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Luther, Calvin, and Other Early Protestants on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism website ^ | Unknown | Dave Armstrong

Posted on 04/13/2003 8:43:41 AM PDT by Conservative til I die

Luther, Calvin, and Other Early Protestants on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary



All of the early Protestant Founders accepted the truth of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. How could this be, if it is merely "tradition" with no scriptural basis? Why was its supposed violation of Scripture not so obvious to them, as it is to the Protestants of the last 150 years or so (since the onset of theological liberalism) who have ditched this previously-held opinion? Yet it has become fashionable to believe that Jesus had blood brothers (I suspect, because this contradicts Catholic teaching), contrary to the original consensus of the early Protestants.

Let's see what the Founders of Protestantism taught about this doctrine. If Catholics are so entrenched in what has been described as "silly," "desperate," "obviously false," "unbiblical tradition" here, then so are many Protestant luminaries such as Luther, Calvin, and Wesley. Strangely enough, however, current-day Protestant critics of Catholicism rarely aim criticism at them. I guess the same "errors" are egregious to a different degree, depending on who accepts and promulgates them -- sort of like the Orwellian proverb from Animal Farm: "all people are equal, but some are more equal than others."

General

Whatever may be the position theologically that one may take today on the subject of Mariology, one is not able to call to one's aid 'reformed tradition' unless one does it with the greatest care . . . the Marian doctrine of the Reformers is consonant with the great tradition of the Church in all the essentials and with that of the Fathers of the first centuries in particular . . . . . In regard to the Marian doctrine of the Reformers, we have already seen how unanimous they are in all that concerns Mary's holiness and perpetual virginity . . .

{Max Thurian (Protestant), Mary: Mother of all Christians, tr. Neville B. Cryer, NY: Herder & Herder, 1963 (orig. 1962), pp. 77, 197} The title 'Ever Virgin' (aeiparthenos, semper virgo) arose early in Christianity . . . It was a stock phrase in the Middle Ages and continued to be used in Protestant confessional writings (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Andrewes; Book of Concord [1580], Schmalkaldic Articles [1537]). {Raymond E. Brown et al, ed., Mary in the New Testament, Phil.: Fortress Press / NY: Paulist Press, 1978, p.65 (a joint Catholic-Protestant effort) } Mary was formally separated from Protestant worship and prayer in the 16th century; in the 20th century the divorce is complete. Even the singing of the 'Magnificat' caused the Puritans to have scruples, and if they gave up the Apostles' Creed, it was not only because of the offensive adjective 'Catholic', but also because of the mention of the Virgin . . . [But] Calvin, like Luther and Zwingli, taught the perpetual virginity of Mary. The early Reformers even applied, though with some reticence, the title Theotokos to Mary . . . Calvin called on his followers to venerate and praise her as the teacher who instructs them in her Son's commands.

{J.A. Ross MacKenzie (Protestant), in Stacpoole, Alberic, ed., Mary's Place in Christian Dialogue, Wilton, Conn.: Morehouse-Barlow, 1982, pp.35-6}

Martin Luther

Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. {Luther's Works, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan (vols. 1-30) & Helmut T. Lehmann (vols. 31-55), St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House (vols. 1-30); Philadelphia: Fortress Press (vols. 31-55), 1955, v.22:23 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539) } Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . I am inclined to agree with those who declare that 'brothers' really mean 'cousins' here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers. {Pelikan, ibid., v.22:214-15 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539) } A new lie about me is being circulated. I am supposed to have preached and written that Mary, the mother of God, was not a virgin either before or after the birth of Christ . . . {Pelikan, ibid.,v.45:199 / That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew (1523) } Scripture does not say or indicate that she later lost her virginity . . . When Matthew [1:25] says that Joseph did not know Mary carnally until she had brought forth her son, it does not follow that he knew her subsequently; on the contrary, it means that he never did know her . . . This babble . . . is without justification . . . he has neither noticed nor paid any attention to either Scripture or the common idiom.

