In my last essay I made use of the following syllogism to demonstrate that one cannot logically object to the expression Θεοτόκος (Theotokos) or “Mother of God” for the Virgin Mary without either denying the deity of Jesus Christ or denying that Mary is the Mother of Jesus (by saying, for example, that she is the mother of only one of His natures rather than of Jesus as a Person, which is the heresy of Nestorianism):
Premise A: Jesus is God.
Premise B: Mary is the Mother of Jesus.
Conclusion (C): Mary is the Mother of God.
One Hyper-Protestant took exception to this. Posting as “Anonymous” he lumped me in with “filthy papists” (I recognize neither the Patriarch of Rome’s claim to universal jurisdiction over the entire Church, not his claim from Vatican I on to infallibility) and described my syllogism as “anti-trinitarian”. This proved to be deliciously ironic in that he then offered up the following two alternative syllogisms:
The Father is God and not born of Mary so Mary is not the "Mother of God." The Holy Spirit is God and not born of Mary so it is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost to call her "Mother of God."
Now, these are not proper syllogisms in form, of course. Both attempt to draw their conclusion from a single compound premise and the second introduces a concept into the conclusion “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” that is not present in the premise. This is what “Anonymous”’ first syllogism would look like cleaned up:
Premise A: The Father is God.
Premise B. Mary is not the mother of the Father.
Conclusion (C): Mary is not the Mother of God.
Substitute “The Holy Spirit” for “The Father” as the Middle term in both Premises and you have the cleaned up version of his second syllogism.
Can you see why these syllogisms are invalid?
For either of these syllogisms to be valid, that is, for the conclusion to necessarily follow from the premises, the Major Term, “God” would have to be a closed set, including only the Middle Term of the syllogism (“The Father” in the case of the first syllogism, “The Holy Spirit” in the case of the second syllogism). Yet this is precisely what a Trinitarian cannot claim. The Father is God, yes, but not to the exclusion of either The Son or The Holy Ghost. The same is true, mutatis mutandis, of the other Persons. God is One in Being, but Three in Person. “Anonymous”’ syllogisms require God to be One in Person as well as Being. This is Unitarianism not Trinitarianism. Or, since he made the same argument with both the Father and the Holy Spirit, it is the heresy of Sabellianism.
By contrast, in my original syllogism both the Minor Term (Mary) and the Middle Term (Jesus) are as individual Persons closed sets, but there is no need for the Major Term (God) to be similarly closed, for the conclusion to necessarily follow from the Premises. My syllogism allows for the Trinity, it is “Anonymous”’ syllogisms which do not, and which are therefore the anti-Trinitarian syllogisms.
Of course, considering that “Anonymous”’ post consists almost entirely of bitter, acidic, vitriol it is clear that he was writing from a standpoint of high emotion rather than reason. Later in the comments, however, Jason Anderson, who like “Anonymous” defends the Nestorian position, responded to my remarks in the essay about the implications of his claim that Jesus “disowned” Mary. Mr. Anderson had made this claim originally in the comments on an earlier essay “Be a Protestant BUT NOT A NUT!” The claim, obviously, is an attempt to get as far from Rome as possible on the subject of Mary. Like the base Nestorian position, however, it has Christological implications, in this case that Jesus broke the fifth commandment. Mr. Anderson’s response to my pointing this out is more level-headed than “Anonymous”’ comments. Is it more rational however?
He begins by saying:
What does "they went out to lay hold on him" mean if not "kidnapping"? If they were cops it might mean "arrest" but being private citizens it means "kidnapping."
