Luther on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary?


Q. What did Luther and the other reformers think about the perpetual virginity of Mary?

A. All three of the first reformers, Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, accepted and defended this doctrine completely. So, if the Catholic Church believes in this doctrine and the reformers believed in this doctrine–by whose authority and when was this doctrine rejected by all the Protestant Churches?

Martin Luther: “It is an artcle of faith that Mary is the Mother of the Lord and still a virgin…Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact.” (Works of Luther, V. 11, pp319-320; V. 6, p 510)

John Calvin: “there have been certain folk who have wished to suggest from this passage (Mt 1:25) that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! For the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph’s obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company…And besides this our Lord Jesus Christ is called the firstborn. This is not because there was a second or third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or no there was any question of the second.” (Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25, published 1562)

Ulrich Zwingli: “I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin.”.” (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, in Evang. Luc., Op. comp., V6,1 P. 639

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26 Responses

  1. How on earth did mary remain a virgin when Jesus had brothers? This is a silly doctrine.

  2. That is a very good question. I have an answer on my blog if you just click Who Were the Brothers and Sisters of Jesus.

  3. Wow, Nice of you to pull Calvin out of context like that… I hold to the Reformed Faith of John Calvin so I happen to own a copy of Calvin’s Commentary and here is what he said with regards to Matthew 1:25:

    “And knew her not. This passage afforded the pretext for great disturbances, which were introduced into the Church, at a former period, by Helvidius. The inference he drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband. Jerome, on the other hand, earnestly and copiously defended Mary’s perpetual virginity. Let us rest satisfied with this, that no just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words of the Evangelist, as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called first-born; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin. It is said that Joseph knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son: but this is limited to that very time. What took place afterwards, the historian does not inform us. Such is well known to have been the practice of the inspired writers. Certainly, no man will ever raise a question on this subject, except from curiosity; and no man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.”

    Calvin’s point is to say that a necessary inference that Mary had other children cannot be made from the Biblical texts of Matthew 13:55 and 1:25. Calvin’s main point is that the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards to Mary. Calvin calls it “folly” at one point, when describing those who wish to make a text say more than it does. Those who would make a necessary inference where the Gospel writer has only made a possible inference engage in folly (according to Calvin). So it can’t really be concluded that Calvin is teaching here Mary’s perpetual virginity, it sounds to me as if Calvin is simply being careful. While I myself would make the inference from these passages that Mary had other children, It cannot be concluded that Calvin believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity, or her “sinlessness”, only that Calvin held the gospel writer does not explicitly say, one way or the other.

    Luther and Zwingli on the other hand did believe till their death on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. Not a Damnable Heresy but an error nevertheless. Since holding to the Perpetual Virginity would entail Mary “not having more children”, breaking the first creation ordinance “Be Fruitful and Multiply” and the main purpose of marriage, to Joseph.

    • God put His blessing on marriage in the highest order. Why would He now, after the virgin birth of Christ, destroy the sanctity of marriage and it’s fulfillment of His edict to ” be fruitful and multiply ” A virgin that remained so would be in contempt unless having a good reason to stay one. The fact that Christ had family after the flesh is no small matter if it is written in the scriptures.The fact of Christ’s virgin birth is NO SMALL MATTER. He would have inherited the sin of the man if God the Father had not provided the 23 chromosomes through the works of the Holy Spirit that united with the 23 from the virgin Mary. Christ would not be able to lay title to the sinless perfect man and God which was necessary to take away the sins of the world. Michael you have it RIGHT!

      • Gerald thank you for your interpretation of “Be fruitful and multiply.” But we do not see it as an absolute command. what if you never marry? what if you are infertile? What if you have children but they all die? There is nothing explicit that prohibits a vow of virginity for the glory and service of God.

        I am so happy you believe in the immaculate conception of Mary. But God could have made Jesus sinless any way He wanted to.

