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Anglo-Catholic Ninjas in Action April 3, 2007

Posted by Ninja Clement in General.

… on a video segment produced by Salt & Light TV.

No AC Ninja hurt anyone, so this video is safe-viewing for minors. 



1. Jared - April 5, 2007

A very interesting piece covering a lot of ground in Anglican-Roman Catholic relations. I’d be all for a move for re-unification if the Roman Catholic church would soften its stance on some very key issues.

2. Ninja Michael - April 14, 2007

Jared, I’d love it if you would clarify what you mean by “very key issues”.

3. Jared - April 16, 2007

The top 2 that come to mind are the marriage of priests/monks/nuns, a few papal issues (ex. primacy, biblical interpretation and speaking “ex-cathedra”) and the divinity of Mary. There are probably a few others I’m not thinking of right now. I can deal with disagreement on trans-substantiation and other issues, but those are deal breakers for me.

4. Jared - April 16, 2007

…er, that’d be top 3 now, wouldn’t it?

5. Ninja Clement - April 17, 2007

I’ll let Ninja Michael respond as he asked the question, but I must point out that the Blessed Virgin Mary is not divine in Roman Catholic theology (or standard Anglo-Catholic theology, for that matter). She is to be honoured as Theotokos (the title given to her at the Council of Ephesus) and exemplar of the Church. This does not entail the attribution of divnity to her. .

6. Jared - April 17, 2007

You’ll have to forgive my tired brain for using the wrong terms on occasion. If it sounds stupid, but you could substitute a smarter term for it and it would make sense, assume the smarter term. I get up at 4am and most days my brain never catches up.

And please don’t ever get me wrong either, I’m not against Catholocism (not saying you ever insinuated this, I just don’t want to be misunderstood). If I had more catholic friends who would take me, I’d attend a catholic church more often. I have just as much, sometimes more, in common with catholics than I do charismatics. I embrace both as my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus. I am passionate about my doctrinal and theological beliefs, but not so over-zealous that I think I can’t be wrong on certain things. That is the premise of every discussion on doctrine and theology I have.

That said, I’m in the Christotokos camp. The Bible says God’s messenger called her something to the effect of “favored among women.” We can learn much from her actions in the Scriptures. She bore Christ in his humanity. I don’t believe it goes any further than that. I have a lot more to say on this matter, but I’d be typing for the next hour, at least, if I were to go further.

7. Ninja Clement - April 18, 2007

Mary did not give birth to a nature, either human or divine. Rather, she bore a person who has two natures. That person we call “Christ”. Is Christ a man? Surely – even an atheist who acknowledges that a person named “Christ” walked this planet two thousand years ago knows that he was a man. Is Christ also God? Well this is what the Council intended to affirm in the midst of early controversy..

Christokos implies that Mary bore Christ ‘who is God and not just man’ only if we alredy know that He is a member of the Godhead. Theotokos, on the other hand, makes the attribution of divnity to the Incarnated Son more vivid – the person born of Mary really is God (a mere title for Mary is not an argument for the divinity of Christ, of course – I am only looking at the range of possible senses and references of a term).

Of course, one may ask if that person is also really a man, something that Theotokos by itself does not entail. Yet on the assumption that a human woman can only bring forth a human child (that is, she cannot give birth to a poodle or a retriever) – a child which in our case also happens to have a divine nature – the Son’s biological maleness follows straightforwardly.

8. Jared - April 18, 2007

I mean “Christotokos” in the common theological/apologetic sense. It denotes more strongly that she bore Christ in His humanity, not divinity, hence she was not immaculately conceived of the Holy Spirit (the Protestant position).

Now you have me all confused, because I have no context real context to understand what your point of view is. I spent a couple of years at a fully regionally and ABHE accredited Bible college, so one might think I would have been exposed to the definition of the term “Anglo-Catholic,” but I haven’t. I assumed immediately that it denoted “Anglican” or something related, but now you have me wondering. Could you provide some clarification?

9. Ninja Michael - April 19, 2007

Dear Jared,

We’d love to explain more of what “Anglo-Catholic” means, but we should warn that the term can be somewhat ambiguous, and mean different things in different contexts. One short answer is that an Anglo-Catholic is an Anglican who sees the Anglican church primarily as the English expression of the Catholic faith. It usually, though not always, includes being “high church” both in doctrine and, especially, in liturgy. But, like I said, it can be confusing, and it’s not really something likely to be discussed too much by non-Anglicans. So, don’t worry too much that it didn’t come up in your theology classes!