Note that his question is written from the position that his interpretation of these words of St. Mark’s is the default correct one unless some other interpretation is proven, a rather bold position to take with regards to an interpretation that is novel with him. Especially since it involves a concept that would have been nonsensical to anyone in the first century – the idea of someone being “kidnapped” by his own people. This is not a nonsensical concept to us, because in our day where liberal, individualistic, rights is a concept that is almost universally taken as axiomatic, and family break-ups are common, one parent kidnapping a child from the other parent to whom the court has awarded custody is, sadly, not unknown. In the first century nobody believed in liberal, individualistic, rights. What was universal then was the idea that the family had authority – almost absolute authority – over its members. The idea that a family detaining one of its own constituted a “kidnapping” was completely foreign to that world. So, for that matter, was the form of law enforcement Mr. Anderson suggests as the alternate possibility. Since the explanation given in the text is that they thought He was “beside himself”, i.e. had become mentally disturbed, the correct interpretation is that they, based on an erroneous presumption, were doing what was expected of the family of someone who had become mentally unstable, as evinced elsewhere in the Gospel narratives. In my essay, I described this as a “misguided intervention”, but I at least acknowledged the anachronism of using “the parlance of our day” in such a way. Certainly the description is accurate if anachronistic. The family was doing what society expected of them under such circumstances and doing so out of love for Him, to keep Him safe. That they were mistaken in thinking Him to be “beside himself” does not change this into a “kidnapping” and it is obscene to suggest that it could justify breaking the fifth commandment.
Mr. Anderson goes on to say:
Now whatever other construction you try to put on it is the same as how pastors frequently claim calling your mother "woman" was magically respectful in that one society and time despite never being so anywhere or time else.
Here Mr. Anderson has compounded the error of his first two sentences with a basic inductive error that anyone who has ever studied philosophy or logic could identify after their first class. In his time and in his culture, calling your mother “woman” is disrespectful, so he extrapolates this onto all other cultures in all other societies and times – for he has not investigated every single culture, in every single society, in all times, to support his claim, I guarantee you that – to dismiss those who say that “woman” was not a disrespectful form of address in the first century. One does not have to go outside of the text of the Gospel of John to show that the pastors he so dismisses are right and that there is no magic involved.
γύναι, the vocative form of the Greek word for “woman”, is used as a common form of address throughout the Gospel. In addition to Mary in the second and nineteenth chapters, Jesus addresses the Samaritan Woman this way in the fourth chapter when telling her that the time is coming that those who worship the Father will do so neither in the Samaritan mountain nor Jerusalem, address the woman taken in adultery when asking her where the accusers He had just rescued her from were in the Pericope de Altera at the beginning of the eighth chapter, and Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection in the twentieth chapter. There is no hint of disrespect in any of these passages. In the last mentioned, the vocative is joined to the question “why weepest thou?” which, if the form of address was disrespectful, would be absolutely bizarre, as the question and the moment are ones of tender kindness. Note that only a couple of verses earlier, the angels at the empty tomb address her in the same way. Clearly this address was both a) common and c) not perceived as disrespectful, within the context of the Gospel according to St. John.
The Gospels according to St. Matthew and St. Luke provides additional confirmation of this. Jesus addresses the woman He heals from an eighteen year infirmity in the synagogue on the Sabbath this way in the thirteenth chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, and the Canaanite woman who asked Him to cast the demon out of her daughter in the fifteenth chapter of St. Matthew. Note with regards to the latter, that this address is not part of the earlier portion of the conversation, but when Jesus is praising her faith and granting her request in the twenty-eight verse. For the record, γυνή is the basic Greek word for “woman” and “wife”, and in the vocative, was used as a term of affection rather than disrespect, comparable to “Ma’am” and in some cases even “My Lady” in English. William Barclay in his commentary on St. John’s Gospel writes:
The word Woman (gynai) is also misleading. It sounds to us very rough and abrupt. But it is the same word as Jesus used on the Cross to address Mary as he left her to the care of John (John 19:26). In Homer it is the title by which Odysseus addresses Penelope, his well-loved wife. It is the title by which Augustus, the Roman Emperor, addressed Cleopatara, the famous Egyptian queen. So far from being a rough and discourteous way of address, it was a title of respect. We have no way of speaking in English which exactly renders it; but it is better to translate it Lady which gives at least the courtesy in it.