    • Michael, You should check out the 2nd Helvetic Conference That might shed more light on how John Calvin feels about the perpetual virginity.Im an evangelical I feel as if I’m the only one that believes this and infant baptism That was the early teaching of Calvin,Luther,Zwingli,Wesley,Matter of fact Zwingli had Antabaptist killed for rejecting this . I struggle being with all the Calvinist and Lutherans of today that reject the teaching of there church .

  4. Michael,

    Your commentary by Calvin seems to be different from the one I quoted. Is your quote directly from the reference I used? Or is it another place where he commented upon the Mt. passge? I just noticed that you used a commentary I quoted one of his sermons.

    In your quote:

    Certainly, no man will ever raise a question on this subject, except from curiosity; and no man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.

    It would seem that if he did not deem it important one way or the other he would be critical of you as having “an extreme fondness for disputation“. But he certainly did not proclaim the Mary had other children. You may be correct that he did not believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Perhaps I my source was mistaken. But likewise neither did he believe Mary and Joseph had subsequent children.

    Your opinion and assertion is not authoritative or convincing. Sorry.

  5. There is one small word UNTIL that is used in Matt 1:25. You need to understand the Jewish system of marriage. If the wife became pregnant you stopped having sex UNTIL the baby was born. Even though Joseph and Mary were married, they had to wait to consumate the marriage UNTIL after the child was born. Jerome had serious problems in his understanding of scripture. He knew nothing of the Jewish culture. The Angel never said not to have sex. Only that she was blessed by God, and was highly favored meaning she was the best one to fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament. From where she lived to what Joseph did as work. Mary had faults and yes sin just like us. God never took her sin away, if that was so, then Jesus did not die on the cross for HER. And if that is the case he could of done that with everyone and Jesus would never had to die. Think about it. Everything Jesus said and did was a lie. Everything that was written in Scripture was a lie. Don’t look at a man who had faults. Look at the word of God. Jerome was just giving his thought on what it meant. He was not God and neither were any of the other church leaders. They had faults were sinners. Look at the orginial greek and hebrew when reading it and you will find alot out.

  6. Lynne: There is one small word UNTIL that is used in Matt 1:25. You need to understand the Jewish system of marriage. If the wife became pregnant you stopped having sex UNTIL the baby was born.

    BFHU: I have never heard of that before. Can you cite the source for this information. It is interesting but I am afraid I can’t take your word for it. But even if it is true it proves nothing about Mary.

    Lynne: Jerome had serious problems in his understanding of scripture. He knew nothing of the Jewish culture.

    BFHU: You have been seriously misinformed about St. Jerome. He was an expert on biblical languages and scripture. He translated the whole Bible and he lived in Israel. I am quite sure he knew a whole lot more than either of us put together.

    Lynne: The Angel never said not to have sex. Only that she was blessed by God, and was highly favored meaning she was the best one to fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament.

    BFHU: Who ever said that the angel said not to have sex? I have never heard of that before. The angel did not actually say that Mary was highly favored. He called her as if to give her a new name, “Hail, Full of Grace”
    God chose her to be the mother of God the Son.
    Lynne: Mary had faults and yes sin just like us.

    BFHU: Your statement is based only on opinion. All Christians until I am not sure when believed that God caused Mary to be conceived without a fallen nature, just like Adam and Eve, before the fall.

    Lynne:God never took her sin away, if that was so, then Jesus did not die on the cross for HER.

    BFHU: Jesus saved Mary before she sinned instead of afterwards.

    Lynne: And if that is the case he could of done that with everyone and Jesus would never had to die.

    BFHU: Yes, God could have just saved everyone in a lot of different ways. But He chose the cross for our salvation.

    Lynne: Think about it. Everything Jesus said and did was a lie. Everything that was written in Scripture was a lie.

    BFHU: Not sure why you are saying that.

    Lynne: Don’t look at a man who had faults. Look at the word of God. Jerome was just giving his thought on what it meant. He was not God and neither were any of the other church leaders. They had faults were sinners. Look at the orginial greek and hebrew when reading it and you will find alot out.

    BFHU: Yes, Jerome was sinful just like us. But he was a great scholar and holy man. I trust his highly informed interpretation much more than yours or mine. Sorry. I do have Greek and Hebrew interlinear Bibles and dictionaries. Which scriptures in Greek or Hebrew are you refering to and I will look into it.

