The Object of Her Irrepressible Scorn

Roman Catholicism scorns the religion of Protestants because for the same reason that she scorns the Early Church.
Measure Rome first by the Word of God. And then by what she hates.

In our article last week, Longing for Nicæa, we mentioned that Rome’s relationship with the Early Church manifests in a love-hate dichotomy. She loves to identify with the era in order to allege antiquity, but she hates what she finds there, for it betrays her later origins. Last week we showed how frequently Rome appeals to the Nicæan and ante-Nicæan era to prove the antiquity of her novelties, and how frequently she is rebuffed by the Early Church. This week we show how frequently Rome has to distance herself from the Nicæan and ante-Nicæan church because the Early Church was in fact a different religion from Roman Catholicism.

The Love and the Hate on Mary’s Sinlessness

Consider the doctrine of the sinlessness of Mary. Pius IX alleged ante-Nicæan antiquity to the doctrine, saying that “illustrious documents of venerable antiquity, of both the Eastern and the Western Church, very forcibly testify” to it (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus,1854).

That’s the “love.”

But what of the statements about Mary from the Early Church, statements that reflect a disinterest in her holiness, and “a familiarity which borders on discourtesy” (Evangelical Catholic Apologetics (ECA), The Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God from Juniper Carol’s Mariology and Ullathorne’s Immaculate Conception).

What about Tertullian’s statements that Mary is a figure for the Synagogue that rejected Christ? (Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ, chapter 7). What about Origen’s statement that Mary was a sinner and the sword that pierced her soul (Luke 2:35) was unbelief? (Origen, Homilies on Luke, 17.6-7). What about Basil’s statement that the sword was doubt, and further that Mary was not healed of her sins until after the Cross? (Basil, Letter 260.8-9). What about Chrysostom’s belief that Mary was vainglorious and needed to be corrected of her error? (John Chrysostom, Homilies in Matthew, Homily 44.3). What about Hilary of Poitiers, who Roman Catholic historians reluctantly acknowledge has Mary “destined to undergo the scrutiny of God’s judgment, of faults that are slight”? (see Hilary of Portiers, Tractatus in Ps 118; Patrologia Latina Volume 9 p. 523).

These early writers came to these conclusions about Mary based on what they knew of her from the Annunciation (Luke 1), the Presentation (Luke 2:35), the Wedding at Cana (John 2), Jesus’ teaching ministry (John 7:5, Matthew 12:46), the Crucifixion (John 19:25) and Romans 3:23.

When Protestants use the very same Bible verses to argue, as the Early Church did, that Mary was a sinner like us, we are met with such responses as the following from a Roman Catholic who commented on this site:

“I know what verses you mean, and as is typical with anti-Mary Protestants, you read far too much into it.” (see the comment section of our article, Novel Antiquity)

But if Protestants are “anti-Mary” because we believe Mary was sinful, then the Early Church was “anti-Mary,” too, was it not? What, after all, are we to do with all those “anti-Mary” sentiments of the Early Church?

Pay no attention to them, says the Catholic Encyclopedia. They are all just “stray private opinion”:

“[T]hese stray private opinions merely serve to show that theology is a progressive science.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Immaculate Conception).

As Rome’s apologists painfully acknowledge, the Early Church was clearly unaware of any obligation to represent Mary as sinless:

“It would seem that before Ephesus some prominent churchmen and some of the laity in Alexandria and Caesarea of Cappadocia, in Antioch and Caesarea of Palestine, (a) were not aware of an obligation to represent the Mother of God as utterly sinless; and (b) did not regard the presence of sin, perhaps even serious sin, as incompatible with her singular sanctity” (Evangelical Catholic Apologetics (ECA), The Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God)

And there’s the “hate.”

The Early Church rejected the sinlessness of Mary. Just like Protestants.

Yes, the Early Church was so unfamiliar with Rome’s modern beliefs that it was perfectly comfortable representing Mary as guilty of “perhaps even serious sin” and was unaware of any obligation to teach modern Roman Mariology. It was not until 377 A.D. that “a significant turning point in the Mariological consciousness of the West” occurs (Evangelical Catholic Apologetics, The Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God). It was then that Roman Catholicism came along and “restored” the apostolic Church to its full Mariological “health.”

The Love and the Hate on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

We see the same pattern with the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. As we noted last week, Roman Catholics often perceive that the Church has always taught the perpetual virginity of Mary—before, during and after the birth of Christ. This is how Catholics United for the Faith represents the tradition:

“The Church has always professed that Mary was a virgin ‘ante partum, in partu, et post partum,’ i.e., before birth, during birth, and after the birth of Christ. … The teaching on Mary’s virginity in partu and the ‘miraculous birth’ that did not violate her physical integrity has been clearly taught throughout the life of the Church. … Mary’s virginity post partum, while not explicitly taught in Scripture, is repeatedly taught by the Latin, Greek, and Syriac Fathers.” (Catholics United for the Faith, Mary’s Perpetual Virginity)

That’s the “love.”

There have, however, been modern and ancient detractors. William Most, in his article on Mary’s virginity in partu, complained that modern scholars like Socci, Kasper and Mitterer were teaching that Jesus had opened Mary’s womb with all the usual blood of a normal birth. Most wrote,

“This really was an attempt to redefine virgin birth on the basis of speculation, rather than by following the Magisterium. … So the Holy Office was right in calling the ideas of Mitterer and others, ‘flagrant contradiction to the doctrinal tradition of the Church.’ ” (Fr. William Most, Mary’s Virginity During Jesus’ Birth)

But the Early Church, too, was plainly unaware of this “doctrinal tradition.” As preeminent Roman Catholic Mariologist Fr. Juniper Carol informs us, up until the latter part of the fourth century, the number of Christians who were unaware of the “doctrinal tradition” was simply staggering:

“Tertullian is unmistakably clear—and radical. … he is unsparing in advocating the birth of Christ as entirely normal, and in describing Mary as the mother of several children after Christ.”

“[Origen] expressed himself in terms incompatible with Mary’s virginity in partu…”

“Clement held it [Mary’s virginity in partu] explicitly; [but] he realized that it was not held by a great number, who wished to maintain that Christ’s birth in relation to His mother was perfectly normal and natural;”

“In Egypt, then, we find St. Athanasius clearly teaching Mary’s virginity post partum; however, he is well aware that his view is not universally accepted, but is even attacked. He betrays no surprise at this opposition, and by no means proposes his own views as an article of Catholic faith.”

“[we] find in the East, even in the middle of the fourth century, persons, sometimes of considerable authority and prestige, who attributed to Jesus a veritable cortege of brothers and sisters. … it is evident … in a region of the Greek world, apparently Asia Minor, an important Churchman, without any doubt the Archbishop of Caesarea, St. Basil, did not hold the perpetual virginity of Mary as a dogmatic truth, nor did his metropolitan Churches.” (Juniper Carol, The Perpetual Virginity of the Mother of God, Part II, The Patristic Tradition Concerning Mary’s Virginity).

And there’s the “hate.”

“A great number” maintained that her virginity was not preserved in partu; her virginity post partum was not universally accepted, but was even attacked. The Early Church abhorred any dogmatism on Mary’s perpetual virginity. Just like Protestants.

Yes, the Early Church was so oblivious to the dogmatic position on Mary’s perpetual virginity that it lived for three centuries in “flagrant contradiction” of Rome’s modern Marian dogmas. It is impossible actually to find a consistent credible witness to the perpetuity of her virginity—pre partum, in partu, and post partum—until the end of the fourth century, when Roman Catholicism came along and “restored” the apostolic Church to its full Mariological “health.”

The Love and the Hate on the Use of Incense

This same love-hate pattern emerges on the use of incense in worship. When explaining its use, Roman Catholics cannot exactly pinpoint its origins, and so assume that the Early Church simply must have made use of it. Fr. William Saunders makes this connection for us:

“We do not know exactly when the use of incense was introduced into our Mass or other liturgical rites. At the time of the early Church, the Jews continued to use incense in their own Temple rituals, so it would be safe to conclude that the Christians would have adapted its usage for their own rituals.” (Fr. William Saunders, Why is Incense Used During Mass?)

That’s the “love.”

But there is simply no evidence for the claim. In fact, the early church explicitly rejected its use. Barnabas (c. 130 A.D.), Justin Martyr (100 – 165 A.D.) and Lactantius (250 – c. 325 A.D.), to name a few, condemned the use of incense outright. In his description of New Covenant worship, Barnabas cited Isaiah to explain why incense “is a vain abomination,” and to remind his audience that the Lord had “abolished these things:”

“‘Tread no more My courts, not though you bring with you fine flour. Incense is a vain abomination unto Me, and your new moons and sabbaths I cannot endure.’ [Isaiah 1:13] He has therefore abolished these things, that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is without the yoke of necessity, might have a human oblation.” [Psalms 51:17; Philippians 4:18]. (Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 2)

Justin Martyr claimed that we had been taught not to offer incense, but instead to offer prayer:

“[W]orshipping as we do the Maker of this universe, and declaring, as we have been taught, that He has no need of streams of blood and libations and incense; whom we praise to the utmost of our power by the exercise of prayer and thanksgiving for all things wherewith we are supplied …” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, chapter 13)

Lactantius, who died the same year that the Council of Nicæa was convened, wrote to Constantine explaining that even some pagan authors understood the teaching of “the prophets, whom we follow,” rejecting the offering of incense, just as we do:

“But how true this twofold kind of sacrifice is, Trismegistus Hermes is a befitting witness, who agrees with us, that is, with the prophets, whom we follow, as much in fact as in words.  … in that perfect discourse, when he heard Asclepius inquiring from his son whether it pleased him that incense and other odours for divine sacrifice were offered to his father, exclaimed: Speak words of good omen, O Asclepius. For it is the greatest impiety to entertain any such thought concerning that being of pre-eminent goodness. … Therefore the chief ceremonial in the worship of God is praise from the mouth of a just man directed towards God.” (Lactantius, Divine Institutes, Book VI, chapter 25)

It is such consistent testimony as this from the Early Church that gives pause to Roman Catholic apologists who wish to identify the practice with the Early Church, but cannot overcome the Early Church’s refusal to accept it. Thus, they are left wondering when the Church first began to use incense in worship, unable to explain why they can find no early evidence for its use. The best they can do in this case is the fifth century writings of Pseudo-Dionysius. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

“When, exactly, incense was introduced into the religious services of the Church it is not easy to say. During the first four centuries there is no evidence for its use. Still, its common employment in the Temple and the references to it in the New Testament (cf. Luke 1:10; Revelation 8:3-5) would suggest an early familiarity with it in Christian worship. The earliest authentic reference to its use in the service of the Church is found in Pseudo-Dionysius (“De Hier. Ecc.”, III, 2). The Liturgies of Sts. James and Mark — which in their present form are not older than the fifth century — refer to its use at the Sacred Mysteries.” (Catholic Encylopedia, Incense, Use)

All of this of course is swept under the rug of history when Roman Catholics criticize Protestants for not using incense. Those Protestants don’t know what they’re missing! If only they understood the ancient use of incense like we Roman Catholics do!:

“What always strikes me on those occasions is, on entering the church, a strong smell of incense. The fact is, that the 10:00 Mass doesn’t have the massive use of incense of the solemn mass at 11:00; therefore, coming in after the end of the 11:00 mass you immediately notice the difference. Every time that this happens I can’t avoid noticing what the Protestants (most of them, at least) miss not only from a theological point of view (because they are heretics) but from a more practical, eminently human one.” (Mundabor’s Blog, Incense and the Catholic Mind)

And there’s the “hate.”

The Early Church rejected the use of incense in worship. Just like Protestants.

Yes, the Early Church was obstinately opposed to the use of incense in worship for three centuries, until the end of the fourth century when Roman Catholicism came along and “restored” the apostolic Church to its full liturgical “health.”

The Love and the Hate on Icons, Images and Relics

This same love-hate pattern emerges on the use of images, icons and relics in worship. When explaining their use, Roman Catholics simply assume that relics, icons and images were venerated in the Early Church, and then wonder why Protestants cannot just accept that “fact” of history. But history knows of no such “fact.” We have already addressed the alleged veneration of relics in the Early Church in our recent article Diggin’ Up Bones, and we touched on the use of incense, above. Neither were venerated (in the case of relics) or used (in the case of incense) in the Early Church.

On the matter of icons, consider the testimony of former Muslim, Walid Shoebat, who converted from Islam, to Protestantism, and finally through his wife, Maria, to Roman Catholicism. In the process, he discovered that the Early Church was positively overflowing with incense and icons:

“But then when I became Christian, I talked Maria into leaving St. Francis since I was more comfortable attending a Baptist church in which they had no icons. Later I began to ask myself; did my hatred for icons stem from my new faith in Christ, or was it reminiscing my clinging to Islam? But as I researched the oldest Christians and their churches from the first century to the fourth, they presented a problem since all these churches used icons and incense.” (Walid Shoebat, Why Catholics Having Icons Is RIGHT, And Evangelicals Not Having Icons Is WRONG)

That’s the “love.”

