Catholic Church cannot "misinterpret" the Bible because the Bible is composed of pre-existing CATHOLIC teaching. If anyone other than the Catholic Church therefore interprets this CATHOLIC teaching in any way other than the way the CATHOLIC Church interprets it, they are misinterpreting it. Only the Church which originally included that teaching in the pages of the Bible can determine what it truly means, because they knew what it meant long before the Bible existed.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 03, 2004.


Besides Henri, Luther and Calvin used Agustine and Jerome respectively. It is clear by their writtings. Scripture Alone looks good only in form. But it is impossible to use only that. It is far to incomplete historically. Also if you just want to use the Bible, did you there that Paul uses a quote from a book that is not in the Jewish Canon? How can that be? Paul the father of "sola scriptura." Sola Scriptura is just too simplistic for someone that is really searching for the Truth.

-- Scott (papasquat10@hotmail.com), June 03, 2004.


Hi Henri,

You made the following observations from Scripture:

If you read further, Jesus said those people that the real brothers are his followers. Clearly, the people around Jesus knew about his real brothers and mother were outside. That is why Jesus said to them that we all are Jesus's brothers if we are his disciples.

It is not interpretation, the bible says plainly that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

First, Jesus' reply does not prove that the "brothers" waiting outside with Mary are Jesus' "blood brothers." They could be his cousins or step-brothers and Jesus' reply would still be just as valid.

Second, the bible uses the words transliterated to English as "brothers" and "sisters", but Paul M. has already pointed out that "brothers" and "sisters" do not necessarily mean "blood brothers" and "blood sisters." If you don't buy that these "brothers and sisters" were cousins, why couldn't they be step- brothers and step-sisters of Jesus by Joseph from a previous marriage? The point I'm trying to make is that use of the term "brothers and sisters of Jesus" in Scripture does not prove that these are children of Mary. There are other possibilities that are just as plausible that also maintain Mary's perpetual virginity.

-- Andy S ("aszmere@earthlink.net"), June 03, 2004.


It sounds like you're telling not to believe everything the bible says. If the scripture is not sound doctrine, what is it?

-- Henri (kxhenri@yahoo.com), June 04, 2004.

The scriptures, when properly interpreted, are doctrinally sound. However your personal interpretation of the scriptures has no authority behind it whatsoever. Which is why the scriptures tell us that the scriptures are not for private interpretation.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 04, 2004.

I just take what it is plainly says that Jesus's mother and brothers came and want to talk to him.

I didn't interpret the verse. I rather believe what the bible says.

-- Henri (kxhenri@yahoo.com), June 04, 2004.


We both accept and believe the verse. But you interpret it - wrongly - as a refence to Mary's "other children", an interpretation which contradicts 2,000 years of continuous, unchanging Christian truth.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 04, 2004.

Paul M,

can you give me the reference to Mary's other childrens?

-- Henri (kxhenri@yahoo.com), June 04, 2004.


Henri,

There is no such verse. I was referring to the fact that you are trying to force Matt 12:46 to become such a verse through personal interpretation.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 04, 2004.


Henri- Here's some good ifo in case you didn't get it from the other thread: http://www.catholic.com/library/Brethren_of_the_Lord.asp

-- mark a (stillasking@middle.age), June 04, 2004.

I would like to mention Mark 6:3 at this point. Here, Jesus is clearly identified as having four brothers; even by those who scoffed at and rejected His teachings and authority. Further, I would also point out that James, Joses, Judas and Simon DID NOT recognise Jesus prior to the crucifixion. Why then would scoffers refer to these four as His brothers? There is no other explanation - they were indeed biological half brothers of our Lord.

Regards, Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 22, 2004.


Paul, In Semitic societies it was (and is) common to refer to close relatives as 'brothers'. In translating the Aramaic to Greek, the term 'brother' was kept. It would be like saying we are all 'brothers in Christ'. If my words were to be translated into French, the word 'brother' would still be translated as 'brother'.

take care, Bill

-- Bill Nelson (bnelson45-nospam@hotmail.com), June 22, 2004.


Dear Paul,

I would like to mention 1 Corinthians 15:6 at this point. Here, Jesus is clearly identified as having more than five hundred brothers. Obviously they were not all members of His immediate family. Why then would Paul refer to these five hundred+ as His brothers? There is no other explanation - it was the common term for referring to his followers. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the exact same word for brothers - "adelphoi" - is used in both Mark 6:3 and 1 Cor 15:6 in the Greek text. Therefore it is only logical to assume it has the same meaning. Especially since the Church Christ founded for all men has formally declared this to be binding teaching, and Christ Himself promised that whatsoever His Church binds on earth is bound in heaven. Don't you accept these words of God Himself?

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 22, 2004.


Paul, although these matters are sensitive to say the least, please note that I did not mean to offend you. Having reviewed my post with the benefit of a good nights sleep it does seem a little harsh therefore I offer my apologies.

St.Paul was a Christian and understood the concept of unity through Christ. The people mentioned in Mark 6:3 were not Christians and thus very unlikely to have any Christian understanding. Therefore it seems to me highly unlikely that St.Paul in 1Corinthians 15:6 and the scoffers in Mark 6:3 would use the word in the same context. Even in the unlikely event that the scoffers did understand the concept of Christian unity, James, Joses, Judas and Simon could not be desribed as brothers/brethren in the Christian sense because they did not recognise Jesus as Christ. Therefore the scoffers must be refering them as Jesus's brothers in the natural sense.

Now the Greek word "adelphos" is more accurately translated as brethren - the plural of brother. So then the most natural way to read Mark 6:3 is that they were considered by the scoffers to be His brothers. To suggest that the word meant cousin in the context given really tortures the scripture to make it fit with preconceived ideas.

"Don't you accept these words of God Himself" I could take exception to this but will refrain. I have been a Christian only for a short while and am amazed and saddened to discover divides like this. I became a Christian after spending some time reading the Bible itself - with an open mind and relying on God to reveal what is meant. There is only one Who has absolute truth and it is from Him I seek truth according to His will. The real Church of God is within the repentant and grateful heart of every true Christian. I shall also refrain from quoting scripture...

I have experienced no mention of the necessity of Mary to remain a virgin for her entire life - why then has this become so crucial? If it is a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church then my question is what is this tradition based on?

Regards Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


Bill,

As far as I know, the Gospels were written in Greek by people who's native tongue would originally been Hebrew. I'm not sure where the Aramaic comes into it? I'm pretty sure that both Greek and Hebrew have suitable words to differentiate between family, cousin and brother.

Thanks Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


"James, Joses, Judas and Simon could not be desribed as brothers/brethren in the Christian sense because they did not recognise Jesus as Christ. Therefore the scoffers must be refering them as Jesus's brothers in the natural sense."

A: Certainly not. Few of Jesus' brothers recognized Him as the Christ before His death and Resurrection. That's why the Apostle Simon's profession was so remarkable. On that occasion Jesus stated that Simon had received this knowledge by special direct divine revelation - a fact which identified Simon as the Rock upon which the Church of God would be built. Most of the brethren had no such knowledge at that point.

"Now the Greek word "adelphos" is more accurately translated as brethren - the plural of brother. So then the most natural way to read Mark 6:3 is that they were considered by the scoffers to be His brothers."

A: Exactly right. And scripture repeatedly uses this same word - brothers - adelphoi - fratres in Jerome's Latin translation - to describe the followers of Christ. Therefore there is no valid reason to try to force the term to mean siblings in this one passage.

"I became a Christian after spending some time reading the Bible itself - with an open mind and relying on God to reveal what is meant."

A: Bingo! And therein lies your problem! Is that how the Bible describes Christian conversion? The Bible describes the Church Jesus founded as "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim 3:15). Do you see the significance of this symbolism? Pillars and foundations are what give support and strength to a structure. They are what maintains the true form, keeps the structure from warping, changing shape, weakening, and finally collapsing. The True Church Christ has founded for all mebn has kept its opriginal form and teaching unwarped and unfragmented for 2,000 years. Your tradition, using the means of seeking truth which you have described, has fragmented into thousands of conflicting, contradicting manmade sects in less than 500 years. Surely that should be enough to convince any thinking person that "spending some time reading the Bible itself - with an open mind and relying on God to reveal what is meant", apart from the guidance of the pillar and foundation, simply doesn't yield truth. You have tasted a small sampling of Catholic truth in your reading the book the Catholic Church compiled, but whatever truth you have received is incomplete and disfigured, intertwined with your own unauthorized and flawed personal interpretations, the inevitable result of the manmade system of exegesis you are using. Why not come to the fullness of truth - the truth of the original Christian Church - the truth God intended for all men to possess! You can find it where the Bible says you can find it - in His Church, the Church to which He said "He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me". The Church to which He said "when the Holy Spirit comes, He will guide you into ALL TRUTH".

"I have experienced no mention of the necessity of Mary to remain a virgin for her entire life - why then has this become so crucial? If it is a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church then my question is what is this tradition based on?"

A: The Church of God does not teach that Mary is a perpetual virgin because of any necessity that it "must" be so. Rathwer, the Church teaches this truth because it is a revealed fact, part of the fullness of truth which the Holy Spirit reveals to His Church, which is bound upon earth and bound in heaven. Seek the fullness of faith and you will be able to accept the fullness of truth. But you won't find either one in a manmade denominational tradition. the promises of Christ regarding the fullness of truth was made to one Church only - the Church Christ founded on the Apostles - the only Church that existed for 1,000 years after Christ - the Church which history plainly identifies as the Holy Catholic Church.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 23, 2004.


As far as I know, the Gospels were written in Greek by people who's native tongue would originally been Hebrew. I'm not sure where the Aramaic comes into it? I'm pretty sure that both Greek and Hebrew have suitable words to differentiate between family, cousin and brother.