  7. Not that I’m totally impressed, but this is more than I expected for when I found a link on SU telling that the info is quite decent. Thanks.

  8. Mary did have children after Jesus [Matthew 13:55] and if Mary did not have children there would be no need to say, ‘. . . firstborn son’ in Matthew 1:25. The Holy Spirit would have told Matthew to write, ‘And knew her not until she had brought forth her son and He called His name Jesus.’

    The verse that seals the deal, if you will, is found in Galatians 1:19 where the Apostle Paul says,

    ‘But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.’

    Men like Luther, Calvin, Zwingi were either priests or devout RC so when Luther realize he and all Christian were justified by faith, He did not get all the light of the holy Gospel because he only one step out of Catholicism.

    Pastor–Doctor Berrian, Th.D. & Ph.D.

    • You are reading an English translation of the bible with all kind of etymological issues from the historical, linguistic, social and cultural perspectives. That is why it is so dangerous to read the bible outside the context of the Catholic traditions. It is quite simple: The Catholic Church is the original bible church and thus whoever is “preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal. 1:6–9).

      • The original New testament was written in greek.The greek language always distinguishes brother from cousin. Modern scholarship holds heavily in favour that Christ^s brothers are his true brothers as far as blood relation go.

        • Dear Kim,
          You are correct that the Greek language has a word for cousin. However, Aramaic and Hebrew do not. Jesus and the disciples spoke Aramaic/Hebrew and the words they used were just directly translated into Greek in spite of the fact that Greek does have a word for cousin.

          You might have more weight to your argument, if it was true, that everywhere the Greek words for brother and sister are used in the Bible ALWAYS could correctly be translated as sibling. But, just like English, Ancient peoples used the words brother/sister to refer to both siblings and close relationships whether by blood or by some other unifying fact, like religion or community.(Hey Bro!) This is indisputably legitimate exegesis. Otherwise, do you think St. Paul was addressing ONLY his actual siblings when he addressed his epistles to my “brothers and sisters”?

  9. Dear Dr. Berrian,
    Please read the post below. Especially Calvin’s comment on your interpretation. Will you follow the truth wherever it leads?

    Who Were the Brothers & Sisters of Jesus?
    Q. If the Blessed Virgin Mary was always a virgin, then who are the brothers and sisters of Jesus in sacred scripture ?

    A. There are two possibilities. The oldest view was that St. Joseph had been previously married and was a widower of great sanctity and devotion to God with children. As Mary was dedicated to the temple and virginity, she needed a protector once she reached adolescence. Joseph was chosen to be her husband/brother and so the brothers and sisters of Jesus were actually step siblings.

    The second view, put forward by St. Jerome, is that the word in Greek (adelphos) can be translated as brother meaning a literal sibling; or it can be translated to mean a kinsman. St. Paul uses the exact same Greek word in Galatians 1:11 as is used in Mark 6:3 –adelphos.

    In the Mark passage the reader could easily and legitimately interpret it to mean literal siblings of Jesus. But, in the Galations passage, it is obvious that Paul is addressing them as kinsman or brethren in the Lord not as his own literal brothers/siblings. So, brother/brethren etc. DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN SIBLING IN SCRIPTURE. The Protestant interpretation is certainly legitimate but it doesn’t hold up to historical scrutiny.

    But, if we start looking into the historical record, we see that the Mark use of adelphos, in this case, must also mean either step-brothers and sisters or kinsman/cousin/relative. It has always been known to Christians that Mary had no other children after Jesus. Even the Reformers all taught and believed in Mary’s Perpetual Virginity. As did the witness of the early writings of the Church Fathers. She was vowed to perpetual virginity (why else would a betrothed woman ask how could she possibly get pregnant) Therefore we understand the Mark 6:3 passage to be referring to kinsmen of Jesus and not siblings of Jesus.

