Archive for April, 2013

2 Kingdoms in 2 Chronicles

April 22, 2013

Some of the advocates of the so-called Escondido view of the two kingdoms (as distinct from the traditional view held by Calvin and Turretin and set forth in the Westminster Confession, 39 Articles, and Belgic Confession) seem to have the idea that “two kingdoms” (i.e. a distinction between civil and religious) is a novel idea in the New Testament era. They are wrong.

There were two kingdoms in the Old Testament era as well, even if they sometimes got a bit blurred, as they did under Moses. Uzziah provides a poignant example of the distinction:

2 Chronicles 26:16-21
But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, that were valiant men: and they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God.
Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the Lord had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.

The point is that the king – the civil head of the country was not the high priest, the religious head of the country. Rather, there was a distinction between the two kingdoms.
Under the new covenant, we are a nation of priests. We have direct access to God through prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, and consequently we have no use either for priests or for incense. We do not need a merely human mediator, because Jesus Christ, the God-man, is our mediator and high priest, and the Spirit communicates on our behalf.
The passage is also a good reminder of the second commandment, the commandment that teaches us that God must be worshiped as He wills, not as we will. Here, Uzziah was not proposing to offer incense to Baal or to any false God, but rather to YHWH. Nevertheless, he overstepped his bounds and did not follow the way of worship that God had appointed, and so God judged with leprosy.

-TurretinFan

Response to "Christmas Wars"

April 18, 2013

Steve Hays has a post called “Christmas Wars,” about objections to Christmas (link to post). As a non-celebrant of the day, I thought it would be interesting to review his identified objections and his responses to the objections.

1. Constitutional Objection

As far as I know, Steve’s right about this.

2. Genetic Objection

Steve has two responses here. The first isn’t really argued, so I’ll pass over it. The second is that the meaning of the holiday is properly defined other ways than by its origins. That’s certainly true, at least to a degree.

Yet I think that the response misses the objection. The objection is, in essence, that Christmas is tainted by its pagan roots. Thus, partaking in the celebration is partaking in paganism. The reasoning would be from the issue of meat offered to idols. We are not to partake in the ceremonies of the heathen. If pagan origin of the holiday means that those participating in it are participating to some degree in a pagan religious celebration, they should not.

Incidentally, I think the weakness of the objection lies in the argument that the co-opting taints the holiday. Isn’t that rather like saying that Reformation Day is tainted by Halloween? I don’t really buy that.

3. Calendrical Objection

I don’t buy Steve’s first response here, which is that it is “dubious” that Jesus was not born on December 25. We really have no good reason for thinking that December 25 is the day of Jesus’ birth. The best Steve can do here is to say that there is not iron-clad proof that December 25 was not the actual day. Based solely on the fact that the Bible does not tell us the date, there’s about a 99.7% chance that it was not December 25. That’s hardly “dubious.”

Steve’s second response is that the objection is irrelevant. In other words, who cares if it is really Jesus’ birthday? This is a stronger objection, but of course the holiday is sold (by ditties like “God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen”) as being important because it is Jesus’ birthday.

4. The So-Called Puritan Objection

I don’t think Steve accurately represents the Puritans’ views here. The objection he identifies is the objection that it is “wrong to observe any (religious) holiday that isn’t commanded in Scripture.” I’m not sure he could find any Puritan actually saying that.

Steve’s first response is to allege that this is a false dichotomy. Perhaps it is, at least as stated – but I don’t think the Puritans would state it that way.

Steve’s second response is to allege that the observation of the Lord’s Day would also fall prey to this objection. A full response would require a lot of detail, but suffice that the Puritans did believe that the Lord’s Day is a religious holy day commanded by Scripture.

5. The “Baptist” Objection

I agree with Steve’s responses.

6. The Commercialization Objection

I agree with Steve’s responses.

7. The Politically Correct Objection

I agree with Steve’s responses.

8. The Ethical Objection

I agree with Steve’s first response, to wit that Christians can adopt less than the full package of “Christmas” customs. As to his second and third responses, I disagree. You shouldn’t lie to your kids – and while kids may be upset that they were not lied to, one should not lie in order to avoid alienating one’s kids, since a good end cannot justify an evil means.

