Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 4 of 13)
01/30/2009 - Tur8infanThis is part 4 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).
Jay Dyer says:
3) "[A consistent Calvinist must be] A Monothelite, in that in conversion, the divine will supplants the human will. And this would go for Christ's divine will as well."
a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)
In regeneration, man is given a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19) - which (together with the on-going work of the Spirit) leads to good things, like repentance and faith, coming forth from him (Luke 6:45). Christ affirmed a distinction between his human and divine will (Luke 22:42) - and, of course, Christ was resurrected, but was not regenerated. Sometimes conversion and regeneration are spoken of interchangeably, other times they are distinguished, but this nuance of theology (as important as it may be) is not particularly relevant, since it is in regeneration (properly speaking) that man's will is changed.
b) The Accusation Disputed
The error for which Monothelites were criticized was a denial of the human nature of Christ. While this may not have been justified (as with the criticism of Nestorius), it has become the primary defining characteristic of what is viewed as Monothelitism. Perhaps a more precise expression would be saying that in Monothelitism, Christ had only a divine will and no human will. Such a view is unacceptable in Calvinism, which teaches that Christ was both fully God and fully man. How this can be is hard to understand. Nevertheless, Scripture teaches it, and so we believe it. A view that denied Christ's true human will would compromise the active obedience of Christ, which is imputed to believers. The active obedience of Christ is his obedience, as a man, to the moral law. Arguably, Monothelitism also undermines the ill-named "passive" obedience of Christ in voluntarily suffering during life and dying on the cross, since it does not show the true submission Christ showed in consenting to die for us, his people, as taught in Scripture (John 10:18).
The fact that man's heart is changed in regeneration has nothing to do with Monothelitism. Man only has one will - and the number of wills of man is not really part of the Monothelite controversy. Furthermore, since Christ himself doesn't experience regeneration (since Christ's nature was not depraved by the fall, as he was not under Adam's federal headship), it's far fetched (to say the least) to imagine that there can be any regeneration-Christ-Monothelitism connection.
c) The Accusation Redirected
Of course, Catholicism doesn't deny that Christ had both a human and a divine will. Nevertheless, the superstitious error of transubstantiation could be said to deny the true humanity of Christ (which would be as serious an error). How so? The doctrine of transubstantiation claims that the bread and wine physically become the body and blood of Christ. However, a careful investigation of the bread and wine reveals them to be physically just bread and wine, unlike true human flesh and blood, which has identifiable biological characteristics. Aristotelian categories are brought into play (by, for example, Trent) to try to assert that the substance of the body and blood are there under the accidents of bread and wine. This explanation, however, makes little philosophical sense, and certainly makes no scientific sense. The physical sciences can confirm there is no physical change. God does certainly have the power to perform physical changes (just as the water was transformed to wine at Cana), but when those physical changes occur, the changed thing exhibits the physical qualities of what it has been changed into. To assert that the bread and wine are literally the physical body and blood of Christ are implicitly to deny that Christ's body and blood have human DNA, have human cells, or are in any way like our human bodies. Such an assertion amounts to an implicit denial of the true humanity of Christ.
This should be concern enough, but it gets worse. One of the bishops of Rome actually was condemned by an ecumenical council (The Sixth Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III) as a Monothelite. It's popular for modern Catholicism to try to dismiss Honorius' posthumous excommunication as being simply based on his private views, and not on his teachings in an official capacity.
Nevertheless, the Sixth Ecumenical Council declared:
But as the author of evil, who, in the beginning availed himself of the aid of the serpent, and by it brought the poison of death upon the human race, has desisted, but in like manner now, having found suitable instruments for working his will (we mean Theodoras who Bishop of Pharan, Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul and Peter, who were Archbishops of this royal city and moreover, Honorius who Pope of the elder Rome, Cyrus Bishop of Alexandria, Macarius who was lately of Antioch, and Stephen his disciple) has actively employed them in raising up for the whole Church the stumbling of one will and one operation in the natures of Christ our true God one of Holy Trinity; thus disseminating, in novel terms amongst the orthodox people, an heresy similar to the mad and wicked doctrine of the impious Apollinaris, Severus, and Themistius, and endeavouring craftily to destroy the perfection of the incarnation of the same our Lord Jesus Christ, our God, by blasphemously representing flesh endowed with a rational soul as devoid of will or operation.
