The Problem with Mary (and conventions)

Sometimes in Northern Ireland there is a tendency to suggest that because the other lot do something therefore we should not do it. This is a common problem in sport and even the arts and music. I would suggest, however, that this problem is also present in religion.
I thought I might, this week, be permitted to make some comment on religion without too many complaints, it is after all part of our culture and even the non religious may recognise that this week has a certain resonance with Christians.

I thought I would talk about Mary (as in the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, not the woman currently President of the RoI). I have no idea how many sermons I have heard. I certainly hear at least one a week (the evening service is difficult to get to because of the children). Also sometimes we go to the Bangor or Portstewart convention or other missions. As such I have heard a lot. Sermons frequently talk about a biblical character, sometimes quite an obscure one. My former minister at home based a sermon on Enoch; with only two verses, Genesis 5 22 and 24 being very relevant to Enoch’s character etc. There was in fairness not that much to go on but it was an excellent sermon.
As an educative aside for the uninitiated: Bangor (at Easter) and Portstewart (in the summer) conventions are events where lots of dour looking fundamentalist Prods all go to religious meetings for a week and hear lots of preaching. In Portstewart this is held in a tent which always adds greatly to generalised dourness. Then they go down to Morelli’s and buy ice cream (except the mean ones like me who do not). The dangerous liberals buy ice cream on Sunday’s as well. Bangor is much the same except they use a Presbyterian Church instead and the overall ambiance is sometimes distressingly less dour in my experience though my father in law (not a man given to wild jollity) was very fond of Bangor convention and I have this very evening been agitating at Elenwe that we should go sometime over the weekend.
Back to Mary; I have never once heard a sermon about Mary. Now just in case anyone misunderstands, fundamentalist Protestants also believe in the Virgin birth. We just do not seem to honour her in the way we do other great Christians. I personally suspect this is incorrect. I would, I submit have significant support for this, Mary is called “Blessed” by an angel after all.

Luke 1:28 “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”
There are also lots of references to her throughout the New Testament. As such there is plenty to base a sermon on. However, going back to my previous comments there is of course a huge problem. The RCs like her. Could there be a little bit of us which does not talk about her because the RCs do? If so that is a pretty rubbish reason. We do not accept her as Queen of Heaven nor her bodily assumption but I suggest that we could give her a lot more honour with becoming ecumenists. After all Dr. Paisley always preaches about St. Patrick on the Sunday closest to St. Patrick’s day and whatever my views on his politics I do not think he has become ecumenical. So how about it, if any fundamentalist preachers are reading: How about a bit of rehabilitation for Mary, How about a sermon on Mary? You could have one at one of the conventions this year.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    [i]”1. Who found the empty tomb?

    a. According to Matthew 28:1, only “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.”
    b. According to Mark 16:1, “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome.” “[/i]

    Gerry lvs Castro, I just had a quick look at the two opening verses you mentioned.

    Matthew 28:1 says, [b]”In the end of the sabbath…….”[/b]

    Mark 16:1 says, [b]”And when the sabbath was past…….”[/b]

    Need I repeat myself in the importance of using context when reading the bible and when trying to find these so-called contradictions? Two different time periods were mentioned in two different books about different people who were witnesses. Why is this so difficult to understand? Why do the atheists and those who believe the bible isn’t scriptural ignore the context a verse or chapter is referring to?

  • Rory

    Reader : “Are all the best works of art divinely inspired, or can some works of human creativity and imagination beat some works that are divinely inspired?

    I am really quite agnostic as to Divine Inspiration, Reader. I merely find it quaint that those who do hold hard with it would choose to find it in the ugly translation of Darby rather than in the beautiful and wondrous works of the Renaissance which I personally find more uplifting. The latter helps to inspire me, the former just grates.

    I am happy that you are able to find solace in delights of the Pink Unicorn. It certainly is suggestive of something sweetly erotic and is, I am sure, blessed at least for that.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    [i]”Luke indicates in verse 24:10 that there were at least two others.”[/i]

    and how is that a contradiction? If anything it proves that there were different eyewitnesses as in the gospels, who were not working in collusion with each other.

    [i]”d. According to John 20:1-4, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb [b]alone[/i], saw the stone removed, ran to find Peter, and returned to the tomb with Peter and another disciple.”[/i]

    Gerry lvs Castro, you’ve just showed another error in your reading of the bible. You assume John says she was ‘alone’ because he only mentions her by name but in verse 2 he writes, “and [b]we[/b] know not where they have laid him.”

    How can I answer your queries when you won’t even quote the bible correctly?

  • Mustapha Mond

    “How can you have a discussion without someone who takes the bible as literal truth and disregards all the evidence that counter that assumption…”

    Thats called faith.

    “And if it is your belief, pray what are you doing here on Good Friday”

    Maybe he’s a quartodecimalist (think thats how its spelt).

  • Ulsters my homeland

    “How can you have a discussion without someone who takes the bible as literal truth and disregards all the evidence that counter that assumption…”

    [i]”Thats called faith”[/i]

    Exactly Mustapha Mond, but it must also be said that there is no evidence of contradiction or lies against. They have yet to show contradiction or lies as they first claimed.

    Kyle Butt explains how their claims or contradiction and lies are totally unfounded. His theory on Gospel supplementation is not something I personnaly support, but it does rubbish their claims.

