Thursday, December 23, 2010

TF Chimes in on the Luther and the IC Discussion

An apologist who goes by the pseudonym of "TurretinFan" (TF) responded to my recent response to James Swan on Luther and the Immaculate Conception.  I now respond to him...

6) I was aware of Mr. Windsor's novel interpretation of Ineffabilis Deus, and I had asked him previously to tell me where he got his ideas from - whether from some official source or from his own creativity. He didn't respond then (that I'm aware of), and I don't suppose he'll respond now, although he has the opportunity to respond in the comment box.

I'll begin with #6 - My explanation is not new. The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia says: "But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam (aka Original Sin) — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death." The article actually dates back to 1910 - before even my parents were born.

I trust this will silence the false allegation that this was somehow my "novel interpretation."  I have also posted this part of my response to TF's blog.  Now, on to the rest...

1) Mr. Windsor's allegation of fallacy of etymology is unsupported. In fact, the argument that Mr. Windsor offers doesn't begin to address what a supporting argument for such an assertion would need to address. Mr. Windsor doesn't, for example, identify a word that has had its meaning determined etymologically and then explain what the correct meaning should be.

It is not up to me to point out what the supporting argument should be when I pointed out the use of the etymological fallacy.  TF ignores the fact that I challenged the very use of Greek here - Luther didn't write in Greek!  He understood it, he could translate from it, but he wrote in German and Latin.  The introduction of Greek here itself is a fallacy - THEN to attempt some sort of etymon goose chase - as if that would support anything in the current discussion of the Immaculate Conception!  That being said, I followed that chase a bit... I looked up the word and found it means "from the womb" and "brother."  Keeping in mind, we're still talking about the displaced Greek here, when Luther is referring to "the Virgin's conception" is he talking about her giving birth a "brother?"  At this point, even if we accept the off-topic comment and false assertion (also contrary to Luther's position, which would be a bit more on-topic from the original post in this series) that Jesus had brothers and sisters from that same womb - at THIS conception He would have been an ONLY CHILD!  Adelphos just doesn't work here in the sense of a "brother."

For more on the etymological fallacy, here's a starting point.

2) Mr. Windsor's allegation about what an "ACCURATE" (his caps) translation would be just reflect his apparently weak knowledge of the English language. The expression, in English, "the virgin's conception" can (standing by itself) refer to one of two things: (1) the action of the virgin (a virgin shall conceive) or (2) the action on the virgin (Mary's mother's conception of Mary). It's perfectly accurate to say "the virgin's conception" with respect to either of those two meanings.
Notice that basically right out of the chute, TF lays into ad hominem - and has abandoned his Greek argument.  He has also ignored the fact that in my discussions with Swan I have stated there are places where one who rejects the IC "MAY" impose their paradigm upon Luther here and interpret him to be speaking of Jesus' conception as opposed to Mary's conception.   Again, my use of "ACCURATE" refers to the misplaced insertion of Greek into this discussion as if to confuse the reader.
3) Mr. Windsor's claim "if Swan and TF are correct here, then every translator of this passage to English has it wrong" is based on his apparently inadequate grasp of English, as explained above. It is also somewhat strange, because it is not like there are hundreds or even dozens of English translators of this particular passage of Luther's works. Mr. Windsor doesn't even identify two such translators (at least not anywhere near this discussion), though perhaps there are two.
I find it a bit ironic that TF introduces a Greek word here without citing a single Greek original of Luther's work here and then tries to pawn off on me the responsibility of providing sources!  That being said, I'm not going to go digging for English translations of the passage to prove an unrelated tangent here.  If TF agrees there are at least two translators, then amend my word "every" to be "both" - it matters not to me. 
4) The comment about Jesus ἀδελφοὶ also whizzes over Mr. Windsor's head. There was a primary point and a secondary point to the comment. The primary point was that an expression like "Mary's conception" (standing alone) could refer to her conception of any of the children she brought forth. Of course, in this instance it refers to Jesus' conception, not James' or any of the Lord's other ἀδελφοὶ. The second point was that Jesus, according to Scripture, had ἀδελφοὶ - those who were from the same womb as him - that includes brothers and what Scripture refers to as "αδελφαι" which refers to sisters. That secondary point is not really relevant to the issue of what Luther's talking about, at all. It's just a point that needs to be made against those who mistakenly hold to the idea that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus' birth.
The Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin was NOT the subject of the discussion between Swan and myself at this point.  Here we're focused on the Immaculate Conception.  Let us not be distracted by side-topics - especially one where TF is alleging Luther used Greek in his writings.   Apparently TF has an agenda here and wants to insert this propaganda where ever he can.  Again, going back to the original article - the PV was discussed, and Luther (remember too, we're discussing LUTHER'S position on these matters) maintained the belief in the PV - as the source Mr. Swan cited "The Problem of Mary" - written by a Lutheran pastor - also clearly affirms.  To bring up an argument that Mary had other children would also be contra-Luther and misplaced in this discussion.  TF is free to disagree with Luther and the Catholic Church on this matter - but that argument does not belong in THIS debate.
5) Mr. Windsor's attempt to separate the "STAIN" (his bold and caps) from the sin is not something he can support from the official teachings of his church. Read the document that defined the dogma, and you'll see that the "stain" and the "sin" are used essentially interchangeably.
Notice, in the following series how "taint," "stain," and "sin" are used interchangeably and how it is repeatedly affirmed that Mary was free from original sin (in order of appearance, numbers just for ease of reference, in case you should wish to check/correct me)
  1. "absolutely free of all stain of sin"
  2. "free from all taint of original sin"
  3. "conceived without the stain of original sin"
  4. "preserved free from all stain of original sin"
  5. "preserved from original sin"
  6. "preserved from original sin"
  7. "was never subject to original sin, but was completely preserved from the original taint,"
  8. "all men are born infected by original sin; nevertheless, it solemnly declared that it had no intention of including the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, in this decree and in the general extension of its definition."
  9. "free from the original stain"
  10. "the Virgin's supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin"
  11. "her most excellent innocence, purity, holiness and freedom from every stain of sin"
  12. "free from all contagion of sin"
  13. "the worm of sin had never corrupted"
  14. "when one treats of sin, the holy Virgin Mary is not even to be mentioned"
  15. "to her more grace was given than was necessary to conquer sin completely"
  16. "entirely free from every stain of sin"
  17. "she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin"
  18. "holy and removed from every stain of sin"
  19. "conceived without original stain"
  20. "preserved free from all stain of original sin"
  21. "conceived without original sin"
So, unless Mr. Windsor has more than simply his own say-so, we must respectfully insist that it is he, not us, who is unfamiliar with Roman dogma on the subject. He is committing the fallacy of emphasis by assuming that "stain of original sin" is supposed to be different in its sense than "original sin."
First off, TF has misrepresented Catholic teaching here.  The whole document, Ineffabilis Deus, does not define the Immaculate Conception - only one paragraph in it does and here it is for the reader:
We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.
That's it - the rest of the document is Pope Pius IX's explanations - but the only part which can be called "infallible" is the definition itself.