    Q. What did Luther and the other reformers think about the perpetual virginity of Mary?

    A. All three of the first reformers, Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, accepted and defended this doctrine completely. So, if the Catholic Church believes in this doctrine and the reformers believed in this doctrine–by whose authority and when was this doctrine rejected by all the Protestant Churches?

    Martin Luther: “It is an artcle of faith that Mary is the Mother of the Lord and still a virgin…Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact.” (Works of Luther, V. 11, pp319-320; V. 6, p 510)

    John Calvin:
    “there have been certain folk who have wished to suggest from this passage (Mt 1:25) that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! For the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph’s obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company…And besides this our Lord Jesus Christ is called the firstborn. This is not because there was a second or third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or no there was any question of the second.” (Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25, published 1562)

    Ulrich Zwingli: “I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin.”.” (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, in Evang. Luc., Op. comp., V6,1 P. 639

    You may dismiss this with your view that the reformers were still missing the full gospel. But the Catholic Church’s interpretation is based on historical evidence and the freedom to interpret adelphos as either sibling or kinsman.

    I hope you will read the link below and see that the Church has always and everywhere believed in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.

    Early Church Fathers on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

    The use of “first-born” son was applied to a child whether or not any other children were born. The use of the word “until” can certainly have the meaning you are interpreting it to mean but in the old testament it says

    There are others but take a look at this verse.

    2 Samuel 6:23As to Michal daughter of Saul, she had no child till the day of her death.

    Using your hermenutic this would have to mean that Michal DID HAVE A CHILD AFTER
    HER DEATH. If until, till, etc. must mean that “X happened afterwards”.

  10. In His days shall shine forth righteousness and an abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away
    Psalm 71:7

    I see the word “until” here. Does this mean that at the end of the world, the moon will be taken away and God will no longer be righteous?

    For He must reign, until He has put all enemies under his feet. I Corinthians 15:25

    Again, I see the world “until”. Does this mean that once Christ has defeated His enemies, He will no longer reign supreme?

    Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the world.
    Matthew 28:20

    By Professor Berrian’s interpretation of “until”, God is with us always, except at the end of time.

    Even if you accept Sola Scriptura, there isn’t a single passage of Holy Scripture that would cause one to reject the ever-virginity of the Theotokos. Every Scripture quoted by those who reject this teaching can be logically addressed interpreting Holy Scripture within the situational context and Middle Eastern culture in which the Bible was written. It all boils down to interpretation, because, contrary to Protestant claims, a plain reading of Scripture is not going to conclusively resolve the questions. It means you have to rely on a tradition. Yes, that dreaded t-word.

    On one hand, you can either humble yourself and accept the 2,000-year-old tradition of ancient Christianity, which is that Mary remained ever-virgin. Even most of the reformers didn’t throw this one out (because they understood the incredible implications of this teaching for the nature of who Christ was). On the other, you can accept a novel, relatively brand new idea that was largely foreign to Christendom for the first 1,500 years of the Church.

    This is such an important issue for Orthodox Christians because to claim that Mary would have engaged in sexual relations with Joseph after Christ’s birth is to deny the Incarnation. It is about much more than just preserving Mary’s virtue. It is about the very nature of who Christ was. Mary had a child from the Holy Spirit. She conceived from the Holy Spirit. God literally dwelt within her body. If you think through it, it becomes highly problematic to accept that Mary would have allowed herself to be touched, or that Joseph, a righteous and pious man, would have touched her after she conceived a child from God and literally gave birth to God.

    • Scripture clearly says Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary while she was pregnant with God. After Mary has God, she kind of takes a minor role in the narrative.

      That’s kind of prideful to put Protestants down because they have a shorter history than the Catholic Church. It was the pride, corruption, and control of the church that created a need for them in the first place. The founders of the protestant reformation were courageous men and women with a commision from their own consciences to restore the truth of the gospel, since it had been twisted and tortured beyond all recognition.

      • The original reformers Luther, Calvin and Zwingli were hardly righteous men if you read about their private lives. Only a faction of the church was spiritually corrupted so to say that it “had been twisted and tortured beyond all recognition” is very irresponsible. The church has always need of reform in every age … St. Francis of Assisi came before the Protestant Reformation. The church honors him because he was a true son of the church. He reformed the church without tearing it apart with eternal consequences like the prideful Protestant Reformers.