How to deal with this contradiction between a pope and an ecumenical council has proved challenging for those in modern Catholicism. Schaff notes, that one "Roman Catholic Curialist writer" named Pennacchi affirmed that "Honorius's letters were strictly speaking Papal decrees, set forth auctoritate apostolica, and therefore irreformable, but he declares, contrary to the opinion of almost all theologians ... that they are orthodox, and that the Council erred in condemning them ... " (quotation is Schaff writing). The majority approach (as mentioned by Schaff, and probably still true today) to try to evade the force of the contradiction is to assert that Honorius' letters were errant but were not ex cathedra.
Nevertheless, the historical fact is that Honorius was condemned as an heretic and monothelite, as established by at least 13 points of evidence that Schaff provides, including the following: "The Papal Oath as found in the Liber Diurnus taken by each new Pope from the fifth to the eleventh century, in the form probably prescribed by Gregory II, "smites with eternal anathema the originators of the new heresy Sergius etc together with Honorius because he assisted the base assertion of the heretics." (footnote omitted)
Of course, this sort of thing (posthumous anathemas for heresy) are, or should be troubling, for those who wish to trust that their church is providing them with the truth and not an heretical error. Who can confidently say that John Paul II or Benedict XVI will not be found by a later ecumenical to be heretics on some point that today is widely accepted (note how many patriarchs and bishops from a wide geographic area were condemned by the Sixth Ecumenical Council)? Who is in a position to judge whether Benedict XVI is teaching you heresy or truth?
Scripture has the answer - it is not to follow a church that has been led by fallible and even heretical men. Instead, it instructs us to follow the example of the Bereans (Acts 17:11), search the Scriptures (John 5:39), test the spirits whether they are from God (1 John 4:1), go to the very thing that is given as profitable for doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16), that is alone described as being given by God's inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16), and which can make one wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15), so that you might be thoroughly furnished (2 Timothy 3:17). In short, the answer is that believers must turn to Scripture to judge whether the spirit of Rome today is the spirit of God, or whether it is one of the many false teachers that were prophesied (2 Peter 2:1).
Continue to Part 5
"We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #2
01/28/2009 - James SwanCatholic apologists often let us know how crucial it is to have an infallible magisterium and church Tradition in order to interpret the Bible correctly. With so many Catholic apologists now commenting on sacred scripture, I thought it would be interesting to provide their commentary on the Bible. Let's see how they've been able to rightly divide the word of truth. I'll post their interpretations as I come across them.
In this MP3 clip, Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin was asked if the offering of Issac by Abraham in Genesis 22 was in accord with "reason":
Jimmy Akin Interprets Genesis 22
Instead of consulting "Tradition," Akin first consults the philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard (so much for consulting the Church Fathers). Ironically, Kierkegaard wasn't a Roman Catholic, but was raised a Lutheran. Akin explains Kierkegaard's interpretation of the offering of Isaac as "If God says Abraham should offer Isaac on the alter, then it's morally legitimate for Abraham to do that." In case this interpretation isn't satisfactory, Akin provides another: "He [God] is also showing Abraham and his descendants that you shouldn't commit child sacrifice because God stops him [Abraham] from actually slaying his son.... There could be an object lesson here that child sacrifice is ultimately not what God wants."
