Home Forums Re: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

#1506

Also, how does a Protestant reconcile thier turning away from the strage agreement between the Reformers on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity. Even more modern Evangelicals, such as Max Thurian, Raymond E. Brown, and J.A. Ross MacKenzie cannot deny the facts:

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}

And the Reformers in their own words had noted the following:

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)}

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)}

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

The Blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as when she brought him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin.

{“Letter to a Roman Catholic” / In This Rock, Nov. 1990, p.25}

To deny the perpetual virginity of Mary is to deny what even by Protestant standards and tradition was an article of faith. Moreso, when it says in the Creed “He was concieved by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,” it is not a hollow statement, nor giving leeway for interpretation that Mary was anything other than a virgin. It is of universal Christian creed, and therefore must be upheld in any Christian confession worth its salt. Those that deny it are blown about by every wind of doctrine and do not teach the fullness of the truth of Christian faith.

If anyone wishes to look further, check out Mary’s Perpetual Virginity.

Pax Vobiscum,

John

screen tagSupport