What is the Anglican Church's view of the perpetual virginity of Mary?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Tom, May 30, 2017.

  1. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Actually in terms of volume I believe the total output of St. Augustine was equalled or matched by several Eastern fathers, but the main problem is simply that Augustine’s work is better preserved. Which is in some cases unfortunate, because St. Augustine merely restates the apostolic faith much of the time, whereas actual information loss exists in some other cases.
     
  2. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This was inappropriate. Any rector who makes a remark about the personal character of a Christian saint before baptism where that character remark is not specific to their conversion experience (for example, in the case of St. Moses the Black, who is noteworthy for his repentance from the life of a brutal murderous highwayman into a monk and hieromartyr) is really simply showing a lack of personal piety.

    It is only acceptable to talk about the moral defects of those venerated by the church in light of the transformative effect of grace on their person (vis a vis theosis, or what Wesley styled “entire sanctification”).
     
  3. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Being martyred at a latrocinium is a good way to be glorified in the mind of the Orthodox.
     
  4. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It is distressing when I see, based on probable misinformation, an apparent attempt to link monasticism in particular, and more troubling, holy celibacy, in general, to the Gnostic heresy and to RC mariolatry, distresses me further, on these grounds:

    1. St. Paul expressly praises the celibate state and declares it superior to marriage, for men and women.

    2. The premiere monastic text, the Life of St. Anthony, was written by the same chap who compiled the definitive NT canon and was also, in his work assisting Pope St. Alexander of Alexandria (not to be confused with the loathesome Pope Alexander VI of Rome, the vile Borgia, about 1,150 years later) at Nicea, and his later struggle contra Arianism, the most ardent fourth century defender of the doctrine of the full deity and humanity of our Lord, as the uncreated son of God, to the extent it was said St. Athanasius defended the faith contra mundum. Thus, what St. Paul recommended, St. Athanasius first undertook to describe in practice in the form of a biography.

    3. Traditional Anglicanism, like the traditional churches of the East, has been blessed with monasticism, and indeed Anglicanism has the largest number of monastics of any Western communion aside from the RCC. Indeed if one wants to practice a Western Rite form of monasticism, for many forms of it, such as the Mendicant Orders, the Anglican churches offer the only alternative to Rome, as the Orthodox do not have friars or canons regular per se (although hieromonks and archimandrites serve a similiar function on an ad hoc basis).

    What is more it is widely known the Gnostics were not bastions of celibacy, but rather, loathesome hypocrites who engaged in many of their sects in diverse forms of sodomy. The conduct of these groups is so horrible I shall not mention these Gnostic sects by name lest someone look them up and be corrupted, but being like myself knowledgeable in the works of St. Epiphanius of Salamis (although I doubt he had access to the excellent two volume edition I used, although he might well have, and indeed possibly had an even better edition at his disposal, which coulf induce in me envy if a sense of irony did not preclude me from coveting my neighbor’s library), @Stalwart can verify this.
     
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  5. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    @Liturgyworks I agree. Sex that does not have the possibility in child bearing in it is wrong. Sodomy is wrong but some other sexual acts as foreplay is not wrong as long as it ends in the possibility of procreation. What is the eastern perspective on this and who are some of those writers you mentioned whose works were lost?
     
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  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Do we have anyone from the first five centuries who wrote as much as Augustine had?


    I don't want to wade into the Perpetual Virginity debate, having just stepped into it yesterday, but I wanted to make a point on your larger objection of celibacy vs. the married life. Protestants have historically had a weaker understanding of virginity than Rome and the Orthodox; probably the only area where they have a weaker grasp of an obvious scriptural doctrine. St. Paul explicitly teaches that to be continent is better, and marriage is recommended only to those who cannot be continent (which is understood to be 99% of humanity, but still he states it that way for emphasis).

    The chief contrast here is with Martin Luther who was so opposed to the Roman duplicity and hypocrisy surrounding continence/celibacy, that he took the other road of celebrating the married life as above the continent life altogether. While we may understand his anger, we cannot accept his conclusions. Both the Lutherans and the Anglicans have monastic communities; Anglicans having paused it from the 1500s to the 1800s, and the Lutherans never abolishing the monasteries even at the Reformation.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  7. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Indeed so re: your last point. On yout first, not extant, I don’t think, but I am certain Origen wrote twice as much as St. Augustine, and compiled still more. And frankly I really wish we still had a Hexapla. An intact manuscript copy of that would be an archaeological find akin to the Holy Grail. Much of what we know about the Old Testament is largely due to fragments of the Hexapla and fragmentary commentaries on missing pieces. And we are not talking herein about spurious apocrypha, but rather about the different, now lost, Hebrew manuscript editions which St. Jerome had access to (and he even found the Hexapla useful, despite being as opposed to Origen as anyone, including our mutually beloved St. Epiphanius).

    Among extant writers though I would be surprised if St. Augustine had absolutely the highest surviving wordcount, as opposed to merely the greatest accessibility in Latin and English. Consider only recently thanks to Sebastian Brock did we get St. Ephrem the Syrian’s Hymns of Paradise in the English tongue. And only recently did we get the Philokalia. There are large Greek-only pieces of St. Maximus the Confessor.