But again there is simply no evidence for the claim. We are at a loss as to how Walid can claim that incense was used for the first four centuries when even the Catholic Encyclopedia concedes that “[d]uring the first four centuries there is no evidence for its use.” For precisely this reason, we are skeptical of his claim on icons as well.

To prove the early veneration of icons, Shoebat points to the frescoes on the walls of the catacombs as evidence of early veneration of images in worship, and he also provides a photo of a fish mosaic on the floor of a third century Christian church recently found in a Roman army fort at Megiddo. But the presence of drawings on the walls of the catacombs does not validly imply the veneration of icons. As Schaff notes in his History of the Church, “it is an error to suppose that the catacombs served as the usual places of worship in times of persecution,” and they were not constructed for that purpose. Further, the fish symbol, like that found on the floor of the army fort in Megiddo, is not unique to Christianity—the Romans used it, too. Notably, the actual date of the conversion of the Roman fort to ecclesiastical use is in question, and the evidence is suggestive of a later era than Shoebat has assigned to it.

In fact, on the the matter of the veneration of images, the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia again reluctantly concedes that the Early Church originally forbade the veneration of images. It was only later, under the careful guidance of Rome, that the practice was allowed to develop:

“[I]n the first ages of Christianity, when converts from paganism were so numerous, and the impression of idol-worship was so fresh, the Church found it advisable not to permit the development of this cult of images; but later, when that danger had disappeared, when Christian traditions and Christian instinct had gained strength, the cult developed more freely.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, The True Cross, “Catholic doctrine on the veneration of the Cross”)

The concession that the Early Church actually did not permit the cult of images is consistent with the writings of the Early Church fathers and councils. They reflected a consistent conviction that images must not be used in worship. The Council of Elvira in 309 A.D. explicitly rejected the presence of images in the church:

“Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration.” (Council of Elvira, Canon 36).

Lactantius (250 – c. 325 A.D.) militated against the use of images, because we who worship an unseen God must worship Him with things that are not seen:

“But whoever strives to hold the right course of life ought not to look to the earth, but to the heaven: and, to speak more plainly, he ought not to follow man, but God; not to serve these earthly images, but the heavenly God; … For if God is not seen, He ought therefore to be worshipped with things which are not seen.” (Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, Book VI, chapters 8 and 25)

Even at the end of the fourth century, in 394 A.D., we have the record of Epiphanius’ righteous indignation over an attempt to use icons in worship, for he was “loth that an image of a man should be hung up in Christ’s church contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures” (Jerome, Letter 51.9, From Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, in Cyprus, to John, Bishop of Jerusalem, 394 A.D.)

Thus, when the Catholic Encyclopedia concedes that the cult of images was originally prohibited in the church, until “later, when that danger had disappeared,” what is meant is “later, after the fourth century.” It was not an accepted practice in the Early Church, which simply did not use icons, did not use images in worship and did not venerate relics.

As with the matter of incense, all of this is swept under the rug when Roman Catholics criticize Protestants for being unwilling to venerate images, icons and relics. As we pointed out in Novel Antiquity, Roman Catholic apologist Mark Shea thinks that Evangelicals neither understand nor fully embrace the incarnation, because we refuse to accept as Biblical the veneration of images, icons and relics. In his mind, our refusal to approve their use is evidence of a latent “terror of the Incarnation”:

“Similarly, the horror of the physical—in a word, of the Incarnation—suffuses all that [Evangelical author, Bob] DeWaay has to say. … Any helps such as icons, sacraments and so forth that might address us as physical incarnate beings are marks of ‘apostasy’. … ” (Mark Shea, Fear of the Incarnation and its Discontents)

And there’s the “hate.”

The Early Church rejected the veneration of icons, relics and images, and therefore must have been “terrified” of the incarnation, too. Just like Protestants are ridiculously construed to be.

Yes, the Early Church was strictly opposed to the use of icons, relics and images in worship for three centuries, until after the fourth century, when Roman Catholicism came along and “restored” the apostolic Church to its full liturgical “health.”

The Love and the Hate on the Eucharist

The rose of Rome’s hatred comes to full bloom when we examine the Early Church’s treatment of the Lord’s Supper. As we noted last week, the Douay Catechism claimed that “All the Holy Popes, and Fathers, and Councils of the primitive ages teach that the mass is that self same sacrifice of bread and wine that had been instituted by our Saviour” (Douay Catechism, (1649), pg. 90).

That’s the “love.”

But when we examine Memoriale Domini, a 1969 “Instruction on the Manner of Distributing Holy Communion,” what we find is excuse after excuse about why the Early Church was chronically and hopelessly disrespectful of the elements of the bread and wine, and how Roman Catholicism appeared on the scene to restore the apostolic church to its full Eucharistic “health.”

The 1969 Instruction, Memoriale Domini started off simply enough. Rome’s Sacred Congregation wanted to ensure proper worship of the Eucharist:

“When the Church celebrates the memorial of the Lord it affirms by the very rite itself its faith in Christ and its adoration of him, Christ present in the sacrifice and given as food to those who share the eucharistic table.” (Memoriale Domini)

Thus, this new Instruction “preserves intact the already developed tradition which has come down to us,” while recognizing the “many and important ways” that the rites have changed, “bringing them more into line with modern man’s spiritual and psychological needs” (Memoriale Domini). Of course, the Instruction concedes, “the pages of history show that the celebration and the receptions of the Eucharist have taken various forms” (Memoriale Domini). As we shall discover, those forms were hopelessly “disrespectful” of the “transubstantiated” elements.

For example, the Instruction laments the 20th century desire of some Roman Catholics “to return to the ancient usage of depositing the eucharistic bread in the hand of the communicant” (Memoriale Domini). That usage was strongly criticized for its irreverence, even though communication in the hand was very plainly the practice of the Early Church.

Cyprian of Carthage (200 – 258 A.D.) describes the reception of the elements in the hand, as he exhorts the faithful to martyrdom:

“let us also arm the right hand with the sword of the Spirit, that it may bravely reject the deadly sacrifices; that, mindful of the Eucharist, the hand which has received the Lord’s body may embrace the Lord Himself, hereafter to receive from the Lord the reward of heavenly crowns.” (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 55, paragraph 9)

Cyril of Jerusalem (ca. 313 — 386 A.D), too, described reception of communion in the hand. In his Catechetical Lecture on the Sacred Mysteries, he described how to receive the Lord’s supper in the hand without spilling anything:

“In approaching therefore, come not with your wrists extended (τεταμενοις), or your fingers spread; but make your left hand a throne for the right, as for that which is to receive a King. And having hollowed your palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying over it, Amen.” (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture 23, paragraph 21)

As we noted in our article The Great Write In Write Out Campaign, Cyril uses a term from the Septuagint, τεταμενοις, that literally means “hanging,” and is so rendered in the Septuagint regarding hanging banners or ribbons in Esther 1:6. These lectures of Cyril are for first-time communicants, and the emphasis here is to teach them how to receive the Lord’s Supper while “giving heed lest you lose any portion thereof.” In other words, receiving the bread with limp wrists and splayed fingers is going to result in an accident. The only reason the advice from Cyril is even relevant to the new communicants is because reception in the hand was considered normative, and these recent converts were about to do it for the first time.

Thus, in Memoriale Domini the Sacred Congregation is forced reluctantly to acknowledge that the Early Church practiced reception in the hand:

“It is certainly true that ancient usage once allowed the faithful to take this divine food in their hands and to place it in their mouths themselves.” (Memoriale Domini)

Nevertheless, Memoriale Domini assures us, when receiving communion in the hand, the Early Church treated the elements with “the greatest reverence” (Memoriale Domini). The evidence Memoriale provides for the reverent handling of the elements in the hand is Cyril’s admonition in the 23rd Lecture. Here is how Memoriale restates Cyril’s warning:

“As a person takes (the Blessed Sacrament) he is warned [by Cyril]:  ‘… receive it: be careful lest you lose any of it.’ [St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogic Catechesis, V, 21]” (Memoriale Domini, ellipsis in original).

The problem for Rome is that part of Cyril’s sentence which was very carefully omitted. The particular reason Cyril was advising the recipient to be especially careful is because his practice was to take the bread in hand, and then touch it to one’s face for reflection before consuming it. Here is Cyril’s complete sentence, highlighting in bold what Memoriale Domini left out:

So then after having carefully hallowed your eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake of it; giving heed lest you lose any portion thereof ” (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture 23, paragraph 21)

In fact, Cyril goes on in the next paragraph explaining that the recipient should do exactly the same thing with the wine, touching it to the fingers, eyes, forehead, nose and ears when receiving it:

“And while the moisture is still upon your lips, touch it with your hands, and hallow your eyes and brow and the other organs of sense.” (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture 23, paragraph 22)

We can see why Memoriale Domini was constrained to omit this precise description of how “reverently” the Early Church handled the elements. There is only one word that can describe this irreverent handling of the elements in the Early Church:

“Sacrilege!”

Cyril’s advice for the communicant to rub “Jesus” on one’s face is so thoroughly incompatible with the reverence that Rome currently claims is due to the sacred species, that many Roman Catholics simply assume that his 23rd Lecture has been corrupted by a heretic:

“Considered in context, it becomes suspect. For it speaks of a strange custom entirely alien to the highest veneration which the faithful have always had for the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. … In view of this unheard of liberty which is incompatible with the total veneration due to the Sacred Species, those who are learned in these matters think of an interpolation … made by the Patriarch John, the successor of St. Cyril in Jerusalem … [who was] of suspect orthodoxy. ” (Receiving Communion on the Hand is Contrary to Tradition, The Catholic Voice, 2001)

This rather odd (or even superstitious? Irreverent?) recommendation has caused scholars to question the authenticity of this text. Some think that perhaps there has been an interpolation, or that it is really the saint’s successor who wrote it.” (Jude Huntz, Rethinking Communion in the Hand, parentheses in original)

The description of such a bizarre Communion Rite … was most certainly not preached by St. Cyril in the Church of Jerusalem, neither would it have been licit whatsoever in any other Church. What we have here is a rite which is a product of the imagination, oscillating between fanaticism and sacrilege, by …an anonymous Syrian, a devourer of books, an indefatigable writer who poured into his writings, indigested and contaminated figments of own his imagination. … a crypto-Arian, influenced by Origen and Pelagius…” (The great Catholic horror story: the pseudo-historical deception of Communion in the hand)

These Roman Catholics are positively beside themselves with disbelief at Cyril’s irreverent handling of the elements—and this from the very passage that Memoriale Domini used to prove that the Early Church handled the elements with “the greatest reverence”

In reality, Cyril’s full sensory contemplation of the elements is of very little concern to Protestants, for Cyril is simply treating the elements as they are: symbols. Cyril uses the same symbolic language for the elements as he does for the holy oil, which is symbolically applied to one’s forehead (Lecture 21, paragraph 3), and baptismal water, in which our bodies are symbolically dipped (Lecture 20, paragraph 3). Sure, the oil, the water and the bread and wine were “holy” to Cyril, but only because they symbolized something else, not because they were what they symbolized. Thus it was perfectly appropriate in Cyril’s mind to apply the elements to the face and ears and fingers for full reflection.

And this is what is doubly ironic about Memoriale Domini‘s attempt to downplay the ancient “irreverence” of receiving communion in the hand: their evidence from Cyril to prove early reverence toward the elements actually contains within it the insistence that the elements were symbols. As Cyril wrote in the same lecture:

“[F]or they who taste are bidden to taste, not bread and wine, but the anti-typical [symbolical] Body and Blood of Christ.” (Lecture 23, paragraph 20)

When examined in the light of context and history Cyril’s use of the elements is hardly offensive. If he really believed the elements were symbolical, we can hardly be offended at his handling of them. At least no more than we can be offended at the application of oil to the face or water to the body. Symbols are just symbols.

But Rome cannot accept the alleged “irreverence” of the Early Church. Therefore she reminds the faithful that the practice of receiving the Lord’s Supper in the hand eventually had to be abandoned in a later age when Rome came along to correct the practice of the Early Church of receiving communion in the hand. It was only then that there developed a “deepening understanding of the truth of the eucharistic mystery,” and a “greater feeling of reverence towards this sacrament.”

Since Cyril’s Lectures were from 350 A.D., we gather that this “deeper understanding” and “greater feeling of reverence” came after the latter part of the fourth century. Memoriale Domini therefore goes on to explain how Rome came along to rescue the apostolic church from her errant ways:

Later, with a deepening understanding of the truth of the eucharistic mystery, of its power and of the presence of Christ in it, there came a greater feeling of reverence towards this sacrament and a deeper humility was felt to be demanded when receiving it. Thus the custom was established of the minister placing a particle of consecrated bread on the tongue of the communicant. This method of distributing holy communion must be retained, taking the present situation of the Church in the entire world into account, not merely because it has many centuries of-tradition behind it, but especially because it expresses the faithful’s reverence for the Eucharist.” (Memoriale Domini).

