The perpetual virginity of Mary often comes up in Protestant and Catholic arguments. When I was Reformed, I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t think it ought to be a church dividing issue since plenty of the Reformers and post-Reformation theologians adhered to it and defended it. And I didn’t at the time see its significance one way or the other, though no I think reflection on the perpetual virginity of Jesus will show that it is.) It was also a teaching that was held and judged to be correct or at least permissible, by plenty of “secondary” authorities. If Sola Scriptura entails following secondary authorities and eschewing the supposedly more Anabaptist take of solo Scriptura, this seemed like such a case. And of course, plenty of Protestants hold to it today, not the least of which are the Lutherans.
Francis Turretin (1623-1687) no small name among Reformed authors also favored the doctrine. Here is his summary defense of the teaching.
1.Yes, Francis Turretin is one of the top Reformed theologians. So far so good.
2.Robinson is alluding to Keith Mathison’s sola/solo scriptura rubric. However, that’s dubious even on its own terms:
3.Calvinists subscribe to sola Scriptura. Perry has now drawn attention to a shocking case in which most modern-day Calvinists differ with Turretin on this particular issue because they think the perpetual virginity of Mary is…unscriptural.
Therefore, Perry has succeeded in exposing the scandalous fact that most modern-day Calvinists are faithful to their rule of faith (sola Scriptura). Apparently, we’re consistent to a fault! If only we paid lip-service to our rule of faith, we’d be above criticism. But, no, we have to take it seriously! Pretty damning, don’t you think?
4.Perry equivocates. In Roman Cathoicism, there is more to the perpetual virginity of Mary than the notion that she and Joseph never hand conjugal relations.
According to Catholicism, Jesus never passed through the birth canal. Instead, he was “transported” directly from the womb to the outside world.
Not coincidentally, this tradition goes back to Gnostic sources.
Notice that Turretin isn’t defending the perpetual virginity of Mary in that sense.