        • What about popes who murdered,had homosexual affairs,abortions & were condemned for heresy ?

          • Dear Kim,
            There were very few Popes who were such great sinnesr. But, there were,indisputably, some. Popes are sinners but many were also Saints. The fact that some popes were great evil sinners does not contradict any Catholic teaching. The Catholic Church does not teach that popes are immaculate, only that they are infallible when they teach on FAITH and MORALS to the WHOLE CHURCH. Greatly sinful popes confirm our teaching that the popes are sinners just like everyone else, even the Saints. What is not true however, is that, in spite of any heretical personal belief a pope may have held, NO POPE EVER TAUGHT HERESY TO THE WHOLE CHURCH. Jesus Our Lord, has always and will always protect His Church from papal heresy on FAITH and MORALS.

            For instance, the infallibility of the Pope, does not extend beyond Faith and Morals, so he can make mistakes anytime he balances his checkbook or speaks to one or more people privately.

      • Anonymous –

        “Scripture clearly says Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary while she was pregnant with God. After Mary has God, she kind of takes a minor role in the narrative.”

        You miss the point. To suggest that Joseph and Mary would have had sexual relations after Mary gave birth to Christ is to debase the teaching that Jesus Christ was God. It isn’t logical to claim to believe that Christ was God and at the same time believe that Mary and Joseph would have had sexual relations after Christ’s birth. It is a de facto denial of the doctrine of the Incarnation.

        It is unthinkable that a righteous and pious Jewish man, as Joseph was, would have engaged in a sexual relationship with Mary after she conceived a child through the Holy Spirit and carried God inside herself.

        I know you probably don’t believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. However, let me use this teaching to make a point. We Orthodox and Roman Catholics believe that the wine in the chalice becomes the literal blood of Christ during the Eucharist. Joseph having sexual intercourse with Mary after she gave birth to Christ would sort of be like the Orthodox drinking Christ’s blood from the chalice and then using it to drink a Dr. Pepper after the service.

        I hope I am getting the point across. Please don’t make me draw this out in detail. By the way, you don’t need a Bible verse for it. It is really sort of common sense.

        The reason that this is so hard for you guys is because of your TRADITION. You guys have extrabiblical traditions as well. There is nothing in Scripture that tells you that Mary had sexual relations with Joseph. Every objection you raise to traditional Christian beliefs on this topic using Scripture can very easily be dismissed by interpreting the Scriptures in the cultural and situational context in which the Bible was written. However, you hold to these beliefs anyway because that is your tradition.

        By the way, in my opinion, your comment about the role of the Virgin Mary after Christ reflects one of the great attitudinal problems with Protestantism, especially American Protestantism. It’s that prideful, individualistic “Just Me and God” mentality of contemporary Protestantism, and it is incompatible with the spirit of traditional Christianity.

        “That’s kind of prideful to put Protestants down because they have a shorter history than the Catholic Church.”

        Actually, I don’t see many Roman Catholics or Orthodox christians putting down Protestants on this blog. None of my comments are meant to put you down. In fact, it is typically Protestants constantly telling Roman Catholics that they are going to hell. What we are doing is standing up for the Truth, which is under constant attack. We live in a hyper-sensitive culture. Please be mindful that somebody disagreeing with your beliefs is not the same as them putting you down.

        “The founders of the protestant reformation were courageous men and women with a commision from their own consciences to restore the truth of the gospel”

        Actually, it isn’t that simple. As Surkiko pointed out, the Reformers were often guilty of some extremely violent and unchristian acts. You criticize the Roman Catholic Church for putting to death those they considered heretics. What about John Calvin? He did the same thing in Geneva. Check out what happened to Michael Servetus. Check out how Martin Luther suggested the German magistrates handle the German Peasant Wars of 1524-25?