    If you are not like me stuck with being a pathetic monoglot, expert in one tongue but utterly incapable of picking up others beyond semantically unitary expressions, which scarcely counts and is useless for anything other than condescension, arrogation, patronization in the manner of Alex Trebek, or my preferred application, that being anachronistic obfuscation*, you could do sterling service, because there exists a great Patristic treasure which exists in Latin and even German which is untranslated (I can to some degree read German and understand clearly annunciated Hochdeutsch, but speaking it or translating from it reliably is another matter).

    *It is particularly good to use bits of Latin and French well known among well read people to avoid direct allusion to that which is topically relevant but unseemly to discuss directly, as this throws off the youth, the simple-minded and the slothful, who are most likely to be harmed by a direct apprehension of the obfuscated text. That said, readers of this forum can breathe with the assurance that I have in general not treated them thus, but have rather, in the interests of still greater caution, simply refused to mention such matters, or alluded to a known shared knowledge of Patristics in the case of that which I know and Stalwart knows but which other members who do not know are better off not knowing, about heretics and their disturbing characteristics, as this information is not profitable, and even the church father beloved by @Stalwart and himself agonized in his writings about whether or not he was correct in documenting these characteristics.
     
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  8. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Oh? I take it you are not married?

    If a married couple knows that one of them is sterile (perhaps by happenstance, or perhaps the wife has had a hysterectomy due to medical necessity), since there is no possibility of child bearing do they sin by still having intercourse?
     
  9. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Well, this question is intentionally over-broad while being rather too specific at the same time. Suffice it to say, they could. And surely if anyone intentionally castrates themselves and then engages in sexual intercourse they are sinning grievously. Canon I of the Council of Nicea forbade men who had castrated themselves to be ordained on the grounds of being self-murderers.
     
  10. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    This is not an Anglican position. The purposes of marriage are:
    • as a sign of the love Christ has for his church
    • as a remedy against sin
    • for the proper expression of the natural instincts
    • for producing and raising children
    • for mutual society help and comfort.
    To exclude those beyond child bearing from intimacy tears at the nature and purpose of the sacrament, and in terms of the Biblical narrative one imagine's that the carnal act that led to the birth of Isaac would not have been in accordance with God's will.
     
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  11. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Please note, I did not say that Gnosticism gave rise to celibacy, and I hope you are not trying to put the words into my mouth. I said Gnosticism influenced and contributed to the rise of Marianism. On a different but contemporaneous track, celibate monasticism grew in practice, partly (but only partly) due to the view that intercourse was basically sinful. The convergence, or intersection, of rising Marian piety with the increased value placed on celibacy had the effect of elevating popular sentiment within the church for an ever-celibate view of Mary.

    As for Paul, I believe you refer primarily to 1 Corinthians 6 & 7? Considering the audience which he addressed and their known, erroneous sexual permissiveness (fornication, etc.) his heavy emphasis on abstinence is understandable. Paul cited his own celibate life as an exemplar. But in writing to Timothy, Paul said that a bishop should be "the husband of one wife" which shows that marriage was not an undesirable state for a spiritual believer. If God intended that the most holy believers should remain celibate, only the weak Christians and the non-Christians would reproduce. He who finds a wife finds a good thing (Prov. 18:22), and God blessed Adam with Eve (without whom none of us would be here... well, one could take that point in either direction :loopy: ). Moreover, a godly marriage serves as a type (a picture) of the intimate, loving, nurturing relationship which the Holy Spirit has with believers now and which Jesus will have with His bride, the Church.

    As for Augustine's and Origen's effusiveness of written volume does not equate to holiness or to wisdom. We judge the theological value of any writer or writing by the content of what was written, do we not? Otherwise, L. Ron Hubbard was probably more prolific than both of them put together. The whole "they wrote a lot of stuff" discussion is beside the point.
     
  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    My question illustrated the overbreadth of the proposition to which I responded.
     
  13. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Yes I was not exact as I could have been as I am trying to avoid more blunt language. But basically sex that does not end in the natural was I do find sinful. I don't agree with the use of contraceptives but I am not saying that sex is wrong as long as it ends in the natural way.
     
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  14. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Also I just messed up and was not exact as I could have been. My apologies.
     
  15. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The Book of Common Prayer does not place bullet points on these items nor specify that they may be availed of piecemeal; rather, it seems clear to me that Cranmer was summarizing the consensus patrum, which is that the purposes of marriage are all of the above, together, and not a selection thereof.

    But this is not even the issue. Rather, the issue is that sodomy can, according to the church fathers, occur within marriage, and that couples ought not to engage in perverse acts. What is more, the canons of the Council of Nicea and elsewhere strongly disapprove of castration, and sex with someone who has castrated themselves is regarded as perverse.

    Conversely I would not judge a couple who suspect themselves to be, and probably are, incapable of reproduction, based on the birth of St. Isaac, which occurred under conditions where the natural reproductive capability of St. Sarah could be safely presumed to have elapsed, owing to the ordinary functioning of human anatomy.