– TurretinFan

Churchless Evangelicals

April 18, 2013

R. Scott Clark has some serious and sobering words to “churchless evangelicals” (part 1) (part 2).  I actually wouldn’t agree with everything he says (or at least not as he says it) – I think some of his comments could be taken as suggesting that the ministers themselves are the means of grace, instead of the Word, Sacraments, and Prayer.  They are not the means of grace, nor are they the mediators of grace.  They are not priests and the congregants are not laity.  Yet I suspect that this is just an infelicitous wording on Prof. Clark’s part – I’m sure he’d agree with me that ministers are not priests and that there is no priest but Christ in Christianity.

-TurretinFan

All Forms of Slavery?

April 18, 2013

Thabiti Anyabwile and Doug Wilson have concluded their discussion, but in the conclusion section, Thabiti posted an item claiming it was a point of common agreement between the men:

3. The logic of the gospel is jubilee logic. This means that the messianic promises all looked forward to the day when the liberation of the world from every form of slavery would begin, and the arrival of Christ was the inauguration of God’s kingdom. This liberation from slavery begins with liberating men from their slavery to sin, but it necessarily and inexorably includes all other forms of slavery as well—whether the forms of slavery as they existed in the ancient world, or the more recent forms in our country.

Sorry, guys, but minimally we’re still slaves of our Lord.  We’re more than that, but we are that.  That metaphor for our relationship to God remains.  We are not slaves to sin, we’re slaves to God.

The gospel does not demand the liberation of human slaves.  The command to masters is not “free your slaves,” but rather masters are commanded to treat their slaves equitably, with the very reason being that they themselves have a master in heaven.

Ephesians 6:9
And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. 

Colossians 4:1
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

This is very similar to the commands to husbands to love their wives:

Ephesians 5:24-25
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

In both cases, the metaphor between the master-slave relationship or the husband-wife relationship is not subversive of the relationship, it reinforces it.  These superior-inferior relationships are not intrinsically evil – they are actually pictures of our relationship with God.

Moreover, Paul presumes that there will be believing slave owners.  He writes:

1 Timothy 6:2
And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

In other words, even though the Gospel does make all Christians brethren, that does not mean that believing slaves should stop serving believing masters.

I realize that modern American culture (and more broadly Western European culture) is highly anti-slavery.  We, as Christians, need to rise above the culture and stand on God’s revelation, rather than the changing morals of human society.  That means that we can be critical of systems in which there is abuse of slaves by masters, but we don’t have to declare our Lord sinful for having us as his slaves.  We don’t need to conform the gospel to our culture, we need to acknowledge the places where the gospel opposes the culture.

We call Jesus, Lord, not just because he is our King but also because he is our Master, recall that Colossians 4:1 (quoted above) states: “Οἱ κύριοι (kurioi – masters), τὸ δίκαιον καὶ τὴν ἰσότητα τοῖς δούλοις (doulois – slaves) παρέχεσθε, εἰδότες ὅτι καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔχετε κύριον (kurion – Lord/Master) ἐν οὐρανῷ.”  If you really think that “all other forms of slavery” are wrong, then how can you claim to be a “δοῦλον δὲ κυρίου” (doulon de kuriou – Slave of the Master or Servant of the Lord, 2 Timothy 2:24).

-TurretinFan

The Real Francis Turretin: The Supernatural Existence of Everything

April 16, 2013

“All things are properly said to be … supernaturally through infinite power (as from the terminus a quo and by the way of creation).”

Cited generally as “Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, P & R.” (at The Lord God Exists).

The Real Francis Turretin on Christ’s Teaching Role

April 16, 2013

“Christ is our only teacher (Matt. 23:8) in such a sense as that the ministry of the word is not thereby excluded, but necessarily included because now in it only he addresses us and by it instructs us. Christ is not set in opposition to the Scriptures; rather he is set in opposition to the false teachers of the Pharisees who ambitiously assumed the authority due to Christ alone.”

Cited as Turretin, Institues, V. I, 59 (at Reformed Reasons)

Is There Any Evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection?

April 16, 2013

Someone recently kindly suggested a debate on the topic of “whether there is any evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.” The most surprising thing to me is that anyone would think such a topic is debatable. Normally the question people have is over the weight or credibility of the evidence, not whether there is evidence or not.

