Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Loraine Boettner’s List – Part 3: Mary and the Saints (Items 4,6,11,17,20,35,40,44,45*)

*Item 45 appears in the 1965 edition, not in the original 1962 publication

To keep this from being a 10-part series, I’m going to cover more per post and attempt to lump things into similar groups. This means longer posts…so I’ll let Mr. Ariss’ examinations speak for themselves and add my own comments in blue where I feel more clarification is needed. Everything in black ink, from here on, is quoted directly from Wayne Ariss (with his generous permission…see link in the very first part of this series) :

"4. Veneration of angels and saints, and use of images....375.

The veneration (or respect) paid to angels can be found in the First Apology of Justin Martyr (148 AD). In Chapter VI, he states that "the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him...we worship and adore" [7].

Likewise, Athenagoras of Athens wrote in Chapter X of the Supplication For the Christians (c.177 AD): "Nor is our teaching in what relates to the divine nature confined to these points [the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit]; but we recognize also a multitude of angels and ministers" [8]. It will be noted in both these examples that Boettner is off by approximately 200 years.

The earliest reference to veneration of the saints can be found in The Martyrdom of Polycarp, a document dating from around 155 AD: "Christ we adore, because He is the Son of God. To the martyrs, on the other hand, we offer the love which is due to disciples and ministers of the Lord, on account of their unsurpassable devotion to their King and Lord" [9]. This again makes Boettner's date 200 years off.

Insofar as images go, both Exodus 25:18 and Numbers 21:8 mention images being constructed at God's command. Boettner apparently gets his date of 375 AD from Basil the Great, who writes in his treatise The Holy Spirit from that same year that honor paid to an image is honor paid to God Himself [10]. Basil appears to be merely offering a definition of the use of images, however, since images go as far back as the late 2nd century; archaeological discoveries have revealed paintings on the walls of Roman catacombs depicting Christ, the saints, and scenes from Scripture, which gradually developed into frescoes, then mosaics, and finally bas-relief and statues [11]. Eusebius, who lived from 263 to 340 AD, described a statue he had personally seen, depicting Christ healing the woman of Caesarea Philippi (History of the Church, VII, xviii; 300-325 AD). All of these examples place Boettner anywhere from 50 to 200 years off the mark.
[8] ibid.
[9] Maxwell Staniforth, Early Christian Writings. New York: Penguin Books, 1968; pg 131.
Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1960; pp 318-319.
[10] Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers. Volume 2, pg 18.
[11] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, "Catacombs", pp 422-424.
Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, "Images", pp 665-668.

6. Beginning of the exaltation of Mary, the term "Mother of God" first applied to her by the Council of Ephesus....431.

The Third Ecumenical Council, held at Ephesus in 431 AD, did indeed declare that Mary was the Mother of God. However, Mary bore this title long before Ephesus; Ignatius of Antioch states in his Epistle to the Ephesians (110 AD): "For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan" [13]. Irenaeus of Lyons writes in Against Heresies (180-199 AD), "The Virgin Mary...being obedient to His word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God" [14]. Finally Ephraim the Syrian (d.373 AD) composed a hymn with the words "This Virgin became a Mother while preserving her virginity....and the handmaid and work of His wisdom became the Mother of God" [15]. In these three examples, Boettner is off by 321 years, 232 years, and 58 years, respectively.
[13] Jurgens, Vol. 1. pg 18.
[14] ibid., pg 101.
[15] ibid., pg 312.

[It’s also worth noting that Elizabeth, in Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Luke calls Mary the “mother of my Lord”. “Lord” in Scripture always refers to God, and no Christian denies that Christ is indeed God. “Mother of God” is not just a title, but a reality given to her by God Himself…which makes Boettner off by nearly 400 years. Even the reformers recognized this. ]

11. Prayers directed to Mary, dead saints and angels, about....600.

The most complete ancient prayer which was addressed to Mary asked for her intercession in times of difficulty and danger; entitled Sub Tuum Praesidium, or "Under Your Protection", it dates from approximately 250 AD, making Boettner's date approximately 350 years off [19]. Besides this, Marian devotions flourished after the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, nearly 200 years before Boettner's date [20].

