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Assumption of the Theotokos debunked...

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by Bushmaster78FS, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. Gregorios

    Gregorios Blessed is our God

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    You are correct in your...assumption :D
     
  2. Gregorios

    Gregorios Blessed is our God

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    The Church is quite clear about that, but this person that the OP is refering to is denying the dormition as well as the assumption and also conflating the two.
     
  3. Damaris

    Damaris Active Member

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    All the more reason to stay away from him and leave him alone. He's not doing you any good, and you're not going to do him any good by losing your temper.
     
  4. Ignatius21

    Ignatius21 Can somebody please pass the incense?

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    You know your friend's beliefs and I've never heard of him, but given all his links to Reformed sites and resources, pictures of Jonathan Edwards and the like, I'd find it hard to believe he's into the "rapture" theology. That's almost entirely part of dispensationalism which is in some ways diametrically opposed to the covenantal theology that the Reformers and their heirs held to (and still do). It's hard to find harsher critics of the Rapture than some of the Reformed bloggers and scholars he links to from his site.

    That said, he seems to base his appraisal of the "assumption" on a series of...well, assumptions...that I don't think are necessarily fair.

    For example, to cite works falsely attributed to people (technically pseudepigrapha) as "forged" isn't entirely fair, since it implies to modern minds a sort of dishonest motive, or an attempt to advance one's own interests by stealing someone else's reputation. Works of these kinds are all over history and very often they were written in another person's name almost as a way of honoring that person...or in sincere belief that the writer's views are in line with the person who is no longer living. Many scholars (including some generally conservative people) do at least hold open the possibility that letters of the NT, including some of Paul's and 2 Peter are works written by their disciples and attributed to them. To call them "forgeries" therefore isn't probably accurate.

    Secondly, he assumes that anything not mentioned in Scripture isn't something that could have happened. His facts about the deaths of the apostles necessarily happening before Mary's death are based on the assumption that, since Mary's death (and assumption!) aren't recorded by Luke, they must not have happened yet. Joseph's death isn't recorded either but it's very likely he DID die sometime before the crucifixion (and most conservative, Reformed people are just fine with believing that). Of course that's no article of dogma.

    Thirdly he assumes that because something doesn't appear in written record until several centuries later, it must have suddenly appeared at that time and therefore wasn't believed earlier. It may also be that someone finally recorded something that had been believed for a very long time but hadn't been formally recorded.

    He also cites Schaff, who was quite a famous historian, but whose works had a definite polemical bent and interpreted much of history as a record of fables and legends simply growing over time. I think he was predisposed to see things that way.

    As someone remarked earlier, his facts do appear to be right. The problem is that the facts by themselves don't prove or disprove anything. It may be that the beliefs about Mary took shape over time and within a given community of believers (i.e. the Christians!). It's just as true that your friend's hermeneutical paradigm, which he uses to refute things he disagrees with, likewise evolved over time (in the late middle ages) in reaction against a particular tradition (Roman Catholicism) and within a given community of believers (i.e. Protestants). Yet he is treating it as a neutral, unbiased factual platform from which to critique other viewpoints. It may be that Mary's assumption didn't appear in writing until the 4th century as he says. It's also true that sola scriptura and the other Protestant distinctives didn't appear in writing until the 16th century. That doesn't seem to keep him from believing that they actually were the beliefs of the early church, which requires an awful lot of selective reading between the lines.

    So having said all that, I don't actually see malice on the part of your friend's article. I can't see that he's trying to attack Mary, for instance. It's quite likely he believes he's defending her against the mythical figure he thinks was invented by Catholics and Orthodox. To stop praying for him would seem a little unwarranted...unless he is "committing the sin leading to death" (1 John) I can't see a reason to stop praying. But forgive me for presuming to say such things.
     
  5. Bushmaster78FS

    Bushmaster78FS Senior Contributor

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    Well, I thank you guys for the responses, especially wturri78 thanks (you should plaster your response on his blog so you can see what kind of "I am never wrong" type of personality I have dealt with over the couple years I have known him) He causes me stumble so I need a break from him. I did take a break from him last year when he left the church and sent me a similar blog post type of reason why he left the church based on many similar assumptions however after a few months I had cooled down and added him back to my contacts. No I am not doing that anymore. He posted that during Lent to attack the apostolic church, any other reason considering his history?
     
  6. Ignatius21

    Ignatius21 Can somebody please pass the incense?

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    I think I know well the "I am never wrong" mentality, because it manifests itself on virtually every blog site on the Internet :)

    I have noticed a certain zeal on the part of converts to anything who seem to feel as though they've been cheated out of so many years of life, by whatever beliefs they formerly held. Now they have to go out and prove to the world that they've changed, and try to pummel everyone else into following them.

