Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rejoinder to Clayvessel

Discussion from Michael Hoffman's weblog, http://revisionistreview.blogspot.com/2015/12/merry-christmas-mary.html

>>[M]y intention ...was to have a conversation with [Hoffman] about his own words.<<

Hoffman's personal email address is posted on the right-hand side of the page. I would respectfully suggest that you use that convserational method if you wish to discourage the entry of other discussants. If you post publicly, then you invite public replies.

>>...I am not interested in an exchange that leads to "I said the most words therefore I win."<<

Nor am I interested in such an exchange. Albert Einstein reportedly once said, "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." What I write about at length (and I deny that these comment-sections of 1,400 characters are "lengthy") I do so because either: I believe no fewer words can clearly communicate the point that I am making; or, what is perhaps more likely, (to paraphrase Blaise Pascal) "I haven't the time to make my replies shorter" by editing them down.

>>If [any other revelation] in any way contradicts God's Word it is not embraced as doctrine.<<

I appreciate and agree with this. But what you apparently do not consider it that most Catholics, myself included, deny that Catholicism embraces doctrines that "contradict God's [Written] Word".

Before I address your parting shots, however, I have to say a few words about your recurring use of phrases such as "human logic" and "human reasoning."

You provide no definition for these terms, possibly in the (mistaken) belief that no definition is required. I will therefore suggest one for you. In the broadest sense, "human reasoning" (and the like) would merely be "reasoning carried out by human beings."

Unless, Clayvessel, your responses were dictations from On High, your replies - no less than any Catholic's - were the products of "human reasoning" - namely, your own. The majority of your words are not Scripture quotations, and of the words that *are* Bible quotations, they are not given as they are in the Bible.

You have therefore used human reasoning to join together various Scripture passages in order to make your points - just as have the other responders used human reasoning to join together Bible verses to make their points.

To deny this is simply disingenuous. Those who cast aspersions on "human reasoning" only seem to protest when the reasoning issues from a camp other than their own. Their own reasoning is either, and fallaciously (since it would be special pleading), immune from this "criticism," or else, and implausibly, it poses as non-human (or perhaps, outrageously, as divine) reasoning.

>>The Scriptures do not support the doctrines of Mary's sinlessness or assumption...<<

Catholics deny this. I cited several supports from Luke (1:28 and 1:48). I furthermore deny that you have even remotely demonstrated what you pretend, namely, that the Bible "contradicts" the idea that Mary was sinless.

You cited Luke 1:47, to which citation both Hoffman and I explicitly replied by noting that the Catholic affirmation of Mary's sinlessness in no way militate against Mary having had a savior. (For the details, see above.)

To this you added a hand-waving remark about "all hav[ing] sinned," alluding to "Rom. 5:12, Rom. 3:23,Rom. 3:10, etc."

This is a case-study in the disingenuous assertion that only one side in this debate is using "human reasoning," while the other side is merely quoting Scripture.

No Christian should hold that "contradicting God's [Written] Word" should always and everywhere be decided by a woodenly-literal reading of Biblical passages. One flippant example may be found in Mark 4:31, where Jesus Himself is recorded as having asserted that "a mustard seed ...is the smallest of all seeds on earth." Should readers merely attend to the face-value of this verse and conclude that either Jesus or the Bible is in flagrant error? Is there no explanation that can keep both a high-view of the Bible and a high-regard for Christ intact? This is the comeuppance for those who bandy about words like "contradiction."

Or, more seriously, according to James "God cannot be tempted by evil..." (James 1:13b). But the author of Hebrews attested that Jesus was "tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin" (Hebrews 4:15).

When resolving prima facie difficulties such as these, Christians of all stripes employ what Clayvessel disparagingly calls "human reasoning" - as, I presume, she would also. This is what the respectable and time-honored discipline of apologetics is all about.

Those who denigrate "human reason" might as well deny that theology has any place in Christianity. And forget about homiletics. Without "human reasoning" sermons and homilies would merely consist of direct biblical quotation. It would be dubious for any preacher to so much as string together verses from different parts of the Bible - for in doing so (unless string in question received direct divine sanction) they depart from one-dimensional quotation and beginning mixing in their own dreaded "human reason."

Happily for Christianity, this is a cartoonish and ahistorical view. Besides being false, it is simply unpractical. To my knowledge, no sub-sect of Christianity functions this way.

>>...or the idea that the New Adam had to be born on undefiled ground.<<

That Adam *was* born on undefiled ground may be inferred from the numerous analogies between the First Adam and First Eve and the Second Adam (Jesus) and the Second Eve (Mary), as has now been mentioned several times. If Jesus's birth on undefiled ground was indeed a "requirement," then it was a requirement instituted by God and, in any case and as far as I can tell, is nowhere contradicted in the Bible.

>>I can call Mary "blessed" (as I did in my comment above) without directing my prayers to her. (Catholics deny that they worship Mary. So? I see them bow on bended knee and pray to her "Hail!"<<

Firstly, Catholics believe that the Church Triumphant (i.e., those men and women of God who are now enjoying heaven) is connected to the Church Militant (i.e., those men and women of God who are now alive on the earth). Catholics further believe that death is the separation of the body and soul, but that the dead person has not been destroyed. Christians of all sorts request prayers on their behalf from other believers. It is simply the Catholic conviction that those who have gone before us to their eternal reward are still, by God's authorization and Grace, able and willing to pray for us.

Secondly, your semi-mocking invocation of Catholics who say "Hail" to Mary is stupefying given your professed concern for the Written Word of God. Whence do Catholics derive this greeting? It comes right out of Luke 1:28! 'Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." (According to the venerable non-Catholic King James Version of the Bible.)

>>...[Y]our doctrines of tradition ...[have] no Scriptural supports.<<

The Scriptural supports extend at least from Genesis 3:15, to Luke 1 and finally through to Revelation 12 and beyond.

>>You will not convince non-Roman Catholic Christians...<<

Being "convinced" is a complicated process. It is quite sensitive to many things, including how well the person being "convinced" pays attention, how capable is the person doing the "convincing," the general level of rapport, and on and on. Ultimately, though, being "convinced" of Christian truth is between the Holy Spirit and the individual. (See John 16:13, NIV.) Perhaps the best that I can do is to invite people into the historic Catholic Church.

Ultimately, the Catholic position is: (i.) a justifiable inference from the biblical data such as Luke 1:28 and 1:48 (etc.); (ii.) not "contradicted" by the most reasonable interpretations of verses like Romans 3:23 (etc.); demonstrably a part of the earliest Church's confessions (as can be gleaned from the writings of Apostolic Fathers like St. Justin Martyr); and better-situated to defend a high-Christology than the view that the Blessed Virgin Mary was sullied with sin. I recommend this position to you.

Pax vobis.

No comments:

Post a Comment