If "Scripture does not constitute the entirety of divine revelation" then what else is considered to be divine revelation? How would you go about proving this assertion?
As for Mary being sinless because she was highly favored by God does not mean she was sinless. That term does not mean that.
Lots of people mentioned in the NT do not mention their sins and yet we would not say they did not sin. Actually a case could be made that Mary did sin when she rebuked Jesus for being insensitive when He was in the temple at 12.
The woman of Rev 12 is also problematic. Even RC scholars admit that the details of chapter 12 don't fit Mary well but they do the church.
The divinity of Christ is easily supported by Scripture. In fact that is the only way to make the case for it.
Let me begin by saying that Devin, like my other correspondent who inspired me to write the post on Mary, is clearly a sincere Christian, and that any disagreements between us are disagreements on the best way to follow Christ. It's important to keep that in mind. We're both on the same side here, and we're arguing about things that matter very much to us - about the most important thing in the world, in fact.
So while I doubt I'll convince him, I'm going to take a shot at it, both since he's asked, and also since my other readers might be interested. Nevertheless, the context of our discussion should not be forgotten - for the overall (implied) question here is How best can one follow Jesus Christ, as a Protestant or a Catholic?
Let me take Devin's points one by one.
- Devin quotes me saying, "Scripture does not constitute the entirety of divine revelation", and then quite sensibly asks "what else is considered to be divine revelation"? And how would I prove this assertion?
The easiest way to answer this is to say, "If Scripture constitutes all of Divine Revelation, then by what authority did the Catholic Church set the canon of Scripture?" The Catholic Church is the organization that decided what gospels were inspired by the Holy Spirit (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and what gospels were not (Thomas, Andrew, Marcion, etc.). They also decided what Epistles fit this same category, and proclaimed that the books of Acts and Revelations were likewise divinely inspired and free from error.
The Church would have had no authority to make this decision unless Divine Revelation were greater than Scripture itself. God gave us the Bible's "Table of Contents", but He did not give that to us in any book of the Bible.
The fact is that the Deposit of Faith came to us BOTH by "word of mouth" and by "letter" as Paul tells us in 2 Thes. 2:15 (i.e, by Tradition and by Scripture). St. John is quite explicit at the end of his gospel that Jesus said and did many more things than "are written in this book". And Scripture itself - which Catholics and most Protestants consider to be divinely inspired - Scripture itself tells us (by means of the Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Paul) that the "pillar and bulwark" of the truth is not Scripture, but the Church (1 Tim. 3:15).
But Devin's point focuses on the strange Catholic teaching of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. I had asserted that this dogma is part of Sacred Tradition, and not easily culled from Scripture, though I offered a few Scriptural supports, most notably God's messenger calling Mary "full of grace".
Devin counters, again quite sensibly ...
- As for Mary being sinless because she was highly favored by God does not mean she was sinless. That term does not mean that.
But she is not called "highly favored by God." She is called something in Greek which is much closer to "full of grace". Karl Keating notes ...
Catholic exegetes, in discussing the Immaculate Conception, first look at the Annunciation. Gabriel greeted Mary by saying, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Luke 1:28). The phrase "full of grace" is a translation of the Greek kecharitomene. This word actually represents the proper name of the person being addressed by the angel, and it must on that account express a characteristic quality of Mary. What's more, the traditional translation, "full of grace," is more accurate than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of "highly favored daughter." True, Mary was a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek implies more than that.
The newer translations leave out something the Greek conveys, something the older English versions convey, which is that this grace (and the core of the word kecharitomene is charis, after all) is at once permanent and of a singular kind. The Greek indicates a perfection of grace.
And a "perfection of grace" must mean "sinless", for God's grace is not productive of sin.
But even if Devin doesn't buy this, he stretches his point by saying ...
- Actually a case could be made that Mary did sin when she rebuked Jesus for being insensitive when He was in the temple at 12.
Yes, but not a good case. The NIV text of this moment, Luke 2:48, "When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” - is hardly a rebuke, and if so can in no way be considered sinful. For one thing, a sin must be deliberate and done with full knowledge that it's a sin. But Mary here is merely expressing her anxiety, for neither she nor Joseph fully understood that their son must be about His Father's business. If it's a rebuke, it's a rebuke that stems from confusion, not from sin. (Also Mary is certainly within her rights as a mother to rebuke her son.)
Devin, when we lose God in our own lives - when we can't seem to find Him in prayer or in hope - when we search in our forlorn and lonely thirst, He eventually shows Himself. And when we see Him after we've lost Him, it is not a sin to say, "Lord! How I missed you! How I searched for you! How glad I am that I found you! Why did you hide yourself from me?"
Devin then goes on to point out that interpreting anything from the book of Revelations is problematic - and I'll agree with him there. But he ends on a note that contradicts his main thrust, which has been that Scripture is open to interpretation. He concludes ...
- The divinity of Christ is easily supported by Scripture. In fact that is the only way to make the case for it.
Now, I have admitted from the beginning that the Immaculate Conception is not "easily supported by Scripture", which is why it's so crucial to understand that Scripture is a part of Divine Revelation, not the source of it. God is the source of what He has revealed to us, and God is not bound to a book. As my friend Fr. Marty says, "Christ left a Body, not a book." And Scripture confirms that over and over again - just search for the expression "Body of Christ" in the Epistles, for example.
But the particular point here is not really as easily made as Devin seems to think. Devin, read the New Testament from the point of view of a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness or a Unitarian. Yes, there are a lot of indications that Jesus is divine, but they are indications merely. "Son of God" does not mean "God", "Son of Man" even less so. It is clear that Jesus is the Christ, but it is not fully clear that He is God - though the case is stronger in the Epistles than it is in the gospels themselves. But even in the passages of Paul where Paul comes closest to affirming the divinity of Christ, the Father and the Christ are still separate - in a strange way that opens the door to almost every heresy of the first few centuries - all of which had to do with denying the divinity of Christ in one manner or another. And see the modern heresies of Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, Unitarianism, and I'm sorry to say, almost all liberal Protestant churches, which take a pretty glib attitude toward Jesus, because at bottom they think He's just a guy, and a "nice guy" at that.
If the case in Scripture alone were air tight, we would not have the myriad numbers of ancient and modern heresies that interpret Scripture otherwise regarding the divinity of Christ.
But let me finish by focusing on what Catholics actually believe.
We believe that Christ gave the apostles His authority when speaking formally on matters of Faith and Morals; and that the apostles consecrated bishops as their successors, who share this authority. We see them do so at the very beginning - see the passages in Acts I quote in the original post and in the follow up one here.
Indeed, I sometimes wonder if readers like Devin, well-intentioned though they be, actually read the posts they comment on, for pretty much everything I've said here I touched on there - reiterating my points in the comboxes as well.
At any rate, these are my answers to Devin.
And Devin, my friend and brother in Christ, if you choose to respond here, please address the Scriptural passages I quote or allude to above, such as 2 Thes., 1 Tim., and the passages in Acts where the apostles exercise their authority by saying "it has been decided by the Holy Spirit and us" (Acts 15:28 - about which, see Jimmy Akin here).
The fact is that the living presence of Christ continues not merely in the Holy Spirit's working in us as individuals, but in the corporate Body of Christ that carries on His function on earth, interpreting the Deposit of Faith by means of the teaching authority of His apostles, and their successors, the bishops. This Body of Christ is the Catholic Church - not the "Roman" Catholic Church (RC as Devin calls it), but the universal (catholic) Church, established by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The issue, as Devin realizes, is not the issue of the Immaculate Conception of Mary alone, but the underlying issue of the authority of the Church Jesus Christ established.