There certainly is evidence. The most obvious evidence is the New Testament, which records a variety of testimony. That testimony includes purported eye-witness testimony of Jesus being crucified, dying, and rising again on the third day. Now, a skeptic may fail to accept the claims of this testimony, but that does not change the fact that the evidence is evidence.

The New Testament also records the miracles that accompanied the people who taught the resurrection, including those who were eyewitnesses of the resurrection but also those who were apparently not, particularly Paul. These miracles provided secondary evidence – evidence of the truthfulness of the witnesses, God using the sign gifts to show that they were divinely sanctioned.

The Old Testament also provides evidence of the resurrection. The form of this evidence is prophecy. In other words, the Old Testament prophesied that the Christ would rise again from the dead. For example:

Psalm 16:10
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Is there any direct physical evidence of the resurrection? No. Things like the “Shroud of Turin” or the “Sudarium of Oviedo” are just pious frauds, like so many other supposed relics.

Is there any other extra-biblical evidence of the resurrection? Other evidence is very attenuated. There is evidence of the willingness of Christians to die for their faith, which included (and was based on) belief that Jesus rose and that all men will one day rise. This is evidence that the belief was sincerely held. But, of course, such sincerity is primarily of value with respect to the martyrdom of the eyewitnesses (such as James the brother of Jesus) and not so much of 2nd or subsequent generations of believers.

Indeed, there is evidence of the resurrection in a very attenuated way in the lives of believers (i.e. true Christians) today. Our lives show the work of the Spirit in our lives and confirm the truth of Scripture in a general way.

So, yes – there is evidence. For someone to argue that writings aren’t evidence would seem to be absurd. So, I’m not sure that the topic (as proposed) is really a debatable.

A related question might be whether someone should believe that Jesus rose again based on the weight of the evidence. And of course, that question depends on a number of prior considerations. Given that the Scriptures are the inspired and infallible Word of God, they are the best possible evidence for anything. If it says it in the Bible, you can rightly trust that it is true. That’s a higher level of reliaiblity than something as otherwise reliable as radiometric dating, DNA testing, polygraph, or eyewitness testimony. God’s word is even more reliable than your own senses.

Of course, a skeptic may refuse to accept that the Scriptures are the Word of God, but that does not change the objective reality that they are. It just means that the skeptic is shutting himself off from the most reliable evidence.

-TurretinFan

Echos of the Great Earthquake?

April 16, 2013

In Matthew’s gospel, we are treated to the only direct account of a remarkable resurrection:

Matthew 27:51-53
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

We don’t have any other direct accounts of this resurrection, leading some to doubt that it happened.

But I wonder whether we may have some indirect evidence – some echos, as it were, in this passage:

2 Timothy 2:18
Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

Isn’t the great earthquake resurrection the most obvious candidate for this belief? After all, if a significant number of people rose from the dead at the same time, that might appear to be a big enough miracle that people might forsake any expectation of a general resurrection. And what alternative basis could there be? A limitation of the resurrection to Jesus himself? A fulfillment of the resurrection in Tabitha and Eutychus or Lazaraus? It’s hard to understand this “resurrection is past already” hyper-preterism (so to speak) aside from the great earthquake resurrection.

Still, I have to acknowledge that as fun as this explanation may be, it is just speculation. I don’t know the basis for the false claim that the resurrection is already past – I just know that the claim is false. The resurrection, both of the just and the unjust is still to come.

-TurretinFan

Didymus on Hell

April 16, 2013

Didymus the Blind (c. 313 – 398) (aka Didymus of Alexandria) provided a number of commentaries, much of which seem to have been lost, largely because of his association with Origen. I happened to be reading his commentary on 1 Corinthians 15 (as translated by Alice Thompson Croft) and found the following:

Because some people in Corinth were saying that the soul was mortal and the resurrection of the body was superfluous, Paul had discussed their error, and he says: “The gospel, through which you were called from the error of polytheism to the knowledge of the true God, and through which you are sustained and have salvation, this gospel which is well-known to you, I brought and established.” “I remind you of the gospel of God, in order that you might know that the recollection of the resurrection of the dead is not mine nor anyone else’s.”