Those “many centuries of tradition” that express a reverence for the Eucharist come well after the fourth century. Yet because of how relentlessly the alleged antiquity of Roman novelties has been impressed upon the Roman Catholic mind, it is no great wonder that many Roman Catholics actually cannot countenance the practice of the Early Church. There can be only one logical explanation for it: a Protestant conspiracy:

“Communion in the hand … was introduced in the 16th century by the Protestant Reformers specifically to repudiate belief in … the Real Presence.” (Michael Davies, Communion in the Hand and Similar Frauds)

And there’s the “hate.”

The Early Church lacked a deep “understanding of the truth of the eucharistic mystery,” received communion in the hand, and freely treated the symbolic elements as symbolic elements, and therefore must have been grossly unaware of the “greater feeling of reverence” that was owed to them. Just like Protestants.

Yes, the Early Church received communion in the hand for three centuries, until Roman Catholicism came along and “restored” the apostolic Church to its full Eucharistic “health.”

The Love and the Hate of Kneeling on the Lord’s Day

The very same love-hate pattern emerges on the matter of kneeling on the Lord’s Day. As we noted last week, Rome loves to claim ante-Nicæan antiquity for her current practice.

That’s the “love.”

But it is not difficult to discover that the early Church actually forbade kneeling on the Lord’s Day. To deal with the inconsistency, Pope Benedict XVI simply papered over the difference with a stroke of his pen. He wrote,

“The twentieth canon of Nicæa decrees that Christians should stand, not kneel, during Eastertide” (Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 192).

That is a half truth. Nicæa prohibited kneeling not only “in the days of Pentecost,” but also  on Sunday—all year long:

“Forasmuch as there are certain persons who kneel on the Lord’s Day and in the days of Pentecost, therefore, to the intent that all things may be uniformly observed everywhere (in every parish), it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing.” (Canon XX, Council of Nicæa, 325 A.D.)

The reality is that Rome introduced kneeling in the eleventh century when the practice of Eucharistic adoration was added to the liturgy. Because Pope Benedict could not fathom a religion that forbade liturgical kneeling before the Eucharist in adoration, he conveniently assumed that where it did not exist, it must simply have been lost—as if it had not been forbidden outright for a millennium. He thus inadvertently criticized the Early Church along with all those who do not kneel at church:

“Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered.” (Benedict XVI, 194)

A church that does not kneel on Sundays, Benedict said, is “sick at the core,” and thus did he relegate the entire Early Church to the ecclesiastical Emergency Room:

“[A] faith and liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core” (Benedict XVI, 194).

And there’s the “hate.”

The Early Church was unfamiliar with Rome’s modern practices, and so she was “sick at the core” and did not get healthy until the eleventh century under Rome’s careful guidance. Of course, Benedict could not possibly imagine the truth: that it might be Rome, not the Early Church, that is “sick at the core.”

The Object of Her Scorn

To summarize, Protestants are criticized as “anti-Mary” for their Scriptural view on Mary’s sinfulness—a view the Early Church shared. Protestants are judged for their “flagrant contradiction” of Rome’s view on the perpetual Virginity of Mary—just like the Early Church. Protestants are mocked for rejecting the use of incense in worship—just like the Early Church. Protestants are scorned for rejecting the veneration of icons, images and relics—just like the Early Church. Protestants are blamed for introducing communion in the hand and treating the elements of the Lord’s Supper as symbols—just like the Early Church. Protestants are treated with contempt for not kneeling on Sunday—just like the Early Church.

But that is not all, and our list could go on and on. As we showed in our series on The Invisibly Shepherded Church, Protestants just don’t “get” the need for a visible chief shepherd on earth, or an earthly chief metropolis—just like the Early Church. As we showed in our series on Baptismal Regeneration, the Early Church didn’t “get” that, either. And as we showed in our series, Their Praise was their Sacrifice, neither Protestants, nor the Early Church “get” the sacrifice of the mass. As we noted in The Rise of Roman Catholicism, the Early Church did not know that Peter was the first bishop of Rome, did not teach the Dormition and the Assumption of Mary, or that Mary was the Mother of the Church, did not use candles in worship, did not teach transubstantiation and did not adore the Eucharist. All of these were introduced at the end of the fourth century and later. We hardly need to speak of priestly celibacy—another practice foreign to the Early Church.

Thus, the Early Church rejected papal primacy, Roman primacy, papal infallibility, priestly celibacy, the immaculate conception, the perpetual virginity, dormition and assumption of Mary, Mary as Mother of the Church, transubstantiation, eucharistic adoration, the sacrifice of the Mass, kneeling on the Lord’s Day, baptismal regeneration, candles, relics, images, the title Pontifex Maximus, communion on the tongue, etc… etc… etc…

But aside from that, the Early Church was completely Roman Catholic.

Of course, we jest. Indeed, it was not until Roman Catholicism actually emerged at the end of the fourth century that the Apostolic Church was ostensibly “rescued” from the apostles themselves, and stopped being so chronically “sick at the core,” to use Benedict’s words.

In light of the historical record that militates so relentlessly and strenuously and catastrophically against Roman Catholicism’s claim of antiquity, it is difficult to swallow Cardinal Newman’s painful revision of ecclesiastical history in his Essay on the Development of Doctrine. Those silly Protestants! They just. Don’t. Get. History!:

“To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant. And this utter incongruity between Protestantism and historical Christianity is a plain fact, whether the latter be regarded in its earlier or in its later centuries. Protestants can as little bear its Ante-nicene as its Post-tridentine period.”  (John Henry Cardinal Newman, Essay on the Development of Doctrine, Introduction, paragraphs 5 & 6).

The “utter incongruity,” in truth, is the three century gap that exists between Rome’s version of history and reality, to which gap her own apologists repeatedly and emphatically testify.

To drive that point home, we close this week by returning again to Scott Hahn:

“The Immaculate Conception was a commonplace of the early Church.” (Scott Hahn, Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God, (Doubleday, 2006) 96)

There’s the “love.”

“Saint Ephraim of Syria testified to it in the [late] fourth century [360 A.D.], as did Saint Augustine in the fifth.” (Hahn, 96).

And there’s the problem. The late fourth century is the best Rome can do.

In the enormous confusion caused by the galactic incongruity between Rome’s claims to antiquity and what history actually shows about Rome’s novelties, a disciple of Hahn, Elizabeth Esther, converted to Roman Catholicism believing that she had finally submitted to what the Holy Spirit had taught the Early Church:

“To be honest, when I was a Protestant, all these Marian doctrines confused me. … Ultimately it came down to an issue of trust: could I trust that the Holy Spirit had led the early church?” (Elizabeth Esther, Why the Immaculate Conception Makes Protestants Squirm)

And there’s the scorn.

Roman Catholics think that by rejecting Rome, Protestants have rejected the Holy Spirit Who is incorrectly alleged to have led Christ’s Church into these grossly unbiblical doctrines. But the Early Church did not practice them.

The question Elizabeth ought to have asked—and would have, had she been deep in history and deep in the Scriptures—is “What spirit, what ungodly power, had created Roman Catholicism at the end of the fourth century, and why was he attempting to carry Christ’s True Apostolic Church away into Rome’s idolatry and error?”

“The dragon,” as it turns out, “was wroth with the woman” (Revelation 12:17). And because the dragon gave to Roman Catholicism “his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2), Roman Catholicism could do nothing else but pour out her irrepressible scorn upon the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.

It is in Rome’s nature to do so, and she cannot do otherwise.

45 thoughts on “The Object of Her Irrepressible Scorn”

  1. Tim wrote:

    “The Early Church rejected the sinlessness of Mary. Just like Protestants.”

    Yes, and the early church was an infant church. She was a baby in the Christian religion…only working from a few manuscripts of Scripture that had not yet been compiled into a full blown canon of God, and thus she was in error about her form of church government, in error about her form of worship, in error about many doctrines from Bishops and Prelates who claimed authority to a central King, Queen or Pope. This was the problem with not having the Bible in the early church to be able to define what was truth vs. error.

    On the other hand, the Protestants finally complied the Bible and were able to reject the errors of the early church fathers, as well as the Roman Religion they birthed by converting from an Episcopalian religion of Prelates to a Roman Religion of Priests, Bishops, Arch-Bishops, Cardinals and a central Pope.

    For those who appeal to the early church fathers as the source of truth, and the source of the true Christian religion are doomed to repeat the errors of other apologists time and time again. While we see a few Statements and Creeds of value in the early church period, we cannot build our entire eschatology on this period. It is the error of the preterists and partial preterists who use this early church to argue to fit everything into this period due to Rev. 1 misinterpretation.

    Let us look to the reformers who were not infants in the Christian religion, who were not lacking the Scriptures, and who did not have a presupposition grounded in proving that in the early church most all eschatology is revealed!

    1. Thanks, Walt,

      I appreciate your admonition and will continue pondering it. Some of your statements in today’s comments seem to warn against Roman apologists, but others appear to be addressed to me and my work here. Which is fine, either way. Both are welcome here.

      Just to clarify my position, I’ll make a few comments. You wrote,

      “For those who appeal to the early church fathers as the source of truth, and the source of the true Christian religion are doomed to repeat the errors of other apologists time and time again. … It is great to master the knowledge and writings of the early church fathers, but wholly another thing to use it to define Scripture.”

      I agree with this statement, though I don’t know if it was addressed to me. In any case, I do not appeal to the Early Church Fathers as the source of truth and I do not use them to define Scripture. My objectives here are to provide countervailing evidence to Rome’s claims that the Early Church affirmed this or that doctrine. If Rome says “Ignatius taught X, Y, or Z,” a response to the claim requires not only some familiarity with Ignatius, but also a few citations from Ignatius to show where Rome got him wrong. I cite Ignatius authoritatively on only one matter: Ignatius. I do not use Ignatius to prove this or that Scriptural truth.

      You also wrote,

      “It is the error of the preterists and partial preterists who use this early church to argue to fit everything into this period due to Rev. 1 misinterpretation.”

      While I believe that one or two prophecies of Daniel and Revelation found their fulfillment at or about the destruction of Jerusalem, they are largely tangential to the macro-eschatology that spans the era from Nebuchadnezzar to the end of time. I certainly don’t place everything in the first century, or even the first three centuries. I don’t know how much of this comment was addressed to me, but as I have suggested in earlier posts, and will show in a later post, there is internal evidence within Revelation that militates for a date earlier than 96 A.D. for its authorship. What I cannot overlook is Daniel’s transition from legs to feet in Daniel chapter 2. There is a specific transition point identified in Daniel 2:43, “And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men…”. Since the “stone … cut out without hands” “smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay,” we cannot correctly identify the impact of the stone unless we have identified the transition from iron legs to iron and clay feet. To do that, we must use the Scriptures, and the Scriptures show a consistent progression of empires according to genetic lineage in the Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Greek eras—Alexander being the sole exception to this rule, as the Scripture points out for us: he left his kingdom “not to his posterity” (Daniel 11:4)—but then after him, Alexander’s successors left their individual kingdoms to their sons again as shown in Daniel 11. The Roman empire then continued on that strain, such that Galba (68-69 A.D.) was the last of a line of Roman Emperors related to Julius—thus, the first seven emperors of the Roman Empire were in some way related to Julius. Then with Otho (69 A.D.) that all changed. They began to be mingled with the seed of men. From the Scriptures we can thus find that precise point when the Statue changed from iron legs to iron and clay feet. What emerges from this is that Jesus’ birth and early ministry is not the impact of the Stone. The only reason I cited the church fathers on this is because of the confusion that prevailed among them in identifying the impact of the stone. One father says the Stone’s impact is Jesus’ incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension, and another says it is His glorious return. As I noted in The Fifth Empire, there was no consensus in the Early Church Fathers on whether the Stone of Daniel 2 had already struck the statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, or if it would come later. That is one reason why we cannot rely on the Early Church fathers for our eschatology. We must rely on the Scriptures, and the Scriptures do indeed inform us on the precise moment of the transition from legs to feet. It does, however, require that we check our assumptions at the door. In this case, the assumption that typically governs the interpretation of the passage is that the arrival of the Stone refers to Christ’s first advent. The Scripture does not say that, and our assumptions can no more reveal truth than the Early Church Fathers can.

      My point is that even the Scottish Reformers had their assumptions, and not all assumptions are valid or correct, just as we saw with Jerome’s assumption about Canon 6 of Nicæa. I very much appreciate the Scottish Reformers, but I cannot elevate their assumptions to the level of revealed truth. I don’t avoid them out of fear or out of disrespect. I omit them from my analysis of the early centuries because they are not primary sources on the historical events of that time.

      In any case, do you have thoughts on the transition from legs of iron to feet of iron and clay? What does it mean to you—in the context of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue and the dynastic progression that it represents—that “they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men”? In other words, where would you place the transition from legs to feet?

      You also wrote,

      “Let us look to the reformers who were not infants in the Christian religion, who were not lacking the Scriptures, and who did not have a presupposition grounded in proving that in the early church most all eschatology is revealed!”

      I don’t know if this is addressed to me, but I will at least say that I do not believe “most all eschatology is revealed” in the early church. I believe all eschatology is revealed in the Scriptures alone. If it is of any assurance to you, I can affirm that I do not derive my eschatology from the Early Church Fathers.