Jesus and His disciples spoke to each other in Aramaic (it was the common tongue in that part of the world). Hebrew would have been used in the Temple and synagogue (like we use to use Latin). Greek was used by the Romans and scholars who wanted to write internationally. When we reference the use of the term 'brother' by Semitic peoples, we are talking about a idiom. The term 'brother' was used as a reference for people who were relatives of Jesus. In Semitic usage, the terms "brother," "sister" are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half- brothers, and half-sisters. There was so much reverence for the words of Jesus and his disciples that when their words were translated into Greek, their words were translated word for word, including the idioms.

In Christ,
Bill

-- Bill Nelson (bnelson45-nospam@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


"A: Certainly not. Few of Jesus' brothers recognized Him as the Christ before His death and Resurrection."

This is why the scoffers could not be referring to the four men with Jesus in Mark 6:3 as brothers in the Christian sense. Ergo they must be referring to them as brothers in the natural sense - unless you insist that they were cousins?

"A: Exactly right. And scripture repeatedly uses this same word - brothers - adelphoi - fratres in Jerome's Latin translation - to describe the followers of Christ. Therefore there is no valid reason to try to force the term to mean siblings in this one passage."

I've already explained that the use of the word "brethren" in Mark 6:3 cannot be taken in the same context as in 1Corr 15:6. How could it possibly?

"A: Bingo! And therein lies your problem! Is that how the Bible describes Christian conversion? The Bible describes the Church Jesus founded as "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim 3:15). Do you see the significance of this symbolism? Pillars and foundations are what give support and strength to a structure. They are what maintains the true form, keeps the structure from warping, changing shape, weakening, and finally collapsing. The True Church Christ has founded for all mebn has kept its opriginal form and teaching unwarped and unfragmented for 2,000 years. Your tradition, using the means of seeking"................... etc

You make some valid points. Although I describe myself simply as a Christian (one who recognises the truth of Christ Jesus) of no particular denomination (these are ultimately pointless), I think we may find that we have much more in common than we have differences. I simply know that we need constant guidance and help from God through faith in Christ ALONE to walk the narrow path to salvation. In other words, salvation is not found in mindless, unconscientious adherance to tradition!! This is exactly what the Jews were doing during Jesus's time.

Now if the Catholic Church compiled the Bible, the inspired Word of God, why then does Catholic tradition/dogma clearly contradict the words written therein? It's no good glossing over this fact - shouting about it won't make it go away. The Bible does say that Jesus had brothers but WHAT could possibly be so controversial about that simple fact of scripture?

Futhermore, if there are other Catholic scriptures of vital importance to understanding then why are these not included in the Bible?

Thanks Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


Thanks Bill - I've done some research and the consensus seems to be that Jesus and the disciples did indeed speak Aramaic; a hangover from the Babylonian capture I gather. Some scholars suggest they spoke Greek too as a second language. Greek being the then international language of trade and commerce - but that's another discussion.

Anyway, you are saying that the scoffers in Mark 6:3 would have used a collective extended family term in Aramaic to identify the four men with Jesus? At face value this seems plausible. However, when translating into Greek why not use a term which more closely matches this rather than the misleading brethren/brother?

Thanks Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


Bill,

"However, when translating into Greek why not use a term which more closely matches this rather than the misleading brethren/brother?"

Just noticed that you've already answered this question! However the explanation seems a little weak since when translating to another language one would take special care to capture the meaning as precisely as possible?

Thanks Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


"Now if the Catholic Church compiled the Bible, the inspired Word of God, why then does Catholic tradition/dogma clearly contradict the words written therein?"

A: Think about what you are saying. All of the teachings of the Christian (Catholic) Church were in place for almost 4 centuries BEFORE the Bible was compiled. The Catholic Church alone discerned, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, exactly which writings would go into the Bible and which would not. Therefore, the ONLY possible way the Bible could contain anything contrary to Catholic teaching would be if the Catholic Church, in compiling the Bible, said "this text contradicts what The Church has taught for 400 years, but let's put it in our book and call it the Word of God anyway". Seriously, how likely do you think that is? The fact is, the very presence of a particular text in the Bible is absolute proof that that particular text contains NOTHING contrary to Catholic Tradition. Otherwise the Church would not have put that text into its book! What does contradict Catholic teaching is your personal interpretation of these Catholic texts. But so what? Your interpretation also contradicts the personal interpretations of millions of other Protestants. Which is why personal interpretation of scripture is not a valid or reliable means of determining doctrinal truth.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 23, 2004.


"Therefore, the ONLY possible way the Bible could contain anything contrary to Catholic teaching would be if the Catholic Church, in compiling the Bible, said "this text contradicts what The Church has taught for 400 years, but let's put it in our book and call it the Word of God anyway". "

Or if the doctrine of Mary being a virgin all her life was introduced later by the Roman Catholic Church.... Lets not forget that before Nicea there was no concept of a central head of Church with jurisdiction over everyone else, ergo no Roman Catholic Church in its present form. Therefore I reject the notion that the Roman Catholic Church wholly decided what should go into the Bible. This is simply false.

Other points of interest:

Matthew 27:56 seems to identify Mary as being the mother of James and Joses. Also in Mark 15:40 and 16:1.

Then Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph did not know Mary in the carnal sense until after Jesus was born. The wording suggests that after Jesus was born Joseph did indeed know Mary in the flesh.

Thanks Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


paul wilson, welcome to the forum, i am also a paul.

Or if the doctrine of Mary being a virgin all her life was introduced later by the Roman Catholic Church....

nope, you can read about it in christian writing which date all the way back to the first century... more than three hundred years before the bible was compiled.

Lets not forget that before Nicea there was no concept of a central head of Church with jurisdiction over everyone else, ergo no Roman Catholic Church in its present form.

not its present form, no, but a smaller version (localized instead of global). for this you must go to rome and see the original churches there (again, predating the first council in 400) and read the histories of the objects and places in rome.

Therefore I reject the notion that the Roman Catholic Church wholly decided what should go into the Bible. This is simply false.

by the fourth century the catholic church was a fully centralized and functional church with a wide range. in fact, the priests of that time wore the same garments that are worn by priests to this very day (again, go to rome and look at the ruins of old churches... the paintings are quite revealing). at the time the bible was compiled, the term "catholic church" had been around for 350 years, and it was very much as it is today... without some of the societal problems that the church now faces.

Then Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph did not know Mary in the carnal sense until after Jesus was born. The wording suggests that after Jesus was born Joseph did indeed know Mary in the flesh.

again, you have a problem with the aramaic of the text. you see, in aramaic, the prior state of being does not affect the after state. thus, even though the text says that joseph didnt know mary in the flesh until after Jesus was born, it does not mean that he DID afterwards... only that he didnt before.

hope that helps

-- paul h (dontsendmemail@notanaddress.com), June 23, 2004.


Bill,

Overlooked to mention that earlier you said:

There was so much reverence for the words of Jesus and his disciples that when their words were translated into Greek, their words were translated word for word, including the idioms.

Clearly in Mark 6:3 it was not Jesus speaking but the scoffers. Therefore the argument that the Gospel writer had such reverence for what Jesus said that he wrote it verbatum is without traction in this context.

Thanks Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


Thanks for the welcome Paul H.

"nope, you can read about it in christian writing which date all the way back to the first century... more than three hundred years before the bible was compiled. "

OK, so where can I confirm this independantly? I'm not talking about reverence for Mary, this goes without saying,. I'm considering whether she remained a virgin all her life or not.

"not its present form, no, but a smaller version (localized instead of global). for this you must go to rome and see the original churches there (again, predating the first council in 400) and read the histories of the objects and places in rome. "

In other words the then Bishop of Rome would have been considered the most influencial from the Western world but of no greater importance than those from other Churches.

"by the fourth century the catholic church was a fully centralized and functional church with a wide range. in fact, the priests of that time wore the same garments that are worn by priests to this very day (again, go to rome and look at the ruins of old churches... the paintings are quite revealing). at the time the bible was compiled, the term "catholic church" had been around for 350 years, and it was very much as it is today... without some of the societal problems that the church now faces."

Is it not fair to say that the Bishop of Rome gained favour from the converted Constantine and essentially used the emperor's influence and power to dominate the Christian world?

"again, you have a problem with the aramaic of the text. you see, in aramaic, the prior state of being does not affect the after state. thus, even though the text says that joseph didnt know mary in the flesh until after Jesus was born, it does not mean that he DID afterwards... only that he didnt before. "

I think this is true of any language; cause and effect being what it is? You see the same problem arises namely when converting the idioms of one language to another, one would expect the translator to make proper usage of the target language in order to make sense. If this is the case then I can reasonably conclude that Joseph did eventually know Mary in the flesh. This combined with the other supporting evidence I find overwhelming.

Quite honestly, it seems to me that scripture is being tortured to breaking point by inisting that Mary remained a virgin all her life. Why must this be so - what is so important about Mary's lifelong virginity? The writings of Isaiah do not require this to be so, or any other part of the Old Testament. Why?

I also gather from my discussions here that Catholics consider I have no right to seek the truth of God direct but must conform to the existing teachings of men, ie the Catholic Church. I do not say that I do have the right but if God wills me to search then I will without doubt search and graciously He will find.

Thanks Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


Is it impossible for Mary to have remained a virgin?

No.

But of course that doesn't prove that she was either.

So now we ask, why is this belief believable to Catholics?

This is kind of like Eucharistic questions: yes, it's not metaphysically IMPOSSIBLE for the substance of bread and wine to become the substance of Jesus Christ's flesh and blood while leaving the accidents untouched...but possibility alone doesn't prove existence, so Catholics base their belief on Gospel accounts of Jn and Hebrews, Corinthians and Revelation (among others).

Why is it necessary for the mother of the Messiah to be "virgin before and after his birth"?

Well, we know from Isaiah that the mother of the Messiah would conceive him while a virgin (thus making the father, God). We also know from the Old Testament that the temple of God was designed based on a celestial image: the building that housed the tablets of stone on which God himself wrote the Law was inviolate, holy, holy of holies...because of that presence. Mary was seen by the early Christians as the new temple - inviolate, the place where the Word Himself took flesh.

