Archive for the ‘C S Lewis’ Category

C.S. Lewis on the Vatican Website – Priestesses and a Fourth Trinitarian Person?

April 22, 2013

C.S. Lewis, in an article at the Vatican website, states:

The Middle Ages carried their reverence for one Woman to a point at which the charge could plausibly made that the Blessed Virgin became in their eyes almost ‘a fourth Person of the Trinity.’


Wondering why an article by C.S. Lewis is being posted on the Vatican website? The topic of the article is “Priestesses in the Church?” It was written in opposition to the introduction of priestesses into the Anglican church.

Are his arguments sound or usable by Roman Catholics? I think they are not:

That this reaction does not spring from any contempt for women is, I think, plain from history. The Middle Ages carried their reverence for one Woman to a point at which the charge could plausibly made that the Blessed Virgin became in their eyes almost ‘a fourth Person of the Trinity.’ But never, so far as I know, in all those ages was anything remotely resembling a sacerdotal office attributed to her. All salvation depends on the decision which she made in the words Ecce ancilla [Behold the handmaid of the Lord]; she is united in nine months’ inconceivable intimacy with the eternal Word; she stands at the foot of the cross. But she is absent both from the Last Supper and from the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost. Such is the record of Scripture. Nor can you daff it aside by saying that local and temporary conditions condemned women to silence and private life. There were female preachers. One man had four daughters who all ‘prophesied,’ i.e. preached. There were prophetesses even in the old Testament times. Prophetesses, not priestesses.

a) There has been a big push within Roman Catholicism to describe Mary in terms of being a mediatrix or “co-mediatrix,” which places her in a priestly role.
b) Mary was absent from the Lord’s Supper, but only the Lord is the Priest of the Supper, the apostles were beneficiaries not priests.
c) Moreover, women are free to participate as beneficiaries even though Mary was not at the supper.
d) There doesn’t appear to be anything particularly priestly about the distribution of extraordinary gifts at Pentecost. After all, the sign gift of prophecy also came to Philip’s four daughters.
e) Prophecy doesn’t necessarily involve preaching. We’re not given any details about what kind of prophecy the daughters of Philip had. It may have been simple seeing, as with Agabus, who foretold Paul’s bonds. On the other hand, it may have been like Huldah’s prophecy:

2 Chronicles 34:23-28
And she answered them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to me, thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah: because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched.
And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the Lord, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard; because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the Lord. Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same.

That communicates a lot more information, and comes closer to preaching, although it is obviously not preaching in the sense of expounding or exhorting in a derivative way.


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