Friday, July 01, 2022

Incidents Involving Music In The Enfield Poltergeist

Music didn't have much of a role in the Enfield case, but it was involved to some extent. And it's an aspect of the case that's been neglected.

As I discuss the subject, I'll be citing the tapes of Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair. I'll use "MG" to refer to one of Grosse's tapes and "GP" to refer to one of Playfair's. Therefore, MG1B is Grosse's tape 1B, GP70B is Playfair's tape 70B, etc.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Epiphanius Did Not Affirm The Assumption Of Mary

It's become popular in some Roman Catholic circles to cite Epiphanius out of context in order to make it look as though he affirmed the Assumption of Mary. Somebody in the comments thread following Gavin Ortlund's recent video on the Assumption cited Epiphanius that way. You can click the link just provided to read his comments. Here's the response I posted there:

If you read the larger context, Epiphanius isn't claiming that Mary was assumed to heaven. He goes on, just after what you quoted, to compare Mary to the apostle John, even though she wasn't the same as John in every characteristic of John he mentions (Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion Of Epiphanius Of Salamis, Books II And III; De Fide [Leiden, The Netherlands: SBL Press, 2013], 641). He goes on to say "Elijah is not to be worshiped, even though he is alive. And John is not to be worshiped, even though by his own prayer - or rather, by receiving the grace from God - he made an awesome thing of his falling asleep." (ibid.) Epiphanius also mentions Thecla, a martyr, in this context. It seems that he's comparing Mary to three different figures - Elijah, John, and Thecla - whose lives ended in three different ways, the same three ways he mentions elsewhere when he says that nobody knows how Mary's life ended (ibid., 635). He's not claiming, in the passage you've cited, to know that Mary remained alive and was taken up as Elijah was, which would contradict what he said earlier about how nobody knows what happened at the end of her life. Rather, he's repeating what he said earlier about our ignorance of the end of her life. That's why he goes on to compare Mary to John and Thecla, just after what you misleadingly quoted. Just as his comparing Mary to John and Thecla doesn't require that Epiphanius believed that Mary died, his comparing Mary to Elijah doesn't require that Epiphanius believed she didn't die. Rather, he's repeating his earlier point that Mary's end could have been like the end of any of those three individuals.

Furthermore, his earlier statement about how nobody knows what happened at the end of Mary's life goes beyond merely whether she died. He also discusses other matters related to the end of her life, like whether she died as a martyr and whether she was buried. In an earlier passage, he writes of how in scripture we "neither find Mary's death, nor whether or not she died, nor whether or not she was buried", and he goes on to refer to how scripture is silent about the details of her living with John (ibid., 624). So, Epiphanius seems to be addressing the end of her life in general, not just whether she died. Thus, Epiphanius' statement that nobody knows what happened at the end of Mary's life seems to be a contradiction of Roman Catholicism's claim that Mary's assumption at the end of her life is an apostolic tradition always held by the church.

Historical Problems With The Assumption Of Mary

Gavin Ortlund just put out a video on the subject that makes a lot of good points. One of the things he brings up is that ancient sources often discussed assumptions and similar events among other figures (e.g., Enoch) without mentioning Mary in the process. He cites some material from Tertullian as an illustration. I've gathered many such examples over the years, and you can find discussions of them in the posts linked here, for example. The nature of the argument is such that it gains significantly more force when more sources are cited, so it's important to address a larger number of sources. We've also discussed some other evidence Gavin doesn't address much or at all in his video, like in the post here on Marian relics. You can find an archive of our posts on the Assumption of Mary here.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Is God more honored or dishonored in the world?

The question is a variation of the issue of whether there's more good than evil in life, and it's a good variation that doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. John Piper addressed it and made some good points in the process on a recent edition of "Ask Pastor John".