5. According to the early church fathers, Mary was always
considered to be a virgin, even after Christ's birth. This is
very important to Roman Catholics who seemed to have slowly elevated
her through the succeeding centuries to become the Queen of Heaven.
My question is, did the Protestant view of Mary come out
of the Reformation as one of the breaks from Romanism or is it
a reclaiming of an earlier view?
The Council of Chalcedon, in 451 made the doctrine of Mary's
perpetual virginity binding upon Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic
believers, and many Anglican, some Lutheran and a few other Protestant
theologians have accepted it. Certainly the concept of Mary's
perpetual virginity is very early, and the church fathers argued
for it on the basis of such OT passages as Ezek. 44:2 and Song
of Solomon 4:12. I would argue that those OT passages have nothing
to do with Mary and are used out of context. They would seem
usable only if one has already decided to accept the doctrine
of Mary's perpetual virginity.
Much of Protestantism's rejection of Mary's perpetual virginity
is ultimately the result of one of the three pillars of the Reformation,
specifically the first one:
a. Only Scripture
b. Priesthood of all believers
c. Salvation by grace through faith
That is, much of Protestantism's rejection of Mary's perpetual
virginity is the consequence of scriptural interpretation. Since
the Bible (Matthew 13:55-56, Mark 6:3, and Galatians 1:19) speaks
of Jesus' brothers and sisters (Catholic interpretors will insist
these are cousins, kinsmen, or from a supposed earlier marriage
of Joseph), and since we're also informed that Joseph did not
have sex with Mary "until after" she had given birth,
(Matthew 1:25; see also Matthew 1:18, and Luke 2:7) that would
also seem to suggest that her virginity was less than permanent.
Much of Protestantism rejected the authority of tradition, the
church fathers, the church councils, and the Pope; thus, if a
doctrine was not in the Bible, or seemed specifically contradicted
by the Bible, much of Protestantism would reject it.
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