    Among Reformed Christians who fall into this convert zeal, yes, I've found a lot of the "I can't be wrong" attitude and it tends to manifest itself as an overwhelming amount of data they absorb and then send back at you. "You think YOU have an opinion? Go read these 4,000 books and then come back to me and we'll talk." There's an implied "you don't know enough to disagree with me" in there. That's followed by "Oh, you read them? Well now go read them in Greek and Aramaic." Their new viewpoint basically becomes the lense through which they now view everything, and therefore becomes "neutral" to them, which means they can't ever actually look back at themselves again.

    I'm sure you've seen converts to Catholicism who suddenly start lobbing Church Father quote-bombs at everyone to show them that the whole church has always and unquestionably followed the Pope, and it's SO OBVIOUS, and why can't you see it too???

    Personally I don't see the need to become vicious against our former beliefs unless we feel really, really compelled to always justify our new beliefs to ourselves, in which case maybe we aren't really as certain as we think we are. I seem to be on a trajectory away from the Calvinist theology I was absorbed in for several years, and while i'm finding many things I disagree with (or at least see very valid reasons why people can and do disagree), I don't feel any animosty toward it. Nor a compelling reason to try and pry others loose to follow me wherever it is I'm going. But that's me.

    If your friend is causing you to stumble, then staying away from him and especially his blog for a while is probably a good idea. But that's different from not praying for him anymore. I hope he also prays for you.

    Pray for me!:)

    I thought of a case in point...have you observed any debates between James White (Reformed) and various opponents, particularly Catholic apologists? You'll see that each participant is already so confirmed in his beliefs that he can't be shaken, and most of the audience is present simply to cheer for the side they already agree with. On all sides there's the attitude of "Oh, you haven't learned enough." But it's particularly prominent with Dr. White becuase the man is a walking encyclopedia of religious facts (and sincerely, he's really quite a scholar). But often I noticed a pattern of debate, particularly on his blog interactions, that showed him ultimately to be unchallengable on the basis of knowledge alone, if nothing else. He's always read more, or in more languages, or he's read the better sources. You may have read a mountain of history, but the author you read? Well, you know, he's kind of liberal, and probably not the most reliable...so really, you can't challenge him on his facts because your facts are inferior. He can never lose because he can always point to something he knows that you don't.

    Anyway, I tended to see that a lot in Reformed discussions. When I started seriously questioning some of the foundations and assumptions about Scripture and its interpretation and the nature of the "church," I was given books by Warfield and other scholars who wrote massive tomes. I got many recommendations to read books by Cornelius van Til, whose writings are so dense as to be almost totally incomprehensible. But until I had read them (which I never did), I never really was able to fully discuss matters...there was always something more to study before reaching a conclusion.

    OK, I'll quit now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
  7. Ignatius21

    Ignatius21 Can somebody please pass the incense?

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    This is simple to solve. You just apply John Calvin's reasoning that the inspiration of canonical books is so clear, that to ask which are inspired is like discerning "light from dark, or bitter from sweet."

    Book I, Ch. 7.

    Those who discern the right canon are led by the Spirit. And we know this because their canon will agree with Calvin's, who was unquestionably led by the Spirit. You see? Quit worrying :p
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
  8. laconicstudent

    laconicstudent Well-Known Member

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    :sigh:

    Sorry to hear Bushmaster. Naturally, someone in GH got a hold of that blog and gleefully used his point #3.

    I had to point out that the disappearance of bodily remains being used to assume divine intervention is fairly key to Christian theology.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Macarius

    Macarius Progressive Orthodox Christian Supporter

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    Zing! I like that point - that we as Christians accept the absence of the body of Christ as a sign of the Resurrection, but many would readily forward the exact same arguments used by atheists against the Resurrection when attacking the Dormition of Mary.

    Honestly, though, I don't see how the Dormition can be attacked. We all believe that, at some point, Mary died. There's no reason aside from rank speculation to say that she had to die AFTER the Apostles. Yes - she MAY have been a source for Luke, but those sources could have been compiled during the 50's and 60's (shortly before her death and before the death of most of the Apostles). It needn't be the case that he interviewed her right AS he was composing the Gospel of Luke (if it was even written in the 70's, as some think).

    Even still, the presence of the Apostles at her death isn't the main thrust (theologically speaking) any more than (in the Gospels) the EXACT people that St. Peter denied Christ to aren't the central point (and indeed, in the three synpotic gospels, it is three different sets of people who are depicted as hearing Peter's denials). The point, in the later, is that Peter DID deny Christ three times. In the former, the point is that Mary fulfilled the hope of Christians by dying a holy death and being recieved into the arms of Christ. The center of the icon for the Dormition is Christ holding Mary much like Mary (in most icons) holds Christ. Having held God-Incarnate as her child, Mary was recieved into the arms of her Father in Heaven as HIS child.

    THAT is the point - and THAT is the hope of all Christians: to become children of God.
     
  10. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member

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    I am sorry to hear about your friend, and I agree that you should probably minimize contact with him, but you should always pray for him. always, always, always. there are more than enough "reverts" to the faith to show that prayer works, not to mention St Xenia always praying for her husband.

    God gave his own betrayer every oppertunity to repent and return, so we should never give up on others.
     