      You also wrote,

      “Tim, I really feel in all sincerity and utmost prayer for your teaching ministry about Rome (without being called) that you take heed to the godly counsel summarized by William Perkins below.”

      Thank you for this. I would not consider my blog to be a formal teaching ministry—I do not administer sacraments or church discipline and I do not consider this blog to be a particularized congregation and I do not consider myself to be an ordained minister, and so I do not see where I have intruded into the office of the ministry without an actual commission. I have no office and I make no claims to one. But I believe the Scripture requires that we all examine the Scriptures and “be ready always to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15), and part of my answer is that Roman Catholicism is the anti-Christ, for the Scriptures surely identify her as such. One does not need to be an ordained minister to state, or prove, such things.

      Please let me know what parts of your comments were directed to me, and thank you again for your encouraging words on my historical analysis of the Roman Catholic Church. If you have time, I would appreciate your thoughts on the transition from legs to feet, as well.

      Best regards,

      Tim

      1. TIM–
        You said: “What about Tertullian’s statements that Mary is a figure for the Synagogue that rejected Christ? (Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ, chapter 7).”

        Tertullian says no such thing. What he is referring to is preferring the spiritual over the carnal.
        Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
        And the comment about her being a figure of the synagogue was not about His mother Mary but about any woman or person in general who does not believe in Him, such as those in the Jewish synagogue, or those who stand aloof outside the circle of faith. ( “It was in just the same sense, indeed, that He also replied to that exclamation (of a certain woman), not denying His mother’s ‘womb and paps,’ but designating those as more ‘blessed who hear the word of God.’–Tertullian On the Flesh of Christ, chapter 7)

        Tim, you weave this elaborate web of error because you misinterpret the writings of the Fathers and portray your misinterpretation as the foundation for the truth. The thing is, there are those of us who actually read your citations of the writings of the ECF’s and come to the correct conclusion. Tertullian does not conclude Mary’s rejection of Christ as you claim, but Jesus’ teaching on the carnal rejecting the spiritual brought about by the heckling of those who think Jesus is only human by referencing his mother and brothers.

        TSK,TSK, Tim!

        1. Bob,

          Here is what Juniper Carol wrote on this very passage:

          “It is in this era that we confront a current of thought unfavorable to a thesis of Marian sinlessness. … the stumbling block looks larger when specific defects are mentioned. If we credit Tertullian, Christ publicly denounced His Mother for her disbelief when He asked: “Who is my mother and who are my brethren?” (De carne Christi, cap 7; cf. Adv Marc, lib 4, cap 19). According to the Carthaginian, Mary apparently kept aloof from Jesus while Martha and others were in constant contact with Him. In standing outside she was guilty of disbelief (incredulitas); in calling Him away from His work she was importunate.”

          Was it your intent to correct Juniper Carol, Rome’s esteemed Mariologist?

          In any case, here is what Tertullian really did actually say:

          “And did not Christ, while preaching and manifesting God, fulfilling the law and the prophets, and scattering the darkness of the long preceding age, justly employ this same form of words, in order to strike the unbelief of those who stood outside, or to shake off the importunity of those who would call Him away from His work? If, however, He had meant to deny His own nativity, He would have found place, time, and means for expressing Himself very differently, and not in words which might be uttered by one who had both a mother and brothers. When denying one’s parents in indignation, one does not deny their existence, but censures their faults. Besides, He gave others the preference; and since He shows their title to this favour— even because they listened to the word (of God)— He points out in what sense He denied His mother and His brethren. For in whatever sense He adopted as His own those who adhered to Him, in that did He deny as His those who kept aloof from Him. Christ also is wont to do to the utmost that which He enjoins on others. How strange, then, would it certainly have been, if, while he was teaching others not to esteem mother, or father, or brothers, as highly as the word of God, He were Himself to leave the word of God as soon as His mother and brethren were announced to Him! He denied His parents, then, in the sense in which He has taught us to deny ours— for God’s work. But there is also another view of the case: in the abjured mother there is a figure of the synagogue, as well as of the Jews in the unbelieving brethren. In their person Israel remained outside, while the new disciples who kept close to Christ within, hearing and believing, represented the Church, which He called mother in a preferable sense and a worthier brotherhood, with the repudiation of the carnal relationship.” (Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ, chapter 7)

          And then elsewhere,

          “Besides, His admission of His mother and His brethren was the more express, from the fact of His unwillingness to acknowledge them. That He adopted others only confirmed those in their relationship to Him whom He refused because of their offense, and for whom He substituted the others, not as being truer relatives, but worthier ones.” (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book IV, chapter 19)

          When Tertullian himself acknowledges that Jesus was censuring Mary’s faults, and refused his mother and brethren “because of their offense,” and says “in the abjured mother there is a figure of the synagogue,” I don’t know how you can then say “Tertullian says no such thing.”

          Even Juniper Carol knows that he said exactly that, acknowledging that Tertullian assigned to Mary herself the attribute of incredulitas and the character flaw of importunity. A figure for the synagogue, indeed.

          If you believe Juniper Carol has so grossly misrepresented Tertullian, you may wish to take the matter up with Evangelical Catholic Apologetics who provides access to his works at the links I have provided above.

          Thanks,

          Tim

          1. TIM–
            You said: “When Tertullian himself acknowledges that Jesus was censuring Mary’s faults, and refused his mother and brethren “because of their offense,” and says “in the abjured mother there is a figure of the synagogue,” I don’t know how you can then say “Tertullian says no such thing.”

            You and Juniper seem to come to different conclusions from Tertullian because you are not reading Tertullian’s conclusions. Instead you are reading his unfinished arguments. It’s right there in his citations. He concludes:
            “He denied His parents, then, in the sense in which He has taught us to deny ours— for God’s work.”
            and then again:
            But there is also another view of the case: in the abjured mother there is a figure of the synagogue, as well as of the Jews in the unbelieving brethren. In their person Israel remained outside, while the new disciples who kept close to Christ within, hearing and believing, represented the Church, which He called mother in a preferable sense and a worthier brotherhood, with the repudiation of the carnal relationship.

            Tertullian’s conclusions state the conflict of the carnal verses the spiritual. Are you saying that Mary the mother of Jesus did not believe in who He was?
            Tertullian isn’t.

            And in book V chapter 19 Tertullian states:
            ” If, therefore, He made them ‘His mother and His brethren’ who were not so, how could He deny them these relationships who really had them? Surely only on the condition of their deserts, and not by any disavowal of His near relatives; teaching them by His own actual example, that ‘whosoever preferred father or mother or brethren to the Word of God, was not a disciple worthy of Him.’ Matthew 10:37 Besides, His admission of His mother and His brethren was the more express, from the fact of His unwillingness to acknowledge them. That He adopted others only confirmed those in their relationship to Him whom He refused because of their offense, and for whom He substituted the others, not as being truer relatives, but worthier ones.

            Tertullian never says Mary rejected Christ nor does he say anything about her or his brethren not believing in Him. Instead, he uses His own mother and brethren as an “express” example that He Himself practices what He preaches and that He does not privately allow His own family to be an exception to the rule just because they are His own. He is not disavowing His mother nor his family. And the rest of the Gospels attest that Mary and His brethren are faithful disciples–especially in John and in the Book of Acts.

            Tim, do you honestly believe that Jesus is telling us to hate our mothers and fathers, when God has commanded us to honor them?

          2. Bob,

            You are arguing about spiritual vs. carnal, but I am only stating that Tertullian believed that Mary was not sinless. He speaks of her offenses, her unbelief and her faults. That does not speak of her sinlessness, which is why Juniper Carol, the preeminent Roman Catholic Mariologist, can only affirm plainly what Tertullian plainly says. As Juniper Carol also concedes, when we get to Origen and Tertullian, “It is in this era that we confront a current of thought unfavorable to a thesis of Marian sinlessness.” Tertullian’s positions are not favorable to Mary’s sinlessness.

            Hilary also allows that Mary committed sins. And Basil. And Origen. And Chrysostom.

            Set aside your predisposition to find Roman Catholicism in the Early Church, and read the text objectively. You wrote,

            “Tertullian never says Mary rejected Christ nor does he say anything about her or his brethren not believing in Him.”

            But look at the text:

            “in the abjured mother [Mary] there is a figure of the synagogue, as well as [a figure] of the Jews in the unbelieving brethren. [TFK: Note that Tertullian has just used Jesus’ unbelieving brethren as a figure for the Jews, just as he used Jesus’ mother as a figure for the synagogue.] In their person [that is in the person of Mary and in the persons of His unbelieving brethren] Israel remained outside, while the new disciples who kept close to Christ within, hearing and believing [that is, by way of contrast with his unbelieving mother and brethren outside], represented the Church, which He called mother in a preferable sense and a worthier brotherhood, with the repudiation of the carnal relationship”

            You are attempting to change the topic to whether or not Jesus dishonoured His mother, in order to cloud the plain fact that Tertullian recognized that Jesus’ brethren did not believe in Him at the time, and that He grouped His own mother in that camp of the Synagogue and the unbelieving Jews. It is not I, but Roman Catholic Scholar Fr. Juniper Carol, OFM, “the leading founder of the Mariological Society of America,” who is conceding the point that Tertullian was accusing Mary of unbelief.

            What is interesting is the Catholic response to Tertullian on this matter. You rise to his defense, and so does the Roman Catholic Catechism when he speaks on other topics, but when he opines on Mary’s sinfulness, it is just “stray private opinion.” Or, as Jim says, Turtullian cannot be cited authoritatively because he was not even a man of the Church.

            Another Roman Catholic inquirer writes to EWTN asking why Tertullian didn’t think Mary was sinless, and gets this terse response:

            “Tertullian was in fact a heretic, which is why he was never honored as a saint.”

            In a way, you are helping me prove my point: Rome claims to love the Early Church, but hates what she finds there.

            And what she finds there is a population of believers who have no problem understanding Mary’s sinfulness.

            As I said, don’t argue with me. Argue with Roman Catholic scholars who know very well that Tertullian thought Mary and Jesus’ brethren were guilty of unbelief.

            Tertullian’s meaning is not about what you think Jesus meant in Matthew 10:27. It’s about what Tertullian meant in “On the Flesh of Christ.” Just because Jesus didn’t repudiate the family relationship doesn’t change the fact that Tertullian said they (Mary and His brethren) were unbelievers when the incident occurred. Just because Tertullian knew Jesus loved His mother does not mean that Tertullian did not say what he said, and what he said of Mary was incredulitas.

            Thanks,

            Tim

    2. TIM–
      You said: “the Early Church was clearly unaware of any obligation to represent Mary as sinless”
      And then you said: “The Early Church rejected the sinlessness of Mary. Just like Protestants.

      How do you conclude that when someone is “unaware of any obligation” that it means rejection?

      And why would Origen say Mary is “worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, most complete sanctity, perfect justice, neither deceived by the persuasion of the serpent, nor infected with his poisonous breathings” (Homily 1 in diversa AD 224)?

      Doesn’t look like a rejection to me.

      1. Bob,

        It’s not even Origen.

        “a few pseudo-epigraphical works … have now been proved to be the products of a much later period; as, for instance, in the following: Pseudo-Origenes, “Homilia in diversos secunda” (Catholic Encyclopedia)

        Thanks,

        Tim

        1. TIM–
          Answer the first question, too.–How do you conclude that when someone is “unaware of any obligation” that it means rejection?

          1. Bob,

            The cause of Juniper Carol’s statement that the Early Church was unaware of any obligation to represent Mary as sinless was the paradox created by Rome’s claims that the early church believed Mary was sinless, and the preponderance of evidence from the Early writers in reference to Mary’s actual sin:

            “How to resolve our original paradox? It would seem that before Ephesus some prominent churchmen and some of the laity in Alexandria and Caesarea of Cappadocia, in Antioch and Caesarea of Palestine, (a) were not aware of an obligation to represent the Mother of God as utterly sinless; and (b) did not regard the presence of sin, perhaps even serious sin, as incompatible with her singular sanctity.”

            What puzzled Juniper Carol was the fact that the Early Church was supposed to have been the carrier of an apostolic tradition of Mary’s sinlessness, and the very thing he needed to find there, he could not find. What he did find was a lot of people saying that Mary was sinful, just like us.

            The evidence that the early church was “unaware of their obligation to represent Mary as utterly sinless” was their propensity for representing her as sinful. Deliberately representing Mary as sinful is a rejection of her alleged sinlessness.

            Thanks,

            Tim

        2. You said “It’s not even Origen.”

          Neither is all the Book of Isaiah from Isaiah either. “Second” Isaiah is from a much later date, too.

          1. TIM–
            You said: “What puzzled Juniper Carol was the fact that the Early Church was supposed to have been the carrier of an apostolic tradition of Mary’s sinlessness, and the very thing he needed to find there, he could not find. What he did find was a lot of people saying that Mary was sinful, just like us.

            A lot of people? Maybe a select few.

            “The evidence that the early church was “unaware of their obligation to represent Mary as utterly sinless” was their propensity for representing her as sinful. Deliberately representing Mary as sinful is a rejection of her alleged sinlessness.”