(at 1 Corinthians 15:1-2)

It is not the bodies of all who rise that are like the glory of the luminaries and stars, but only the bodies of those who have lived well and been sober. For even the bodies of worthless people rise incorruptible, but they are deprived of the glory of the heavenly bodies. And it is to be noted that the glory of the bodies that are raised is real as is also that of the luminaries.

(at 1 Corinthians 15:41)

The dead will be raised, their body, which was formerly corruptible, becoming incorruptible. Now some say here “we shall be changed,” in contrast to the statement some others make, whosoever they are, on the topic of the dead, namely “we are raised incorruptible in our bodies, whereas our souls are changed when they are altered to conform to a better and more divine quality.” But another person says the dead who are sinners are raised incorruptible in order to endure eternal punishments but [those] who have lived virtuously [i.e., towards excellence] are changed from glory to glory. The mortal is therefore also corruptible, not indeed the reverse. Therefore the corruptible puts on incorruption, and the mortal puts on immortality in the crucial moment of the resurrection of the dead.

(at 1 Corinthians 15:52-53)

Didymus is right. The reason that the dead are resurrected is so that they can be eternally punished. What I had not noticed before reading Didymus is that the resurrection of the dead is one that is to incorruption.  In other words, if their bodies were corruptible, they would be able to return to their previous state, but because their bodies are raised incorruptible, they will endure the pains of hell forever.

What distinguishes the resurrection of the elect from the resurrection of the reprobate for Didymus is that the elect will be raised to glory:

1 Corinthians 15:42
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

1 Corinthians 15:52
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

My primary concern about this particular point is that the grave is associated with corruption of the body.  Moreover, in several places, this seems to be the reward for evil-doers:

Galatians 6:8
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

2 Peter 2:12
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;

However, those verses could refer generically to death and more generally to the fact that the good things of this life are corruptible:

Matthew 6:19-20
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

1 Corinthians 9:25
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

So, perhaps Didymus’ point is stronger than I thought. Moreover, the only verses that talk about post-resurrection bodies don’t specifically differentiate between the elect and the reprobate. So, I may have been too cautious to accept his proposal.

-TurretinFan

Mary: Quasi-Incarnation of the Holy Spirit?

April 15, 2013

A typical accusation against Roman Catholics is that they make Mary out to be virtually a fourth member of the Trinity, converting the Trinity into a quadernity. Of course, all knowledgeable and conservative Roman Catholics disavow such a view. Nevertheless, there is a view within Roman Catholicism (meaning that it has been taught by some Roman Catholic theologians and it has not been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church), that goes a step further and tries to unite Mary with the third person of the Trinity.

This view is referred to as the “quasi-incarnation of the Spirit.”

Apparently, Maximilian Kolbe (a Roman Catholic “saint” from the 20th century) is the person most closely associated with this view. Dwight Campbell explains:

In other writings the Polish friar attempts to describe Mary’s deep, intimate union with the Third Person of the Trinity from her conception, by calling Mary the “quasi-incarnation” of the Holy Spirit. He is careful to stress that this union “is not of the same order as the hypostatic union linking the human and divine natures in Christ”; for he repeated often that the Holy Spirit does not dwell in Mary in the same way in which the Eternal Word is present in the sacred humanity of Jesus.

The need for these caveats up front hints at what is coming.  Campbell further explains:

With the term “quasi-incarnation” Kolbe means that Mary is so much like (quasi) the Holy Spirit, in that she reflects the Third Person of the Trinity especially in two qualities or attributes: receptivity and fruitfulness. The Holy Spirit is the Fruit of the Father and the Son. He was “eternally conceived,” if you will, as the Fruit of the all-pure love which has forever flowed between the Father and the Son. He receives the mutual love of the Father and the Son and eternally fructifies it within the inner life of the Trinity. Mary’s sinlessness from conception is the fruit of God’s love. At Mary’s conception the Holy Spirit conformed her to himself. The Blessed Virgin, by reason of the singular grace of her Immaculate Conception, is totally receptive to the love of God. At the Annunciation she receives God’s love and in cooperation with the Holy Spirit makes that love fruitful — infinitely so — in conceiving the Incarnate Word.

