The Perpetual Virginity of Mary
by Dr. Robert Schihl (Roman Catholic Theologian)
Fathers of the Church
Church Fathers from at least the fourth century spoke of Mary as having remained a virgin throughout her life:
Athanasius (Alexandria, 293-373);
Epiphanius (Palestine, 315?-403);
Jerome (Stridon, present day Yugoslavia, 345?-419);
Augustine (Numidia, now Algeria, 354-430);
Cyril (Alexandria, 376-444);
We note here that in this very precise and scholarly list of Apostolic Fathers speaking of Mary remaining a virgin, that this theologian did not include the quotes for some reason. – We would suggest that the context quite possibly spreads some doubt to this notion.
Another thing we note in this list is that in the 4th century from the writings of all of the bishops that only one a minor bishop is cited as teaching this false doctrine and that universally all of the bishops of renown – at that time neither knew nor spoke of any such thing.
And this can be said also of the Bible scholars of the third century and the second century. Certainly if the Immaculate Conception or the perpetual virginity of Mary was as important doctrinally a virtual keystone upon which the whole of the doctrine of Christ and the church is founded upon – then Peter and Paul would have preached it in their epistles, – (The 11 Apostles absolutely knew Mary and it would have been impossible for Paul to not have known if these things were so as he had commissioned Luke to write a Gospel for the churches he founded.) – Therefore their silence on these doctrines is an unquestionable attestation that this doctrine was neither known nor taught in the early church.
And if the Immaculate Conception or the perpetual virginity of Mary was as important doctrinally a virtual keystone upon which the whole of the doctrine of Christ and the church is founded upon -- Christ would have preached it as the center piece of the gospel, or at least when the women cried out blessed are the Paps of the women that fed you. – So Christ’s silence in the Gospels on these doctrines is an unquestionable attestation that the things stated in these doctrines are not so.
Moving on to the apostolic fathers, for over 300 years after the death of Christ or over ten generations (As defining a biblical generation by 30 years) Not one bishop for ten solid generations is recorded as having believed in or made mention disparagingly against the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the perpetual virginity of Mary.
To begin with Justin Martyr during his 25 years of ministry wrote gigantic treatises to the Roman senate and the roman emperor in which he describes in great detail the beliefs of Christians – he even details how the Eucharist or Holy Communion was received.
And we also have from Justin Martyr the recounting of a two day debate between him and the head of a Jewish Synagogue in Rome named Trypho – In which the prophecies concerning Christ’s coming his birth, his ministry his death and resurrection and his deity are discussed in minute detail. As I have read these writings over several times I can say that the debate between Trypho and Justin Martyr is very sharp on the issue of the Virgin Birth of Christ -- so that if the Immaculate Conception or the perpetual virginity of Mary was as important doctrinally a virtual keystone upon which the whole of the doctrine of Christ and the church is founded upon – Justin Martyr would have included this in the debate. His silence here both to Trypho, the Roman Senate and to Caesar is an unquestionable attestation that the things stated in these doctrines are simply not so, and that they were not a part of the Christian faith whatsoever in 155-170 AD.
In his ten or so epistles entitled Irenaeus Against All Heresies he systematically writes against all heresies that existed in his day. If the Immaculate Conception or the perpetual virginity of Mary was as important doctrinally a virtual keystone upon which the whole of the doctrine of Christ and the church is founded upon, Irenaeus would have made its defense the center piece of his writings and you would think that he would have been able to cite one or two pastors or some cult that did not believe in that doctrine as stated – Irenaeus silence both pro and con here in a work that is designed to speak out against all heresies is once again an unquestionable attestation that the things stated in these Roman Catholic doctrines concerning Mary are simply not so, and were not any part of the Christian faith whatsoever in 180-AD.
Tertullian was not just another Bishop he is according to the Roman Catholic church to have been one of their greatest theologians and has been given the title of Roman Catholic Doctor of Divinity. In 200 AD he wrote an immense number of epistles touching on all areas of doctrine in the church and his writings are the foundation of many Roman Catholic doctrines that Augustine later cast in stone as part official Roman Catholic Doctrine from the 6th century on. If the Immaculate Conception or the perpetual virginity of Mary was as important doctrinally a virtual keystone upon which the whole of the doctrine of Christ and the church is founded upon, Tertullian would have made it the center piece of his writings – But here a Roman Catholic Doctor of church doctrine, and in his voluminous writings he does not speak a single word for or against such teachings, because they were neither known or heard of at such time in the pre-Roman Catholic Church of 200 AD.