            Again you define the early church from a few select quotes. That is hardly the case.

          2. Bob,

            What then is your position in regard to the early church? Do you believe that they thought that Jesus’ death on the cross was retroactively applied to Mary at the moment of her conception, saving her from sin? If so what evidence do you have that the church taught that? Do you have any proof for it?

            Tim

  2. Tim wrote:

    “But that is not all, and our list could go on and on. As we showed in our series on The Invisibly Shepherded Church, Protestants just don’t “get” the need for a visible chief shepherd on earth, or an earthly chief metropolis—just like the Early Church. As we showed in our series on Baptismal Regeneration, the Early Church didn’t “get” that, either. And as we showed in our series, Their Praise was their Sacrifice, neither Protestants, nor the Early Church “get” the sacrifice of the mass. As we noted in The Rise of Roman Catholicism, the Early Church did not know that Peter was the first bishop of Rome, did not teach the Dormition and the Assumption of Mary, or that Mary was the Mother of the Church, did not use candles in worship, did not teach transubstantiation and did not adore the Eucharist. All of these were introduced at the end of the fourth century and later. We hardly need to speak of priestly celibacy—another practice foreign to the Early Church.

    Thus, the Early Church rejected papal primacy, Roman primacy, papal infallibility, priestly celibacy, the immaculate conception, the perpetual virginity, dormition and assumption of Mary, Mary as Mother of the Church, transubstantiation, eucharistic adoration, the sacrifice of the Mass, kneeling on the Lord’s Day, baptismal regeneration, candles, relics, images, the title Pontifex Maximus, communion on the tongue, etc… etc… etc…”

    This summary is incredibly powerful and a major testimony against roman catholic apologists Jim, Bob and CK on this blog.

    Watch their responses this week dear lurker, and you will see little to no substance in their ability to rebuke these proven and demonstrated facts of history…but just a standard party line…for example, “Calvin killed Servetus” as the Free Will Baptists and Armininian adherents like to respond to biblical facts and evidence for a sovereign God over man’s salvation. Totally off-point, but just enough to really confuse the weak and innocent trying to understand true doctrine.

    1. TIM–
      You said: ” What about Origen’s statement that Mary was a sinner and the sword that pierced her soul (Luke 2:35) was unbelief? (Origen, Homilies on Luke, 17.6-7).”

      But you didn’t read the reasoning behind what Origen said.
      He asked the question “Why do we think that the mother of the Lord was immune from scandal when the apostles were scandalized?”
      Really? The Church thought that Mary was immune? How could that be when all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God? If she was not scandalized, then Christ did not die for her sins, right? The prophet even said so–“the sword will pierce your soul.”
      But in paragraph 7 it says what Mary’s “scandal that pierced her soul” really was. It was not her own unbelief that was the cause, but everyone else’s. People thought that she conceived of Jesus out of wedlock and that Jesus was her bastard son. And there she was at the Passion believing that her son was the only begotten Son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit, announced by the angel Gabriel no less while everybody else knew that he was only a man sentenced to die by crucifixion for being the instigator of an insurrection.
      Of all people, Mary knew exactly who Jesus was and the sin of the Israel’s unbelief “pierced her very soul.” The stigma of infidelity followed her all her life. She knew how Jesus was conceived, and she was torn to pieces by the thoughts “why won’t anyone believe me?”

      Now, do I personally believe that Mary sinned? There is nothing in the Bible that says so explicitly. Can I assume that she did? Yes, just like every one else can assume it. It is only an assumption. But I simply cannot assume that her sin is unbelief. The preponderances of her words and actions in the gospels of Luke and John suggest otherwise such as the Magnificat and the wedding at Cana.

      Tim, if you want to defend the case that Mary was sinful by quote mining the Fathers and citing others who quote mine, then go ahead. It is your blog, after all. If you torture the data long and hard enough, you can make it confess to whatever you want.

      1. Bob, taking your definition, you now have Origen saying that unless Mary was publicly believed to have committed fornication, then Jesus did not really die for her sins, an intepretation the text of Origen cannot bear. Keep in mind that Origen has already defined “scandalized” in the text as actual unbelief. He says this repeatedly of the apostles:

        He wrote:

        “Scripture clearly records that, at the time of the Passion, all the apostles were scandalized. The Lord himself said, ‘This night you will all be scandalized.” [Mark 14:27]. Thus, they were all so scandalized that Peter too, the leader of the apostles, denied him three times.” (Origen, Homilies on Luke, Homily 17.6)

        So based on your re-interpretation, that should read,

        “Scripture clearly records that, at the time of the Passion, all the apostles were unjustly thought to have done wrong. The Lord himself said, ‘This night you will all be unjustly thought to have done wrong.” [Mark 14:27]. Thus, they were all so unjustly thought to have done wrong that Peter too, the leader of the apostles, denied him three times.”

        Your attempt to backload “scandalized” with your personal definition instead of Origen’s, completely overturns Origen’s actual words. Of Mary, he wrote, in the same paragraph,

        “If she did not suffer scandal at the Lord’s passion, then Jesus did not die for her sins. But, if ‘all have sinned and lack God’s glory, but are justified by his grace and redeemed,’ then Mary too was scandalized at that time.”

        By your rendering, it should be understood to mean,

        “If she was not unjustly thought to have done wrong at the Lord’s passion, then Jesus did not die for her sins. But, if ‘all have sinned and lack God’s glory, but are justified by his grace and redeemed,’ then Mary too was unjustly thought to have done wrong at that time.”

        Then, in the next paragraph, Origen, identifies Mary’s actual sin. The scandal was unbelief, just as it was for the apostles. It hardly makes sense for Origen to say, “the apostles were scandalized (unbelief) and so Mary was scandalized (accused of adultery) too!”

        I know you want the “infidelity” in the next paragraph to mean “adultery,” but in its context it simply means unbelief, if Origen is allowed to define his own meaning. The sword of infidelity and the blade of uncertainty refer to the doubt and unbelief of Mary herself. Who, after all, was there at the cross accusing Mary of cheating on Joseph? I can understand people standing there saying, Can you believe she actually fell for His stories? What I can’t imagine is people standing at the cross saying, This is what your Son gets when you cheat on Joseph!

        Anyway, Origen wrote in the next paragraph,

        “The ‘sword’ of infidelity ‘will pierce’ you, and you will be struck with the blade of uncertainty, and your thoughts will tear you in pieces when you see him.”

        If, as you say, the scandal was being accused of adultery, then the “blade of uncertainty” has Mary not sure if she cheated on Joseph or not, which makes the passage in Origen flatly incomprehensible.

        If I am “quote-mining” to get the Early Church to think Mary was sinful, some of Rome’s most prominent Mariologists are in on the ploy to portray the early church that way.

        It is not I, after all, who wrote,

        ““One of the most perplexing problems in patristic Mariology revolves about Mary’s holiness. … From the close of the Apostolic Age to the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) the literary heritage of Western Christianity contains so remarkably little on the theme of Our Lady’s holiness that a pointed question is inevitable. Was the pre-Nicene West even conscious of the problem?””

        and

        ““It would seem that before Ephesus some prominent churchmen and some of the laity in Alexandria and Caesarea of Cappadocia, in Antioch and Caesarea of Palestine, (a) were not aware of an obligation to represent the Mother of God as utterly sinless; and (b) did not regard the presence of sin, perhaps even serious sin, as incompatible with her singular sanctity””

        Take care,

        Tim

        1. TIM–
          You said: “What about Chrysostom’s belief that Mary was vainglorious and needed to be corrected of her error? (John Chrysostom, Homilies in Matthew, Homily 44.3).”

          And what error was that? Notifying Jesus that they had run out of wine at the wedding in Cana “unseasonably” which commanded a light reprove. That is hardly sinful.
          In the very same letter Chrysostom writes:
          “This then He establishes here also, but in a manner less invidious, and more measured, as became Him speaking to His mother. For He said not at all, ‘She is not my mother, nor are those my brethren, because they do not my will;’ neither did He declare and pronounce judgment against them; but He yet left in it their own power to choose, speaking with the gentleness that becomes Him.
          ‘For he that does,’ says He, ‘the will of my Father, this is my brother, and sister, and mother.’
          Wherefore if they desire to be such, let them come this way. And when the woman again cried out, saying, ‘Blessed is the womb that bare You,’ He said not, ‘She is not my mother,’ but, ‘If she wishes to be blessed, let her do the will of my Father. For such a one is both brother, and sister, and mother.’
          Oh honor! Oh virtue! Unto what a height does she lead up him that follows after her! How many women have blessed that holy Virgin, and her womb, and prayed that they might become such mothers, and give up all! What then is there to hinder? For behold, He has marked out a spacious road for us; and it is granted not to women only, but to men also, to be of this rank, or rather of one yet far higher. For this makes one His mother much more, than those pangs did. So that if that were a subject for blessing, much more this, inasmuch as it is also more real. Do not therefore merely desire, but also in the way that leads you to your desire walk thou with much diligence.

          This is hardly the language of reproof for unbelief. On the contrary, his language is that of blessing.

          And now you know………the rest of the story.

          1. Bob,

            You wrote, “This is hardly the language of reproof for unbelief.”

            But when did I ever say that Chrysostom had accused Mary of unbelief? What I said was that he had accused her of vainglory.

            When analyzing a historical text it hardly matters what your personal thoughts were on the matter of Mary’s behavior at the wedding. What matters is whether or not Chrysostom thought Mary was vainglorious and whether he thought vainglory was a sin. That he most certainly did.

            After saying that Jesus had “healed the disease of vainglory” in Mary, he went on to describe vainglory as a sin, and a rather significant one:

            “And wherefore, one may say, did He not put the other vices also, such as lust, vainglory? In speaking of the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, He set down all. Yea, both vainglory and all the rest belong to this world, and to the deceitfulness of riches; such as pleasure, and gluttony, and envy, and vainglory, and all the like.”

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that you are struggling valiantly to prevent the early church from saying that Mary was sinful, because you personally do not believe that she was. In other words you appear to be doing the very thing of what you accuse me, namely of attempting to read my views into the early church.

            The irony is that both Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars acknowledge that there are significant difficulties with the immaculate conception in the early church. That is not what is being debated. What is being debated is the significance of the fact that the early church rejected Mary’s immaculacy.

            Roman Catholic scholars at least accept the facts, and then attempt to deal with them. But as your latest string of comments indicates, you’re actually trying to change the facts.

            “Rest of the story,” indeed!

            Thanks,

            Tim

        2. TIM–
          You said: “Bob, taking your definition, you now have Origen saying that unless Mary was publicly believed to have committed fornication, then Jesus did not really die for her sins, an intepretation the text of Origen cannot bear. ”

          Nope, that is not what I said. That is just an incorrect conclusion you are coming to. Jesus died for everyone’s sins. His atonement applies to Adam, Moses, Elisha, yours, mine, your descendants and mine, and everyone else who lived, lives, and will live. Even Enoch, Elijah, and Mary–all who have been assumed into heaven body and soul. Tell me Tim, what exactly was Enoch’s sin? Elijah’s? Mary’s? Were their sins forgiven them before the foundation of the world, or only after the Cross? Could it be that Mary was protected from committing sins from her very conception by the atonement of Christ thirty-something years later?

          Mar 10:27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

          1. Bob, you asked,

            ” Tell me Tim, what exactly was Enoch’s sin? Elijah’s? Mary’s? “

            None of which matters. I am not arguing here whether Mary sinned or whether Elijah sinned. I have simply affirmed that Chrysostom thought she did. He said Jesus healed her of her vainglory, of which she was guilty, in his opinion, at the wedding. He then said vainglory is a serious sin, grouping it as he did with lust, etc…

            You asked,

            “Could it be that Mary was protected from committing sins from her very conception by the atonement of Christ thirty-something years later?”

            None of which matters. I am not addressing here whether Mary was preventing from sinning or even could have been prevented from sinning. I have simply affirmed that Chrysostom thought she sinned. He said Jesus healed her of her vainglory, of which she was guilty, in his opinion, at the wedding. He then said vainglory is a serious sin, grouping it as he did with lust, etc…

            For some reason you seem to think that your personal views on Mary’s peccability somehow can legitimately inform and overturn John Chrysostom’s plain insistence that Mary sinned. In other words, you have carried your preconceptions about Mary into the writings of the early church fathers, and sought to make them say what you believe to be true about her—the very offense of which you have repeatedly accused me.

            Thanks,

            Tim

          2. TIM–
            You said: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that you are struggling valiantly to prevent the early church from saying that Mary was sinful, because you personally do not believe that she was. In other words you appear to be doing the very thing of what you accuse me, namely of attempting to read my views into the early church.What is being debated is the significance of the fact that the early church rejected Mary’s immaculacy.”

            Ok. Fair enough. But if you cite individual member’s of the Church commentary’s and claim it is the belief of the whole early Church, then the early Church also believed in heresy as well–Arianism, Pelagianism, Montanism, Novatianism, Gnosticism, Nicolatians, Judaizers, etc. etc.