The most interesting aspect of Akin's answer on this passage is his lack of mentioning Christ, as well as the ram caught in the thicket. Rather than locating my old copy of Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, notice how others in church history like Augustine have interpreted the passage:
"And on this account Isaac also himself carried to the place of sacrifice the wood on which he was to be offered up, just as the Lord Himself carried His own cross. Finally, since Isaac was not to be slain, after his father was forbidden to smite him, who was that ram by the offering of which that sacrifice was completed with typical blood? For when Abraham saw him, he was caught by the horns in a thicket. What, then, did he represent but Jesus, who, before He was offered up, was crowned with thorns by the Jews?" [source]
"But let us rather hear the divine words spoken through the angel. For the Scripture says, "And Abraham stretched forth his hand to take the knife, that he might slay his son. And the Angel of the Lord called unto him from heaven, and said, Abraham. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, and hast not spared thy beloved son for my sake." It is said, "Now I know," that is, Now I have made to be known; for God was not previously ignorant of this. Then, having offered up that ram instead of Isaac his son, "Abraham," as we read, "called the name of that place The Lord seeth: as they say this day, In the mount the Lord hath appeared." As it is said, "Now I know," for Now I have made to be known, so here, "The Lord sees," for The Lord hath appeared, that is, made Himself to be seen. "And the Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham from heaven the second time, saying, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord; because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy beloved son for my sake; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess by inheritance the cities of the adversaries: and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice." In this manner is that promise concerning the calling of the nations in the seed of Abraham confirmed even by the oath of God, after that burnt-offering which typified Christ. For He had often promised, but never sworn. And what is the oath of God, the true and faithful, but a confirmation of the promise, and a certain reproof to the unbelieving?"[source]
Was the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham in accord with "reason"? Akin is right, there is an object lesson here. If one keeps in mind the entire Bible has Christ as it's central focus, one has found the "reason" for Genesis 22.
Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 3 of 13)
01/27/2009 - Tur8infanThis is part 3 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).
Jay Dyer says:
2) "[A consistent Calvinist must be] Manichaean, in that nature is inherently evil."
(Note, "Manichaean" and "Manichean" are both widely used spellings for this position.)
a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)
Men are, by nature, children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Nevertheless, God originally created man good (Genesis 1:26-31) although fallible (Genesis 2:16-17). By Adam's fall, he and all those whom he represented died and came under bondage to sin (Romans 5:12). In regeneration, the old becomes new (Colosians 3:10 and Ephesians 4:24) as a result of the work of Christ (Ephesians 2:15). Thus, Christ is called the new Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). God has foreordained all things that come to pass (Acts 17:26), and has a purpose even in the evil acts of men (e.g. Genesis 50:20). Thus, as Proverbs 16:4 states, "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil," and as it is written in the Epistle to the Romans, "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." (Romans 9:18)
b) The Accusation Disputed
The error of the Manicheans may be succinctly described as asserting that the physical world is intrinsicly evil, having been created by an evil opposite of God. Thus, the Manicheans deny that evil has a purpose in God's plan, view the body as contemptible, and deny God's omnipotence. Calvinism, however, teaches that God has a purpose even in the evil that happens, that the bodies of believers will be redeemed, and that God is omnipotent, even to the point of affirming that nothing can happen apart from the permission of God. Thus, no consistent Calvinist could be a Manichean.
c) The Accusation Redirected
On the other hand, Manichean errors - particularly the dualism of viewing the body as intrinsically evil - have had a perceptible impact on the theology of Roman Catholicism. Thus, for example, we seen in modern Roman Catholicism things like a view that abstinence from sexual relations is more holy than normal marital relations and an exaltation of asceticism.
Furthermore, Catholicism does not have a clear answer to the question of the purpose of evil. That is to say, Catholicism cannot consistently account for the existence of evil in the Creation. This can be seen from the widespread denial of predestination in Catholicism. To be sure, there are some Thomistic folks within Catholicism who would have a similar view to Calvinists (which in itself should cause Mr. Dyer to pause), but the Roman magisterium has not clearly sided with either Thomists or the Molinists (in fact, folks like Jimmy Akin (a popular lay apologist for Catholicism) claim that the Roman magisterium has adopted the essentially relativistic position that Thomism, Molinism, and at least one other view are all acceptable, and none can call the others heretics (source)). Nevertheless, Molinism or a form/variant of it, is the most widely promoted view in Catholicism today. This position ultimately denies God's omnipotence, by asserting that man's "free-will" decisions are something that God cannot control.
Continue to Part 4
Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 2 of 13)
01/25/2009 - Tur8infanThis is part 2 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).
