12-1-4 Questions to Mr. Bartlett from Mr. Heaster
Mary As A Mortal Woman
1. If Mary died, as Catholics claim, then she was a mortal woman. How could she have been mother of God, who is immortal?
2. How was Jesus the son of David and Abraham if Mary was not an ordinary woman conceived of their lineage?
3. If the Catholic view of Mary is based on their interpretation of Scripture, what Scripture are they interpreting in claiming that Mary was 'assumed' up into Heaven bodily after her death?
4. Mr. Bartlett claims we must accept the Catholic interpretation of the Bible because the Catholics chose the canon. But this only applies to the New Testament. Are we free to interpret the Old Testament without reference to the Catholic church?
Concluding Statement from Duncan Heaster
This debate is essentially about authority. The only authority for the individual Christian can be the Lord God and the word of His Son. The authority which is vested in their word, the Bible, is a rational, benevolent authority under which we can find our authentic human freedom. The authority which is wielded by the Catholic church is, I submit, a false authority, an authority which crushes humanity, which dehumanizes people. And the very fact we are created in God’s image means that we should not dehumanize our fellow man in any way. It is my observation from living many years in fiercely Catholic Lithuania and Poland that this is sadly the effect Catholic authoritarianism has upon people. The mind is free only under the authority of truth, under the personal yoke of Jesus who is “the truth” (Mt. 11:29.30). There can be no ultimate truth in any human organization- and the fact that the Catholic church has provenly changed its mind over what is truth is evidence enough that ‘the church’ can be no ultimate authority.
Note: Mr. Bartlett declined to continue the debate after the first round.
In Lk. 9:18-20, the Lord Jesus asks His men: “Whom say the people that I am?”. Why did He ask this? Surely, with His sensitivity and insight into people and society, He knew full well the various theories that first Century Palestine entertained about Him. It seems to me that He asked this question for the disciples’ sake; He wanted them to reflect upon the wide range of wrong theories which there were concerning His identification. And this led on to His next question: “But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God”. Surely the Lord Jesus knew what they thought of Him, without needing to ask them. Philip and Nathanael had earlier revealed that they considered Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah and “the Son of God” (Jn. 1:45,49). So, why did the Lord ask this question? Again, it was surely to focus His disciples upon the reality of the fact that despite all the various wrong theories, they actually knew the truth about Him.
But the Lord then goes on to His essential point: “Tell no man that thing; saying, The Son of man must suffer many things…and be slain, and be raised…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me…For what is a man advantaged if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” (Lk. 9:21-25). The Lord told the disciples to “Tell no man” by saying that “The Son of man must suffer…”. I submit that “Tell no man…” is almost hyperbole; surely He means ‘For now, focus more on the fact of my forthcoming death and your response to it, than telling others. If you gain the whole world for me in your preaching but lose your own salvation, what are you advantaged?’. After His resurrection they were to tell others; as the great commission made plain.
And there is a powerful message to us all here, especially to those who concern themselves with large amounts of preaching. We should not be so caught up in listing the errors of others that we fail to appreciate the huge personal import of the truth that we do surely know. Indeed, the Lord sought to focus His men upon the Truth they knew by asking them firstly to consider all the wrong theories about Him. He then went on to bring home to them the radical, transforming impact of that Truth if it is properly believed and acted upon. Luke seems to draw attention to this theme again in Lk. 10:20, where the disciples return from a successful preaching mission to be told to focus their elation instead upon the reality of their own personal salvation: “Rejoice not [i.e. not so much] that the spirits are subject unto you: but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven”. We are not to turn a blind eye to others' misunderstandings; the tragedy of the errors of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism etc. should not pass us by. But neither are we to remain obsessed with them. We are to be led by such reflection to rejoice in the basic truth of Jesus which we have been blessed with.
And hopefully this will be the result of the consideration of truth and error which comes before the reader in this present study.