    “[b]Addition Does Not a Contradiction Make[/b]

    Suppose a man is telling a story about the time he and his wife went shopping at the mall. The man mentions all the great places in the mall to buy hunting supplies and cinnamon rolls. But the wife tells about the same shopping trip, yet mentions only the places to buy clothes. Is there a contradiction just because the wife mentions clothing stores while the husband mentions only cinnamon rolls and hunting supplies? No. They are simply adding to (or supplementing) each other’s story to make it more complete. That happens in the resurrection accounts quite often.

    For example, the Gospel of Matthew names “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” as women who visited the tomb early on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1). Mark cites Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome as the callers (Mark 16:1). Luke mentions Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and “the other women” (Luke 24:10). Yet John mentions Mary Magdalene visiting the tomb early on Sunday (John 20:1). (Dan Barker cites these different names as discrepancies and contradictions on page 182 of his book.) Do these different lists contradict one another? No, not in any way. They are supplementary, adding names to make the list more complete. But they are not contradictory. If John had said “only Mary Magdalene visited the tomb,” or if Matthew stated, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the only women to visit the tomb,” then there would be a contradiction. As it stands, no contradiction occurs. To further illustrate this point, suppose that you have 10 one-dollar bills in your pocket. Someone comes up to you and asks, “Do you have a dollar bill in your pocket?” Naturally, you respond in the affirmative. Suppose another person asks, “Do you have five dollars in your pocket?,” and again you say yes. Finally, another person asks, “Do you have ten dollars in your pocket?” and you say yes for the third time. Did you tell the truth every time? Yes. Were any of your answers contradictory? No. Were all three statements about the contents of your pockets different? Yes—supplementation not contradiction.

    Also fitting into this supplementation discussion are the angels, men, and young man described in the different resurrection accounts. Two “problems” arise with the entrance of the “holy heralds” at the empty tomb of Christ. First, how many were there? Second, were they angels or men? Since the former question deals with supplementation, we will discuss it first. The account in Matthew cites “an angel of the Lord who descended from heaven” and whose “appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow” (28:2-5). Mark’s account presents a slightly different picture of “a young man sitting on the ride side, arrayed in a white robe” (16:5). But Luke mentions that “two men stood by them [the women—KB] in dazzling apparel” (24:4). And, finally, John writes about “two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (20:12). Do any of these accounts contradict any of the others as to the number of men or angels at the tomb? Factoring in the supplementation rule, we must answer, “No.” Although the accounts are quite different, they are not contradictory as to the number of messengers. Mark does not mention “only a young man,” nor does Luke say there were “exactly two angels, no less or no more.” Was there one messenger at the tomb? Yes. Were two there as well, Yes. No contradiction here.

    The second question concerning the messengers is their identity: Were they angels or were they men? Most people who are familiar with the Old Testament have no problem answering this question. Genesis chapters 18 and 19 mention three men who came to visit Abraham and Sarah. These men stay for a short time, and then two of them continued on to visit the city of Sodom. Yet the Bible tells us in the first verse of Genesis 19 that these “men” were actually angels. But when the men of Sodom came to do violence to these angels, the city dwellers asked: “Where are the men that came in to thee this night” (Genesis 19:5). Throughout the two chapters, the messengers are referred to as men and as angels with equal accuracy. They looked like, talked like, walked like, and sounded like men. Were they men? Yes. Were they angels? Yes.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    he continues with:

    [/b]Collusion: “A secret agreement between two or more parties for a fraudulent, illegal, or deceitful purpose” (page 363, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, fourth edition, 2000, p. 363). Even if we have not heard the word before, most of us understand the situation it describes. Suppose four bank robbers don their nylon-hose masks, rob the city bank, stash the cash away in a nearby cave, and each go back to his own house until the police search blows over. The first robber hears a knock on his door. He opens it to find a policeman who “just wants to ask him a few questions.” The officer asks, “Where were you and what where you doing on the night of June 1, 2001?” The thief promptly answers, “I was at Joe Smith’s house watching television with three other friends.” The policeman gets the three friends’ names and addresses and visits each one of their homes. Every robber tells the exact same story. Was it true? Absolutely not! But did the stories all sound exactly the same, with seemingly no contradictions? Yes.

    Now, let’s fit this principle into our discussion of the resurrection narratives. If every single narrative describing the resurrection sounded exactly the same, what do you think would be said about the narratives? “They must have copied each other.” In fact, in other areas of Christ’s life besides the resurrection story, when the books of Matthew and Luke give the same information as the book of Mark, many people today claim that they must have copied Mark, because it is thought to be the earliest of the three books. Another raging question in today’s upper echelons of biblical scholarship is whether Peter copied Jude in 2 Peter 2:4-17, or whether Jude copied Peter, because the two segments of scripture sound so similar.

    Amazingly, however, the Bible has not left the prospect of collusion open to the resurrection narratives. Indeed, legitimately it cannot be denied that the resurrection accounts come to us from various independent sources. Tad S. Clements, in his book Science Versus Religion , vigorously denied that there is enough evidence to believe in the resurrection. However, he acknowledged: “There isn’t merely one account of Christ’s resurrection but rather an embarrassing multitude of stories that disagree in significant respects” (1990, p. 193). And he makes it clear that the Gospels are separate accounts of the same story. Dan Barker admitted the same when he boldly stated: “Since Easter [the resurrection story—KB] is told by five different writers, it gives one of the best chances to confirm or disconfirm the account. Christians should welcome the opportunity” (1992, p. 179). One door, which everyone involved in the resurrection discussion admits has been locked forever by the resurrection accounts, is the dead-bolted door of collusion.

  • NP

    “There Once Where Giants”