Thus, it seems that first generation held that she was always a virgin: inviolate, holy of holies... unspoiled. Having not had relations to conceive and having had no relations since... of course she was "virgin".

That there wasn't a big bruhaha about this among Christians (as opposed to Pagans) in the first 3 centuries - reading the writings of St Ignatius of Antioch, St Irenaeus of Lyons, and others), proves that they didn't see her virginity as some far-out theory.

So it's possible, given the power of God. It's also likely given the iconography of the old testament and what Mary was in the new. Historically, given near universal Christian acceptance of this belief, (as opposed to the way Catholics have dealt with heresies and other disputes...even evident here on this site...) it seems this belief is just one of those things revealed not thought up by men.

-- joe (joestong@yahoo.com), June 23, 2004.


"Well, we know from Isaiah that the mother of the Messiah would conceive him while a virgin (thus making the father, God). We also know from the Old Testament that the temple of God was designed based on a celestial image: the building that housed the tablets of stone on which God himself wrote the Law was inviolate, holy, holy of holies...because of that presence. Mary was seen by the early Christians as the new temple - inviolate, the place where the Word Himself took flesh."

No. The new temple which Jesus spoke of was the body of the true Christian in which the Holy Spirit of God can make His home. St.Paul speaks volumes about this concept. In order to suffer, teach and overcome the sin of man, The Word had to be born as a man to become man - The Christ. It is most probable that Mary was indeed one of the first Christians, however, this is no basis for maintaining her lifelong virginity in defiance of the scriptures.

"Thus, it seems that first generation held that she was always a virgin: inviolate, holy of holies... unspoiled. Having not had relations to conceive and having had no relations since... of course she was "virgin". "

Here lies the problem - men making their own interpretations? Something I've been accused of here several times...

"That there wasn't a big bruhaha about this among Christians (as opposed to Pagans) in the first 3 centuries - reading the writings of St Ignatius of Antioch, St Irenaeus of Lyons, and others), proves that they didn't see her virginity as some far-out theory."

I've read some of what these early Church Fathers wrote and have found nothing to support your claim so far. Perhaps you can help me here. In any case, the Gospels say what they say regardless of Ignatius and taking precedence, do they not?

"So it's possible, given the power of God. It's also likely given the iconography of the old testament and what Mary was in the new. Historically, given near universal Christian acceptance of this belief, (as opposed to the way Catholics have dealt with heresies and other disputes...even evident here on this site...) it seems this belief is just one of those things revealed not thought up by men. "

Revealed to whom? Was it revealed to you or did you just accept what you were told from men?

Where does it say in scripture that Mary was a lifelong virgin? It doesn't therefore the burden of proof is upon you.

Thanks Paul.

-- Paul W. (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


OK, so where can I confirm this independantly? I'm not talking about reverence for Mary, this goes without saying,. I'm considering whether she remained a virgin all her life or not.

i believe St. Augustine is what youre looking for, although i'm not entirely sure. ever have something on your mind, and you know it, but you cant REALLY remember? where is john gecik when you need him... okay, other forumites, if its not augustine, please correct me...

In other words the then Bishop of Rome would have been considered the most influencial from the Western world but of no greater importance than those from other Churches.

um, no. in otherwords, the bishop of rome would have been considered the bishop over all the other churches... except for the fact that there were less of them at the time.

Is it not fair to say that the Bishop of Rome gained favour from the converted Constantine and essentially used the emperor's influence and power to dominate the Christian world?

no, not really. the church was centralized before constantine even converted. and constantine didnt convert to go on and conquest... quite conversely he converted because his mother convinced him to. religious persecution in the roman empire was very off and on, nero being the worst, but for the most part there was very little.

I think this is true of any language; cause and effect being what it is? You see the same problem arises namely when converting the idioms of one language to another, one would expect the translator to make proper usage of the target language in order to make sense. If this is the case then I can reasonably conclude that Joseph did eventually know Mary in the flesh. This combined with the other supporting evidence I find overwhelming.

again, i disagree... you see, the word IS until. it would be an incorrect translation to change it to another statement to syncopate (heh, i love that word) it with today's language. that is why we must look at the intent behind the phrasology in aramaic, greek, hebrew and/or latin.

I also gather from my discussions here that Catholics consider I have no right to seek the truth of God direct but must conform to the existing teachings of men, ie the Catholic Church. I do not say that I do have the right but if God wills me to search then I will without doubt search and graciously He will find.

oh, no. you have every right to seek the truth of God. what you find to be truth though, if it is truth, cannot disagree with what i find to be truth, or what Paul M finds to be truth, or what Bill finds to be truth. truth simply is, it does not contradict. your truth, when it agrees with the catholic church, doesnt agree with the "teachings of men" as you say, but rather with the teachings of God through His church. we want you to seek truth, and we seek truth all the time, we are not blind sheep here... but we want people to also recognize that they are not the highest authority in divining truth.

you see, so much about christianity today is pick and choose. so many people shop for the religion which fits their "idea" of the faith. but finding God isnt about going to a church that fits your beliefs, its about fitting YOUR beliefs to God's church. i think the reason you get the idea that we condemn the self search for truth is because to us it seems arrogant, that you should be the source of truth, and not God's church.

God bless,

-- paul h (dontsendmemail@notanaddress.com), June 23, 2004.


See here for what the Church Fathers said about Mary: Ever Virgin



-- Bill Nelson (bnelson45-nospam@hotmail.com), June 23, 2004.


"Or if the doctrine of Mary being a virgin all her life was introduced later by the Roman Catholic Church"

A: Ahhh, but if that were the case, the doctrine would not be mentioned in Christian writings until "later". However, on the contrary, we find some of the earliest Christian writers not only mentioning it, but describing it in great detail. For example, the Protoevangelium of James, written shortly after the death of the last apostle, describes the belief of the Christian Church at that time regarding the virginity of Mary, and the description preserved there for our benefit is identical to the belief of that same Church today. Doctrine doesn't change. Of course, such historical evidence is not available to one who thinks that the only source of information about early Christian beliefs is the Bible. You also have to deal with the historical fact that every Christian on earth accepted and believed in Mary's perpetual virginity until one rebellious Catholic priest denied it 1,500 years later, a priest whose tradition you follow. THAT was when a new doctrine was introduced - a doctrine that you accept. How can you possibly think that a belief first introduced in the 16th century, which directly contradicts what all Christians believed from Apostolic times, could possibly be valid?

"Lets not forget that before Nicea there was no concept of a central head of Church with jurisdiction over everyone else, ergo no Roman Catholic Church in its present form."

A: What?? Again, your lack of historical information is apparent! The writings of the early Fathers of the Church, including the Apostolic Fathers - the immediate successors to the Apostles - are simply overflowing with references to the primacy of Peter, and the primacy of his successors. A few brief examples ...

Clement, A.D. 200 - "Blessed Peter, the chosen, the preeminent, the first among the disciples, for whom alone with himself the Savior paid the tribute [Matt. 17:27]"

Tertullian, A.D. 211 - "For though you think that heaven is still shut up, remember that the Lord left the keys of it to Peter here, and through him to the Church"

Tertullian, A.D. 220 - "Upon you [Peter], he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys, not to the Church; and whatever you shall have bound or you shall have loosed, not what they shall have bound or they shall have loosed"

Clement, A.D. 221 - "... Simon Peter, who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter, the first fruits of our Lord, the first of the apostles"

Origen, A.D. 248 - "If we were to attend carefully to the Gospels, we should also find ... a great difference and a preeminence in the things Jesus said to Peter, compared with the second class of apostles."

Cyprian, A.D. 251 - "... although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair."

Cyril of Jerusalem - "In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, both the chief of the apostles and the keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, in the name of Christ healed Aeneas the paralytic at Lydda"

... and on and on - Ephraim, Ambrose, Jerome, Innocent, Augustine, all affirmed and reaffirmed that (1) Simon Peter was the undisputed head of the Apostles and of the Church, and that(2) the successors of Peter hold the same authority. This was the universal belief of the Christian Church for centuries before Nicea. The scriptures themselves refer to the Apostles as "Peter and his companions", a very strange way to describe a group of equals.

"I reject the notion that the Roman Catholic Church wholly decided what should go into the Bible. This is simply false."

A: You "reject the notion"??? You might as well "reject the notion" that the Egyptians built the pyramids! These are not "notions". They are clearly documented historical facts! The Canon of Scripture was finalized for all time, and bound into a book for the first time, by a council of Catholic bishops convened at Carthage in North Africa, in the year 397 A.D. Period! There is no "notion" here to accept or reject! Just the hard historical facts! If you have to reject history to hang onto your beliefs, it's time to take a hard look at what you are believing. Real truth is never threatened by truth.

"Other points of interest: Matthew 27:56 seems to identify Mary as being the mother of James and Joses."

A: This passage merely says that the mother of James and Joses was named Mary. Period. So were hundreds of other women at the time. However, if you consider the passage in the context of the rest of scripture, as Catholics do, this passage actually serves to prove that James and Joses could NOT have been the siblings of Jesus. Both Mark and Matthew tell us that a group of women, including Mary the mother of James and Joses were "watching from a distance". John however tells us that Mary the mother of Jesus was NOT watching from a distance, but was right there with him at the foot of the cross, close enough to hear Jesus speaking. Therefore, Mary the mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross and Mary the mother of James and Joses, watching from a distance, were obviously two different women. Therefore, James and Joses were unrelated to Jesus. Besides, what writer, in describing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, would describe His mother simply the mother of His brothers?? It would be like a TV coverage of the inauguration of President Bush. The camera zooms in on his mother, and the anouncer says "and there's Barbara, mother of Jeb and Neil". I don't think so! And then we have the very next verse in John, where Jesus entrusts his mother into the care of a non-relative, John, something He would never have done if He had brothers. In Jewish culture the eldest son was responsible for the care of the mother in her old age. If he died, that responsibility immediately and automatically passed to the next oldest brother. Therefore, this act by Jesus amounts to a direct statement, "I have no brothers".

"Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph did not know Mary in the carnal sense until after Jesus was born. The wording suggests that after Jesus was born Joseph did indeed know Mary in the flesh."

A: Yes, it does indeed suggest that, when you assume the 21st century connotation of the word "until". However, many passages of scripture reveal that the meaning in scriptural times was not the same. For example ...

Samuel 2 6:23 - "Michal the daughter of Saul had no children UNTIL the day of her death". I suppose you would have us believe that Michal had children AFTER her death?

Or Genesis 8:7 - the bird Noah released "went forth and did not return UNTIL the waters were dried up upon the earth". We know from the context of the story that the bird did not return at all. That, in fact, was the whole point of the exercise!

Or 1 Maccabees 5:54 - "Not one of them was slain until they returned in peace". Presumably then the soldiers started being slain AFTER they had returned to their homes?? (incidentally, it doesn't matter whether you use a complete Bible or a partial Bible with Macchabees torn out. The point here is how the word "until" was used in scriptural times.) Obviously it only meant that something did not happen up to certain point in time, and does NOT imply that it happened later.

The deadly dangers of private interpretation.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 23, 2004.


In addition to that great link Bill gave, here's another for Paul W.

"Bret hren of the Lord"

Paul W.,

One of the reasons that the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity is essential to our Christian faith is because she held God within her. Thus, she is the Ark of the New Covenant. If you are familiar with the Ark of the Covenant from the Old Testament, you know that NO SIN of any average human could touch it. Why? Because it contained the very presence of God. Thus, God made very careful restrictions that it could only be touched by the high priest. God severely punished with death even those who looked into the Ark when they were not supposed to, because they were treating something sacred (God's presence) as a light matter.

Upon understanding the doctrine that Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, it becomes clear that her perpetual virginity is a necessity. Basically, Joseph would've been a dead man if he violated that (remember, God's punishment for a non-high priest touching the ark was *death*)!

We also see that this principle applies when we consider what God said about Himself in Ezekiel 44:1-2 (KJV):

1 Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut.
2 Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.

We see here that when God passes through a place (in this case, Mary's womb), it must remain shut after that due to its sacredness. Thus, to deny Mary's perpetual virginity is to deny that Jesus is God.

Continued in the next post...

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 23, 2004.


Now I will address the issue of whether Jesus had brothers, in the modern English sense of the word. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was a perpetual virgin, but leaves it open to speculation whether the reference to Jesus' "brothers" in the Bible were one of several options:

* cousins or another type of close relative
* children from a previous marriage of Joseph
* Jesus' disciples or followers

To insist upon the modern English meaning of "brother" as the only literal interpretation is really to impose upon the original language something that is not necessarily true.

Now, consider the fact that Jesus in John 19 (KJV) entrusted His mother Mary to the disciple John.

26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

This would be an insult to his own brothers. Indeed, we learn in the Scriptures from Paul (1 Tim. 5 KJV)

3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

To entrust His own mother to John would be an insult to his blood brothers if He did indeed have any, and why would Christ Himself go against the Holy Scriptures? Some will argue that Christ did this because His brothers were not yet Christians. However, this fails for two reasons.

First, look at the passage above. He would be causing his brothers to not only "den[y] the faith," but also to be "worse than an infidel." The NIV translates this "worse than an unbeliever." If they were already unbelievers, how could it get any worse? According to this passage, it would be by not caring for one's own family. So essentially Jesus would be encouraging and advocating for His own brothers to behave "worse than infidels." This is of course ludicrous, considering the fact that Jesus did not sin and would not contradict the Scriptures with His own actions.

Second, if Christ entrusted his mother to John for the sole reason that his own brothers were not yet Christians, he would've made a provision for them when they did believe, so that they could then obey this teaching of Paul's from 1 Tim. 5. He would've said to John something like, "Behold thy mother, on a temporary basis, until my brothers come around." Jesus, since He was able to read people's hearts since He's God, would've known that His brothers would convert later, so if this were the case, He would've at least made the provision for his brothers to be faithful to the gospel in caring for His mother later.

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 23, 2004.


Now I will repost something that I wrote, that can also be found here: Accusation against the belief in Mary's ever- virginity....

----------------------------------------

The Eastern Orthodox Church has a feast day in addition to the Catholic ones that celebrates Mary's day when she became a consecrated virgin.

Let's take a look at the passage: Luke 1 (KJV)

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Notice that in v.31 the angel said "thou shalt conceive," not "you have already conceived." This implies a future event that could have taken place after she was married. The angel does not indicate anything about the time frame, so it's possible that the angel could have been saying that after she was married to Joseph (assuming a normal marriage and sexual relations) that she would conceive.

Why then if this could be the case, does Mary respond with confusion? In v. 34 she asks, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" Notice she says "shall," also implying a future event. If she was expecting to be married to Joseph in the way that Protestants contend, and have marital relations with Joseph, why would she even ask this question? She could have thought, "Ok, I'm going to have a son once I'm married to Joseph." But this is not the case. Her response indicates that she is expecting to never "know a man."

In another Protestant version, NIV, it is even more clear. v.34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" Here it uses the word "virgin," which indicates that she could be a consecrated virgin. Also think about this: what kind of sign would it be for a woman to have a child who would be married in the normal manner and have marital relations with her husband? If she was not a consecrated virgin, people might have thought that she and Joseph had relations before they were married and covered up their sin. But if she remained a virgin all her life, this is even more clear evidence of God's sign that He promised in Isaiah about the coming Messiah, that a virgin would have a son.

On a side note, some have proposed that the passage below refers to this idea of consecrated virgins being married, but not having sexual relations. See especially v. 36 & 37 where it talks about a man keeping his virgin. How could this use a form of possession if the man and woman were not somehow connected? Also, "keep his virgin" implies that the man keeps the woman in her state of virginity.

1 Corinthians 7 (KJV) 34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. 36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

God bless,

-- Emily (jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), April 16, 2004.

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 23, 2004.


Paul W. said: Where does it say in scripture that Mary was a lifelong virgin? It doesn't therefore the burden of proof is upon you.

Actually, considering all of the evidence that we've given, I'd say the burden of proof is on you to prove that Mary was not a perpetual virgin. I assume from your statement that you believe in "Sola Scriptura," so we Catholics are meeting you on our own terms. In reality, we rely on the teaching of the Church as the Bible commands us to do, calling the Church the "pillar and ground of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to adhere to the Bible alone. In fact, we are told the opposite, and as Catholics, we obey this. We adhere to the apostles' teachings both oral and written, just as Paul commanded us to do.

2 Thes. 2:15 (KJV) Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

Paul W. said: Matthew 27:56 seems to identify Mary as being the mother of James and Joses.

To expand on the response from Paul M. regarding this verse, let's look at the two Scripture passages that talk about this incident.

Matthew 27 (KJV)
55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children.

John 19 (KJV) 25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

These passages show two important things:
1. Mary the mother of James and Joses is likely the same woman as Mary the wife of Cleophas.
2. It appears that Mary the wife of Cleophas was the sister of the Virgin Mary. This shows that Jesus' aunt was also named Mary and had children who could be called His cousins or "brothers."

God bless, Paul W. and welcome to the forum! Please feel free to ask more sincere questions and contribute, as long as you maintain your polite manner.

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 23, 2004.


Oops, I forgot to add this note before my repost:

Considering the fact that in Jewish tradition at the time, and still today in Catholic tradition, couples can marry as consecrated virgins, this idea of Joseph and Mary getting married is not foreign to the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity.

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 23, 2004.


Great stuff! A few questions of my own:

From what I know, the Jerusalem church, maintained by the apostolic succession of James the "brother" of Jesus, and the oldest episcopate has been defunct. If it was still around, would things be much different with respect to Mariology? If so, how so? What about the Church of Ephesus - John the Apostle, what happened and all? Your responses would be much appreciated!

God bless!

-- Vincent (love@noemail.net), June 23, 2004.


emily, im going to point out one possible error in your post, although it would be interesting to note if there is an official catholic teaching on this verse:

2. It appears that Mary the wife of Cleophas was the sister of the Virgin Mary. This shows that Jesus' aunt was also named Mary and had children who could be called His cousins or "brothers."

in this you refer to mary, mary's sister, mary the wife of cleophas, and mary magdalene. you have taken this to mean that there are three women standing there and all are named mary. i suggest a different idea: elizabeth, mary's sister from earlier in the bible. thus there would be four women standing at the cross and james and joses (joseph) would have been either apostles or close followers of Christ who traveled with Him and it was known that they were so close that they were called brothers.

case in point: my dad takes martial arts, so do i. my professor and my dad have known each other for forty years now, they call each other brother, and i call my professor uncle. that, even, is taken in a modern context... apply that same sentiment to the aramaic language where only one word exists to describe brother, cousin, close relation, or close friend and you begin to see where the logic that the apostles mentioned even had to be strictly related to Christ by blood.

-- paul h (dontsendmemail@notanaddress.com), June 24, 2004.


Hi paul h,

Thanks for the note. I thought about that too, but it appears from the structure of the sentence that there were only 3 women.

John 19 (KJV) 25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

If you notice the placement of the word "and," it appears that there are 3 women. However, I can see how you could take it either way, and considering that this is a translation, that will make it more liable to error in such words as "and". Regardless of what this passage really means, it doesn't really disprove anything about Mary's perpetual virginity, so I won't worry about it. The possible error that you pointed out is not crucial to my argument.

One thing on your comment though. I don't think it ever said that Mary and Elizabeth were sisters, merely relatives. Since Elizabeth was rather old (past childbearing age) and Mary was rather young (around 15?), it seems unlikely that they were sisters. I always considered Elizabeth as an aunt or something along those lines.

God bless,

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 24, 2004.


very good points emily... thats why i didnt say it was a certain error, just pointed out the possibility.

i believe official church teaching is that Jesus and John the baptist were cousins, which would mean that mary and elizabeth were sisters, although again, cousin could be a term for friend or could apply to a second cousin as well. the reason i speculate that elizabeth may have been there is because it would be rather odd if mary's mother had named two of her children... let me look into a few translations and i'll get back to you with what i find on this subject.