    The sole exception to the above is of course if the couple has knowingly and willingly sterilized themselves with the intent to have sexual relations without the possibility of procreation. I do not think the Anglicans would have approved of this.

    What is more, the controversial period of the initial schism under Henry VIII, before any reform happened, which Anglicanism later reacted against to an extreme extent with its severe stand on divorce, which resulted in the very proper and fortunate removal of King Edward VIII (what is it with English kings who are the eighth of a specific name? They should in light of Henry and Edward VIII perhaps constitutionally limit themselves to seven monarchs of the same name), would become even more controversial if the idea of non-procreative marriage were accepted to any further extent.

    To wit, the acceptance of all manner of perverse sexual relations by churches rejecting Anglican orthodoxy is lamentable. Especially that of the Episcopal Church, which is a terrible ongoing tragedy, but also the Anglican Church of Canada, of Ireland, and the Scottish Episcopalians.
     
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  16. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Well, first, since we're talking about the historic Anglican position, let's make sure to affirm that Matrimony is not a considered a Sacrament, because it doesn't fit the definition of a sacrament provided by St. Augustine ("outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace"). It is also much grander in being instituted for Adam and Eve in the Garden, at the very origin of all things, and not "merely" in the New Testament era as the Sacraments of Baptism and of Holy Communion are.

    Also, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in a very concrete way lists the purposes of marriage, which are, in order:
    1. for the rearing of children
    2. for mutual society.
    3. as a remedy against fornication.

    I find it relevant that at least in the Roman Catholic circles, much is made about the order for the purposes of marriage. They trace the dissolution of Roman Catholic families to the fact that after Vatican II, the rearing of children was put second, and mutual society was made first. (In classical Roman doctrine, the purposes of marriage are, as with us, in the order of 1, 2, 3, as I have above.)

    The placement of mutual society above rearing of children (so the argument goes) opened the door to sterile families which had no intention of starting families, as we find among Roman Catholics today. Going from families which had 10 children, to families which have a cat, was a cataclysmic change in the theology and psychology of Matrimony; and they trace a part of that disintegration to the violation of the traditional order of the Purposes of Matrimony.

    Now, let us consider this same list in the Prayerbook, and give it the respect and awe it deserves. Even its order of purposes of marriage cannot be monkeyed with, and it is not irrelevant what the order was. The primary purpose of marriage is, and has always been for Anglicans, the rearing of children.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  17. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Very good. We enumerate marriage as a sacred mystery of the church, inviolable and sancrosanct, and related to but functionally distinct from the Augustinian sacraments, and in this manner bypass what I consider to be Roman oversimplification, a minor error on their part by the way, and fully synthesize Oriental and Occidental theology.

    The Roman trend towards an occasional oversimplification is related to the famed liturgical brevity of the Roman Rite, especially prior to its partial Gallicanization. It was not inherently an erroneous trajectory any more than Oriental luxuriance, but prior to and following the Great Schism, this manifested your pet peeve regarding the enumeration of a sacrament.

    Your understanding of the mystery of Holy Matrimony is eloquently Patristic @Stalwart.
     
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  18. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    There is no cause for concern; I see no serious error in your post. In general, I like the approach you take to things; you remind me of me. :)
     
  19. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I think this is a reasonable perspective. We must take into account when assesing Matrimony three things: the Patristic understanding of this mystery, which the BCP eloquently summarizes, the Patristic condemnation of sodomy even within marriage, and the Patristic aversion to sex where the intention is non-procreative.

    For sexual activity to be legitimate, it must constitute an act towards the furtherance of reproduction. Indeed the word reproduction seems to be the most reverent and proper way of referring to legitimate sexuality within holy matrimony.
     
  20. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The holiness of St. Augustine is not a factor of the volume of his output and no one is saying as much. To liken St. Augustine or any church father, even one who many regard as a heretic, such as Origen, to L. Ron Hubbard, I find to be rather disagreeable, indeed, offensive. The latter is antichrist, whereas someone like St. Augustine or St. Anthony or St. Paul is someone who is known by the Church to have lived a Christian life and who is considered glorified and worthy of veneration and emulation, being someone enumerated among the faithful.

    With regards to St. Paul, your conditional exegesis, which seeks to deprecate his arguments in favor of celibacy on the grounds of local specificity, makes no sense, because if we say that the arguments contained in one epistle are by and large intended purely for the people in that church, at that time, we create a compelling excuse for rejecting the canonical validity of the epistle, and this is absurd. St. Athanasius would not have deigned to include the Pauline epistles had it not been the unanimous consensus of the Apostolic church that these expressed the Catholic and Orthodox faith of which Anglicanism is a legitimate expression.

    One would also note the Pastoral Epistles which you quote were more controversial inclusions, as like the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Early Church was not entirely certain of their Pauline provenance, but St. Athanasius was, and saw fit to include them, and that is good enough for me, since this same Athanasius is largely responsible for the preservation of the ancient doctrine of the full deity and humanity of Christ, as the uncreated, begotten, coessential Son of God, the Incarnate Word, against the heresy of Arianism. And this same Athanasius wrote the Life of St. Anthony, which is the definitive work about the ascetic Christian life.