Westcott-Hort rebuttals regarding: Mariolatry Quotes


Frequently Assaulted Quotes Mary


I am very far from pretending to understand completely the ever renewed vitality of Mariolatry. …I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and Jesus-worship’ have very much in common in their causes and their results.

Rebuttal of Quote #1 Here:

Life and Letters of Hort, Vol. II, pp 49-50

After leaving the monastery, we shaped our course to a little oratory which we discovered on the summit of a neighbouring hill. . . . Fortunately we found the door open. It is very small, with one kneeling place; and behind a screen was a ‘Pieta’ the size of life [i.e. a Virgin and dead Christ]. . . . Had I been alone I could have knelt there for hours.

Rebuttal of Quote #2 Here:

Life and Letters of Westcott, Vol. I, pg. 81

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Rebuttal of Quote #1::


Quote: “I am very far from pretending to understand completely the ever renewed vitality of Mariolatry… I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and Jesus-worship’ have very much in common in their causes and their results.” (Life and Letters of Hort, Vol. II, pp 49-50).

Rebuttal: This one is very common.

I think Seventh-Day Adventist pastor Benjamin Wilkinson first dug out this misquote for his 1930 book “Our Authorized Bible Vindicated” (which has been plagiarized and repeated by KJV-onlyists ever since).

Although the two parts of the quote are in the same section of Hort’s book (Life and Letters of Hort, Vol II, pp 49-50), they are from two different letters.

The first part of the quote is a phrase from a letter to Westcott on Oct 11, the second from a letter to Westcott on Oct 17.


The complete paragraph from the first is:1)quote bolded, underline added


I am very far from pretending to understand completely the ever renewed vitality of Mariolatry. But is it not much accounted for, on the evil side, by the natural reverence of the religious instinct to idolatry and creature worship and aversion to the Most High; and, on the good side, by a right reaction from the inhuman and semi-diabolical character with which God is invested in all modern orthodoxies-Zeus and Prometheus over again?

In Protestant countries the fearful notion, ‘Christ the believer’s God’ is the result.

In Romish countries the Virgin is a nearer and more attractive object, not rejected by the dominant creed; and the Divine Son retires into a distant cloud world with the Father, the whole speculative tendencies of Latin theology (and much of the later Greek from Ephesus on wards) aiding in the result, being in fact Apollinarian in spirit.

Another idea has lately occurred to me: is not Mariolatry displacing much worship of scattered saints, and so becoming a tendency towards unity of worship?

This is all very crudely expressed ; but I think it is substantially true, though probably by no means the whole truth.”


Note what Hort said in that paragraph:


He is not expressing that he approves of Mariolatry, but rather his lack of understanding on why it has “ever renewed vitality”, why it continues to thrive.

He repeatedly used the term “Mariolatry” (which is a combination of “Mary” and “idolatry”) – a term which no one who worships Mary would ever use of themselves – it is only used by people greatly opposed to the Roman Catholic veneration of Mary, and is offensive to Catholics.

Likewise, the term “Romish” which is practically a slur – Hort differentiated between “Romish” countries that worship Mary and “Protestant” countries worshiping only Christ as God.

He also called the worship of Mary “idolatry and creature worship and aversion to the Most High”.

Pretty strong words.


The full paragraph of the second part of the original quote is:2)quote in bold, important context underlined


“I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and ‘Jesus’-worship have very much in common in their causes and their results.

Perhaps the whole question may be said to be involved in the true idea of mediation, which is almost universally corrupted in one or both of two opposite directions.

On the one hand we speak and think as if there were no real bringing near, such as the N.T. tells of, but only an interposition between two permanently distant objects.

On the other we condemn all secondary human mediators as injurious to the One, and shut our eyes to the indestructible fact of existing human mediation which is to be found everywhere.

But this last error can hardly be expelled till Protestants unlearn the crazy horror of the idea of Priesthood.”


The context makes it clear what Hort is talking about – the idea of mediation. In that sense, Mary-worship and Jesus-worship DO have much in common – they both involve worship of a mediator, they both stem from the idea that a mediator is required. One is good and correct, and one is sinful and wrong, but they still have some things in common.

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Rebuttal of Quote #2:


Quote: “After leaving the monastery, we shaped our course to a little oratory which we discovered on the summit of a neighbouring hill. . . .