I’m sure my Orthodox friends will be quick to notice that Kolbe’s view springs out of his double-procession view of the Holy Spirit, something traditionally rejected in Eastern Orthodoxy.  Moreover, it is odd to make the Holy Spirit the “fruit,” regardless.  Wouldn’t the the Son be a better example of uncreated fruit?

Campbell quotes Kolbe as saying:

[T]he Holy Spirit manifests his share in the word of Redemption through the Immaculate Virgin who, although she is a person entirely distinct from him, is so intimately associated with him that our minds cannot understand it. So, while their union is not of the same order as the hypostatic union linking the human and divine natures in Christ, it remains true to say that Mary’s action is the very action of the Holy Spirit.

Notice this claim – Mary’s action is the action of the Holy Spirit.  How much closer to making Mary a fourth person of the Trinity could one get?

And again:

When we reflect on these two truths: that all graces come from the Father by the Son and the Holy Spirit; and that our Holy Mother Mary is, so to speak, one with the Holy Spirit, we are driven to the conclusion that this Most Holy Mother is indeed the intermediary by whom all graces come to us.

Notice how in this picture, Jesus is no longer the mediator of all graces, Mary is.  This exaltation of Mary comes not only at the expense of the Spirit, but of the Son as well.

Dr. Mark Miravalle (a professor of theology and mariology) video in which he tries to explain Kolbe’s “unique contribution” to mariology. A big chunk of the video explanation is actually a rant against contraception, but that is what it is.  The remainder confirms much of what we read above.

He points out that Kolbe calls the Holy Spirit the “uncreated Immaculate Conception.” Why wouldn’t that be Jesus? Miravalle does not tell us. According to Miravalle, Kolbe argues that the Holy Spirit and Mary are spouses (!). Moreover, the allegation is that Mary and the Holy Spirit work together to “bring forth the graces leading the redemption and the fruit of the redemption.” Kolbe actually says that calling their relationship spousal is “too weak” to describe their relationship.

In a follow-up section, Miravalle explains that the better analogy is the hypostatic union. Kolbe claims that, as we saw above, the Holy Spirit “in a certain sense was incarnate in Mary.” The distinctions he makes is that the Holy Spirit is not actually incarnate, and that the Holy Spirit is a different person from Mary. However, according to Miravalle, Kolbe takes the position that “if the Holy Spirit were to become incarnate, he would be Mary.”

But it goes farther than that. Miravalle attributes to Kolbe the idea that “the Holy Spirit acts only through Mary his spouse.” That, of course, leads to the idea that Mary is the “mediatrix of all graces.”  But notice that Miravalle’s way of expressing Kolbe provides the flip-side to the coin we saw above.  Above, all of Mary’s acts are the Holy Spirit’s acts, but now all of the Holy Spirit’s acts are Mary’s acts.  The two become functionally indistinguishable, and again Jesus as mediator is pushed out of the picture.

It should not be surprising that Kolbe’s devotional life expressed Mariolatry. For example, he apparently composed the Immaculata prayer, which states:

O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.
If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin
R. Give me strength against your enemies
Amen

(source)

Notice that he says that the “entire order of mercy” is entrusted to Mary and that “all graces come to us” through Mary’s hands.  At least Jesus is mentioned, but he is mentioned on the other side of the transaction – not as a mediator, but as the one needing Mary’s mediation with mankind.

Notice that he casts himself at Mary’s feet and gives himself to her.  Notice that he relies on an interpretation/mistranslation of Genesis 3:15 that substitutes Mary for Jesus as the one who crushes the serpent’s head.  Notice that he attributes to Mary the destruction of “all heresies.”

The “daily renewal” prayer for the same adds to the errors:

Immaculata, Queen and Mother of the Church,
I renew my consecration to you for this day and for always, so that you might use me for the coming of the Kingdom of Jesus in the whole world. To this end I offer you all my prayers, actions and sacrifices for this day.

Notice that this is not just an acknowledgment of prayers to Mary, but also an offering of “all my … sacrifices”.  The only way in which he does not treat Mary as divine is to explicitly say “you are divine.”