-- paul h (dontsendmemail@notanaddress.com), June 24, 2004.


Oh I see what you're saying -- that it would be strange for two children to have the name "Mary." Well I don't think that would be so strange, if you consider the possibility of nicknames or middle names, things like that. It seems that the name "Mary" was common at the time, and we learned from the account about John the Baptist that parents tended to name their children with family names.

My grandmother is of French descent, and she said that it was a custom in her day for Catholics to name all of their daughters "Mary" and sons "Joseph" after the holy family, but give them a different middle name. My grandma's first name is actually Mary, but she goes by her middle name.

Also, if you've ever seen the movie My Big, Fat Greek Wedding you will notice that many relatives have the same names repeated over and over throughout the family. I met a girl from Cyprus who said that where she lives, that's really still very common. She said that while some things in that movie were exaggerated, a lot of it was actually a very accurate depiction of their culture.

Also, we have to consider that if the word "brother" had multiple meanings, why not "sister" as well?

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 24, 2004.


Emily,
2 children with the name 'Mary' would be extremely unusual and would have been mentioned in the Bible.



-- Bill Nelson (bnelson45-nospam@hotmail.com), June 24, 2004.


Emily,

Thank you so much, these are indeed informative posts. I apologise for the length of time to reply; life does not grant me the time I would like to study these things.

I agree that the burden of proof seems to be with me now.

I've done a little more research and discovered that the Septuagint contains the same usage of the Greek "adelphos" relating Abraham and Lot. The explanation being of course that there is no distinct Aramaic (or Hebrew) word for cousin. This it seems I must accept as fact. Similarly, it appears that the writers of the New Testament would likely have used a single Aramaic word to describe sons and male cousins too. So I understand now that New Testament scripture which uses adelphos to identify relations or associates of Jesus cannot be considered evidence that these people are blood brothers of our Lord.

Next I took a look at the sad events pertaining to the crucifixion.

Referring to Mark 15:40. If Mary mother of James/Joses/Salome was also the mother of Jesus, it does strike me as a little strange that this fact is not mentioned. Why say she is the mother of these three but not of the most imortant person suffering there on The Cross? I must admit that the overall context does leave me with the impresson that this particular Mary was not The Lord's mother.

Matthew 27:55 seems to support Mark 15:40 in this respect.

Luke 23:49 is not much help except for confirming that the onlookers were at a distance from the cross.

John 19:25 is different as it is the only Gospel which suggests the writer's close proximity to the cross. John identifies Jesus's Mother's "sister" Mary wife of Clopas. It would help if John also mentioned this Mary as being the mother of James,Joses or Salome; to make the link. Based on this alone it seems speculative to suggest that Mary wife of Clopas, "sister" of Jesus's Mother is the mother of either James, Joses or Salome. Significantly, John seems to be the only Gospel writer who mentions the presence of Jesus's Mother. Perhaps he is also the only one to mention the presence of Mary wife of Clopas? As you say it was a common name.

If the three synoptics indicate a different location to John's Gospel, I have to wonder how it is that all four mention the presence of Mary Magdalene. The only way I can rationalise this is to suggest that Mary Magdalene moved from "a distance" to stand before the cross with John? Perhaps Mary wife of Clopas also travelled with Mary Magdalene, ie Mary wife of Clopas is the MOther of James, Joses and Salome? Since none of the Synoptics mention the presence of John or Jesus's Mother then I suspect that Mary and John took an entirely different route from the rest of the crowd to stand before The Cross and at some point, Mary Magdalene together with Mary mother of James, Joses and Salome moved away from the crowd to meet with John and Mary Mother of Jesus. That's my guess anyway!

Anyway I digress, the point is I cannot prove that Mary had children subsequent to Jesus. Further, your interpretation of Luke 1:34 appears very strong. This combined with the writings of the early Church fathers means that I must concede. I accept that Mary remained a life long virgin.

Moving on...

You said "I assume from your statement that you believe in "Sola Scriptura,"". I have an open mind, or try to anyway. I embarked on my "mission to find truth" based on that God is able to provide all truth and that is The Truth I seek. Perhaps it was His will that I should stumble across this thread - I'm not even sure what I was looking for when I found this thread...

Now I have to be controversial again. You said:-

"One of the reasons that the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity is essential to our Christian faith is because she held God within her. Thus, she is the Ark of the New Covenant. If you are familiar with the Ark of the Covenant from the Old Testament, you know that NO SIN of any average human could touch it. Why? Because it contained the very presence of God. Thus, God made very careful restrictions that it could only be touched by the high priest. God severely punished with death even those who looked into the Ark when they were not supposed to, because they were treating something sacred (God's presence) as a light matter."

If this is correct (I'm quite prepared to be wrong again..) then Mary must be Holy and sinless? This troubles my theology quite massively. You see, I believe that since the fall of man, all people are sinners because they are all born of sin. You are effectively saying that Mary did not rely on Christ for salvation because She was sinless?

The stone tablets contained therein were not God but they were His Word. In the New Testament, I could suggest that if The Word is the New Covenant, then by extension the physical body of The Christ is the Ark? I'm not even sure such comparisons of The Old and New Covenants are required. You are saying that because the Old Covenant was contained within the Ark then Mary must be the New Covenant equivalent of the Ark. Why? Is Mary's mother equivalent to the Tabernacle of the Meeting?

Anyway, I'd like to say thanks to everyone here and trust you will take my comments in the spirit they are intended.

Best regards, Paul Wilson.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), June 28, 2004.


I accept that Mary remained a life long virgin.

you have no idea the level of respect you just gained from me on this forum...

Now I have to be controversial again. You said:-

thats okay, i find the need to be controversial often on this forum :D

If this is correct (I'm quite prepared to be wrong again..) then Mary must be Holy and sinless? This troubles my theology quite massively. You see, I believe that since the fall of man, all people are sinners because they are all born of sin.

its exactly what we're saying... and given time we can hopefully also show this to you to be fact. mary is the ark of the covenant, as traditional, she is the pure and untouched tabernacle for the pefect Sacrificial Lamb. more on this to come.

You are effectively saying that Mary did not rely on Christ for salvation because She was sinless?

here you are incorrect. what we are saying is that since Christs died for the sins of ALL mankind, some people were saved from sin in a retroactive way. for example, moses and elijah... who we know are in heaven because Christ Himself spoke to them. mary, through the sacrifice of Christ, was spared from the stain of original sin, and from sinful nature so that she could be that perfect tabernacle.

The stone tablets contained therein were not God but they were His Word. In the New Testament, I could suggest that if The Word is the New Covenant, then by extension the physical body of The Christ is the Ark?

incorrect, the purpose of the ark of the covenant was not to house the word of God... rather, it was the earthly dwelling place of the Lord. the scriptures would NOT have been kept in the arc, because the high priest only had access once a year. no, the Lord dwells in the ark, and that ark was mary.

I'm not even sure such comparisons of The Old and New Covenants are required. You are saying that because the Old Covenant was contained within the Ark then Mary must be the New Covenant equivalent of the Ark. Why? Is Mary's mother equivalent to the Tabernacle of the Meeting?

they arent required, but they do exist. however, im still not sure if you have the concept of the ark down. the covenant is not housed there, it is the dwelling place of the Lord. so yes, mary is equivalent to that tabernacle... and if you stick around long enough, you'll find that there are MANY connections between the old covenant and the new (especially since Jesus did not come to destroy the old covenant, but to fulfill it)

Anyway, I'd like to say thanks to everyone here and trust you will take my comments in the spirit they are intended.

of course, God bless and continue to seek truth. i'm sure that my intro post won't be enough, so post up more detailed questions and we can help.

-- paul h (dontsendmemail@notanaddress.com), June 28, 2004.


Nice work Paul Wilson! Some comments:

You are effectively saying that Mary did not rely on Christ for salvation because She was sinless?

She would have had to depend on Christ for salvation. She merited by obedience and she could only merit because by His grace, she was made pure. She was made pure in anticipation of His coming. So she was saved through anticipation of His salvific act - through Him and by Him.

In the New Testament, I could suggest that if The Word is the New Covenant, then by extension the physical body of The Christ is the Ark?

Note, Jesus is the Word. We know this from John chapter 1(my favorite). By extension, his physical body would be the stone material of the tablets. Thus, the Word was etched in human form and became the tablets. Mary is the only Christ-bearer. The Ark is the closest thing to compare her to. But...as you may see in the analogy of the stone material...Mary is more than just the Ark.

On another note, As an exercise in genomics, two parents do not have to be pure in order to produce a pure offspring. Asexual reproduction of a pure offspring would require the original to be pure...unless there was some mutation. Jesus is different from Mary, in that he is both Man and God. If one suggests that Jesus had to be made more humanly pure...then Jesus would have been made and not begotten.

Of course, this leads to the question of how saintly can one be and the Church's position is we can be very saintly when we have the grace, I think :)

I don't want to find myself spouting heresies since it seems so many are of the same gender. But, consider how the Holy Spirit works. Also consider how we are called to be Children of God. His only Son or his many sons and daughters? It is with this distinction that we take Eucharist. I'm going to end by saying to my protestant brothers and sisters: the Church's position gives true glory and honor to Him alone. Come join us.

God bless!

-- Vincent (love@noemail.net), June 28, 2004.


I see paul h posted while I was writing. Good job paul!

-- Vincent (love@noemail.net), June 28, 2004.

Paul W., I'm working on an answer to your post. I'll put it up ASAP when it's done, but it might take a bit. God bless,

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 28, 2004.

Paul W., Sorry it took me so long to answer. Ok, here it is.

Paul W. said: ... your interpretation of Luke 1:34 appears very strong. This combined with the writings of the early Church fathers means that I must concede. I accept that Mary remained a life long virgin.

I have an enormous amount of respect for someone who can admit a mistake when presented with the evidence. Your response was pleasantly surprising, since I am not really used to that attitude from very many people. May God bless you in your search for Truth.