For prayers directed to saints and angels, see Number 4 above.
[19] Mark Miravalle, Introduction to Mary. Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Co., 1993, pg 27.
[20] ibid., pg 28

[Boettner makes a similar assumption that the Sadducees made in Mk 12. Christ corrected their erroneous thinking in verses 26-27…that God is God of the LIVING, not the “dead”. Moses’ and Elijah’s appearance with Christ, among other examples in Scripture, confirm that those dearly departed from this world are not “dead”, but alive…more alive than we are, I’d wager. For more on praying for one another, or angelic or saintly intercession, see Rom 15:30, Col 4:3, Tob 12:12, Rev, 5:8, Rev 6:9-11, Lk 16:19-30, etc…]

17. Worship of St. Joseph....890.

[Here, it should be clarified that “worship” in 21st century America does NOT carry the same meaning as “worship “ in 19th century Europe. The easiest explanation is that we worship God and God alone. But, since it’s bound to come up, there are 3 definitions associated with “worship”: 1) Latria (adoration…only for God), 2) Dulia (honor or veneration, such as to a judge, lawful authority, one’s parents), and 3) hyper-dulia (elevated form of dulia given to Christ’s Mother in keeping with His perfect example of honoring His Mother). To have this discussion honestly and effectively, “worship” must be understood equally by both persons FIRST. When you agree on the definition of worship you will use, THEN proceed.]

All Catholic saints are "worshiped", of course, but only in the sense of dulia, or veneration, and not latria, the actual worship given only to God. In the case of St. Joseph, he was venerated by the Copts as early as the start of the 300's AD; and an oratory was dedicated to him in a basilica erected by St. Helena around the same general time [32]. The apocryphal work The History of Joseph was widespread in the East from the 4th to the 7th centuries, although his cult was not widespread in the West until the 15th century, when his feast was introduced into the Roman calendar in 1479 [33].

In either event, Boettner has missed the mark by a margin of approximately 600 years in both directions.
[32] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, "Joseph"; pg 505.
[33] John J. Delaney, Dictionary of Saints. New York: Doubleday, 1980, pg 330.

20. Canonization of dead saints, first by pope John XV....995.

Since veneration of Christian martyrs is mentioned by Eusebius, Augustine, Cyprian, and Cyril of Alexandria (see also Number 4 above), not to mention the religious celebration of the day of St. Polycarp's martyrdom (155 AD), the veneration of saints has been around since the earliest days of the Church. Usually the bishop of a specific diocese would promulgate the veneration of a local martyr; when this veneration was confirmed by the Pope, it then became universal [37].

The specific instance mentioned by Boettner here, however, was the canonization of St. Ulrich, the Bishop of Augsburg (890-973). Pope John XV announced the canonization---much in the same way that any local bishop might---at a synod held at the Lateran Palace on 31 January 993, and also published the same in a bull to the German and French bishops dated 3 February [38].

This is the first time that a Pope solemnly canonized a saint, so Boettner is half right; however, it is not the first instance of a saint being recognized as officially canonized, as we have seen, although this is clearly what Boettner meant to imply. The striking part is that even when Boettner is partially correct, he still can't seem to get his dates right, since he states this event took place in 995, when it was actually 993, making him two years off the mark.
[37] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, "Beatification and Canonization", pp 364-365.
[38] ibid., Vol. 8, "John XV", pg 428.

35. The Ave Maria (part of the last half was completed 50 years later and approved by pope Sixtus V at the end of the 16th century)....1508.

If Boettner is asserting that the "Hail Mary" prayer was invented in 1508, that is nonsense, since the first part of the Hail Mary is found in Scripture; Luke 1:28 finds Gabriel saluting Mary with "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you", followed by Luke 1:42, in which Elizabeth continues, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb". The prayer remained thus until the 15th century, when the words "Jesus Christ, amen" came into common usage.

The prayer as we now know it first appears in the "Calendar of Shepherds", which was published in France in 1493; a book written by Girolamo Savonarola in 1495 also contains the entire prayer as we know it, minus the word "us" [70]. Thus, Boettner is off by 15 years for the "first half" of his chronology for the end of the prayer, and by 65 years for the "second half".
[70] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, "Hail Mary", pp 111-112.

40. Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, proclaimed by pope Pius IX....1854.

The Immaculate Conception of Mary (meaning the doctrine that she was conceived free from stain of original sin) goes back at least to St. Ephraim of Nisbis, who wrote in 370 AD that Mary was "immune from all spot...nor any taint" could be found in her [78]. Various other Patristic Fathers also described Mary in like terms---St. Ambrose said she was "free from all stain of sin"; Severus of Antioch said she was "pure from all taint"; Sophronius of Jerusalem called her "pre-purified"; Andrew of Crete called her the "pure and Immaculate Virgin"; and Theognastes of Constantinople said she was "conceived by a sanctifying action" [79].

Pius IX officially defined this existing doctrine and declared it to be a dogma in his bull Ineffabilis Deus in 1854 [80]---but as with many things Boettner misinterprets, Pius did not invent the Immaculate Conception; it existed as a concept more than 1400 years before 1854.
[78] Mark Miravalle, Introduction to Mary. Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1993; pg 40.
[79] ibid., pg 40.
[80] ibid., pg 41.

44. Assumption of the Virgin Mary (bodily ascention into heaven shortly after her death), proclaimed by pope Pius XII.....1950.

As with the cases of the Immaculate Conception and Papal infallibility, Boettner tries to give the impression that the Assumption of Mary is something that the Vatican "invented" in recent years. While the Assumption was admittedly a gradual development within the belief of the Church, the fact is that the concept pre-dates its definition by better than 1300 years.

The first explicit reference to this doctrine is from Gregory of Tours (d.593), who states in his letter Libri miraculorum that Mary's body was borne to heaven after her death; other references come from Germain of Constantinople, Andrew of Crete, and John Damascene, who mentions in his Second Homily on the Dormition of Mary (c.745 AD) that three days after Mary's death, her coffin was opened, to reveal empty grave wrappings, but no trace of her body [88]. Although all of these references date from the 8th century, liturgical feasts in honor of the Assumption began to appear in Christian churches in Syria and Egypt during the 6th century; in Gaul in the 7th century; in Rome by the 8th century; and were universally celebrated by the whole of East and West by the 13th century [89].
[88] Romero, pg 282.
[89] Miravalle, pp 52-53.

45. Mary proclaimed Mother of the Church, by pope Paul VI.....1965.

This was an addendum to Boettner's original book, as the first publication date for Roman Catholicism was 1962; however, Boettner remains off in his dates, since the proclamation of Mary as Mother of the Church was issued by Pope Paul VI not in 1965, but on November 21, 1964: "Therefore, for the glory of the Blessed Virgin and our consolation, we declare most holy Mary Mother of the Church, that is of the whole Christian people" [90].

As with most of the other items in Boettner's list, the subject of Mary's title as Mother of the Church in neither anything new nor terribly controversial; the earliest reference to Mary as "Virgin Mother of the Church" can be found in a work by Berengaud of Treves (d.1125) in which he says "By the Woman (Revelation 12:1), we may understand Blessed Mary, for she is Mother of the Church for having engendered the one who is head of the Church" [91]. Rupert of Deutz (d.1135) in his Canticum Canticorum refers to Mary as the "Mother of Churches"; and Denis the Carthusian (d.1471) refers to Mary as "Mother of the whole Church" [92].

Further references to Mary under this title can be found in the writings of St. Antoninus of Florence, St. Lawrence, St. Peter Canasius, Matthias Scheeben, and St. John Bosco. As can be clearly seen, Mary was being referred to as "Mother of the Church" 840 years before Boettner's implication that Pope Paul VI "invented" the title.
[90] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition. Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference/Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997; pg 251.
[91] Leon Suprenant, Jr., "Mary, Mother of the Church". Catholics United For the Faith,
[92] ibid."

In the next part of the series, we’ll cover Extreme Unction , Baptism of Bells (WHAAAAT?!), Idolatry, and a few others, including another item regarding Purgatory that I missed in the very first part. There are 30 items remaining, so I’ll try to squeeze in 10 per post and finish it as a 6-part series.

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