            You said “the fact that the early church rejected Mary’s immaculacy”. I disagree that it is a fact.
            Tim, is it fair to say that the early Church may have believed in Mary’s sinlessness despite what a few writers may have said? Origen indicated the possibility when he asked the question “Why do we think that the mother of the Lord was immune from scandal when the apostles were scandalized?” Who is the “we” in that question?

            Would you say that the early Church believed in Arianism because Arius and his followers did? Tertullian was a Montanist, does that mean that the early Church believed that, too? Tim, just because you find some quotes that seem to fit your agenda, doesn’t make it universally true of the Church as a whole. The early Church was rife with heresy. And I’m pretty sure the Church did eventually define those heresies and excommunicate heretics. But that didn’t happen overnight. It took centuries. And compare the present day American Presbyterian Church to the one Calvin started 500 years ago. They certainly don’t look the same, do they? And they certainly don’t look anything like the Apostolic Church of the 1st or 2nd century.

            That is what it means when they say “[T]hese stray private opinions merely serve to show that theology is a progressive science.”

            Yes…..now you know the rest of the story.

        3. TIM–
          You said: “If I am “quote-mining” to get the Early Church to think Mary was sinful, some of Rome’s most prominent Mariologists are in on the ploy to portray the early church that way.”

          Well good. That makes it better for all of us, don’t ya think?

  3. Tim wrote about Scott Hahn…the current “gift from God” to the current Evangelical Roman Catholic Church and EWTN TV ministry covering the world.

    There’s the “love.”

    “Saint Ephraim of Syria testified to it in the [late] fourth century [360 A.D.], as did Saint Augustine in the fifth.” (Hahn, 96).

    And there’s the problem. The late fourth century is the best Rome can do.
    ———–

    There we have it stated clearly by the brilliant Roman Catholic historian Scott Hahn (just teasing) who makes a truthful claim about the beginnings of the Roman Catholic religion.

    However, the reformers taught this period was the biblical “falling away” period of the church and the revealing of the Man of Sin and Son of Perdition.

    Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 2 Thessalonians 2:3

    Scott Hahn sees this period as the great foundation of the one true global religion to encompass the earth in time, but Scripture rebukes Dr. Hahn and proclaims it is the period where the anti-christ of the Christian religion is revealed and begins its global terrorism upon the earth.

    Beware dear lurkers…the Killing of the Testimony and Killing of the Witnesses is coming to a town near you headed by the anti-christ Romish Religion and the civil government beast enforcing Rome’s doctrines and government. Again, beware.

  4. Tim, I really feel in all sincerity and utmost prayer for your teaching ministry about Rome (without being called) that you take heed to the godly counsel summarized by William Perkins below.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Perkins_%28theologian%29

    “Overall conclusion: Solid. Practical. Spiritual. I liked this sufficiently to send copies to local pastors who I didn’t really know anything about. I would encourage others to do the same. I noticed nothing I would criticize, but I’m rather far from being qualified to do so. The two points of insight I found most worth noting were Perkins’ comments about the necessity that faithful spiritual ministers should be at peace with one another, (page 99,) and that a pastor must look to his King (the Lord) for his maintenance, and not to those to whom the King sends him as ambassador, (page 182.) It is to be noted also, that Perkins has a brief comment about how Christians may help one another when there are no godly ministers, (page 104,) but he does not specify the limits or circumstances of how “godly Christians” shall do so. In any case, it implies that he recognized the reality that sometimes the Church is so backslidden that not only sceptics, schismatics, and hypocrites, but also godly Christians would find no congregation to attend, and no minister to whom to listen. It also makes clear that Perkins would have godly Christians then to fellowship one another, rather than the various erring parties of our still-beloved Church Catholic. Mr. Perkins makes very evident his opposition to all false pretensions to the ministry, regardless of a man’s abilities and sincerely felt impulses to intrude into the office of the ministry without an actual commission.”

    I do wish we would see more godly ministers come to this blog, and correct your errors on eschatology, but I’m afraid it is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Your work in exposing the evil Romish religion is well deserving from a historical view, and so the work must continue as so few are qualified to talk in the Protestant church about the early church fathers vs. the Romish foolishness claimed about same church to their origins.

    The mature reformed church has already outlined so much of this about Rome in her creeds, confessions, counsels, and historical testimony but the average Protestant is so stuck in promoting the Romish doctrines, discipline, form of worship and form of government it is impactical to do anything but wait for the judgment of God upon her. The judgment must first begin with the church itself…

    It appreciate why you stay away from the reformers and their teaching on this subject of eschatology, and avoid the counter arguments in the marketplace to your own theology. It is hard enough to battle Jim, Bob and CK week after week in their one liners, and wikipedia, Catholic encyclopedia confusion. I don’t know how you can do it week after week knowing all your evidence is totally ignored and just goes in one ear and other the other with no thinking or discernment in between. You do have incredible patience to listen to the same stuff week after week where not a shred of evidence is presented…just emotion and Romish tradition. Incredible.

  5. Tim,

    You know this argument below, but while you argue for an early date of Revelation as the preterist does, perhaps this is the best place to begin.

    Before I part quote from a sermon that I agree with (below), do you believe that Rev. 1:1 means that the events in revelations shall “shortly come to pass” or shortly “BEGIN to appear in history” in succession—through the succession of the seals, trumpets and vials?

    I know you are not a preterist claiming Nero was anti-christ, but your position for an early book of Revelation is key to your presupposition to the text…as is the preterist and partial preterist views.

    Preterism and Revelation 13:18.

    A. The Preterist claims that the number of the beast that is specifically revealed by 666 in Revelation 13:18 is the emperor of Rome, Nero Caesar. Obviously, if the number (666) of the blasphemous and persecuting beast described in Revelation 13 1-10 is truly Nero Caesar, there would be strong internal evidence to warrant the view that the Book of Revelation was written prior to 70 a.d. (for Nero committed suicide in 68 a.d.). How does the Preterist arrive at such a conclusion?
    1. The first step in identifying the number of the beast for the Preterist is to consider the beast that rises from the sea (in Revelation 13:1), that has seven heads and ten horns (in Revelation 13:1), and that has the features of a leopard, bear, and lion (in Revelation 13:2) as signifying the blasphemous and persecuting kingdom of Rome. For we see in Daniel 7, in the vision of the four kingdoms that would successively rule upon the earth from the time of Daniel to the time of their destruction by the Lord, that “four great beasts came up from the sea” (Daniel 7:3). The first beast was like a lion (Daniel 7:4)—this is Babylon. The second beast was like a bear (Daniel 7:5)—this is Medo-Persia. The third beast was like a leopard (Daniel 7:6)—this was Greece. All of these three descriptions are used with regard to the beast we find in Revelation 13:2. And finally the fourth beast as found in Daniel 7:7-8 is simply described as “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly”. Note also that this fourth beast of Daniel has ten horns as does the beast in Revelation 13:1. There is clearly a prophetic parallel between the fourth beast of Daniel and the beast from the sea in Revelation 13:1. This fourth beast of Daniel is the kingdom of Rome which succeeded Greece as the next worldwide kingdom, and likewise this beast from the sea (in Revelation 13:1) that embodies all of the descriptions and features of the prior three world kingdoms (in Revelation 13:2) is the kingdom of Rome. Thus, when our text states in Revelation 13:18, “Let him that hath understanding count the number OF THE BEAST”, the number 666 identifies in some way the beast that rises from the sea, i.e. the civil power and kingdom of Rome.
    2. The second step for the Preterist in identifying the number of the beast is to consider the blasphemous and persecuting nature of beast (as related in Revelation 13:4-10). The Preterist explains that Nero solicited and received blasphemous titles and attributes of deity unto himself and was the first of the Roman emperors to savagely persecute Christians (both Peter and Paul were executed during the reign of Nero). Thus, the Preterist argues that the description we find of this beast in Revelation 13 fits well with what history reveals about Nero.
    3. The third step for the Preterist in identifying the number of the beast is to consider the 666 that is called both “the number of the beast” and “the number of a man” (Revelation 13:18). It is a well-established fact that most Ancient languages (such as Hebrew, Greek, and Latin) did not have a numerical system separate from the letters of the own alphabet. Various letters of their alphabet were given different numerical values as we see exhibited in Roman Numerals (I=1, V=5, X=10, L=50, C=100, D=500, M=1,000). Interestingly, when the numerical value of the Hebrew letters used in the Hebrew spelling of the words “Nero Caesar” (נֵרוֹן קֵסַר) are counted and added, they total exactly 666.
    4. Thus, according to the Preterist, when the preceding three steps are weighed together, they provide very strong internal evidence that Nero was the blasphemous and persecuting emperor who was reigning in Rome at the time that John penned the Book of Revelation, which if true would mean that the Book of Revelation was written before Nero’s death in 68 a.d. (and obviously before the destruction of the Jerusalem in 70 a.d.). As was observed in the previous sermon (when we considered Revelation 11:1-2), this appears at first glance to be a very compelling argument from internal evidence for a pre-70 a.d. authorship of Revelation. But I urge caution as we proceed to examine the Scripture in regard to “the number of the beast”.

    B. Let us now consider reasons why “the number of the beast” (666) as found in Revelation 13:18 is not Nero, thus removing this as evidence for a pre-70 a.d. dating of the Book of Revelation.
    1. The first reason is this: The specific time period at which this beast in Revelation 13 is warring against the saints (Revelation 13:7) is not prior to 70 a.d., but is rather several hundred years later.
    a. Let us turn first to the vision of Daniel 7 (which as we have already seen identifies the fourth beast with the ten horns that rises from the sea (in Daniel 7:3-8) with the beast with the ten horns that rises from the sea in Revelation 13:1 as the political kingdom of Rome). In Daniel 7:19, Daniel indicates that he wanted to know the truth concerning the fourth beast (i.e. the political kingdom of Rome). Daniel had observed that on the head of this fourth beast (political Rome) were ten horns that shall arise from the beast and that there shall arise after them a little horn before whom three of the horns shall fall (Daniel 7:8,20,24). What does this mean and why is it important to dating the Book of Revelation? (1) I submit that this refers to a period in history when the political kingdom of Rome would be broken and divided by ten kings (or kingdoms) that would arise. When did this occur? Did it occur before 70 a.d. during the reign of Nero? If so, where is the historical evidence to support such a claim? (a) Some Preterists have sought to identify these ten kings with the Governors of the Roman Provinces that existed at the time of Nero, but there were nearly twice as many Roman Provinces (18) at the time of Nero. Furthermore, before the death of Nero, these Roman Provinces could not be said to be dividing and destroying a unified Roman Empire.
    (b) Some Preterists realize they cannot find historical fulfillment for these ten horns among the Roman Provinces prior to Nero’s death in 68 a.d., and so they have interpreted the number ten as a symbolic number rather than as a literal number. However, the same Preterists want to interpret the seven heads upon the beast as literal (the fifth head of Revelation 17:10 they assign to Nero). So the beast according to some Preterists has seven literal heads and ten symbolic horns. Where’s the consistency in that? Furthermore, the ten horns are not likely to be a symbolic number when in Daniel 7, three of them are said to be “plucked up by the roots” (Daniel 7:8), fallen (Daniel 7:20), and subdued or humbled (Daniel 7:24).
    (c) Although there is no historical evidence to which the Preterist can turn for the historical fulfillment of the Roman Empire being divided and broken by ten kingdoms prior to the death of Nero (68 a.d.), I submit there is much historical evidence to confirm that this prophesied division of the Roman Empire by ten barbarian kings (or kingdoms) began about 376 a.d. with the advance of the kingdom of the Visigoths and ten kingdoms had contributed significant division within the Roman Empire by 538 a.d. by which time three of the ten kingdoms had fallen. This division within the Roman Empire included the following ten kingdoms: the Heruli, Ostrogoths, and Lombards occupied various parts of present Italy, the Visigoths occupied what is presently parts of Hungary, Austria, Croatia, and Serbia), the Sueves occupied what is presently Spain, the Franks occupied what is presently France, the Burgundians occupied what is presently part of France, the Anglo-Saxons occupied what is presently Britain, the Vandals occupied what is presently parts of Italy and North Africa, and the Alemanni occupied what is presently Germany. When we read concerning the same ten kingdoms in Daniel 2:41 that there shall a division within the fourth kingdom (namely Rome) and a mixture of iron and clay in the feet and ten toes of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, we are likewise to understand this same division that occurred within the Roman Empire by these ten kingdoms just identified.
    (2) Also observe in Daniel 7:24 that there is another prophetic character that shall appear at this very time in history after the division of the once unified Roman Empire by the ten kingdoms: a little horn that shall be diverse (or different) from the first 10 kingdoms. Daniel’s prophecy states that three of the ten kingdoms shall fall and be humbled before the little horn. This same little horn grows in power and authority to such an extent that it is prophesied to make “war with the saints” and to “prevail against them” (Daniel 7:21) and to “wear out the saints” (Daniel 7:25). Furthermore, this little horn is prophesied to blaspheme the Lord God by speaking “great words against the most High” (Daniel 7:25). Finally, note that the period of time in which the saints are to “be given into his hand” is for “a time, and times, and the dividing of time” (i.e. for 3 ½ prophetic years which equals 42 prophetic months and 1260 prophetic days). I submit that this little horn of Daniel 7 that is different from the ten kingdoms and arises in power after them, before whom three kingdoms fall and are humbled, that blasphemes God, and that wars against the saints for 3 ½ prophetic years (or 42 prophetic months) and whose throne is in Rome is the ecclesiastical/political kingdom of the Roman Catholic Church with her Romish popes (who assumed the pagan title of the Roman Emperors— Pontifex Maximus or Supreme Priest). For indeed by 538 a.d. three of the ten barbarian kingdoms had fallen in defeat and were uprooted as political kingdoms before the throne of the Roman papacy. These three barbarian kingdoms had at different times conquered and sacked Rome, but were each destroyed within a few short years of one another while the Church and papacy of Rome withstood all of these attacks, grew in power despite these attacks, and witnessed the uprooting of each of these three kingdoms namely, the Heruli in 533 a.d., the Vandals in 536 a.d., and the Ostrogoths in 538 a.d. The destroyers were themselves destroyed, while the little horn (a kingdom different from the others because it was an ecclesiastical/political kingdom) continued to increase in power when in 538 a.d. the Roman papacy was endowed with the title of “Universal Bishop” over all Christian Churches by the imperial decree of Emperor Justinian. In ages to come, anyone who dared to defy this little horn as the Church of Christ outside of which there is no possibility of salvation, or as the papacy being “Universal Bishop” (or the Vicar of Christ, or the Head of the Universal Church on earth) would find the little horn united with the divided kingdom of Rome as adversaries making war with, persecuting, and murdering faithful Christians into the many millions in number. The persecution of Christians in Rome by Nero pales in comparison to the persecution of Christians within the broken and divided Roman Empire by ecclesiastical and political Rome.
    (3) Now when we take this information from Daniel 7 and note the parallels we find with it in Revelation 13, we are given a further confirmation that the prophesied events found in Revelation 13 do not refer to the time of Nero, but to a period of time some hundreds of years after the death of Nero.