{Pelikan, ibid.,v.45:206,212-3 / That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew (1523) } Editor Jaroslav Pelikan (Lutheran) adds:

Luther . . . does not even consider the possibility that Mary might have had other children than Jesus. This is consistent with his lifelong acceptance of the idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary. {Pelikan, ibid.,v.22:214-5}

John Calvin

Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ's 'brothers' are sometimes mentioned. {Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, sec. 39 (Geneva, 1562), vol. 2 / From Calvin's Commentaries, tr. William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949, p.215; on Matthew 13:55} [On Matt 1:25:] The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband . . . No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words . . . as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called 'first-born'; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin . . . What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us . . . No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation. {Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 107} Under the word 'brethren' the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, whatever may be the degree of affinity. {Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 283 / Commentary on John, (7:3) }

Huldreich Zwingli

He turns, in September 1522, to a lyrical defense of the perpetual virginity of the mother of Christ . . . To deny that Mary remained 'inviolata' before, during and after the birth of her Son, was to doubt the omnipotence of God . . . and it was right and profitable to repeat the angelic greeting - not prayer - 'Hail Mary' . . . God esteemed Mary above all creatures, including the saints and angels - it was her purity, innocence and invincible faith that mankind must follow. Prayer, however, must be . . . to God alone . . . 'Fidei expositio,' the last pamphlet from his pen . . . There is a special insistence upon the perpetual virginity of Mary.

{G. R. Potter, Zwingli, London: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1976, pp.88-9,395 / The Perpetual Virginity of Mary . . ., Sep. 17, 1522} Zwingli had printed in 1524 a sermon on 'Mary, ever virgin, mother of God.' {Thurian, ibid., p.76} I have never thought, still less taught, or declared publicly, anything concerning the subject of the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of our salvation, which could be considered dishonourable, impious, unworthy or evil . . . I believe with all my heart according to the word of holy gospel that this pure virgin bore for us the Son of God and that she remained, in the birth and after it, a pure and unsullied virgin, for eternity. {Thurian, ibid., p.76 / same sermon} Heinrich Bullinger

Bullinger (d. 1575) . . . defends Mary's perpetual virginity . . . and inveighs against the false Christians who defraud her of her rightful praise: 'In Mary everything is extraordinary and all the more glorious as it has sprung from pure faith and burning love of God.' She is 'the most unique and the noblest member' of the Christian community . . . 'The Virgin Mary . . . completely sanctified by the grace and blood of her only Son and abundantly endowed by the gift of the Holy Spirit and preferred to all . . . now lives happily with Christ in heaven and is called and remains ever-Virgin and Mother of God.'

{In Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, combined ed. of vols. 1 & 2, London: Sheed & Ward, 1965, vol.2, pp.14-5} John Wesley (Founder of Methodism)

I believe... he [Jesus Christ] was born of the blessed Virgin, who, as well after as she brought him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin. {"Letter to a Roman Catholic," quoted in A. C. Coulter, John Wesley, New York: Oxford University Press, 1964, 495}


TOPICS: Catholic; Mainline Protestant; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: catholic; mary; protestant; virginity
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: Conservative til I die
"All of the early Protestant Founders accepted the truth of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary ----- contrary to the original consensus of the early Protestants. "

Luther,Calvin, and Wesley are not "all" the Founders or would they prove a censensus of early Christians as this guy tries to imply.

Luther had trouble with the book of James so I wouldn't put to much stock in all his views. I also disagree with Calvin and Wesley on some of their views.

Catholics are constantly quoting fallible men to prove their false doctrine. Notice that nowhere in this article is a scripture quoted as a source, only what man thought. Typical catholicism: doctrinal proof based on how old, and how many men preached the falsehood.

This author makes an assumption, declares it as truth, and proceeds to base his argument on his assumption.

Now i'll ask you again.Can you prove that ALL founding Prots believed this? If not keep your wise remarks to yourself and stop wasting bandwith with the writings of this idiot.

22 posted on 04/14/2003 6:25:40 PM PDT by Joshua
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To: Salvation
"All Proestestants need to do is read the Bible and find out how many times Mary was called "Blessed"!!!!!!!!! "

Three times (four if you count the woman who Jesus contradicted) and all in the Gospel of Luke. None of the other writers found it important enough to mention it.

Have you ever read a bible? This is the second statement from you today that would cause me to wonder.

23 posted on 04/14/2003 6:38:38 PM PDT by Joshua
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To: Salvation
Also if you would like I can tell you how many times she was mentioned by name. It's not a big task since I don't think she is mentioned after the first chapter of Acts
24 posted on 04/14/2003 6:45:38 PM PDT by Joshua
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To: Joshua
I am not a Catholic, and don't have any plans to become one. However, it is quite unfair to say that they are following "traditions of men," at least in their understanding: which is based upon Scriptures, though perhaps in a manner different from Protestant thought. "Traditions of men" are those which are not inspired of God- such were the traditions of men that our Lord countered. The Tradition of Catholic and Orthodox tradition is not understood as such. Rather, the understanding is one of Holy Tradition, not simply made up, but inspired by the Holy Spirit acting within the Church. In particular, the Holy Spirit acts when the Church is gathered in council, what we know as the Ecunemical Councils. The basis for such a council is found in Acts, where the apostles and elders "with the whole church" declare a set of regulations which they drew up, giving authority by saying "it seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit". Rather presumptious? It would be if some guy had stood up and declared it, or ever groups of people (who the Council was countering in this case).

