Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Catholic Verses: Luke 1:28 (Part III)
01/02/2005 - James WhiteFirst, Armstrong misunderstands why Svendsen cites Eph. 1:6 and its relevance, for he writes, "Svendsen thinks this defeats the Catholic exegesis at Luke 1:28, but the variant of charitoo (grace) here is different (echaritosen)." First, this is a verb, not a noun; hence, it is not "grace" but "to grace." Secondly, this is not a "variant" it is a grammatical form. Thirdly, if the difference in form is relevant (perfect passive vocative participle vs. aorist tense verb) Armstrong needs to explain why (he doesn't). Continuing in his confusion, Armstrong thinks that Vincent's Word Studies intends to provide a contrast that supports his view, for he writes, "Vincent indicates different meanings for the word grace in Luke 1:28 and Ephesians 1:6. He holds to 'endued with grace' as the meaning in Luke 1:28, so he expressly contrasts the meaning with that passage." As to Vincent, it is not a specific lexical resource (in contrast with BDAG), first of all, it is a running commentary. Secondly, the term is not "grace" it is "to grace." Third, Vincent is referring to how to translate the term in the differing contexts, he is not commenting on the issue before us. Vincent writes regarding Luke 1:28:
28. Thou that art highly favored (kecaritwme,nh) Lit., as Rev. in margin, endued with grace. Only here and Eph. 1:6. The rendering full of grace, Vulgate, Wyc., and Tynd., is therefore wrong.
But in reference to Ephesians 1:6 he writes,
The meaning is not endued us with grace, nor made us worthy of love, but, as Rev., grace - which he freely bestowed. Grace is an act of God, not a state into which He brings us.
Ironically, not only is Vincent not even addressing the question of the meaning of the verb in contrast to claims by Rome, but what is more, his comments are directly contradictory to Armstrong's own attempt to put Mary into just such a "state of grace" (p. 183). So, we find that Vincent is not, in fact, relevant to Svendsen's point, nor is the passing reference to Robertson, who is likewise not addressing the claims of Rome regarding kecaritwme,nh at Luke 1:28.
But Armstrong is not finished. He writes,
As for the grace bestowed here on all believers being parallel to the fullness of grace bestowed on the Blessed Virgin Mary, this simply cannot logically be the case, once proper exegesis is undertaken. Apart from the different meanings of the specific word used, as shown, grace is possessed in different measure by different believers, as seen elsewhere in Scripture:
Before we look at the texts offered, please note that 1) Armstrong claims to be practicing "proper exegesis" (he can't complain when I hold him to his own words); 2) he claims he has established different meanings of the specific word, when in fact he can't seem to differentiate between the noun and the verb, understand the grammatical forms and contexts, nor follow even basic, non-lexical sources like Vincent.
And so do we find his cited passages relevant? Not at all. He cites two, 2 Peter 3:18, which refers to growth in grace and knowledge, and Ephesians 4:7, which includes the phrase, "But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift." Neither use the verbal form carito,w and neither is related in context to Eph. 1:6 or Luke 1:28. Instead, Armstrong takes his theological tradition regarding grace and, without attempting to found his action in the text itself, assumes the terms can be used interchangeably, so that the action of gracing believers in Christ Jesus in Eph. 1:6 "must" be different than the "fullness of grace" allegedly given to Mary (not even getting into that argument as yet). In the analogy he then presents, errors and unwarranted leaps abound. Rather than seeing the verb in Eph. 1:6 as taking place "in the Beloved One," i.e., in Christ (union with Christ being the constant delimiter in the prologue of Ephesians, and that in eternity) Armstrong likens it an athletic talent: "to the praise of his glorious gift of athletic ability and talents which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." As if this is at all parallel to the meaning or function of carito,w at Eph. 1:6! And, we are triumphantly informed, since it is obvious everyone's talents at playing ball differs, then "Svendsen's argument that Ephesians 1:6 is a direct parallel to Luke 1:28 collapses"! This kind of utterly amazing mishandling of Scripture is sad to observe, let alone to realize it has appeared in publication. But to see how easily refuted it is should cause one to wonder at the power of tradition: Armstrong is simply wrong to think that the action of gracing the elect in Christ Jesus in eternity has anything whatsoever to do with sports abilities or degrees of grace or sanctity. And since he doesn't even seem to understand what would be necessary for him to establish such a claim, it is hard to do anything more than just point out the error and move on. Using the same kind of in-depth scholarship, DA then informs us (again without providing any meaningful basis in his presentation) that kecaritwme,nh "biblically, means the one so addressed is particularly examplified by the characteristics of the title." Really? Who says? How about some meaningful foundation for this claim? None is offered. Zero. But when it comes to Mary, Roman Catholic writers do not seem to need to have their feet on the ground, for Armstrong continues, "Mary was "full of grace"'; kecharitomene here takes on the significance of a noun." Really? Who says? Once again we are left with DA's ipse dixit, nothing more. "No attempt to downplay or diminish the significance of this will succeed. The meaning is all too clear." And evidently, no attempt to get Armstrong to reason coherently from sound exegesis or to utilize scholarly sources properly will succeed, either, for his tradition is all too clear. [Continued]