    1. Thank you, Walt.

      First, I certainly believe that Rev. 1:1 means that the events in revelations shall “shortly come to pass” or shortly “BEGIN to appear in history” in succession—through the succession of the seals, trumpets and vials.

      I believe that one of the shortfalls of the full or partial preterist position is that they do not fully consider the significance of the three descriptions of the beasts in Revelation 12, 13 and 17. The composition of each beasts is clearly sequential and continuous, but Revelation 12 puts the crowns on the heads (Revelation 12:3), indicating the period of succession since Nebuchadnezzar. Revelation 13 places the crowns on the horns (Revelation 13:1), indicating the period after the fragmentation of the Roman Empire when the ten kings rule. Revelation 17 addresses the beast again and this time no crowns are indicated on the beast (Revelation 17:3), but in his discourse with the angel, John learns that “the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet;” (Revelation 17:12). Thus, the description in Revelation 17 is chronologically after that of Revelation 12 but chronologically prior to that of Revelation 13. There is the period of succession leading up to the incarnation (Revelation 12), the period of Roman rule prior to the fragmentation (Revelation 17), then the period of rule of the kings over the fragmented empire (Revelation 13). Since Revelation 13 refers to a period when the ten kings have received their kingdom, it cannot at the same time be referring to Nero’s reign when the fragmentation had not yet occurred.

      But along those lines, the traditional historicist position does not fully take into account the changes in the description of the beast. A red dragon in Revelation 12:3, having 7 heads and 10 horns; a beast that is part lion, part bear, part leopard with 7 heads and 10 horns in Revelation 13:1-2, and a scarlet beast in Revelation 17:3. In only one description is there a reference to a head that was wounded to death, and in that description the composition of the beast is fundamentally Danielic. It is not the whole beast that is destroyed, but a single head that is wounded fatally, and then survives. And it is a Danielic head, originating as it does from Daniel 7. The question that ought to be answered is “which head in Daniel 7 was wounded and came back again.” I do not believe the traditional historicist position has fully accounted for the Danielic nature of the wounded head. Which one was it? It is not a matter of the beast being wounded, but of one of his heads being wounded. I believe that needs to be addressed in any exhaustive treatment of the Daniel-Revelation nexus.

      Also, as I noted in A See of One, I do not believe the historicist position has fully accounted for the fact that three horns are removed, and three kings are subdued (Daniel 7:8, 20, 24), and yet the depiction of the 10 horns persists to the end. Why not 7, if three of the 10 were removed? The text of Daniel and of Revelation 12, 13 and 17 lend themselves to the interpretation that three were removed, leaving 10, which means that there were 13 to begin with. As the sermon noted, “Some Preterists have sought to identify these ten kings with the Governors of the Roman Provinces that existed at the time of Nero, but there were nearly twice as many Roman Provinces (18) at the time of Nero.” The solution is in the 13 horns—and there were exactly 13 dioceses precisely at the time that Rome arose at the end of the 4th century, taking then-primary see of Italy, the primary see of Egypt, and the primary See of Antioch. Thus three horns were combined into a See of One, and in the process, Rome had to take over as the chief metropolis of Italy, replacing Milan in that function. Thus, to take over those three horns, the “king” of Milan, the “king” of Alexandria, and the “king” of Antioch had to be subdued. In that reading, the tiny provincial jurisdiction of Rome and its very limited domain was in fact the “fourteenth diocese,” that little horn that supplanted three, and therefore came up among 10, and grew in size and influence, eventually taking over the empire.

      I will have much more on that in future posts, but the Scottish Reformers simply cannot be the standard by which all eschatology is measured. The Scriptures must be, and the Scottish Reformers were almost certainly not aware of the implications of the notitia dignitatum, which showed the emergence of the 13 dioceses, but was not popularly available until well after the 1600s.

      Well, I appreciate your interaction and the sources you provide here. They make for good reading and I find them quite helpful.

      Thanks,

      Tim

      In any case,

  6. Tim said:

    “I will have much more on that in future posts, but the Scottish Reformers simply cannot be the standard by which all eschatology is measured. The Scriptures must be, and the Scottish Reformers were almost certainly not aware of the implications of the notitia dignitatum, which showed the emergence of the 13 dioceses, but was not popularly available until well after the 1600s.”

    To be crystal clear. Covenanters do not teach in any way that historical testimony by reformers, creeds, confessions, synods, counsels, general assemblies, etc. are equal to or greater than Scripture. In fact, Covenanters attest that all historical testimony is subordinate to Scripture, and to be authoritative must be agreeable to Scripture and founded upon the Scriptures. To proclaim otherwise is an error.

    The Scriptures are the primary source of all faith and practice. It is the foundation for orthodoxy and orthopraxy in our faith.

    Unfortunately, men error, and many councils have erred in history. Therefore, historical testimony is a guide and teacher of truth in degrees, subject to the ultimate truth of Scripture.

    We are not “no creed” evangelicals, Baptists and Independents who believe that only their mouth and fingers are the final authority of all truth and practice as they spit out Scriptures like a waterflood applying all sorts of crazy “emotions” of the spirit to guide them into disunity and constant confusion. Creeds, confessions, general assemblies allow for unity and uniformity in the one true Christian religion, and are aides and helps to promote that unity. Again, always under the authority of Scripture itself.

    Some claim to use Scripture as their authority alone, but then they seek to come up with new prophecy and new revelation that has been overlooked by generations of Christians since the Apostles. What I see as critical is that the early Church, as you and I have discussed, did not all have the Scriptures in their possession to use to compare complete Scripture with Scripture. They had sufficient Scriptures by divine providence to help them transition out of the Jewish religion and Church into an infant Christian church, but in terms of doctrine, worship and government it was clearly lacking.

    To look to this infant church as the source of most fulfillment of eschatology ignores significant, faithful, biblical doctrine, discipline, form of worship and form of government that was defined in the first and second reformations. The early church fathers are helpful, as you have demonstrated over and over on this blog, to completely rebuke Rome’s claims of her continued uninterrupted path to Peter her first Pope, and to totally make laughable her claims to all her crazy doctrines she professes originated in the early church fathers.

    You can see the significant ignorance that just comes to this blog from time to time by Roman apologists who jump in, post a few counter arguments to your blog, and then as you gently destroy each of their claims with facts, evidence and truth they run off. The stragglers here in Jim, Bob and CK are just a side show, but demonstrate how incredibly weak the masses of Romish adherents are to not just Scripture, but history. I’ve asked a few of my church members to come by here and discuss, but after they did a few of them just recognized that these guys are enormous waste of time and filled with even basic doctrinal understanding. Just basic stuff is a challenge, and waste of time for my brothers who have families and other more pressing responsibilities.

    Case in point. The last post from Jim and Bob were trying to figure out what he should next change his blog name to as he circles the web disrupting every pro-reformed site that is correcting Romish error. I read most of his posts today over at the OneFold blog. It is really painful to read…like a broken record…but effective at disrupting any level of productive discussion.

    So I hope we are very clear our position on the distinction between historical testimony and biblical testimony in terms of what is subordinate and what is the primary source document of the creator and its author. If you read the oath taken by all ~115 ministers before they engaged in the Westminster Assembly there was no question they were to leave their presupposition to the text at the door before they entered therein. This was the foundation for a faithful (not a perfect) assembly that produced documents that were later corrected and published by the General Assembly of Scotland across the nation, and later ratified and voted as in agreement with Scripture and founded upon Scripture.

    Prophecy they did not reach agreement except in that they were unified as at Westminster and the Kirk of Scotland Assembly that the Romish Religion was run by Satan, and the Pope was the man of sin and the head of the anti-christ religion. That principle was universal and not disputed.

    Unlike our generation of preterists and evangelicals all running around claiming Nero to be anti-christ (Jesuit theology) or a future anti-christ will soon be revealed in the future (Jesuit theology). It is nice you have not bought into these Jesuit inspired theories to confuse the weak and blind.

  7. Tim, what does your timeline show here?

    “Although there is no historical evidence to which the Preterist can turn for the historical fulfillment of the Roman Empire being divided and broken by ten kingdoms prior to the death of Nero (68 a.d.), I submit there is much historical evidence to confirm that this prophesied division of the Roman Empire by ten barbarian kings (or kingdoms) began about 376 a.d. with the advance of the kingdom of the Visigoths and ten kingdoms had contributed significant division within the Roman Empire by 538 a.d. by which time three of the ten kingdoms had fallen.”

    and also:

    “I submit that this refers to a period in history when the political kingdom of Rome would be broken and divided by ten kings (or kingdoms) that would arise. When did this occur? Did it occur before 70 a.d. during the reign of Nero? If so, where is the historical evidence to support such a claim?”

  8. Tim wrote:

    “First, I certainly believe that Rev. 1:1 means that the events in revelations shall “shortly come to pass” or shortly “BEGIN to appear in history” in succession—through the succession of the seals, trumpets and vials.”

    Actually, I was not entirely clear. The Preterists argue that the book of Revelation was written prior to 70AD, and that Rev.1:1 states that the entire book of Revelation must “shortly come to pass” and be fulfilled…before 70AD, while the partial preterist allows most to be fulfilled before 70AD and part to be fulfilled after…like the second coming.

    The historicist argues that Rev.1:1 is not interpreted must “shortly come to pass” BUT rather must “BEGIN to appear in history” in succession—through the succession of the seals, trumpets and vials.

    Thus, I assume you hold to the second interpretation of Rev.1:1 as the historicist rather than the first interpretation as the preterist?

  9. Tim,

    I think I grasp your position about the remaining 10 horns coming from 13 horns to fulfill your timeline after identifying 13 dioceses. You said:

    “The solution is in the 13 horns—and there were exactly 13 dioceses precisely at the time that Rome arose at the end of the 4th century, taking then-primary see of Italy, the primary see of Egypt, and the primary See of Antioch.”

    I further see, I think, the position you take in Sea of One that you only have determined that there were 13 later to become 10 horns, while the historical post-mill reformers and early church fathers saw only 10 horns only to later become 7 horns.

    However, what is your opinion about the position taken below.

    ———-
    2. Problem #2. The Preterist likewise faces another significant problem in dating the Book of Revelation before the death of Nero (in 68 a.d.) when we consider Revelation 17:12: “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.” The Preterist interprets the ten horns of the beast to be the governors of ten imperial provinces of Rome who rule with him at the time of Nero. But this cannot be the case for the following reasons.

    a. Revelation 17:12 clearly states that these ten kings had not yet received a kingdom to reign with the Roman beast at the time that John penned the Book of Revelation, but that they would in the future receive power as kings one hour to rule with the Roman beast. However, the ten imperial governors (of the Preterists) had already received power from Nero to rule as provincial governors over their kingdoms before he died (in 68 a.d.). Thus, the ten imperial governors at the time of Nero could not be the ten horns or kings that are in view here in Revelation 17:12, and Nero could not be the sixth head of the Roman beast that was reigning at that time because the ten imperial governors were ruling with him before he died (in 68 a.d.).

    b. Furthermore, I submit that Nero is not reigning as Emperor in Revelation 17:12 (just as he is not reigning as Emperor in Revelation 17:10 as the wounded sixth head), for when the ten kings are given power to rule with the Roman beast, they do not rule with the wounded sixth head of the Roman beast (in Revelation 17:10; Revelation 13:3), but rather the ten kings rule with the revived and healed eighth head of the Roman beast. For the angel’s explanation concerning the ten kings in Revelation 17:12 contextually follows the explanation of the revived Roman empire under the eighth head that is healed (Revelation 17:11). I would submit that these ten kings became western and central Europe and ruled in a revived Roman Empire when the eighth head was healed in the year 800 a.d. at which time Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the revived Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III (we’ll develop this more fully in the next sermon). Therefore, this prophecy concerning the ten kings in Revelation 17:12 could not have been realized during the reign of Nero because the fulfillment of the prophecy is linked in time not to the wounded sixth head (which the Preterists allege to be Nero), but is rather linked in time to the revived and healed eighth head (which Preterists claim came AFTER the death of Nero).