  11. Bushmaster78FS

    Bushmaster78FS Senior Contributor

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    In the availability of the counter arguments from Orthodox, he just plays the "show me in the scripture" trumpet over and over again, even when we showed him from the Early Fathers that leaving the Orthodox faith and Holy Communion is very dangerous to his soul. As you see, he commits to a million logical fallacies, he doesn't realize his arguments can be used against him. I understand he is young and immature, but it almost feels like he is feeling a void in his soul. He almost wants to become some type of authority in what he studies which brings lots of pride.
     
  12. Bushmaster78FS

    Bushmaster78FS Senior Contributor

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    You have nailed this guy on the head, typical mirror image. He was muslim for a couple years, then Orthodox, now Reformed. He says he is staying there. About the zeal of the converts, I experienced similar feelings when I converted from Islam 10 years ago. Not much of those left. I will definitely pray for you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  13. buzuxi02

    buzuxi02 Veteran

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    The article makes strange arguments. There is no mention of the death or funeral of the blessed Virgin Mary at all in the bible. Does this presuppose she didnt die at all?

    Writing in 95 a.d. John says Mary moved in with the beloved disciple ,since the gospel was written from Ephesus does it mean she resided for a time in Ephesus ? Why doesnt John record her death? Why doesnt Luke record how and where Peter and Paul were martyred? How about James? He was stoned to death in 62 a.d., yet this account comes from Josephus the historian and no scripture attests to it.

    The earliest christian account of James martyrdom comes from Hegessipus in 160 a.d, actually it comes from Eusebius the historian in 300 a.d. who quotes from lost fragments of Hegessipus. If it werent for Eusebius we would not have even known that a christian wrote of James death so early.

    Paul is the earliest writer of the NT, he makes no mention of a virgin birth, the closest thing he says about the Theotokos is that when the fullness of time came Christ was born of woman, born under the law. Does that meam we should reject the virgin birth, afterall Paul says Christ is of the seed of David according to the flesh.

    Can this person then using scripture or even the ealiest fathers tell us with certainty how Mary died? Was it natural or violent death? How about what year it happened in?

    The fact remains that there arent any bodily relics of the Virgin Mary. There are of St John the baptist. The emperor Leo I in 473 a.d built a chapel at Blachernae to house the veil of the Virgin, one of the few relics that existed of the Virgin. The relics were brought to Constantinople by Anastasius of Jerusalem in 469 a.d. THis is WHY the earliest writing concerning the assumption date to the late 5th century, this church was the catalyst needed to clarify what end the Virgin met. The St Mary Church of Blachernae was one of the great churches of Christendom, before hagia Sophia was built and it brought out the vague tradition(s) concerning the Theotokos end to the general population where it was finally confronted. The church historian and monk Cyril of Scythopoulos in 550 a.d while residing in the Euthymian monastery in Palestine. tells us it all started unraveling in about 451 a.d. when the emperor asked Juvenal to bring the relics of the Theotokos to Chalcedon, where Juvenal responded that no such relics exist, that the tomb only contains some garments only.

    In the early church (pre 400ad) there was a tradition among the pious that she was martyred. St Epiphanius in 370 a.d gives the three prevailing theories of his time. That she either died a natural death, was martyred, or still remains alive. The Church Fathers agreed that she was not martyred and this pious myth based on the scriptural passage that a sword shall pierce her heart does not allude to a violent death.
    Numerous pre 4th century apocryphal (about 50) speak of the death of the Theotokos and by 320 a.d. Helen mother of the emperor Constantine erected a basilica over an empty tomb identified as the burial place of Mary. Regardless the tradition originates directly from Jerusalem
    As st Ignatius taught, God keeps many of the mysteries secret until the time is right:

    "And hidden from the prince of this world were the virginity of Mary, and her giving birth, and likewise the death of the Lord: three mysteries crying out to be told, but wrought in the silence of God" (Ephesians 19.1).
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  14. Tigg

    Tigg Senior Veteran

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    Tip toeing in here to say thank you for your post. Beautifully put. :thumbsup:

    "The center of the icon for the Dormition is Christ holding Mary much like Mary (in most icons) holds Christ. Having held God-Incarnate as her child, Mary was recieved into the arms of her Father in Heaven as HIS child." -Macarius

    Take care and God bless.

    Edit: Thanks to all in this thread.
     
  15. Bushmaster78FS

    Bushmaster78FS Senior Contributor

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    Ditto
     
  16. Dylan Michael

    Dylan Michael Senior Veteran

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    I'll be praying for your friend. :crossrc:
     
  17. Bushmaster78FS

    Bushmaster78FS Senior Contributor

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    Interesting that I noticed a word document my wife downloaded sometime ago in this subject, I would like to quote it here, there is no mention of an author....

     
  18. Bushmaster78FS

    Bushmaster78FS Senior Contributor

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    Continued...
     
  19. Bushmaster78FS

    Bushmaster78FS Senior Contributor

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    Continued...
     
  20. Bushmaster78FS

    Bushmaster78FS Senior Contributor

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    Continued...