Fortunately we found the door open. It is very small, with one kneeling place; and behind a screen was a ‘Pieta’ the size of life [i.e. a Virgin and dead Christ]. . . . Had I been alone I could have knelt there for hours.” (Life and Letters of Westcott, Vol. I, pg. 81)

Rebuttal: The quote originally was dug out of Westcott’s writings by Seventh-Day Adventist pastor and KJV-only granddaddy Benjamin Wilkinson, in his 1930 book “Our Authorized Bible Vindicated”, which was later reused by KJV-only authors J.J. Ray in “God Wrote Only One Bible” in 1955 and David Otis Fuller in “Which Bible?” in 1970.

Since then, the quote has become well-used, appearing in many KJV-only publications and websites, in an attempt to show that Westcott was Catholic and/or worshipped Mary, etc.

The quote comes from a letter Wescott wrote to his fiancee in 1847, when he was 22 years old and sight-seeing in the town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in England.


The entire letter is reproduced below, with the quote in bold and important context underlined:


ASHBY-DE-LA-ZOUCH,
2nd Sunday after Epiphany, 1847.

My dearest Mary—As I fancy that we shall go out to-morrow, I will begin my note now without a longer preface.

Yesterday we had a splendid walk to the monastery,3)Carmelite settlement at Grâce Dieu. going the same road as you went in summer; but now all the trees and hedges are covered with a delicate white frost, and the craggy rocks seemed gigantic in the mist, and all the country looked more lovely and wild and un-English than I have ever before seen it.

We went into the chapel; but I cannot say that I was so much pleased with it as before, and the reason was that I did not hear the solemn chant of those unearthly voices which seem clearly to speak of watchings and fastings, and habits of endurance and self-control which would be invaluable if society could reap their fruits; as it was, the excessive finery and meanness of the ornaments seemed ill to suit the spiritual worship which we are told should mark the true church.

After this we went round the cloisters and into the Refectory, but I felt less than ever to admire their selfish life.

‘bold’ After leaving the monastery we shaped our course to a little oratory which we discovered on the summit of a neighbouring hill, and by a little scrambling we reached it.

Fortunately we found the door open.

It is very small, with one kneeling-place; and behind a screen was a “Pieta” the size of life (i.e. a Virgin and dead Christ).

The sculpture was painted, and such a group in such a place and at such a time was deeply impressive.

I could not help thinking on the fallen grandeur of the Romish Church, on her zeal even in error, on her earnestness and self-devotion, which we might, with nobler views and a purer end, strive to imitate.

Had I been alone I could have knelt there for hours.

On leaving, we followed a path across beautiful rocks fringed by firs loaded with hoar-frost, and, passing by many a little deepening glen, came to the road, above which stood a large crucifix.

I wish it had been a cross.

I wish earnestly we had not suffered superstition to have brought that infamy on the emblem of our religion which persecution never could affix to it.

But I am afraid the wish is vain.

I thought I had spoken to you of the fearful distress in Ireland (and in parts of Scotland too).

I am sure you will feel as I do. I have very little money to spare, but if there is any collection I wish you would give five shillings for me, and I will pay you when I return; and let us not only think of the temporal wants of our unfortunate sister isle, but also of its spiritual degradation, which is, I am sure, closely connected with its present miseries. . . .


Rebuttal con’t: You can see from the important context throughout the letter, including context that was skipped over and replaced with the second ellipsis, that Westcott had harsh words for Catholicism.

In just this short letter, he expressed that he viewed the life of a monk as “selfish”, and that he believed the “Romish Church” (a derogatory term a Catholic would not use) to be “in error”.

He even called the crucifix “superstition” and “infamy” when compared to a plain cross.

Lastly, he refers briefly to the “distress in Ireland”, which is undoubtedly the severe famine that started in 1845 and lasted until 1851, resulting in the death of approximately 20% of the population.

Westcott expresses that he feels this distress is “closely connected” with “its spiritual degradation” – the Irish at that time in strong opposition to the British State Church (Anglican) and growing in Catholicism, Catholics outnumbering Protestants approximately seven to one by 1861.

Sources: http://www.westcotthort.com/quotes_mary.html

References   [ + ]

1. quote bolded, underline added
2. quote in bold, important context underlined
3. Carmelite settlement at Grâce Dieu.

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