Paul W. said: Perhaps it was His will that I should stumble across this thread - I'm not even sure what I was looking for when I found this thread...

The Lord is good to those who seek Him and are faithful to Him. I stumbled upon this forum myself last January amidst my search for Truth. I was torn between Protestant and Catholic at the time, though already leaning Catholic. Many people here were friendly and helpful, answering my questions about Catholicism. The Christian fellowship and friendship I have gained here has been so valuable. So I stuck around ;) I hope you do too. There are many good people here, Protestant and Catholic. As for me, I now plan to become Catholic.

Paul W. said: Mary must be Holy and sinless?

Yes. It is only by God's grace that she is this way. Consider an analogy taken from this Catholic Answers website (Immaculate Conception):

Suppose a man falls into a deep pit, and someone reaches down to pull him out. The man has been "saved" from the pit. Now imagine a woman walking along, and she too is about to topple into the pit, but at the very moment that she is to fall in, someone holds her back and prevents her. She too has been saved from the pit, but in an even better way: She was not simply taken out of the pit, she was prevented from getting stained by the mud in the first place. This is the illustration Christians have used for a thousand years to explain how Mary was saved by Christ. By receiving Christís grace at her conception, she had his grace applied to her before she was able to become mired in original sin and its stain.

(At that Catholic Answers site about the Immaculate Conception, I think you will find a lot of useful information about Mary. If you go to the Catholic Answers website, you can search for topics that I think you will find very helpful in your inquiries).

Continued in next post...

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 30, 2004.


Many things in the Old Testament are a foreshadowing of the New Testament. In Romans, Paul explains how Jesus is the new Adam, because He undid the cycle of sin that came from Adam, by offering a way of redemption.

Who then is the new Eve? This role is given to Mary. That does not at all mean that she is god or God. Consider the state of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before they sinned. They were perfect in the sense that they were without sin, but also possessed a free will to choose good or evil. This does not mean that they were gods. Simply, that is how God created them. In the same way that God created Eve without sin, so also He made an exception and created Mary without sin. Think about if you were God. How would you want to send your Only Son into the world full of sinful people? God chose to use a pure, sinless vessel because of the holiness of His Son that would pass through that vessel.

Note also that Mary had her own free will to choose good or evil. The difference between Mary and Eve is that one chose good and the other chose evil. Mary said to the angel who brought God's will, "And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." Unlike Eve, Mary obeyed completely. God gave her the grace to live a sinless life, but it was only by God's grace that she could do so. She chose obedience, while all the rest of us at some point or another choose sin. Ask yourself the question, "Is God able to create Mary sinless?" Of course. So why would He not want to?

I heard this great thing tonight from listening to Scott Hahn (A Catholic apologist who converted from Presbyterian). A Protestant asked him how he could believe in praying to Saints, Marian doctrines, and other such supposedly unBiblical things. He said (paraphrased since I don't remember exactly), "If I'm wrong, It'll be because I trusted God too much. I trusted God that if He wanted His Son to be born of a sinless woman, He could do that. If He wanted to maintain the Communion of Saints between us on Earth and those in heaven by delivering our petitions to them, He could do it." Just like, if God wanted Jesus to be born of a Virgin, He could do it. It's a matter of believing in the power of God to do what glorifies Himself, by using holy vessels (eg. Mary) for God's own glory.

Think about a family. How is the father glorified? When his children do what's right and follow what God says, not when he says, "Look how great I am!" about himself. You see, humans are merely the vessels to point to God and glorify Him all the more through their obedience.

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 30, 2004.


Paul W. said: The stone tablets contained therein were not God but they were His Word.

A little wisdom from my Mom regarding the Ark of the Covenant:

Actually, God's presence was in the Ark of the Covenant, as a foreshadowing specifically of Jesus. The contents of the Ark were:

1. Ten Commandments = Word of God
2. Manna = Bread of Life
3. Aaron's Rod = Priesthood and Miracles

In Numbers 17, when people wanted to declare themselves priests, God set up a way to show who was the true priesthood. A representative from each tribe put a rod in the Holy of Holies, and only that of Aaron budded. This showed the legitimacy of the Levitical priesthood, and not that of other tribes. This is how the rod signified miracles, and miracles were performed with it.

So regarding the contents of the Ark of the Covenant, God was present in three different ways. What is Jesus? The Word of God, the Bread of Life, and the Great High Priest.

Paul W. said: The Word is the New Covenant, then by extension the physical body of The Christ is the Ark?

No. The Ark is merely the container of God's Presence. If Christ is the Ark, are you saying that the Ark of the Old Covenant is God itself? This cannot be true. As I showed above, Christ is contained in the Ark.

Mary is the Ark because the Bible indicates as such.

Mary as Ark in the Scriptures and Church Fathers: Lost Ark Discovered

Scott Hahn teaching on this: Mary, Ark of the Covenant.

Revelation 11:19 - 12:2 (KJV)
19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

Mary is the woman here and Mary is the Ark. Note that chapter and verse divisions are not inspired and came in the 1300s and 1500s. So the division here is not relevant.

God bless, Paul W. Let us know if you have any other questions.

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), June 30, 2004.


wow, em, that first link you posted to the lesson by tim staples was a great analogy that i had never noticed before... but goes to prove what i said about the fact that a great deal of things about the new covenant mirror that of the old covenant. thanks!!!

-- paul h (dontsendmemail@notanaddress.com), July 01, 2004.

paul h, You're right, Tim Staples did a great job. I think I'm going to post an excerpt here from that site so people can get an idea. I hope Paul W. is still around and doesn't think I forgot to answer him!

This whole post is taken from: Lost Ark Discovered.

In a tape series titled All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed Tim brings out the similarities between the Gospel we just heard (Lk 1:39-45, the Visitation) and the ascent of the Ark to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6:1-15). Let me mention three.

1. As the ark is brought to Jerusalem, King David is overcome with awe saying, "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?" (v. 9)

2. The ark remains three months in the hill country near Jerusalem, bringing great blessings to the house of Obed-edom. (v.11)

3. King David leaps for joy - dancing before the ark. (v. 13)

In today's Gospel, Elizabeth says to Mary, "Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" She tells how the babe (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb as she became filled with the Holy Spirit. Finally Mary remains three months with her kinswoman before returning to her home.

Are the parallels coincidental? The Church Fathers did not think so. At the end of the Bible John tells his vision of a heavenly ark. (Rev. 11:19) In the following verse we discover who it is: "a woman clothed with the sun, with moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." While this woman has a collective significance, representing the Church as the new Israel, she also is an historical person: "She brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations..." (12:6)**

--------------------------------------------------

**In his Biblical Portrait of Mary, Robert J. Payesko says this:

Since the Book of Revelation was not accepted as part of the canon of Scripture for several centuries, it had no early tradition of interpretation. Once its canonicity was established, the identification of Mary with the Woman of Revelation 12 became obvious (since the Woman's Man-Child was Jesus). For instance, Epiphanius in 367 A.D. gave a Marian interpretation and Quodvultdeus, a disciple and friend of Augustine, wrote, "None of you is ignorant of the fact that the dragon was the devil. The woman signified the Virgin Mary." (De Symbolo 3, PL 40, 661).

John Henry Cardinal Newman comments:

What I would maintain is this, that the Holy Apostle would not have spoken of the Church under this particular image, unless there had existed a blessed Virgin Mary, who was exalted on high and the object of veneration to all the faithful. No one doubts that the "man-child" spoken of is an allusion to our Lord; why then is not "the Woman" an allusion to his mother?

This passage has traditionally had a double interpretation, which is not unusual in Scripture. The primary application is to the Church, or the people of God. But a secondary reference can legitimately be made to the Blessed Virgin Mary, according to the literal meaning of 12:5, in which she bears the Messiah, Jesus (see Psalm 2:9). As such, the passage echoes the Mary/Eve symbolism of John 19:26-27. Furthermore, the war with the dragon (identified as Satan in 12:9) recalls the Protoevangelion of Genesis 3:15 ("her seed" / "her offspring" battle the devil), and supports the notion of the spiritual motherhood of Mary. The symbolism of Mary as the Church and the New Eve was already prevalent in the early centuries of the Church. The "woman" here gives birth "in anguish" (12:2), which hearkens back to Genesis 3:16, and is perhaps an anticipation of Calvary.

-- Emily ("jesusfollower7@yahoo.com), July 01, 2004.


Thanks everyone. Emily said this so I think I need to clarify my position:

"No. The Ark is merely the container of God's Presence. If Christ is the Ark, are you saying that the Ark of the Old Covenant is God itself? This cannot be true. As I showed above, Christ is contained in the Ark. "

Not at all, I'm saying that just as the Ark contained the presence of God, so did the physical body of The Christ. Both contained the Spirit of God.

Referring to John 1, The Word was in the beginning with God and The Word was God. The opening of John's Gospel seems to parellel the creation events in Genesis so I don't think The Word was actually flesh at that point. Later The Word would become flesh but I don't think the flesh itself was God; rather the indwelling Spirit of God therein. The flesh is simply defiled or purified by that which comes from within.

Apparently the name Adam literally means dirt/ashes plus the Breath of God. From this, I reason that Adam minus the Breath of God is just that - dirt/ashes; a carcass which is already devoid of life - dead. So at the fall of man, the "natural" man became separated from God, separated from the Source of life and so dead just as a carcass. Through Christ we have again the opportunity of life because God desires His creation to live with Him in peace, unity and love. Yes, indeed before the fall, I believe man was in unity with God - that is our purpose. However, love cannot be obtained through coersion or absence of choice so God always gives freedom and choice.

As Jesus says, in this world we must first be born of the flesh and then of The Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God. However, if a Christian receives The Spirit through Christ, there still remains the freedom to choose and so the potential to sin remains. The Christian though being convicted of sin through The Spirit knows the need for continual repentance through Christ our one and only intercessor. I know it is our Christian duty to move towards sinless perfection for the Glory of God but none can do this without God's help. Thus if this was achieved within Mary then it is a work of God who alone is worthy of prayer, worship and glory.