The “Christotokos” vs. “Theotokos” question is the far more serious problem. The most important thing to remember is that the term Theotokos, at least originally, had nothing to do with Mary. The context was a heresy called Nestorianism, which basically said that Christ was two persons, one divine and one human. God the Son did not actually become a man, but was joined together with a man. The idea was to keep God and humanity separate here, and so it became rather complicated. Thus, they said that Mary gave birth only to the human Jesus.

The problem is that the Church always believed that God the Son became human, and that Jesus literally is God, not a divine and human person fused together. The Church’s trust in Jesus for salvation is based on the belief that the Man who died on the cross is also God. If Jesus is not fully God, without any sort of confusion or division into divine and human parts, then we cannot be saved, and Jesus death and resurrection were all for nothing (or at least they certainly didn’t do for us what the Bible says they have done!)

That means, in short, that the baby that was conceived in Mary’s womb, who she bore and gave birth to, nursed and cradled and sang to, was and is God the Son. Therefore, Mary conceived, bore, and gave birth to, God the Son.

If the baby who Mary gave birth to is Christ, but not God…

You get the idea?

Now, in response to your particular comments: You say that “Christotokos” denotes more strongly that she bore Christ in His humanity, not divinity… How do you separate these? Did God the Son become human, or not?

Also, the belief in Mary as “Theotokos” has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the belief in the imaculate conception. None whatsoever. It has to do with Jesus being God. Nothing else. Eastern Orthodox do not, for example, believe in the imaculate conception (because they do not have the same view of original sin as Protestants and Catholics do). Catholics and Orthodox believe that Mary was specially graced by the Holy Spirit because she is the Mother of Our Lord, but they do not call her the Mother of God because she was sinless (you have it backwards).

Furthermore, most early Protestants, such as Luther, referred to Mary as “Theotokos”. So, you don’t have the Protestant position, either.

10. Ninja Clement - April 19, 2007

Jared, I need to re-think something I said in the last post – “a human woman can only bring forth a human child”. That’s true of course, but so is, in the normal state of affairs, “every human child descends from a biological father and biological mother” (let’s ignore the complication posed by cloning), and right away we see a difficulty, for Jospeh is not the Son’s biological father.

We know that, as a man, Christ had an XY chomosome set (Christ is still a man, of course, but I’m not sure how His post-Ressurection body is constituted). His genetic makeup did not receive anything from that of Jospeh, or He would have been a human child only. So the Holy Ghost contributed, miracolously, what a man would have in normal circumstances.

11. Jared - April 19, 2007

NM – You’re taking that statement wayyyyyyy too far. I meant that what she contributed to Christ was physical. She bore him in contributing to his physical body, the Holy Spirit supplied the miraculous elements (the other chromosome, the Spirit of God and anything else I missed). You’re assuming way too many details about statements I’m attempting to keep simple.

As far as “Christotokos” is concerned, I’m not separating the two, I’m relying on a historical apologetic term. Yes, it is historical. It is from the last 150 years or so, not Luther. When I refer to “Protestant”, I mean that in the very generic “non-Roman Catholic” sense. If I were referring to the Reformers or Reformation Theology, I would denote them specifically. The term “Christotokos” was used after the doctrine of “Immaculate Conception” was proclaimed by the pope of the time (can’t remember the name). That was somewhere around 125-150 years ago, if memory serves me. I’m not attempting to strain for details, I’m shooting for the big picture.

I don’t know what exactly you are inferring that I have backwards. I think you thought I meant something more than I did. I’m not sure now.

Maybe my statements are reading a little “loaded” but that isn’t my intent. I’m just trying to keep the conversation as simple as possible so that I’m not writing novels in response to things.

NC – I feel ya buddy. I totally hear what your saying in that last comment.

Gentlemen, I get the feeling that we are on the same side of the fence, but that there has been a massive misunderstanding. Forgive me anything in this response reads curtly. It is unintentional. I’ve been getting up at 4am to go to work for months now, and it just never seems to get any easier. I’m dragging my butt and brain by the end of the week.

12. Ninja Michael - April 21, 2007

That’s okay, Jared. I didn’t mean to overreact. The thing is just that “Christotokos” has a much longer history than the last 150 years or so – well over 1500 years! So, it will confuse people if you attempt to use it to mean something different (even with 150 years of history – it ends up getting trumped.) Thanks for the comments.

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