And such is the nature of the canonization of the Scriptures: the New Testament was accepted by the Church through the work of the Holy Spirit within the Church. Indeed, the New Testament is Tradition, canonical, written, infallible Tradition, handed down to us from the Apostles.

Also- and here I have some difficulty- the Church establishes Holy Tradition through the general workings and writings of the Church. In Orthodox thought, the Liturgy in particular expresses Church dogma, and is an expression of Holy Tradition- the Holy Spirit at work within the Church as a whole in this instance. The Fathers- in consensus- are also establishers of Holy Tradition, the Holy Spirit working through them together: not on their own but in consensus.

That is- sort of- the nature of Tradition as Catholics and Orthodox understand it (though Catholics would add the Pope's authority, at which Orthodox would of course cringe).

25 posted on 04/14/2003 8:02:59 PM PDT by Cleburne
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To: Conservative til I die; Joshua; OLD REGGIE
From Matthew: Conceived by the Holy Spirit:

18
6 Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, 7 but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit.
19
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, 8 yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
20
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord 9 appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
21
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, 10 because he will save his people from their sins."
22
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23
11 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
24
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
25
He had no relations with her until she bore a son, 12 and he named him Jesus.

From Luke: "highly favored one"-- spoken by the angel, "Mother of my Lord" -- spoken by Elizabeth, "Most blessed are you among women" -- spoken by Elizabeth, "Blessed are you who have believed" -- spoken by Elizabeth, "For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed." -- spoken by the virgin Mary.

26
10 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
27
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary.
28
And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you."
29
But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
30
Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
32
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, 11 and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
33
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
34
But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" 12
35
And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
36
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived 13 a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
37
for nothing will be impossible for God."
38
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
39
During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,
40
where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
41
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,
42
cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
43
And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord 14 should come to me?
44
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
45
Blessed are you who believed 15 that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
46
And Mary said: 16 "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
47
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
48
For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
49
The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
50
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.
51
He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
52
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.
53
The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.
54
He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,
55
according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
56
Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
57
17 When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son.
58
Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her.
59

I think that is even more than four times that Mary is referred to as "blessed."

PS. And I think my Bible reads quite a bit like yours, correct?


26 posted on 04/14/2003 8:06:14 PM PDT by Salvation ((†With God all things are possible.†))
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To: Cleburne
**Also- and here I have some difficulty- the Church establishes Holy Tradition through the general workings and writings of the Church. In Orthodox thought, the Liturgy in particular expresses Church dogma, and is an expression of Holy Tradition- the Holy Spirit at work within the Church as a whole in this instance. The Fathers- in consensus- are also establishers of Holy Tradition, the Holy Spirit working through them together: not on their own but in consensus.**

And it is Holy Tradition that the Protestants miss altogether. In a way I feel sad for them.
27 posted on 04/14/2003 8:31:41 PM PDT by Salvation ((†With God all things are possible.†))
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To: biblewonk
Then He was not of truly human form. When one is concieved one takes on the nature of one's mother: the Lord did just that when He was concieved. It is in fact one of the crucial elements of His coming- He took on our very nature, He shared in man-kind's flesh, was of "the descent of David". To suggest that He was merely "through" Mary is really untenable. It suggests that He was somehow of "special" flesh, of angelic or superhuman flesh.

Jesus did not merely "pass through" Mary; He became very flesh of mankind's flesh, having a real mother: He truly came in the flesh, though through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Even in birth we see His complete Godhood and complete Manhood- of Mary and of God. Thus is His salvific work, which continues in Him: True God and True Man, glorified, uniting us men unto God through Him.

28 posted on 04/14/2003 8:36:02 PM PDT by Cleburne (...and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man...)
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To: Conservative til I die
Mary's Perpetual Virginity
29 posted on 04/14/2003 8:56:16 PM PDT by Salvation ((†With God all things are possible.†))
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To: Salvation
The Reformers never set about to demolish Catholicism, or to form a new Church. They set about to reform. Unfortunately, the other half did not see it as such. And in the fire and fog of war- often quite literally!- much good was lost.