Jay Dyer says:
1) "[A consistent Calvinist must be] Nestorian, in that the Logos cannot assume a fallen human nature."
a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)
Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3). Christ, however, (and only Christ) was immaculately conceived. He was like the sinful flesh of Mary from whom he (after the flesh) came, but his flesh was not itself sinful. He was a true human, but he was the second Adam. He was not under Adam's federal headship and he did not inherit Adam's fallen and depraved nature. This is, of course, not only the Calvinist position but also the position of at least most of the major early church fathers who addressed the subject.
b) The Accusation Disputed
The Nestorian error is (to put it concisely) to deny the hypostatic union. Nestorianism, as it is classically defined, argues that Christ was not one person with two natures, but two persons. The existence of the hypostatic union is critical to the Calvinistic view of the atonement. The fact that the person of Christ was of infinite dignity on account of His divine nature makes the atonement of infinite intrinsic worth. The fact that the person of Christ had a truly human nature made the atoning death of Christ possible, as well as making the form of the sacrifice (death of man) a proper suffering of the penalty due. Without one or the other, the atonement would be impossible. Consequently, it would be impossible for a consistent Calvinist to embrace Nestorianism.
Furthermore, this alleged Nestorian error has been disputed. As A.A. Hodge explains in his Outlines of Theology:
The Nestorian heresy charged upon Nestorius, a Syrian by birth, and bishop of Constantinople, during the fifth century, by his enemy, Cyril, the arrogant bishop of Alexandria. Cyril obtained a judgment against Nestorius in the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431, to the effect that he separated the two natures of Christ so far as to teach the coexistence in him of two distinct persons, a God and a man, intimately united. But it is now, however, judged most probable by Protestant historians that Nestorius was personally a brave defender of the true faith, and that the misrepresentations of his enemies were founded only upon his uncompromising opposition to the dangerous habit then prominently introduced of calling the Virgin Mary the mother of God because she was the mother of the human nature of Christ.
c) The Accusation Redirected
The Nestorians (those associated with the historical Nestorius) never went away, and (ironically) Rome now accepts the Nestorian communion under certain qualified circumstances (link), which (as the linked document cautions) should not be confused with the idea there is full communion between them.
On the other hand, Rome has proven Nestorius' apparent concerns over the term "theotokos" (literally "God-bearer" but often translated "mother of God") to be well founded. In the years since "theotokos" became accepted terminology, Mary grew to have an increasing role in the worship of Rome, until today we have apologists for Catholicism insisting that devotion to Mary is a mandatory part of religious life. Now, an official document from the Vatican from the 1970's states: "With his mind raised to heaven ... the priest should very often turn to Mary, the Mother of God, ... and daily ask her for the grace of conforming himself to her Son." (source) If Nestorius were still around today, he'd feel vindicated in opposing the term "theotokos" on the ground that it can lead to what amounts to Mary-worship (though modern Catholicism is careful not to call this sort of veneration of Mary "worship").
Continue to Part 3
Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 1 of 13)
01/23/2009 - Tur8infanI had never heard of Jay Dyer before, but he is a non-Calvinist, ex-Protestant. He has eleven claims (source) with respect to what a consistent Calvinist must be.
At first, I thought I'd give a quick answer to each and make this a single blog post. However, the more I looked at the issues, the more I realized that there are, for most of the criticisms, three issues to be addressed: (1) What is the actual error (or conversely, doctrine) at stake? (2) How does or doesn't Calvinism correspond to the error (or doctrine)? and (3) Does this criticism fit Catholicism better? (Jay is apparently now a part of that religion, having turned away, practically at the last minute, from joining Eastern Orthodoxy last June, if my understanding is correct.) I'll address each in order, in separate (hopefully brief) posts, in the upcoming days.
Obviously, Jay's post is largely simply meant to mock and poke fun at Calvinism, rather than being a serious critique. Nevertheless, it provides an interesting platform for discussing the issues. The plan is to make this a thirteen part series in which I will consider each of his points in a separate post and then wrap up with some concluding thoughts.
To the glory of God,
Continue to Part 2
Patrick Madrid's Strongest Weapon Against Sin
01/16/2009 - James SwanThis MP3 clip is from a broadcast of Catholic Answers live last month. Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid answered a caller concerned about her mortal sin. After explaining how the Catholic Church instructs such a person to go through confession, absolution, and penance, Madrid says to pray the Rosary because it is the "strongest weapon outside the sacraments that we have to combat mortal sin." The Rosary is not just a repetitious prayer in the Catholic veneration of Mary, but the strongest weapon to keep one from mortal sin.