To the examples of classical literature he cites might be added Euripides’ Medea. It is how Creon addresses the title character, while trying to soften the blow of her exile, following Jason’s betrayal. This is the first example Liddell & Scott give of the affectionate use of the term.
Does Mr. Anderson have anything more to back up his claim that Jesus “disowned” His Mother other than the vile accusation that she was “abusive”?
No, not really. The rest of his response is an entertainingly arrogant form of the Argumentum ex Silentio. Here is the first part of it:
If he did not disown her, why is she never mentioned by Paul? Not by name, only as "made of a woman"---again that word woman not mother. To Paul she is just a "woman" as to Jesus she is just a "woman." Paul doesn't speak of any "Mother of God." It proves she was disowned.
So, according to Mr. Anderson, if St. Paul never mentioned Mary, the first explanation to come to mind is that Jesus disowned her. I would have thought that a more rational explanation was that St. Paul in his epistles was addressing specific situations in the Churches to which he was writing and explaining specific doctrines of the faith rather than trying to be comprehensive. Then, however, I am not trying to take a position as far removed from Rome’s as possible and then impose that position on the text of the Bible whether it supports it or not. Mr. Anderson is mistaken in saying “Paul doesn’t speak of any ‘Mother of God.’” St. Paul says that Jesus was “made of a woman” (Gal. 4:4), which points to His having a Mother. St. Paul says that Jesus is God (Titus 2:13 among many other verses). Therefore St. Paul speaks of a Mother of God. It is comical that he writes “It proves she was disowned”. His Argumentum ex Silentio is not even evidence, much less proof. Nor does it become any stronger when he compounds it by adding SS Peter, John, James and Jude.
Indeed, he would have been wiser to have left St. John out of it. He writes “Nor Peter or John (and she is called John's mother, but even he doesn't assert that she is ‘Mother of God’) nor Jude nor James.” A) Everyone who asserts that Jesus is God, asserts that Mary is the Mother of God by doing so, for Mary is the Mother of Jesus. St. John asserts that Jesus is God in the very first verse of his Gospel. B) The passage in which Jesus tells Mary to behold her son in St. John, and St. John to behold his mother in Mary, far from being the disowning that only a most reprobate mind would see in it, is the demonstration of filial affection and care that is universally, even by Hyper-Protestants other than Mr. Anderson, seen to be, C) It is by no means established fact that St. John was silent about Mary outside of his Gospel. St. John is acknowledged, by conservatives at any rate, to be the author of the Book of Revelation. In the twelfth chapter of this book a woman is mentioned who gives birth to a male child:
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. (v. 5)
There is no significant disagreement as to who this child was/is. This is Jesus. Who the woman is, however, is hotly contested. There have been multiple candidates put forward but the ones that deserve serious consideration can be reduced to four – Mary, Eve, national Israel and spiritual Israel (the Church). Mary is an obvious candidate because she literally gave birth to Jesus. I will defer Eve until later. Israel is a candidate because of the description of the woman in the first verse (the sun, moon, twelve stars alluding to Joseph’s dreams in Genesis) and because of the reference back to Isaiah’s “unto us a child is born” sign, which reasoning can be used for Israel either in the sense of the nation (not the state that goes by that name today but the ethnicity), or in the sense of the Congregation of the Lord, which is in the New Testament the Church. Hyper-Protestants like Mr. Anderson will detest the thought that Mary is in view here, especially since this chapter if referring to her completely undermines the foundation of their complaints against most of the honours Rome has bestowed upon her including the title “Queen of Heaven” (the first verse of the chapter depicts the woman as wearing a crown in Heaven) but it is impossible to rule her out. The biggest argument against viewing the woman as the Church, spiritual Israel, is that Jesus built the Church but here the woman gives birth to Jesus. This is not a fatal argument in that while the Church in the New Testament began at Pentecost the Old Testament Church – the spiritual Congregation of the Lord within national Israel – was folded up into her at Pentecost, and so there is a continuity there. Understanding her to be national Israel would seem to commit one to a dispensationalist view of Revelation, or at least something very close to it. The best interpretation is that the woman is a compound symbol. She is indeed Mary, the literal Mother of Jesus, but not merely in her own person but as the symbolic representative of Israel, certainly in the spiritual sense – note how believers are described as “the remnant of her seed” in the seventeenth verse – and perhaps in the national sense as well, and as the New Eve who gave birth to the New Adam. This last image, Mary as the New Eve, is strongly suggested in the chapter in which Satan appears as the dragon who is “that old serpent”, i.e., the one that deceived the original Eve, and makes war against the woman and her “seed”.
