All those in favor?

What He Said.


7 Responses to “All those in favor?”

  1. Robert Johns Says:


    My curiosity is finally gotten the better of me. I have read on your blog and several others I follow about the idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary. I’ll admit I haven’t yet read the article you have linked to on this posting more than just to see what it is about so maybe my question is answered there, but enlighten me if you can: What is so important about the perpetual virginity of Mary? From what I see in the Holy Scriptures there is nothing that would indicate that Mary and Joseph had anything but a normal marriage relationship after Jesus was born. Does Mary and Joseph actually having sex, as husbands and wives do, in some way detract or take away from who and what Jesus is and what He did for us? Thank you for your response!

    • Most of what I would say to you is contained in the referenced blog. However, let me just add that our confessions do say that Mary was Perpetually a Virgin. The only way to discount it is to say that this is not doctrine, just historical detail – which is a dangerous road to travel. It is the same road taken by those who have a quaetanus subscription to our confessions. (We confess them insofar as they agree with Holy Scripture. The same standard can be applied to Doctor Seuss, or the US Constitution, or the latest John Grisham thriller.)
      The question is always asked : What difference does it make? Dr. Stephenson answers it somewhat, although more work can be done on this point. The Alexandrian Christology accepts Semper Virgo. Those who deny it must take an Antiochene approach – which tends toward Nestorianism. I have not looked deeply at it as doctrine. I only know that 1) Our confessions say it, 2) Non-SV is a new doctrine in the church, and new teachings in the church are, by definition not good, 3) It is dangerous to go against the confessions while simultaneously going with a newly invented doctrine. You see, assuming that Non-SV is adiaphora does not thereby make it non-doctrinal. It is the same as those who assume that Evangelical-style praise bands are non-doctrinal because of FC X (On adiaphora). Just because they say it is not a doctrinal issue does not make it so. Those who say SV is adiaphora make of doctrine of saying that it is adiaphora, in the same way that supporters of Modern Evangelical worship styles make it a doctrinal issue to say that those are adiaphora.

      • Rev Mathew Andersen Says:

        The reference in FC VIII 24 is a conjunctive adverbial clause dependent on the primary clause in the sentence which speaks of the birth of Christ. It is a violation of grammar to attempt to make it stand on its own and a violation of theology and the confessions to turn it into a doctrine.

      • I refer you once again to the noted article. I am going to assume that Dr. Stephenson has a grasp of German grammar when he writes as he does. I will also assume the Dr. Pieper has a grasp of what theology is, and what the intent of the confessions is when he calls it one. Same for Walther, Luther, Chemnitz, and the rest of the Lutheran Fathers.
        Am I committing the fallacy of appeal to authority? Perhaps. But I think you would admit that they are pretty good authorities to which I have appealed.

  2. In his The True Visible Church: an essay for the convention of the general Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, for its sessions at St. Louis, Mo., October 31, 1866 (translated by J.T. Mueller, Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1961, p. 107) C.F.W. Walther quotes Johann Conrad Dannhauer (1603-1666) from his Hodosophia christiana sine theologia positive (11, p. 667):

    “An article of faith is not a gloss, assertion, or opinion for which there is no clear and definite passage in Holy Scripture. Such, for example, are the questions concerning the time of the world’s creation, whether it took place in spring or in fall; the day and year of Christ’s birth; the perpetual virginity of the blessed Virgin after His birth; the soul sleep, and other matters in which men might exercise their wits. But these dare not be forced upon others as sacred teachings of the church. Such excrescences occur in scholastic theology by the wholesale, where one tries to milk a he-goat, while another endeavors to catch the milk in a sieve.”

  3. In Lehre und Wehre, July-August 1888, pp. 198-204, (translated by W.H. McLaughlin), Franz Pieper, who was a student of and later taught with C.F.W. Walther at the seminary, discusses Walther’s views on semper virgo and “open questions”:

    Walther acknowledged the existence of “open questions,” but in an entirely different sense. He wishes to have the term “open question” used as synonymous with “theological problems.” Hence open questions are to him such as God’s Word leaves open questions which indeed arise in connection with the discussion of the Christian article’s of faith, “but which find no solution in God’s Word.” (L.u.W. 14,33.) Walther insists most strenuously that open questions in this sense be acknowledged, and this for the very purpose that the Scripture principle may remain inviolate. For if one should wish to “close” a question which God’s Word leaves open, then one would be adding to the Scripture. He writes: “What is not contained and decided in God’s Word must also not be equated with God’s Word and thus added to God’s Word. But this would take place if orthodoxy should be made dependent upon any doctrine not contained in God’s Word and the denial of it should be given church-divisive significance. Open questions in this sense are therefore all doctrines which are neither positively nor negatively decided by God’s Word, or such by the affirmation of which nothing which Holy Scripture denies is affirmed , and by the denial of which nothing which Holy Scripture affirms is denied” (L.u.W, 14,33). Among such open questions Walther, with the older theologians, reckons also the following: Whether Mary gave birth to other children after Christ (the Semper virgo); whether the soul is imparted to every man through propagation from his parents, as flame from flame (per traducem, traducianism), or through creative infusion (creationism); whether the visible world will pass away on the last day according to its substance or only according to its attributes, etc.(L.u.W.,14,34). On the other hand Walther insists most strenuously that nothing shall be declared an open question and treated as such which is clearly taught in God’s Word and thus decided by God’s Word.” [Emphasis added]

  4. Rev. Paul Rydecki discussed the FC VIII:24 reference to the Virgin Mary and the text’s associated German and Latin grammar on the Confessional Gadfly blog site, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and

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