Secondly, the definition makes no mention of the temporal punishments due to Original Sin, and we believe she did suffer and die - which are part of these temporal punishments.  Some may maintain that she didn't die - and was taken up just prior to her death - THAT definition only specifies "having completed the course of earthly life...":
For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma:  that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. [Munificentissimus Deus]

So, the definition of the Assumption does not explicitly state she died and thus leaves room for those to believe she did not and remain faithful Catholics.   But I digress - again, the discussion TF joined into was on Luther's position on the Immaculate Conception.  Whether or not Swan or TF agrees with me or not, I believe I've shown adequate argumentation to demonstrate that Luther did, to some level or another, believe in the Immaculate Conception throughout his life and that fact was also testified to in the "Problem of Mary" written by a Lutheran pastor and provided to us by James Swan.  His comment is in the "combox" section of his blog and he says:  "Luther himself mentions the every virginity and immaculate conception even to the very end of his life."  

Lastly, TF's assertion that I don't know or understand the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is simply ludicrous and I answered his objection in my response to #6,  (I responded to first in this article).  It is also not I who is demonstrating a lack of understanding of the dogma - when he (TF) implies that all those other references were part of the dogma.  Yes, they were part of the document which ALSO CONTAINS the dogmatic definition, but most of those citations of "stain" and "sin" were not part of the definition.



  1. I also want to be clear, I am not saying that Pope Pius IX's explanations are somehow erroneous, they are not - but they must be read in light of the definition itself and the small/snippet quotes out of context do not mean what TF implies they do.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. One of the frustrations of trying to talk to some of these rabid anti-Catholics is that they supposedly know more about Catholicism than Catholics. Not only is that stance laughable but they would be emphatically crying 'foul' if we said we understood their religion better than they. The typical protestant 'apologist' takes his understanding of theological terms and doctrines and superimposes them on the Church's doctrines. In that way they think that they know what they're talking about. This exchange once again demonstrates that the typical prot fanatic does not know waht he is talking about.

    TF does to 'Ineffabilis Deus' what most protestants do to the Scriptures--pick and choose out of context snippets, tie them together, and pretend the Scriptures say what they believe them to say. TF missed the point of the IC discussion, missed the meaning of the Immaculate Conception, and completely missed the points you made, but believes he actually knows what he is talking about. Hmmmm...


Keep in mind while posting:
1) Please respond ON TOPIC to the article at hand.
2) Posts more than 4 weeks old are set to automatically save new comments for moderation - so your comment may not show up immediately if you're responding to an older post.
3) The "Spam Filter" is on - and randomly messages get caught in that filter. I have no control over which messages get caught in the spam filter and those that do must wait for me to mark them as "not spam." A message caught by the spam filter may show up for a moment, making you think it posted, and then disappear. Do not assume I have deleted your comment, it's probably just the spam filter and it will show up.