Now, the concept of Mary as the New Eve was spelled out in so many words very early in Church history. It first appears in Justin Martyr’s writings, specifically his Dialogue With Trypho which dates to the middle of the second century (this is also our oldest source identifying St. John the Apostle as the John who wrote Revelation). It is then expounded upon at length in Adversus Haereses, written two to three decades later by St. Irenaeus, a second generation disciple of St. John (his teacher was St. Polycarp, who was taught directly by the Apostle). It is significant that this connects the concept to those most directly influenced by St. John, with whom the Blessed Virgin lived out the rest of her life as he himself records, and the author of Revelation in which this image so strikingly appears. It is next found in De Carne Christi, written in the early third century by Tertullian.
It is also however suggested by the very wording that Mr. Anderson finds so disparaging. Here is the very first Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Gen. 3:15)
Note that this verse speaks merely of “the woman”. There is a double reference here, obviously, to Eve, who is named later in the chapter (v. 20), and to Mary who actually gives birth to the seed that bruises the serpent’s head. When St. Paul, whose epistles spell out the concept of Jesus Christ as the New Adam (Rom. 5, 1 Cor. 15), describes Jesus as “made of woman” in Galatians 4:4, this is an allusion to this prophecy, and not the dismissal of her importance that Mr. Anderson assumes it to be.
Perhaps you are wondering why I have wasted so much time and space answering this sort of thing. It is to once again show that Hyper-Protestantism is a dangerous path to tread.
Hyper-Protestantism, remember, is the form of Protestantism that is not content to disagree with the Roman Catholic Church merely on the matters that led to the Reformation (Rome’s rejection of the supremacy of Scriptural authority over the authority of Church and tradition and her rejection of the assurance of salvation in the Gospel to all who believe leading her to compromise the freeness of salvation as the gift of God to man in Jesus Christ) or even on these and the claims of the Roman Patriarchy that were disputed in the Great Schism (mainly Rome’s claim to universal jurisdiction, despite this being denied by the canons of the Ecumenical Councils) all of which have to do with errors and claims made by Rome specifically and relatively late in Church history. Hyper-Protestantism opposes and rejects, at least in part, what is truly Catholic, as well as what is distinctly Roman. That which is Catholic is that which belongs to the entire Church, everywhere she has been found, from Apostolic times to the present day as opposed to what is distinctive of the Church in one specific place, or one specific time.
