I listen quite often to snippets of Relevant Radio while I drive about Chicago. Relevant Radio is the conservative Roman Catholic network for those who do not recognize the name. (I often go from talk radio, to Moody Broadcast Network, to Relevant Radio and back again in ten minutes of drive time!). I am frequently encouraged by things I hear on Relevant Radio that are clearly mainstream Christian, thus catholic and apostolic. I am also amazed at some of the Scripture twisting I hear from earnest and sincere Catholic apologists. These guys seem to "shadow box" stereotypical evangelical ideas with glee. Like fundamentalists, these folks often go to unusual extremes to "prove" a point of controversial, non-mainstream, non-apostolic theology. Such was the case on Monday, June 20. Here is the text that was cited:
Then the man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east, and it was shut. The Lord said to me, "This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it" (Ezekiel 44:1-2).
To my utter amazement, this text from Ezekiel was used to argue for the perpetual virginity of Mary. The host was responding to a caller who cited the text to him. Upon hearing it he chose to affirm this odd idea with great excitement. No wonder some of my thoughtful Catholic friends cringe when they hear this kind of argument by conservative apologists. They realize that this is the very kind of "proof-texting" that they accuse Protestants of making at various times when they argue in the ways they do.
The doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity can be argued on certain historical and theological grounds but this is surely not a good way to defend it. Even the magisterial reformers John Calvin and Martin Luther retained the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity, to the surprise of some evangelicals. What boggles the mind, in this particular instance, is the type of populist argument employed. I am always amazed that arguments like this can be seriously made in such a public forum.
I quickly switched my radio channel back to the Moody Network station (WMBI), where I heard a passionate plea for prayer by Ron Hutchcraft, who was urging the evangelization of American Indian tribal youth based upon a unique "open door" that he sees right now. I am grateful for Roman Catholic calls to Christian mystery and culture but I remain enthusiastically evangelical when I compare these two appeals with the New Testament.
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I am not Catholic but the argument from Ezekiel wasn’t invented by contemporary pop apologists. You can find the argument in various fathers not to mention some Protestant Reformers.
As to plausibility, well not a few NT citations of the OT give a “spiritual” interpretation that would strike readers of the OT as equally implausible.
One needs to keep in mind that privileging the literal historical character of a text wasn’t the primary interest of either most of the biblical writers or the Fathers.