I would agree that much of modern Protestantism is rather poverty-stricken in some ways. However, one should not get the idea that this was the intent of the Reformers: but, especially in the very important area of worship, things were neglected or pushed aside in order to deal with more "pressing" matters. But one cannot blame them over-much- they were after all worrying about eluding government that did not, er, share their religious persuasions. That, and the identity of anything with Catholicism tended to give it an evil appearance: so much so that many good things were tossed out (and such the Reformers acknowledged).

30 posted on 04/14/2003 9:03:56 PM PDT by Cleburne
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To: Conservative til I die
Luther and Calvin, etc. were at the beginning of the reformation process, not anywhere near the end. It goes on to this day, each generation renews it through the rebirth.
31 posted on 04/14/2003 9:23:31 PM PDT by Iowegian
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To: Iowegian
Luther and Calvin, etc. were at the beginning of the reformation process, not anywhere near the end. It goes on to this day, each generation renews it through the rebirth

I don't follow this line of reasoning. So basically if you're saying that each generation in the past was more and more error-filled (with each subsequent generation getting out the kinks) how can Reformation Protestantism not be flawed to the core? If the founders were flawed in their beliefs of course.
32 posted on 04/15/2003 5:33:32 AM PDT by Conservative til I die
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To: Joshua
If not keep your wise remarks to yourself and stop wasting bandwith with the writings of this idiot

Feel free to skip the threads, jerk.
33 posted on 04/15/2003 5:35:23 AM PDT by Conservative til I die (I guess they can give it but not take it.)
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To: Salvation; Joshua
Salvation, stop posting those links, it offends Joshua. Go post something on pedo priests, from what I've gathered from the dishers but not takers, it's the only acceptable topic on the religion forums anymore.

:)


34 posted on 04/15/2003 5:37:55 AM PDT by Conservative til I die (I guess they can give it but not take it.)
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To: Joshua
author didn't use any biblical evidence to prove his claim

The author made no reference to anything needing the bible for proof. His contention is that Clavin, Zwingli, Luther said something. One would not look to the bible to discern what these gentlemen said many centuries later. Likewise one does not look to the bible to determine what President says about foreign monetary policy in 2003.

35 posted on 04/15/2003 2:41:38 PM PDT by arthurus
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To: Conservative til I die
I don't follow this line of reasoning.

Here's a clue to my meaning. The church is the people born of God, his adopted children, not an institution or a building.

36 posted on 04/15/2003 3:25:42 PM PDT by Iowegian
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To: Salvation
" Luke 1:42 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! (NIV)

Luke 1:45 45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" (NIV)

Luke 1:30 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. (NIV) "

There you go three times.

Your original post said that Protestants should read the Bible and see how many times she was called blessed. A grand total of three.

We are told by Catholics that her importance is proved by Jesus giving her to John as his mother and mother of all. Funny if John knew of her importance to the church that he failed to mention her by name in his gospel or the three letters he wrote.
We don't see any reference of her from Peter,James,Jude, or even Paul. No mention of her by name after the first chapter of Acts. Don't you think this a little strange for such an important icon of your church?

Maybe they were warned not to bring attention to her until everything was in place after her assumption into heaven. It's possible she was busy setting up her Catholic Prayer Answering Service and working on Rosary designs and didn't want to assume her role as "Queen of Heaven" until things were just right.

37 posted on 04/15/2003 4:25:02 PM PDT by Joshua
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To: Conservative til I die
**Salvation, stop posting those links, it offends Joshua. Go post something on pedo priests, from what I've gathered from the dishers but not takers, it's the only acceptable topic on the religion forums anymore.**

LOL!


To every coin there are two sides. Even Joshua knows that.
38 posted on 04/15/2003 4:37:58 PM PDT by Salvation ((†With God all things are possible.†))
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To: arthurus
"The author made no reference to anything needing the bible for proof. His contention is that Clavin, Zwingli, Luther said something."

If you read back through the thread you'll see that the issue of biblical proof had to do with the name of the website.

It claims biblical answers for catholic beliefs and the fails to use any scriptural reference for it's claim.

39 posted on 04/15/2003 4:38:43 PM PDT by Joshua
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To: Cleburne
Tradition of man nullifies the Scripture. This is what Jesus claimed.

Traditions that conflict with scripture can only be called "Tradition of man".We know that the Holy Spirit can't contradict himself. No matter how you claim to come to your tradition, either by council or consensus of holy men of the church, if it is in opposition to scripture it can't be Holy Tradition.

Raising Mary to a position of co-redemptress or co-mediatrix is one that comes to mind.

40 posted on 04/15/2003 4:50:35 PM PDT by Joshua
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