Doctrinally, the most important part of what is Catholic is the Creed, the original version of which most likely was drafted by the Apostles themselves, which underwent regional variation as the Gospel spread, with one such regional version, the Roman Baptismal Symbol, evolving into what is now called the Apostles’ Creed, and another regional version being modified by the first two Ecumenical Councils, into what is now called the Nicene Creed, more properly the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and which is the most widely used and accepted confessional statement in Christianity. The Creed is the essential Christian faith. All ancient Churches confess the Creed. Next to the Creed in importance is the Definition of Chalcedon, which clarifies the doctrine of the One Person and Two Natures of Jesus Christ – that He is fully God, co-equal with the Father and Holy Spirit, and fully Man, with the same nature as us, except no sin, that these two Natures remain distinct, but are permanently united in His One Person so that what is true of Him in either of His Natures is true of Him in His Person. While some ancient Churches dissent from the Definition of Chalcedon, they do not seem to teach what is condemned by Chalcedon. The heresies condemned at Chalcedon are Nestorianism, which separates Jesus’ natures from His Person, and Monophysitism, which teaches that Jesus’ human nature was swallowed up into His divine nature so that Jesus is fully God but not fully Man. The Non-Chalcedonian Churches, such as the Coptic and Armenian, do not accept the “two natures’ language of Chalcedon, but do teach that Jesus was fully God and fully Man and call their position “Miaphysitism” rather than Monophysitism. All ancient Churches therefore, even the ones that don’t accept the Definition of Chalcedon, reject the heresies condemned at Chalcedon. There are other doctrines and practices that are Catholic in that they have been taught and practiced in all the ancient Churches since the earliest times but they are of varying degrees of lesser importance to the truths in the Creed and the Definition of Chalcedon.
The Roman Catholic Church, that is to say, the portion of the Church that recognizes the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Rome, claims to be the Catholic Church confessed in the Creed. All Protestants reject that claim, as, of course, do the Eastern Orthodox, and the other ancient Churches. A Protestant, therefore, should never refer to the Roman Catholic Church as the Catholic Church without the Roman, or refer to members of her Communion as “Catholics”, for this concedes the claim which we contest. The Roman Catholic Church is a particular Church – like the Church of Corinth or the Church of Galatia mentioned in the New Testament. Indeed, you could say that she is a very large version of the Church of Rome that is mentioned in the New Testament. She is not the whole Church, however. A Protestant must insist on this. A Hyper-Protestant will either call her the Catholic Church and her members Catholics, thus accepting Rome’s claim while rejecting that which is Catholic, or alternately and inconsistently deny her claim to be Catholic at all even in the sense of being a particular Church within the Catholic Church by accusing her of teaching things that would place her at odds with the Nicene Creed. Rome does not claim to teach these things. Rome confesses the Creed and the Definition of Chalcedon. Hyper-Protestants maintain, on the basis of some Roman practices they object to – in some cases the objections are justified, in some cases not – that these other things are what Rome really teaches and what the members of her Communion really believe, even though they say they don’t teach and believe those things. This is, of course, a form of the fallacy of ignoratio elenchi, and it is also a violation of any number of Scriptural commandments, including the eighth of the Ten. None of the doctrines that ordinary Protestants contended with Rome over in the Reformation touched on the truths in the Creed or the Chalcedonian Definition.
The Catholic doctrines, those held by all ancient Churches, everywhere, since ancient times, are the first tier of Christian truth. Within this first tier, the core truths are those confessed in the Creed and the Chalcedonian Definition. Ordinary Protestants, or better, orthodox Protestants, do not contest Catholic doctrines. The doctrines emphasized in the Reformation – the primary of Scriptural authority over ecclesiastical authority and tradition, the freeness of salvation as a gift, and the assurance of salvation in the Gospel – belong to a second tier of Christian truth. Now, some of these may be more important than some doctrines of the first tier outside of the core faith in one sense. The freeness of salvation, for example, is more important than anything that might be believed universally throughout the Churches about angels. The ranking of the two tiers is based on that which is common to all (Catholic) being generally more important than that which is particular to the part (Protestant, Roman, etc.) The essence of the faith, remember, belongs to that core part of the Catholic tier. Hyper-Protestants tend to major on differences with Rome that are of lesser importance than the core doctrines of the Reformation. This would make them third tier at best. Yet Hyper-Protestants use Rome’s differences from themselves on these points to deny Rome, which confesses the first tier of Christian truth, a place within Christianity at all. In doing so, they often compromise their own adherence to the first tier of Christian truth. The error of Hyper-Protestantism could be described, therefore, as an extreme form of ecclesiastical provincialism.