Thanks Paul Wilson.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), July 02, 2004.


bumping for response when im not so tired...

-- paul h (dontsendmemail@notanaddress.com), July 02, 2004.

Paul W,

You take a commendable spiritual position.

However, I must object here:

Not at all, I'm saying that just as the Ark contained the presence of God, so did the physical body of The Christ. Both contained the Spirit of God.

This steps over the heretical line. You'd come into very strong opposition from Orthodox, Catholic, and main-line Protestants.

Consider that classical Arianism is the logical outgrowth of it's stance on the nature of Christ.

The Catholic Encylclopedia has some articles on Arius and Arianism..

I understand that you may be trying to fit an allegorical curve, but it's not tenable yet. You should also consider if your conclusion is really a supposition.

God bless!

-- Vincent (
love@noemail.net), July 02, 2004.


Vincent,

I haven't denied the full deity of Christ at all; The Father and The Son are One. Would you then argue that Christ was not of the Spirit of God? I merely point out that the flesh by itself is futile, ie, the "natural" man. Difficult to see why you accuse me of Ariansm.

Regards Paul Wilson.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), July 03, 2004.


Paul Wilson,

I'm not accusing you of Arianism. I'm just saying exercise caution when dealing with the nature of Christ. As a result of separating the nature of Christ, it progresses from there as you have said:

Referring to John 1, The Word was in the beginning with God and The Word was God. The opening of John's Gospel seems to parellel the creation events in Genesis so I don't think The Word was actually flesh at that point. Later The Word would become flesh but I don't think the flesh itself was God; rather the indwelling Spirit of God therein. The flesh is simply defiled or purified by that which comes from within

Now, consider John 1:14 "And the Word became flesh..." Also, observe that you have said Christ's flesh "itself" was not God.

Remember what I said up top about how the Church's position is gives true glory to God, if you have read it. I meant it. It's obedience and reverence that leads me to say such things which seemingly falls under "opinion". To me, it's truth.

Most protestants have to dance around the concept of the Trinity when there's no acknowledgement of the concept of "mystery". IMO, people rationalize to know, but not everything can be known. Some truths can only be acknowledged. That's all I really want to say about it. Fight on, Paul!

God bless!

-- Vincent (love@noemail.net), July 03, 2004.


"IMO, people rationalize to know, but not everything can be known"

--> but not everything can be known through rational logic.

Just wanted to make that a little clearer.

-- Vincent (love@email.net), July 03, 2004.


Vincent,

Indeed, I do not speak of such matters light heartedly.

The Word became flesh, ie, The Word took up flesh and became a man in this world. On the other hand The Word exists eternally and is therefore more than man. I'm really saying that Christ has a dual nature in this world: both man and God. In contrast, the "natural" man is just flesh (ie spiritually dead) thus the natural man must be born again of The Spirit. See John 3:5-6, flesh is flesh and The Spirit is spirit.

The flesh of Christ could never sin because the indwelling Spirit is God from the beginning. In other words the actions of the flesh are merely indicative of that which dwells within. We on the other hand are not born of The Spirit, we are born of flesh and spiritually empty. God has graciously made available an escape route from this death through Christ. When we acknowledge that which is perfect and sinless (Christ) we then see how disfunctional and incomplete we really are. Then we are ready to repent and receive The Helper.

I believe The Holy Trinity are one because They are unified through the power of pure love. Love is the power of God; the only force which can hold everything together, including humanity.

Anyway, rant over...

Regards Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), July 03, 2004.


Dear Paul Wilson,

Do not be troubled by my words. You are right to point out the power of Love.

I believe The Holy Trinity are one because They are unified through the power of pure love. Love is the power of God; the only force which can hold everything together, including humanity.

Let me return your beautiful words with a few thoughts on Love and Unity.

Love binds because love unifies. God is Love. God is Unity. Father, Son, and Spirit. Three Persons Unified in Love. Father, the Almighty, who creates all things out of Love. Son, begotten, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love, who proceeds from the Father and through the Son. Son, who Loves by obedience to the will of God. In the Spirit of Love, He died for us and our salvation, so that we may come to know Him, God, Love, obeying His will. His example of Love! We are called to be One in the Spirit. One Church, one Faith, One Hope in One God. Unified by Love, through Love, and in Love.

Glory be to God and His vision of One Church, One Faith, and One Hope for mankind.

The Church of one body of believers, unified by Apostolic Tradition to Christ through His Apostles to prepare humanity to receive Him, speaking in one voice when He comes again in glory, "Blessed be the Lamb of God who takes away our sins, Bread that came down from Heaven to dwell with us, Word that spoke and light was made, that died to be reborn, Who makes us, feeds us, body and soul!"

Come, join us in singular vision never lost to One true Church, in bondage to Love that Unifies!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen!

-- Vincent (love@noemail.net), July 03, 2004.


Why can't Mary be Virgin all her life until death?

Well why is it so difficult to believe that Mary was virgin all her life if we believe that Almighty God can create anything out of nothing? Like the heaven and earth. HE can create Mary to be ever vigin too. God Bless, Ramanie.

-- Ramanie Weerasinghe (lilanw@yahoo.com), July 03, 2004.


Vincent,

Brilliant! You put it so eloquently. This is the message I understand from the Bible too.

This is my problem. The Church being enlightened by The Holy Spirit, and thus having the understanding you just demonstrated, why then is there so much division? Division is what Christianity is clearly against; it causes pain, suffering, death and has it's root in selfishness. Knowing then that evil divides against itself and so cannot stand, how is it that the Church has done just that?

This really disillusions me.

Regards Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), July 05, 2004.


There is no doctrinal division in the Church Christ founded. The Holy Spirit will not allow it. He guides the Church to all truth, just as Christ promised He would. The doctrinal division is among those who have deserted the Church Christ founded for all men, and founded their own.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), July 05, 2004.

You may be right. I simply point out that if the Church was once one, then division did in fact occur.

Regards Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), July 06, 2004.


No, it didn't, because the Church is still One. There are a lot of people who don't belong to it, just as there have always been, but that doesn't negate the fact of the essential unity of teaching within the Church Christ founded. There is a great difference between division within an organization vs. people leaving the organization and forming separate organizations of their own.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), July 06, 2004.

i think, Paul W, that what Paul M is trying to say, in a very roundabout way, is that perhaps you have been brought to this forum because it is time for you to look into the catholic church.

you have already been shown here, how things which are supposedly well known by protestants can and are proven false by the age old teachings of Christ's original and only church... you might enroll in the RCIA classes just to learn a bit more, and you can come back and ask us questions as the need arises. if, at the end of that class, you feel compelled to become catholic, then by all means do so. if not, then at least you have expanded your knowledge in the search for truth that you claim.

-- paul h (dontsendmemail@notanaddress.com), July 06, 2004.


Paul M and Paul h,

Yes, I am keen to learn more being new to Christianity. What is RCIA? Can you recommend any independant books on the history of the church?

In my search for truth I have tried to be open minded, my basic premise being that God will lead those who search into His Truth. I don't rule out Catholism but I am naturally skeptical of the motives of people, especially those who promote themselves to a position of high power. Afterall, love is the great equaliser making those who are in unity through love equal with one another. There are many Protestant viewpoints which I don't agree with, particularly the liberal approach to marriage which many hold.

For me, what started out wonderful and simple has become tragically complicated, bitter and obscure. Perhaps the real test of love is to overcome such differences...

Best wishes Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), July 07, 2004.


Actually, while love is certainly an essential component of the Christian life, especially the kind of love (agape) which Jesus expressed and calls us to express, love alone is not an equalizer as far as churches are concerned. People of many different theologies can love; yet conflicting theologies cannot all be true. What Jesus intended as the great equalizer among His people is truth. People can still love even after they abandon the truth. However, Jesus said it was the truth, not love, which would set us free. It is the truths we hold in common which bind us together as a Church, even as we also love one another. And it is the rejection of that truth which fragments Christianity, even though the members of those fragmented denominational churches may still love one another.

The leaders of the true Church did not "promote themselves to a position of high power". Jesus Christ - God Himself - promoted them to positions of high power, and singled out one man, Simon Peter, and through him his successors, to hold the position of highest power, the sole holder of the keys to the kingdom, with power to bind and loose upon earth with the assurance of heavenly approval. And there is good reason for such authority. Truth cannot exist except in subjection to authority; and true freedom cannot exist except in subjection to truth. With that position of power comes the responsibility to be first in love - "feed my lambs ... feed my sheep" ... be the earthly representative of the Good Shepherd Himself. Our present Pope certainly exemplifies the pastoral love that Jesus calls the leaders of His Church to show.

RCIA is the "Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults", a series of instructional sessions which presents and explains the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church. Those who intend to enter the Catholic Church usually go through the program, but (at least in my diocese) it is also open to Catholic adults who want to receive the sacrament of Confirmation; Catholic adults who simply wish to become more informed about their faith; and non- Catholics who wish to learn about Catholicism, with or without the intention of becoming Catholic. Those who do wish to enter the Church normally receive the sacraments and are formally received into the Church at the conclusion of the program.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), July 07, 2004.


Paul M,

Well Paul M, what you say makes some sense and I applaud your patience. I would like to ask just a few questions of you:

1) If we have love, is the law automatically fulfilled? 2) What is love? 3) What is the source of love? 4) How is the next Pope chosen 5) Have any mistakes ever been made in choosing the next Pope? If so how was the mistake detected? 6) Can the Church of Rome ever err in a general sense? 7) Does a Christain remain a sinner after accepting Christ? 8) What is your understanding of The Kingdom of God?

Thanks in advance.

Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), July 08, 2004.


Hi all,

I haven't waded through all of the above so if this has been answered I apologise.

I also struggle with the idea of perpetual virginity for Mary and I am intrigued by this notion of her being some how set aside - I don't know the words - holy vows of virginity.

So where can I get further info on the practice of some women being avowed virgins even when married?

Thanks.