    C. Having given biblical reasons in this sermon why Nero cannot be the sixth head of the Roman beast that “IS” ruling (in Revelation 17:10) at the time that John penned the book of Revelation, and therefore why Revelation 17:10 cannot be used as internal evidence to confirm a pre-68 a.d. date for the Book of Revelation (as claimed by Preterists), it is my intention to return to this same text in the next sermon in order to lay out for you what I believe the harlot to be (in Revelation 17:9) and why; what I believe the seven heads of the Roman beast to be (in Revelation 17:10) and why; what I believe the eighth head of the Roman beast to be (in Revelation 17:11) and why; and what I believe the ten horns of the Roman beast to be (in Revelation 17:12) and why.

    As I close this Lord’s Day, let me say what is most likely very obvious to you: Bible study is hard work (and this is especially true of a prophetic Bible study). I certainly do not think I have attained nor do I pretend to have all of prophetic literature wired. However, when an eschatological interpretive system like Preterism is developed by a Jesuit priest in order to hide from us a true understanding as to the identity of the man of sin (in 2 Thessalonians 2:3—the papacy) and the harlot (in Revelation 17:4-6—the papal Church and her daughter Churches that walk in her unfaithful paths), we can expect that digging for the truth in these passages of Scripture is not going to be easy and simple and obvious to all at a first glance. The enemy of our souls wants to mislead us into believing that the Pope is really a godly man at heart with just a few errors that he promotes. Dear ones, Reformed Churches used to be united in this basic truth: the man of sin is the papacy. Consider such a declaration as found in the Westminster Confession of Faith (25:6):

    There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.

    Likewise Reformed Churches were for centuries united in their agreement that the Romish Church is that harlot Church (mentioned in Revelation 17 & 18) from which we must flee all entanglement with her in her corrupt doctrine, idolatrous worship, masses and holy days for saints to whom they pray (not only Christmas and Easter, but St. Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day as well), flee her tyranny over the conscience in forbidding men and women to marry, in commanding men and women to abstain from certain foods at certain times of the year, flee her traditions that have no sanction from the Holy Scripture and yet are placed alongside Scripture in authority. Dear ones, this papal Church may not presently be or recently have been drunk with blood of saints (at least not as openly as once was the case), but never forget this is the same harlot Church from which we are commanded to flee (Revelation 18:4), for when she cannot take the physical life of those who resist her and stand as faithful witnesses against her, she resorts to devilish deception in order to delude and confuse the masses into following her. That is why, dear ones, a study like this is so important. An interpretive system that redefines who the chief ambassadors of the devil are in deceiving and misleading the world by seduction, antiquity, or popularity is a system that must be exposed as erroneous and dangerous if we would preserve ourselves and our children for a thousand generations.

  10. Tim,
    Whew! You have really outdone yourself this time. Such a long piece. I got only as far as,
    “What about Tertullian’s statements that Mary is a figure for the Synagogue that rejected Christ? (Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ, chapter 7). What about Origen’s statement that Mary was a sinner and the sword that pierced her soul (Luke 2:35) was unbelief? (Origen, Homilies on Luke, 17.6-7). What about Basil’s statement that the sword was doubt, and further that Mary was not healed of her sins until after the Cross? (Basil, Letter 260.8-9). What about Chrysostom’s belief that Mary was vainglorious and needed to be corrected of her error? (John Chrysostom, ”

    Could you be a mensch and copy and paste one of the responses I have made to this? I am too bored to scroll around and find it myself and too tired to answer it again.
    It is good to see old Walt has been lurking all along. I thought I chased him away by asking him to explain Penal Substitution.

  11. Tim,
    Could you also find one of my posts in which I explain how , for the Fathers, Perpetual Virginity was code for sinless.
    ( Having fun with Kev elsewhere. He has all but taken over a certain Protestant blog so I am taking it away from him. You know how much work that can be, huh?)

    Anyway, Happy O.L. of Fatima Day!

  12. Tim,
    Silly me! I signed off with a Happy O.L. of Fatima Day yesterday.
    I was only two months off and you didn’t catch it. What kind of expert on Marian apparitions are you? My excuse is that I was thinking about it being the 13th. It wasn’t til I got to Mass and the priest came out in red vestments that I snapped.

    Anyway, as I am stateside I could get to a Catholic bookstore and pick up Tim Staple’s new book on the Blessed Mother.
    Maybe I will comment as I work through it.
    Cheers

  13. Tim,

    “Do you believe that they thought that Jesus’ death on the cross was retroactively applied to Mary at the moment of her conception, saving her from sin? If so what evidence do you have…”

    What evidence do we have Jesus death was applied to Moses, Adam and Elijah?

    1. JIM–
      You said:
      “Tim asked Bob: ” Do you believe that they thought that Jesus’ death on the cross was retroactively applied to Mary at the moment of her conception, saving her from sin? If so what evidence do you have…”
      What evidence do we have Jesus death was applied to Moses, Adam and Elijah?”

      It does beg the question, doesn’t it? How about John the Baptist? And even better yet, how about the thief who was crucified with Christ? And all of those in whom He asked the Father on their behalf “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?”

    1. Jim wrote:

      “Tim,
      There is a guy here in Oregon who just wrote a book for you.
      https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Ancient_Traditions_of_the_Virgin_Mar.html?id=o3B9tfjBZmcC

      Comments read:

      “Strange body of literature. It shows traces of gnostic influence. If the assumption dogma arose in or at least influenced by gnostic thought, it is ironic that the Catholic church embraces it in the light of the great effort the proto-orthodox early church tried to distance itself from gnosticism.”

      Roman Catholicism is founded upon gnosticism and therefore this book could be the key source document to prove it.

      1. WALT–

        You quoted: “Strange body of literature. It shows traces of gnostic influence. If the assumption dogma arose in or at least influenced by gnostic thought, it is ironic that the Catholic church embraces it in the light of the great effort the proto-orthodox early church tried to distance itself from gnosticism.”Roman Catholicism is founded upon gnosticism and therefore this book could be the key source document to prove it.

        Right. And the Arians can prove Arianism from the apostolic writings canoned in the New Testament. So the Bible is their key source. What does that prove?

        1. Bob wrote:

          “Right. And the Arians can prove Arianism from the apostolic writings canoned in the New Testament. So the Bible is their key source. What does that prove?”

          I’m so happy to have seen one review on the book at Amazon because it does look like a fascinating research document. I always appreciate someone who takes and republishes source documents. I’m a big believer in using authentic source documents to describe the time period in question. It is too bad you Catholics don’t see it the same way in giving weight to facts and evidence.

          What does it prove? It demonstrates from the quote by the person who read the book that some of the source documents were Gnostic in origin proving what Rome teaches about Mary. This goes right along with my own theory that Roman Catholicism is a fundamentally mystic, Gnostic and Satanic religion. It is not a Christian religion, but an anti-Christian religion.

          Thankfully, it looks like this book is a great set of source documents proving my theory in general terms, but until I read it I can only judge based upon one readers opinion those documents will prove my case about what Rome teaches regarding the “sinless” Mary.

          I was just watching Vaticano on EWTN. The Pope just blessed a picture of the Virgin Mary, and sent her to Iraq with a delegation to “intercede” in the war, and bring peace to the region. The Cardinal in Iraq who received the picture took the picture and started to kiss the picture. It was incredible what these men will do to support their belief that Mary is alive, and asking a Cardinal to kiss the picture on TV to demonstrate how much they love Mary and really believe she is alive and the mediator between mankind and Jesus.

    1. Walt,
      Have you been nipping the Drambuie?
      When are you ever going to respond to my questions about Calvinism that I asked you two months ago?

      1. Jim, when are you going to provide a list of ex cathedra papal statements, for which I have been asking for more than a year?

        Thanks,

        Tim

    2. Yes, Walt, thank you for your patience. I meant to get to this sooner.

      On the question you raised on the interpretation of Revelation 17, the sermon you cited, started with this:

      “2. Problem #2. The Preterist likewise faces another significant problem in dating the Book of Revelation before the death of Nero (in 68 a.d.) when we consider Revelation 17:12: “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.” The Preterist interprets the ten horns of the beast to be the governors of ten imperial provinces of Rome who rule with him at the time of Nero. But this cannot be the case for the following reasons.”

      I agree that the ten horns cannot be governors of imperial provinces of Rome who rule at the time of Nero, but for different reasons. The ten horns of Daniel 7 clearly emerge in the same period that the toes are formed in the statue of chapter 2. The toes form only after the end of the period signified by the solid iron empire (the legs). Based on the text of Daniel 2, especially v. 43, which says the iron mixed with clay is a period when “they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men,” understand the iron legs to signify the united rule under the Julian line. The first seven emperors of the Roman empire were in some way related to Julian, but that ended after 7 emperors, the last of which was Galba (68-69 A.D.). In the context of the line of empires that preceded Rome, this signifies the end of a time when the rule of the empire has passed down from within the family—something that dominated the monarchies of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece, Alexander being the sole exception in that he did not leave his kingdom to his children. In any case, the horns, like the toes, must emerge after the first 7 rulers of the Roman empire, and therefore cannot emerge prior to 69 or during the time of Nero.

      Next, the sermon says,

      “a. Revelation 17:12 clearly states that these ten kings had not yet received a kingdom to reign with the Roman beast at the time that John penned the Book of Revelation, but that they would in the future receive power as kings one hour to rule with the Roman beast. “

      This is true. But just because the ten horns were yet future, does not mean that the book of Revelation was not penned during Nero’s reign.

      Next the sermon reads,

      “b. Furthermore, I submit that Nero is not reigning as Emperor in Revelation 17:12 (just as he is not reigning as Emperor in Revelation 17:10 as the wounded sixth head), for when the ten kings are given power to rule with the Roman beast, they do not rule with the wounded sixth head of the Roman beast (in Revelation 17:10; Revelation 13:3), but rather the ten kings rule with the revived and healed eighth head of the Roman beast. “

      I believe Nero was the reigning emperor at the time Revelation was written (based on Revelation 17:10), but I do not believe he was the prophesied antichrist for the simple reason that Antichrist has to rise from the iron & clay period, and Nero clearly reigned during the iron period.

      I agree with what the sermon was saying—that Nero is not the prophesied Antichrist and that the ten kings are yet future at the writing of Revelation. But neither of those facts preclude an early date of authorship for Revelation. Notice as the sermon goes on to point C, the speaker has attempted to show that if Nero is not the “beast,” then Revelation was not written during his reign:

      “C. Having given biblical reasons in this sermon why Nero cannot be the sixth head of the Roman beast that “IS” ruling (in Revelation 17:10) at the time that John penned the book of Revelation, and therefore why Revelation 17:10 cannot be used as internal evidence to confirm a pre-68 a.d. date for the Book of Revelation (as claimed by Preterists), “

      But just because Nero was not the Antichrist does not prove that the Book of Revelation was not written under his reign.

      It seems to me that the sermon intends to remove Nero from consideration by emphasizing the later date of authorship, but I believe Nero should be excluded based on what we know from Scripture. The significance of the seven kings mentioned in Revelation 7:10 is that they are the seven emperors who rule during the “Iron” period, and the “iron” period is coming to an end at the time of John’s writing. The “Iron/Clay” period is therefore about to begin, and that iron/clay period is fraught with eschatological significance, and thus, these things must shortly come to pass. The significance of Nero is not that he is Antichrist (he is not), but that he is at the end of the iron period.

      Thanks,

      Tim

      1. Tim,

        Thanks for the reply. Would this statement be accurate?

        The early dating of Rev. is proven by Scripture alone while those who attempt to prove a late dating of Rev. do so only with historical testimony outside Scripture?

        You mentioned this point…implying that Scripture proves an early date where any evidence for a later date using history is likely in error.

        “It seems to me that the sermon intends to remove Nero from consideration by emphasizing the later date of authorship, but I believe Nero should be excluded based on what we know from Scripture.”

        Thanks for the reply. It is helping me to sharpen my understanding of your presupposition is based upon early dating of Rev? Would you say that your historical post mill theory falls apart with a later date of Rev, as you might imply to those who hold to later date of Rev.?

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