Fifth centenary of the Reformation: The main principles / Part III: Solus Christus

The third principle is SOLUS CHRISTUS. Christ is "the only mediator" between man and God, as Paul asserts, because "There is only one mediator between man and God, Jesus Christ" (I Timothy, 2, 5-6). And this mediation is undoubtedly linked to the dual nature, both human and divine, of Christ, "true man and true God". For this reason, the Protestants reject the idea that one can have recourse to another "mediation" or to another "intercession" than that of Christ, for example by way of Mary or the saints, even if they are not. they would only serve as intermediary between us and Jesus.

PTo justify this "exclusivity" of the mediation of Christ, it must be observed that the Epistle to the Hebrews does not mention any other possible celestial intercession than that of Christ: he alone, in fact, "Can perfectly save those who approach God through him, since he is always alive to intercede on their behalf" (Hebrews 7:25). It is certainly possible to intercede on earth for one another, and Christians, who together form one body, the Church, do not hesitate to pray for one another. This is called the "communion of saints", it being understood that all Christians who have received the Holy Spirit can consider themselves "saints": the Bible does not make a "distinction" between people who would be more or less "holy" (as Philippians 1: 1 shows), but rather it encourages each believer to progress in sanctification. Thus, the “communion of saints” does not designate, for Protestants, a mysterious “alliance” between the living here below and those who are in heaven (this is the Catholic meaning of the communion of saints, a meaning which presupposes intercessors. in heaven next to Jesus), but it only designates the communion of all the living on earth, who can intercede for one another in the name of Jesus, who himself intercedes in Heaven with the Father since he is seated to the right of the Father following his ascension.

It is true that Mary and those whom the Catholic Church calls "saints" are often models of faith, “examples” to follow, which should edify us, incite us to perseverance in the faith, and encourage us in our Christian life. No one will dispute that believers need “role models”. But going through their intercession, or even “worshiping” them (we speak of a “Marian worship” and a “worship of the saints”) can only go beyond the prohibition that Christ reminds Satan of Satan. of temptation in the desert:

"You will worship the Lord your God and to him alone you will worship"
Matthew 4, 10

The often subtle distinctions made by Catholics between the cult of "latrie", "dulia" and "hyperdulia", can then appear, in the eyes of the reformers, as a means, perhaps, of "bypassing" this word of the Christ, yet sufficiently clear by itself. It is also interesting to observe that, following the "miracles" performed by Paul and Barnabas in Lystra, Paul, seeing that the crowd was tempted to make sacrificial offerings to them as to gods, or even to worship them, exclaims:

"Unhappy, what are you doing here?" We are men just like you! Rather, turn to the God who created Heaven and Earth, the Sea and everything in it. "
Acts 14, 15

Reformers, it should be remembered, have certainly always had a deep admiration for the faith of Mary

Some Evangelical Protestants see in particular in "Marian worship" the disguise and resurgence, under a "Christian guise", of a worship in reality Babylonian, that of the "Queen of Heaven" (Astarte), of which the prophet Jeremiah believed that 'he attracts the wrath of God (Jeremiah 44). That the virgin mary has been proclaimed Theotokos (Mother of God) in Ephesus, where the great goddess Artemis was venerated, could support the thesis according to which Marian worship was born from contact with pagan religions, but it is only a matter of speculation, even if the cult of the black virgins is perhaps not unrelated to the cult of Isis, if we are to believe some historical sources. Reformers, it should be remembered, have certainly always had a deep admiration for the faith of Mary, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures of Sacred Scripture. In addition, the Fiat of Mary sets the supreme example of what Christian freedom is: a freedom that can only be conceived in a total consent at the will of God, and not in an emancipation with regard to the law of God, as is the case with the misguided freedom of the moderns, which is a pseudo or a false freedom.

But if Protestants believe in the virgin conception of Christ, most of them no longer believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary today.But if the Protestants believe in the virgin conception of Christ, most of them no longer believe today in the perpetual virginity of Mary (unlike the Fathers of the Reformation, who were still convinced of it), because of “ brothers of jesus », Of which Scripture speaks on numerous occasions - cf. Matthew 12, 45-50; 13, 55-56; Mark 6, 3; John 7, 4-5. This question is certainly difficult, because if the Greek term adelfos (literally: "from the same matrix") designates priority blood brothers, it can sometimes, exceptionally, be extended to close relatives. However, the verse of Matthew 1, 25 ("And Joseph did not know Mary to that she bore a son ”) and that of Luke 2: 7 (which speaks of Jesus as the "Firstborn son" of Mary) clearly tip the scales in the direction of perpetual non-virginity. It is true that another Mary (the wife of Clopas, close relative of Mary, mother of Jesus) also had, if we are to believe Matthew, 27, 56, two sons of the same name as two of those designated as being the “brothers” of Jesus (James and Joseph). This could give credence to the Catholic thesis according to which the brothers of Jesus are in fact “cousins”. However, there is a Greek term (anepsios) to designate “cousins”, a term used for example for the relationship between Mary and Elisabeth, her cousin. It is therefore regrettable, if the brothers of Jesus are only his "cousins", that the evangelists did not use it, except if the "brothers" of Jesus are in fact the sons of a first marriage of Joseph, who would have been widowed before marrying Mary, which is also an "explanation" which one sometimes finds in the Catholic Tradition, but which would imply that Jesus would not then have no relationship with his "brothers", since Joseph is not its designer. Still, the Protestants do not believe that Mary can intercede for us, and relying on the words of Christ himself (Luke 11, 27-28), who takes up the woman tempted to beatify excessively Mary to refocus this beatification on those who listen to the Word of God, they invite us to challenge ourselves with excessive Marian devotion. The "Solus Christus" means that the Only Begotten alone can be the object of a worship of worship, which is besides a new flagrant proof of his divinity, as we see it in Revelation 5, where the old men and the elders bow down to the lamb (figure of Christ) to worship him (Revelation, 5, 8-14).

Charles Eric of Saint Germain, teacher in preparatory classes, is author, among others, of An evangelical speaks to Catholics ”(FX. De Guibert, 2008),  Private lessons in Philosophy ”, I and II, (Ellipses), "The defeat of reason" (Salvator, 2015), “Philosophical-theological writings on Christianity” (Excelsis, 2016).

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