Saturday, November 1, 2008

Another Anniversary

On today’s date in 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the doctrine of the “Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary” which taught that at the end of her earthly life, the mother of Jesus was taken body and soul into heaven. According to Roman doctrine, it was not appropriate for the body of the one who was called theotikos (bearer of God) to see corruption. The Feast of the Assumption is important for Roman Catholics as “The Assumption looks to eternity and gives us hope that we, too, will follow Our Lady when our life is ended” (Father Clifford Stevens, EWTN).

For Roman Catholics, this can make perfect sense. Even though there is not the slightest hint of this teaching in Scripture, it doesn’t matter. The Church trumps Scripture every time. Thus, the Pope can decree doctrine and the faithful are obligated to believe it.

Obviously, non-Catholics in general and evangelicals in particular have a difficult time with this. We hold to the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). If it is not taught in sacred Scripture, it is not binding upon God’s people. More than that, extra-Biblical teaching may be dangerous and heretical. The Assumption of Mary falls into this category. It elevates her to near divine status and grants justification for the widespread practice of offering prayer to her in hopes of her intervention for sin.

Perhaps it is ironic that this occurs the day after Reformation Day. I am not trying to be purposely divisive. I want to take my stand on the shoulders of those who have gone on before and stood for the principle of sola Scriptura.

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