Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Carnival of the Reformation and Some Verbal Remarks

The Second Carnival of the Reformation is up at "Jollyblogger"; the theme is Solus Christus. There are some interesting posts.

With regard to the post at "CoffeeSwirls," on the 'descended into hell' part of the Apostle's Creed, I'm not sure the problem is so much anything to do with the Creed as it is with unbiblical notions of what hell (hades) is; in particular, with the tendency to conflate mentions of hades with those of the second death; 'hades' and 'second death' are entirely distinct. If we have good reasons for confining the word 'hell' to a usage different from 'hades', we will need to be consistent about it. We could go this route; being very conservative about this sort of thing, I'm not inclined to it, but if that's the best way it would be fine with me (after all, there's nothing particularly significant about the English translation, whatever value you put on the original). It's a good post, though.

The Crusty Curmudgeon has an interesting post as well. I'm not really convinced by his argument to extend the solus Christus to a rejection of Marian mediatricity, but Catholics do get in their heads the oddest sorts of justifications for their practices sometimes, such as the one noted there (which seems, alas, quite common). The real point of the title 'Mediatrix', I take it, is the rather universally orthodox point that Mary through her submission as handmaiden of the Lord 'mediated' Christ to us in that Christ was conceived of her body (she was truly Theotokos), combined with the claim of Marian intercession (in which she 'mediates' in the way anyone does in praying for someone) as part of the perfectly orthodox communion of saints (although admittedly by an inference that not everyone makes). I can't help but think this is one of those severe verbal misunderstandings that tend to arise in theological matters. In Latin 'mediator' just means someone who serves as a middle in some way; the NT Greek 'mesites', despite its similar etymology, seems to be a stronger, narrower word. Of the six times it is used in the NT, it is always used to indicate the one who mediates in the giving of a covenant; four times it is used explicitly of Christ; the other two, in Galatians, are a bit obscure but seem to refer to Moses. And I don't know of any Catholics who hold that Mary is mediatrix in the sense of being the one who mediates the actual giving of the covenant. But this was a good post, too, with much that's of interest.

UPDATE (12/22 evening): clarified one or two points, and corrected one or two things that slipped by revision, so that I don't sound entirely like an illiterate.

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