-- Sharon (sharon.guy@ntu.ac.uk), July 08, 2004.


Hi Sharon,

Yes, the thread has digressed somewhat - probably my fault. A sumary position:

1) Catholics liken Mary to the Ark of the old covenant since she carried God 2) She was set aside by God for this purpose and so must have been sinless 3) There is no evidence in the bible to suggest she had children after Jesus. Use of the word brother or brethren does not literally mean brother in the English sense. In the original Aramaic tongue brothers, male cousins and even friends would be collectively referred to as brothers. 4) Jesus teaches to honour our mother and father, thus Jesus would have honoured His earthly mother too. If Jesus honoured Mary then we should too. Personally, I think Jesus was teaching by example here that we too should honour our mother and father. I believe our relationship with Mary is through Christian unity. Christian faith is a work of God and so Christians should honour each other.

Hope this helps.

Thanks Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), July 08, 2004.


Thanks Paul - it helps a little. What I really would like info on though is this practice of women vowing chastity yet still being married. It has been alluded to on this and other threads - the whole thing of Mary asking how it could be since she was an avowed virgin - or something like that. Was this a common practice and where can I find out more about it?

-- Sharon (sharon.guy@ntu.ac.uk), July 08, 2004.

paul W and sharon:

sharon, please forgive me for jumping your questions to go back to paul wilson's but i'm sure that paul M. will have a stellar answer for you shortly.

paul W, here is for you:

1) If we have love, is the law automatically fulfilled?

that depends, in good part, on the type of love you are talking about. for example, i love camping. does that mean i am saved? no, not really. i guess, in short, the answer is no. we must ACT on that love to give it meaning, and in this way is our christian duty served.

2) What is love?

philosophers have been trying to define this for centuries. love is in effect, merely an emotion. allowing love to become an ends is really a form of idolatry, since we become servants of our emotion, and not servants of the will of God. as such, we must always remember that emotion is a tool to arrive at truth, it is not an ends, but a means.

3) What is the source of love?

again, this is a philosophical debate. there are many sources of love... our love of sin comes from satan, our love of rightiousness comes from God. our love of chocolate comes from chemicals in the brain. ultimately, we are the source of our own love, even though God granted us that capacity to love. we actively choose that which we value, we choose (on some level) to love and be devoted to something because we have free will.

4) How is the next Pope chosen

well, in short, a college of bishops and cardinals will come together and will nominate candidates. over a few days they will debate the choice of the pope and pray for inspiration from God. at the conclusion of discussion, a vote will be held. the new pope must be affirmed (i believe) by nearly (if not all) everybody.

5) Have any mistakes ever been made in choosing the next Pope? If so how was the mistake detected?

yes and no. have there been bad popes? yes. was that necessarily a mistake? we cant be sure, because we can't know the alternative of what could have happened. ultimately, the church is still here today, and is the largest church in the world, with just under 1.2 billion members, so those "mistakes" are still a part of what got the church to where it is today.

6) Can the Church of Rome ever err in a general sense?

what is the church of rome? i've never heard of it. if you are referring to the catholic church (which is only known as the roman church, or romanists, to those who look to insult it) then yes, it is possible for a judgement of the church to be incorrect. for example, if the church decided to build a cathedral on marsh ground, and that cathedral sank underwater, then that would be an error. HOWEVER, in matters of dogma and doctrine, the church teaches infallably and cannot er. to that point, no doctrine of the church has ever been overturned.

7) Does a Christain remain a sinner after accepting Christ?

yes. sin is in the nature of man. accepting Christ allows us to be forgiven of our sin, it does not make us more than human and therefore does not change our nature. therefore, we retain the temptation to sin, although we are blest with the gift of the Holy Spirit to aid us in battling that temptation.

8) What is your understanding of The Kingdom of God?

this question would take 10 pages to answer, and would still not cover enough. please, be more specific.

-- paul h (dontsendmemail@notanaddress.com), July 08, 2004.


Thanks Paul h, just wanted to find what common ground we may have to work on. Sorry for delay in replying; very busy at the moment.

1, 2, 3) I agree love compells us to act. The NT says that we are to love God and our fellow man. Therefore if we have this love we are compelled to act in the service of God. I would consider any other target of love to be idolatry. As for camping, chocolate etc, perhaps it is better to say that your liking for these are not a replacement for God (since you would give them up for God) therefore not idolotrous?

In Genesis where it says to "create man in our image" I interpretted this as meaning that man was created for the purpose of love directed at God and the unity He generates, ie to be in fellowship with God. However, the fall of man seems to demonstrate that A&E loved the Power of God rather than God Himself and thus exhibited the highest form of idolotry? So then the natural man directs his love towards things other than God and the original sin was to idolise ultimate power. Previously, I considered the natural man to be without love but perhaps on reflection this was an erroneous view. So then, is it fair to conclude that idolotry is misdirected love and The Christ was sent to direct our love towards God and His will by demonstrating God's love for us?

4) A democracy then? Is this not a rather secular concept? Do ordinary Catholics not have a say in who is chosen?

5) Fair point. The fact that it is the largest church has some merit but does not necessarily mean that all other churches are invalidated. The book of Revelation seems to suggest there were many churches in the early days.

6) Sorry, I'm certainly not out to insult any church; afterall, he who judges shall be judged in like manner? A sinking church is a very benign mistake but there have been far worse things? Now I'm judging! Oh no, it seems impossible to be human and not judge!

7) I agree totally.

8) Well yes, it was an open question because I do not wish to lead you here. I was hoping you would mention what you consider to be the main concepts/points. I shall expound a little then:

8a) Are the inhabitants uttely sinless and incapable of sin? 8b) Is there a hierarchy there?

As a further question:

9) how do you rationalise the interplay between the omnipotent soverignty of God and our own free will? Afterall, if God knows what is going to happen in the future then that suggests everything is already determined. Thus we have no free will at all. Therefore how can we be judged?

Regards Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), July 13, 2004.


Paul W, i love your hunger for truth, it is absolutely refreshing...

4) A democracy then? Is this not a rather secular concept? Do ordinary Catholics not have a say in who is chosen?

no, democracy is an idea that comes from christian principle: that is, that every man has a God given right to have a say in the governance of himself and his kin. Ordinary catholics do not have a say in the papal election, it is not a vote of the most popular, it is a divination by the cardinals and bishops as to what the will of God is in choosing the next pope.

5) Fair point. The fact that it is the largest church has some merit but does not necessarily mean that all other churches are invalidated. The book of Revelation seems to suggest there were many churches in the early days.

its not the fact that the church is the largest which is a defining factor in its validity. it is the fact that the church dates back to the very day that Christ said to peter, "you are rock, and on this rock I will build My church." we know that Christ founded one universal church for His believers, not many. while revelation notes that there were several churches of the time, John and other church fathers comonly note that all these churches answered to the chair of saint peter. at the same time, we must note that the different "churches" were actually more like different rites of the church... some of which exist today. example: the byzantine rite, the greek rite, the roman/latin rite (commonly referred to as roman catholics)... these are all different rites of the same church, which is MOST LIKELY what revelations is refering to.

6)Oh no, it seems impossible to be human and not judge!

and what a conundrum that is. at the same time, i was not offended either. it is a common misconception that the catholic church is a roman church (as certain fundamentalists would love to have you believe). not many, some catholics included, understand that it is NOT the roman catholic church, but rather the latin RITE of the catholic church.

8a) Are the inhabitants uttely sinless and incapable of sin?

yes. in our acceptance into heaven we are forgiven of even a sinful nature, we will have been made pure unto the presence of the Lord and will have no desire to sin against Him.

8b) Is there a hierarchy there?

yes, even Christ tells us this in the bible... many times (note: "the least among you shall be greatest").

9) how do you rationalise the interplay between the omnipotent soverignty of God and our own free will? Afterall, if God knows what is going to happen in the future then that suggests everything is already determined. Thus we have no free will at all. Therefore how can we be judged?

i asked a very wise philosophy professor about this one time. he laughed and responded that free will can exist because "God has no future." it took me a long time to understand his explanation of what he meant... and no, it was nothing like nietsche(sp?) meant.

essentially, God exists outside of our time. it is difficult for us to understand this concept because we are limited by our human frame of reference. God watches EVERYTHING in the present... like, He is not only in all places at once, but at all times at once as well. We have free will in that our decisions have not been influenced by God, and yet, He knows them because He not only KNOWS our future, He is already THERE. and He not only KNOWS our past, He is there right now too.

i dont know if that helps, take time to ponder the subtle nuances of it and think about the ultimate ramifications of that little blurb.

God Bless,

-- paul h (dontsendmemail@notanaddress.com), July 13, 2004.


Hi! Paul W, thanks for your previous responses. paul h is doing a great job answering your questions, IMHO. I hope I can join this discussion again.

God bless!

-- Vincent (love@noemail.net), July 13, 2004.


Thanks Paul H. Here I go...

4) I thought democracy was invented well before Christ in Greece? Do not ordinary Catholics have as much access to God as say a bishop? Does God not speak to anyone who genuinely seeks?

5) Do any of the other three gospels backup what is written in John about Peter in this respect? What do you mean by a "rite"? Call it a rite or a church, they are equally valid?

6) So the RCC does not consider it is the only valid "rite" then? Other rites like the ones you mention being equally valid? Are they independant of the Roman rite?

8a) Is the Pope the greatest Christian? Is he greater than say, you or Paul M or Emily or lowly me? If so, will he be last in heaven? I've heard it said that there is more mammon than manna in the RCC. How do you explain this?

9) I agree, because if God created the universe of space/time/energy then He must be independant of it and therefore present outside of it. He knows every moment of time, every location of space and every quanta of energy within it because He designed it from the Alpha to the Omega. So to God, this universe must be like an object in His hand in which all things have already transpired. Nevertheless, it was God who created it and so it is God who must take responsibility for what is contained within?

I know these aren't nice things to say but they are nevertheless my questions which burden me.

Thanks Paul.

-- Paul Wilson (pswfps2@hotmail.com), July 14, 2004.


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