  11. Dear anonymous,
    I too used to think (when I was Protestant) the Protestant Reformation was accomplished by courageous men and women but now I am convinced that their desire to correct errors and abuses that they rightly objected to, was hijacked by Our Enemy and their own pride to cause them to leave the Church founded by Jesus, Himself.

    The problem was that their commission was merely from t”heir own consciences” and not from God since such changes in doctrine and the ripping up of the unity of Christ’s Church into thousands of conflicting sects, was not authenticated by God with miracles of any sort. There were abuses and erroneous doctrine in Germany but not everywhere and the Faith was certainly not “twisted and tortured beyond all recognition.” If it was then that would mean that Jesus FAILED in his promise that His Church would not be overcome, even by the Gates of Hell.

    The reason Protestants have a shorter history is because they broke away from the Church that Jesus established and desired to be ONE. That is a fact. It is not a put down.

  12. Dear Kim,

    There absolutely was papal primacy attributed to the Bishop of Rome. One of the reasons I was convinced of this is that while reading about some controversy in the early Church ( I was not even researching evidence for papal primacy)I saw that historically, it was always decided, that to settle a matter, they would go to the Bishop of Rome for a final decision. I don’t remember what historical event I was looking up back then but here are a few ancient examples way, way, way, before 1000AD

    In the writings of the Early Church Fathers the fact of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome is taken for granted. Before, 80 A.D. the Corinthian Church kicked out their bishop. Appeals were made to Pope Clement I,(who died in 80 AD) the fourth Bishop of Rome to settle the matter. And yet, the Apostle St. John was still alive at Ephesus and living a lot closer to Corinth than Rome. Never-the-less the appeals were made to the Pope/Bishop of Rome because all knew that he had the authority to make a binding decision.

    Pope Clement I: “You therefore, who laid the foundation of the rebellion, submit to the presbyters(priests) and be chastened to repentance, bending you knees in a spirit of humility.

    “If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him (Jesus) through us (Pope & Church) let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger”(First Letter to the Corinthians)

    St. Irenaeus180 AD, a student of St. Polycarp (a disciple of St. John the Apostle), exhorts all “Christians (to) be united to the Church of Rome in order to maintain the Apostolic Tradition.

    St. Irenaeus: “But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a small volume as this, the succession of all the Churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the succession of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient
    Church
    known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us, after having been announced to men, by the Apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all the Churches must agree, that is all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic traditions. (Against Heresies)

    He then made a list of all the Bishops of Rome up to his time. There is nothing in his writing that sounds like he is trying to be convincing because he is teaching something new, but rather that all Christians took for granted that the Bishop of Rome is the head of the Church.

    Also, for 250 years the Roman Emperors tried to destroy Christianity through persecution. In the first 200 years of Christianity, every Pope but one was martyred. So, even the pagans knew that the Bishop of Rome was the head of the Church.

    A Roman Emperor’s greatest fear was a rival to the throne. Nevertheless, the emperor Decius (249-251 A.D.) one of the harshest persecutors of the early Christian Church made the following remark:

    I would far rather receive news of a rival to the throne than of another bishop of Rome. (Christian History, Issue 27 1990, vol IX, No. 3, p22)

    Decius said this after he had executed Pope Fabian in 250 A.D.
    Beginning Apologetics by Fr. Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham

    • When Ignatius of Antioch issued classic letters to the 7 churches of the ancient world,not one mentions a bishop of Rome.Before the second millenium & the papacy of Gregory vii,popes functioned largely as fallible mediators.They did not claim a vicar of Christ title as it was applied to all bishops,,they did not appoint bishops,they did not govern the universal church thru the curia,they did not impose or force clerical celibacy,authorize catechisms or encyclicles for the universal church.Pope Honorius was condemned for heresy at the 3rd council of Constantinople.They did not convene ecumenical councils & certainly not the major doctrinal ones.When popes began to engage in theological disputes sometimes they were rebuffed.Papal rhetoric vs pastoral reality holds a different outlook in the first 1,000 years.

      • Dear Kim,
        It would take a book to address all the assertions you make above. But you did not respond to my response to your first assertion above. So before tackling your more recent comment I will await a discussion on our first interchange.

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