The matter discussed in my last essay and in the first section of this one illustrates this point. There is a huge difference between Protestantism and Hyper-Protestantism when it comes to their disagreement with Rome over the Virgin Mary. In the Reformation, the dispute between Rome and the Magisterial Reformers, both continental and English, was almost entirely a dispute over practice rather than doctrine. The Reformers all thought that the cult of the Blessed Virgin, like that of the saints in general, had been taken to idolatrous excess in the late Medieval Roman Church. They reformed this in the Churches they led, usually by eliminating the cult altogether, but they did not take a hard stand against the doctrines Rome taught regarding Mary.
These are called the Marian Dogmas. There are four of them, all of which were taught by Rome at the time of the Reformation, two of which did not become dogma – doctrine officially binding on members of a Communion, in this case the Roman – until long after the Reformation. The Marian Dogmas are that Mary is the Mother of God (Theotokos), her Perpetual Virginity, her Immaculate Conception, and her Bodily Assumption. The first two of these are truly Catholic, having been held by the entire Church since the earliest centuries. The first, moreover, is integral to sound Christology, and cannot be denied without either denying the deity of Jesus Christ or separating His deity from His Person, both soul-damning heresies, and so the first Marian Dogma is not only Catholic, but belongs to “the faith once delivered unto the saints”, that core element of the first tier of Christian truth. This cannot be said of the other three, even the other truly Catholic doctrine. The Immaculate Conception – this means the idea that Mary herself was protected from the taint of Original Sin in her conception, do not confuse it with either the Miraculous Conception or Virgin Birth of Jesus - was declared dogma by the Roman Church in 1854, and the Bodily Assumption in 1950, less than a century ago. Neither can be said to be truly Catholic. The Eastern Church, although she teaches that Mary was kept by grace from personal sin, rejects the Immaculate Conception (that she was kept from Original Sin) and while the Eastern Church does teach a form of Assumption (that Mary was taken bodily into heaven) in her theology, which emphasizes the Dormition (literally “falling asleep” i.e., in death) of the Theotokos, the Assumption is understood as a resurrection rather than a rapture, to borrow a concept from dispensationalist eschatology, whereas the Roman dogma is worded in such a way as to allow for the latter possibility and perhaps suggest it. The Hyper-Protestants reject the last three of these, usually claiming not only that they cannot be proved from Scripture but that they are disproved by Scripture, and, as we have seen, many Hyper-Protestants reject the first one, that one cannot reject without embracing Christological heresy of one sort or another, as well. This is a remarkable contrast with the Protestant Reformers who believed, almost unanimously, in the first two, the truly Catholic ones, and in some cases held to all four.
The Lutheran Reformers, following Dr. Luther’s lead, were the strongest proponents of the Marian doctrines. Mary as the Mother of God and her Perpetual Virginity are both affirmed in the Lutheran Confessions. An argument for Mary’s being the Mother of God is even placed in the Formula of Concord (Epitome VIII.xii, Solid Declaration VIII.xxiv), while her Perpetual Virginity is affirmed by the use of “Ever Virgin” in the Smacald Articles I.iv. Dr. Luther also taught a form of the Immaculate Conception in which Mary’s physical conception was normal but her ensoulment was miraculously protected so that the effects of Original Sin touched only her body and not her soul. The English Reformers were usually as conservative as the Lutherans if not more so. In this case, they – Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, Coverdale, Jewel, et al. - all personally affirmed their strong belief in the first two Marian doctrines, the genuinely Catholic ones, but did not make them binding on the Church of England, except in that the orthodoxy of the Creed and Chalcedon is binding, which brings the first Marian doctrine along with it. Interestingly, William Perkins, the Elizabethan era clergyman who is generally regarded as a moderate member of the Puritan party – the original Hyper-Protestants – was a strong defender of the Catholic Marian doctrines. Even more interesting was the situation with the non-Lutheran Continental Reformers. On many issues, John Calvin was closer to Dr. Luther and hence “more Catholic” than the other leaders of the Reformed tradition. When it comes to Mary, however, Calvin was the odd man out in the other direction. Zwingli, Bullinger, even Calvin’s own protégé Beza, all affirmed in the strongest possible terms the Catholic Marian doctrines. The Perpetual Virginity made it into the Reformed Confessions, albeit in Bullinger’s Second Helvetic Confession (XI.iii) rather than any of the Three Points of Unity, and was later defended by the Calvinist scholastic Francis Turretin. Calvin himself, however, was equivocal. On the Mother of God, he defended the theological soundness of the title but disapproved of its common use. Regarding the Perpetual Virginity, he maintained that it cannot be proven either way, although his specific refutation of Helvidius’ claims that it can be disproven by the Gospel of Matthew and his commentary on St. John’s Gospel to the effect that those identified as the brethren of Jesus were His cousins, strongly suggests he personally held to it.