Hippolytus – His silence both pro and con here is once again an unquestionable attestation that the things stated in this Roman Catholic doctrine are simply not so and were not any part of the Christian faith whatsoever –230AD
Origen – Origen was another Roman Catholic Doctor and wrote about a great many doctrinal issues in his epistles and His silence both pro and con here is once again an unquestionable attestation that the things stated in this Roman Catholic doctrine are simply not so and were not any part of the Christian faith whatsoever –230AD
Cypian – Wrote almost 200 epistles he is revered by the Roman Catholic Church as one of the great defenders of the faith and one who was key to preserving the teachings of the church. Yet in all these epistles Cypian is utterly silence both pro and con here to the Immaculate Conception or the perpetual virginity of Mary was as important doctrinally a virtual keystone upon which the whole of the doctrine of Christ and the church is founded upon. -- Once again this is an unquestionable attestation that the things stated in this Roman Catholic doctrine are simply not so, and were not any part of the Christian faith whatsoever –250 AD
And perhaps most important of all is Eusebius – who was commissioned by Constantine to chronicle the first three centuries of Church History and doctrine for the emperor and the church – and he did so. All church historians today use Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History as their main source for what occurred during that time period and what the church doctrinally believed. In His entire chronicling and he begins the work with the days leading up to Christ’s birth, and includes the virgin birth as well Eusebius does not allude in the slightest to any belief whatsoever of an Immaculate Conception or the perpetual virginity of Mary as a church doctrine or keystone upon which the whole of the doctrine of Christ and the church is founded upon. –Had he flagrantly overlooked such and important doctrine Constantine would have had Eusebius executed just as he had other heretical bishops executed. So that Eusebius silence here is an unquestionable attestation that the things stated in this Roman Catholic doctrine are simply not so and were not any part of the Christian faith whatsoever in 330 AD.
So what happened here? And where did this doctrine come from? The answer is in the catholic encyclopedia that under Constantine the flood gates of pagans calling themselves believers were opened and they brought all their pagan beliefs and idols with them and soon these pagan beliefs and idols were made a part of a church that had become doctrinally weak through centuries of not having had bibles to preach from, and that tradition was continued after the canon of scripture was created and under Constantine 300 bibles were made and distributed one to every sizeable church.
2 Timothy 4:3-5 For the time will come when they (The Church) will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (We are categorically stating that this did occur – however we will not cast the burden of this at the feet of the Roman Catholic Church alone for the many of the things that the catholic Church is blamed for were in full swing and recorded as such by the apostolic fathers a full hundred years before the catholic church was ever a glimmer in anyone’s eye.)
2 Peter 1:15 –17 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease (Death) to have these things (What Peter considers most important doctrinally) always in remembrance. (Nowhere in the Apostle Peter’s first or second epistle does Peter cite a whisper a word about the Immaculate Conception or the perpetual virginity of Mary and what he says in the next sentence is that whatever is not included in these epistles as the most important things for believers to seek and follow after are “Cunningly devised fables”.) For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Teaching of the Universal Church
The Council of Constantinople II (553-554) twice referred to Mary as "ever-virgin." (Note here that this doctrinal change officially occurred in the 6th century some 17 generations after the death of Christ some 16 generations after the death of Paul and Peter and some 15 generations after the death of John.)
The protestant reformers affirmed their belief that Mary, while remaining every-virgin, was truly the Mother of God. Here are only a few examples:
Martin Luther (1483-1546), On the Divine Motherhood of Mary, wrote:
In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such great good things were given her that no one can grasp them. ... Not only was Mary the mother of him who is born [in Bethlehem], but of him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time and at the same time man and God. (Weimer's The Works of Luther, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, v. 7, p. 572.)
Luther wrote on the Virginity of Mary:
It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a virgin. ... Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact. (Weimer's The Works of Luther, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, v. 11, pp. 319-320; v. 6. p. 510.)
The French reformer John Calvin (1509-1564) also held that Mary was the Mother of God.
It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor. ... Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary as at the same time the eternal God. (Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, v. 45, p. 348, 35.)
Calvin also up held the perpetual virginity of Mary, as did the Swiss reformer, Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), who wrote:
I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin. (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, v. 1, p. 424.)
Most Protestants know nothing about Luther and Calvin except the revisionist paragraph blurb that their denomination has created to lionize these men as the Apostles of Protestantism. Actually there were three major reformers and in the Catholic Encyclopedia concerning the protestant reformation two are mentioned Martin Luther who is reviled, and John Calvin who is loved as a great doctor of theology but since he denied left the Roman Catholic faith he is still a heretic, and Meno Simons who is ignored as the head of the Ana-Baptist movement.