In his book, Where Is That In The Bible?, Madrid mentions the repetitious Rosary helps Catholics "meditate on key episodes of the Gospel narrative, as well as mysteries of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary" (p. 136). This prayer asks "Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, to intercede on our behalf and use her prayers as a weapon of grace against the evil one, the Red Dragon spoken of in Revelation 12... when we pray the Rosary, we go well-armed into battle against the adversary, who is 'prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour'" (p.137).
True, all Christians are engaged in a real battle against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Yet God has not left us to fend against the ravages of sin on our own. But before we consider Madrid's "strongest weapon," why not look into the Scriptures? Over the years I've heard many sermons on "putting on the full armor of God" as expounded by Paul in Ephesians 6. Paul exhorts us to "put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." He mentions the "belt of truth," "the breastplate of righteousness," "the shield of faith," and "the helmet of salvation." He says to pray in the Spirit on all occasions. In Ephesians Paul doesn't tell Christians to meditate on the "mysteries of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary." Rather, he asks the Ephesians to pray for him as he proclaims the mystery of the gospel (Eph. 6:19). In fact, the entire epistle to the Ephesians is soaked in devotion to Christ. Christians are instructed to be "imitators of God," while Mary, Madrid's strongest weapon, is conspicuously absent.
Paul doesn't mention the Rosary as a means of fighting sin and standing strong in the faith. One would think if the Rosary is the "strongest weapon outside the sacraments that we have to combat mortal sin" he would've mentioned it. Perhaps Paul mentioned it elsewhere to the Ephesians, but didn't write it down? Perhaps this is an unwritten Tradition? Perhaps it's been defined as such by an infallible authority? Perhaps Madrid is engaging in private judgment as to his positive disposition towards the Rosary? The answers to these questions probably won't be forthcoming any time soon.
The 33,000 Protestant Denominations Lie
01/08/2009 - James White
"We Have Apostolic Tradition"- The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #1
01/06/2009 - James SwanCatholic apologists often let us know how crucial it is to have an infallible magisterium help one interpret the Bible correctly. With so many Catholic apologists now commenting on sacred scripture, I thought it would be interesting to provide their commentary on the Bible. Let's see how they've been able to rightly divide the word of truth . I'll post their interpretations as I come across them.
In this first installment, Catholic apologist Tim Staples explains Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned."
Listen to Tim's interpretation of Romans 5:12, here.
The Catholic Myth of 33,000 Protestant Denominations is Alive and Well
01/05/2009 - James SwanOn the last 2008 broadcast of Catholic Answers live, Tim Staples continued perpetuating the myth that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations (this MP3 can be heard here). Some time back Dr. White gave a thorough examination of this claim, as has Eric Svendsen. If you interact with those espousing Catholic apologetics, I suggest reviewing these links and keeping them handy. They clearly show a misuse by Catholic apologists of a source and statistics. That this popular falsehood made it to the last 2008 broadcast by one of Rome's "top apologists" (as CA Live states) doesn't give me much hope for their 2009 endeavours.
Such corrective information has been available for years. This clearly demonstrates that either certain Catholic apologists don't pay attention to responses to their claims, or zeal for their religion inhibits them from citing sources correctly. Around two years ago, Dr White asked,
"I would like to call upon Steve Ray, Tim Staples, and all other Roman Catholic apologists who have taught, by spoken word or in written form, that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations, to openly and publicly retract their errant assertion, apologize, and explain how it is that they could actually provide a citation to a source that, upon examination, actually refutes their application in its entirety. Did they just not understand what they were reading? Did they actually even look at the source? Were they just offering the citation as taken from someone else? What is the explanation? Inquiring minds want to know" [source].
I don't know if Rome's apologists have made any New Year's resolutions, but perhaps one of them can step forth from the pack and add to their list an explanation as to why the 33,000 Protestant denominations myth still lives. I realize it may seem like a great emotional argument to confound Protestants with, but it isn't true. An actual reading of the source in question shows Rome likewise has "denominations." As has been stated often on this blog, if the argument used when applied to one's own position similarly works, then it is not a valid argument.