Clearly, in their belief that antidicomarianism is the only true Protestant position and that anyone who accepts any of the Marian dogmas, even the one you cannot reject and consistently hold to the Hypostatic Union, is a closet “papist”, the Hyper-Protestants are out to lunch way off in left field on some other planet. More importantly to the point at hand, however, is the fact that with the exception of Mary’s being the Mother of God, none of these doctrines belongs to the essence of the faith. That essence, again, is the Creed, the basic confession of the truths all Christians believe, the formal expression or Symbol of “the faith”. Mary’s being the Mother of God belongs to the essence of the faith, because it is primarily a Christological doctrine, and only secondarily about Mary. It is in the Creed because Jesus having been “born of the Virgin Mary” is part of the Creed as is His being “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God…being of One Substance with the Father”, making Mary’s being the Mother of God, that is, of Jesus Christ Who is God, part of the Creed. None of the other Marian doctrines can be found in the Creed, even in its expansion into the Athanasian Symbol that guards against every possible way of misconstruing the Trinity and brings the clarifying affirmations of Chalcedon into it. Only one other of these doctrines, the Perpetual Virginity, belongs to the first tier of Christian truth – that which is Catholic in that it is held by all ancient Churches, everywhere, from the most ancient times. The other two are neither first tier, nor are they, in either their affirmation or rejection, second tier, that is to say, belonging to the key truths of the Reformation. These are third tier doctrines at best, which Hyper-Protestants, who in their rejection of these doctrines often go so far as to place themselves in serious doctrinal heresy by also rejecting the one that belongs to the Creedal essence of the first tier, elevate to a level of undue importance by writing people who sincerely confess the Creed out of the Church and out of Christianity, dismissing them as pagans or worse, for affirming these lesser doctrines that the Hyper-Protestants deny.
You have probably noticed that I have not directly addressed in this essay the question of what the Scriptures have to say, one way or another, about the Perpetual Virginity. I shall address that, Lord willing, in a future essay, although not necessarily my next one. All I will say about it here is that doctrines that are truly Catholic – held by the ancient Churches since ancient times – are not of the essence of the faith unless they are also tenets of the Creed, but should be presumed true unless proven otherwise from Scripture. This is the orthodox Protestant position. Hyper Protestantism reverses the onus. I have also not addressed in this essay the position of those who would write the Roman Church and others which confess the Creed out of Christianity for disagreeing with the Protestant position on what I have called the second tier of Christian truth, the core doctrines of the Reformation. This too, Lord willing, I shall address in a future essay. Suffice it to say for now, that the core soteriological disagreement between the Reformers and Rome, boils down to the question of whether St. James interprets St. Paul (in Romans) or the other way around, that the evidence suggests, conclusively in my opinion, that it is St. Paul who interprets St. James, but that either way, the Protestant Reformers were not guilty of the antinomianism Rome accused them of, nor was Rome entirely guilty of the Galatianism the Reformers accused her of, that Rome went too far in anathematizing the Protestant position in the Council of Trent, and the Reformers went too far in applying the term Antichrist to a Church that, in error though it be, confesses Jesus as Christ and Lord.