What is not conveyed in these protestant cleansed blurb histories of these men is that all three were Roman Catholic Priests and as such were thoroughly indoctrinated in Roman Catholicism.
Meno Simon’s against the wishes of the church embarked on a path in which he began to study scripture and church history and began to see how the churches doctrines had been systematically altered. When his brother became an Ana-Baptist leader and this seemed to greatly effect Simons. And at that point he seems to have begun preaching what could be termed as favorable sermons towards the movement, laced with scripture references, and he offered the leaders advice on several occasions. But when his brother was slaughtered in Muenster, Germany along with 100,000 believers by the Roman Catholic Army, this event threw Simon’s over the edge and this is reflected in his writings. Simons states that while still a Priest he desired greatness and wanted to rule over the church – so that later when the remaining leaders of the Ana-Baptists bowed the knee to Simons and asked him to take the helm he was all to glad to do so.
Luther and Calvin on the other hand were Augustinian monks – they were sworn to seek to restore their order within the Catholic Church and to see that Augustine would once more be heralded as the authority for church doctrine. So what the writer asserts here concerning Luther and Calvin believing in the Immaculate Conception or the perpetual virginity of Mary as a church doctrine or keystone upon which the whole of the doctrine of Christ and the church is founded upon.The writer here is not telling the half of it, as Luther and Calvin both prayed to Mary and the whole host of Roman Catholic saints as well.
Both Luther and Calvin were Roman Catholic, Priests and Doctors of Roman Catholic Law and taught at Roman Catholic Universities that in those days were theological seminaries
What has escaped historians is why Luther and Calvin were doing the things they were doing and saying the things that they were saying. Both men are depicted by their respective denominations as having light beams from heaven shining upon them as they received divine inspiration.
This is simply untrue and from the writings of both men they were virulently against any thing that would be termed as a spiritual experience, they were against dreams visions angels appearing prophesy or any exercise of the gifts of the spirit -- and thus both men hated and killed with impunity Ana-Baptists any where they were found and sought to slay Meno Simons.
Simply put what Luther and Calvin sought to do was not leave the Roman Catholic Church but to roll back 850 years worth of what they deemed as bad doctrine and have the purer Roman Catholic Church of the sixth century re-emerge
So when Luther preached against indulgences it was not that he hated that from purely a doctrinal stance – he hated it because it was not Augustine Doctrine.
When Luther came against the rule of the Papacy it was because Augustine a bishop in Algeria had in his day run circles around the Pope and the Bishops or Rome and took doctrinal preeminence over all of them and for this he was awarded an order of monks. Both Luther and Calvin in their writings did not at all want to leave the Roman Catholic Church both instead coveted having their own order of monks as their predecessor. So when Luther nailed up his 95 thesis on the door of the Wartburg Roman Catholic Church, Luther has simply looked through his Augustinian lens at current catholic doctrine and lo and behold he found his 95 thesis. And simply put these 95 things that were not Augustine, and therefore unacceptable to him or any of his order.
Speaking a little more on this Augustine believed both in predestination and eternal security. So it should come as no surprise that Luther and Calvin championed these doctrines. Luther preached them first and preached them under the guise of justification by faith. His doctrine bears no resemblance to what is taught in bible believing denominations today. In his own words Luther could murder a thousand men a day and commit adultery with a thousand women a day because he was justified by faith -- Both Luther and Calvin were murderers and presumably both men were adulterers as well. The doctrines of predestination and eternal security to both men became central to their holding power because their followers had eyes to see and ear to hear of their evil deeds, so that when questioned on their acts these did not say the devil made me do it, they declared under Augustinian doctrine that they were doctors or and had taught for a decade or more in Roman Catholic Universities that God had made them do it and thus to disagree with them was to fight against God himself – So both men raised armies and slaughtered Ana-Baptists or drove the Ana-Baptists into Roman Armies to be destroyed.
So what Luther and Calvin were a part of was not a reformation in any terms that is what is preached today – they did not bring the church back to the bible and biblical teaching as they had all this light and revelation and discovered the bible was filled with all these lost truths – they simply rolled back Roman Catholicism to the 6th century were Augustine and all Roman Catholics were still allowed to read scripture. And the doctrines that Luther and Calvin taught were simply sixth century Augustinian doctrine – So for the most part The Protestant Movement is 6th century Roman Catholicism – or as we have called it previously Roman Catholic Lite.
Now granted both Lutheranism and Calvinism have evolved and cleansed their histories repeatedly over the last 450 years so that all of this is hidden today form the eyes and ears of nominal believers. – But a horse will always be a horse no matter how you dress it. No more than if you confess yourself to be a car day and night for a week and sleep in a garage will make you into a car.