The parallels made to the divine don’t stop there.  Deacon Antonio explains:

The infinite love that Jesus had for the Father made him a special image of the Father; it made him an “icon” of the Father. An icon is not simply an image; it is a window into a spiritual reality. Jesus essentially told Philip, “If you know me, you know the spiritual reality of who the Father is”.

Mary has been called the Icon of the Holy Spirit, no doubt, because of the profound love that united her to the Holy Spirit throughout her life. As an icon of the Holy Spirit, Mary reveals the Holy Spirit to us. And we should also see Mary in the Holy Spirit. Saint Maximilian Kolbe believed this, because he called the Holy Spirit the “Uncreated Immaculate Conception” and he called Mary the “created Immaculate Conception”.

Notice the comparison – like Jesus is the Icon the Father, Mary is the Icon of the Holy Spirit.  But the fact that Jesus is the Icon of the Father proves that Jesus is divine.  So, what should we gather from Mary’s Icon-status?  Well, clearly she is being treated in nearly every way as if she were a fourth person of the Trinity, except to actually say that she is a fourth person of the Trinity.

My friend David King provided an interesting patristic response to the idea that Spirit becoming incarnate:

Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-95): [Apollinarius] claims that this man is from heaven because the heavenly spirit took on flesh. Where does scripture speak of such a thing? Which author of the sacred text says that spirit became incarnate? Neither the Gospel nor the great Apostle [Paul] has taught us such a thing. Instead, the Gospel proclaims “the Word became flesh” [Jn 1.14] and the Spirit descended in the form of a dove [Mt 3.16]. Nothing is said here of the Spirit becoming incarnate with regard to the mystery of our faith. “His glory has dwelt in our land” [Ps 84.10]. “Truth has sprung from the earth” [Ps 84.12]. “God has manifested himself in flesh” [1Tm 3.126]. “Righteousness has looked down from heaven” [Ps 84.12]. These and other examples show that the divinely inspired scripture does not mention the Spirit’s incarnation. (Translation via here)

Greek text: Τοῦτον δέ φησιν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ διὰ τοῦτο καλεῖσθαι, διότι τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ οὐράνιον ἐσαρκώθη. Τίς Γραφὴ ταῦτα λέγει; εἰς τίνα τῶν ἁγίων ἀναφέρει τὸν λόγον, ὅτι πνεῦμα ἐσαρκώθη; Οὐχ οὕτως παρὰ τῶν Εὐαγγελίων ἠκούσαμεν, οὐχ οὕτως παρὰ τῆς μεγάλης τοῦ Ἀποστόλου φωνῆς ἐδι δάχθημεν, ἀλλʼ ὅτι μὲν ὁ Λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο, λέγει τὸ κήρυγμα καὶ ἐν εἴδει περιστερᾶς τὸ Πνεῦμα καταβῆναί φησιν ἡ εὐαγγελικὴ ἱστορία· σάρκωσιν δὲ πνεύματος οὐδεὶς εἶπε τῶν τῷ πνεύματι λαλούντων μυστήρια. Ἡ δόξα κατεσκήνωσεν ἐν τῇ γῇ ἡμῶν· καὶ Ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐκ τῆς γῆς ἀνέτειλε· καὶ Θεὸς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί· καὶ Δικαιοσύνη ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ διέκυψε· καὶ ἄλλα τοιαῦτα πολλά. Πνεῦμα δὲ σαρκούμενον ἡ θεόπνευστος οὐκ οἶδε γραφή. Adversus Apollinarem, §12, PG 45:1145.

Of course, Kolbe doesn’t say the Holy Spirit was incarnate, only “quasi-incarnate.”  This claim, like the higher claim, fails the test of Scripture.  Scripture does not teach that Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit (she was the spouse of Joseph) or that Mary is quasi-incarnate.  It was not the Holy Spirit who forgot Jesus in Jerusalem.  It was not the Holy Spirit whose request to see Jesus was met with him stretching forth his hands to his disciples and saying, “Behold my mother and my brethren!”

Kolbe’s views aren’t just wrong, they’re blasphemous.  By associating Mary with the Holy Spirit in this way, Kolbe’s views unduly exalt a mere creature and unduly diminish the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

-TurretinFan


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