Patrick Madrid Interprets Revelation 12
01/01/2009 - James Swan
Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. (Revelation 12:1-2)
When asked where the Bible teaches Mary was assumed into heaven, Catholic apologists typically use Revelation 12 as a primary proof-text. Sometimes though, what may seem like a helpful solution does more harm to one's cause than good. Consider this secondary issue- if Mary is literally whom the apostle John is referring to, then it follows that when she was with child, "she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth." Think back to what God said to Eve in Genesis 3:16 as the result of her fall into sin, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children." So if Revelation 12 proves Mary was assumed into heaven, it also refutes the dogma of the immaculate conception. Mary was subject to the curse of sin explicit in Genesis 3, and Revelation 12 corroborates this.
Recently on Catholic Answers live, Patrick Madrid addressed this very issue (I have included the brief MP3 clip here). Madrid states:
"Pain in childbirth was one of the maledictions God pronounced in Genesis chapter three, but so is death. Keep in mind, that Jesus himself, who is perfect in every respect- he suffered death. So I don't think we can be quick to say that because Mary was immaculately conceived and sinless that therefore God did not permit her to suffer in the ways that are foretold in Genesis chapter three."
This is a striking example of private interpretation. Rome's apologists may claim to be part of a monolithic church in which all her devoted apologists are on the same page, but when one surveys their writings it becomes quite obvious such is not the case. Catholics are free to follow Madrid, or not, and I would posit even some of Madrid's closest allies would not follow. For instance, Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin interprets the woman of Revelation 12 quite differently. For Akin, The woman is not only Mary, but also Israel, the Church, and Eve. This gives him the freedom to affirm and deny almost any interpretation of the text:
Because the Woman is a four-way symbol, different aspects of the narrative apply to different referents. Like Mary, she is pictured as being in heaven and she flies (mirroring Mary's Assumption). Like the Church, she is persecuted by the Devil after the Ascension of Christ. Like Israel, she experiences great trauma as the Messiah is brought forth (figuratively) from the nation. And like Eve, it is her (distant) seed with which the serpent has his primary conflict.
Conversely, portions of the narrative do not apply to each referent. Mary did not experience literal pain when bringing forth the Messiah, but she suffered figuratively (the prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart at the Crucifixion). Eve did not ascend to heaven. And the Church did not bring forth the Messiah (rather, the Messiah brought forth his Church).
So for Akin, the text means whatever it needs to mean. If it needs to mean Mary's assumption, it does. If it needs not to mean a denial of the immaculate conception, it does. If "the woman" needs to mean "the church" in order to harmonize with the view of the early church, it does.
In a logical Catholic worldview, Akin and Madrid can't both be right. One of them is wrong. This is the same worldview that chastises Protestants for private interpretation, and holds the door open for Protestants to embrace the alleged theological certainty Rome offers. Rome's apologists are certain of Mary's immaculate conception and assumption, but they are so only because Rome has told them so, not because the Bible teaches it. Their interpretation of Revelation 12 serves as an example of what happens when one takes non-biblical dogmas and forces them into the Bible.
Madrid and Akin are only two of a number of differing Catholic interpreters of Revelation 12. To read a concise overview, I highly recommend Eric Svendsen's overview in his book, Who Is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism (New York: Calvary Press, 2001) pp. 209-233. Svendsen works through the major views present in church history, and it appears neither Madrid's novel view or Akin's all-inclusive view find a champion in the early church. Rome's apologists are therefore forging new roads of interpretation. Neither though can show where the immaculate conception or the bodily assumption are deposited in apostolic, enscripturated revelation. The best they can do is privately interpret passages they think may allude to these gnostic tenets. One must seriously consider whether Madrid's interpretation of Revelation 12 falls under the curse of Revelation 22:18.
Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67): For there have risen many who have given to the plain words of Holy Writ some arbitrary interpretation of their own, instead of its true and only sense, and this in defiance of the clear meaning of words. Heresy lies in the sense assigned, not in the word written; the guilt is that of the expositor, not of the text. Is not truth indestructible? (NPNF2: Vol. IX, On the Trinity, Book II, §3)