Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Theotokos; Mary, Mother of God?

Perhaps it is the fact that I recently heard a discussion (really an argument) on Catholic Radio between a Roman Catholic and a (fundamentalist sounding) Protestant. Maybe, it is due to the recent Lectionary passages focusing on Mary. I don't know, but the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been on my mind a bit lately.

It is unfortunate that so many Protestant Christians seem to be quite fearful of Mary (if not of her, at least of spending much time talking about her). As I have recently said in a sermon, Mary is a fantastic example for us of holiness of heart and life. She certainly is (or ought to be) a role model for Christians.

Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly the Protestant prejudice over against our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers (yes, our sisters and brothers in Christ), along with their seemingly inordinate attention to Mary, not to mention the popular notions of Mary-worship, that has left many protestants reluctant to spend much time talking about the mother of our Lord.

There are, of course, some real doctrinal issues concerning Mary, on which Protestant and Roman Catholic Christians do, indeed, differ significantly. Those issues only add to the Protestant "fear" of Mary.

However, it would likely come as a real shock to most contemporary Wesleyans to discover that the perpetual virginity of Mary was NOT one of those doctrinal differences for our spiritual forefather. The fact is John Wesley affirmed the perpetual virginity of Mary. (Check out his Letter to a Roman Catholic.) Still, that issue is not the particular focus of this article.

Rather, the focus of this article is the use of the term Theotokos. Ought Mary be referred to as the "Mother of God?" - Admittedly, I've not done much research, and in many ways, most of this is off the top of my head, but here it goes . . .

Rome and Constantinople, of course, affirm this terminology for Mary. Protestantism, almost universally, denies it. The question is, why? You see, the doctrines surrounding the natures and divinity of Christ as expressed in the Chalcedonian statement are accepted as orthodox among Protestants, as well as Roman Catholics and Orthodoxy. Nevertheless, Protestants have uniformly rejected the use of the term as being objectionable an misleading (cf. Christian Theology, Vol. II, p. 167. Wiley, H. Orton. Beacon Hill. 1952).

Of course, at least one of the objections has to do with the implications that Mary is somehow the mother of God in eternity. God, of course, has always been. God is not created. Mary has not always been. Mary was created. Thus, Mary ought not be call "Mother of God."

Another objection is that "Mother of God" talk could easily lead to Mary-worship, as, indeed, it has done among many Roman Catholics. (The question of whether such is truly the teachings of Rome is moot, in this regard. The reality of popular practice cannot be denied.)

A further objection is that such a title has brought about the lifting of Mary to doctrinal heights which are not found in Scripture.

Again, since I have not spent much time in any real research, I could be missing the truly significant objections. I would be happy for others to fill in the blanks!

Protestants have affirmed that Mary is the Mother of our Lord, but have objected to calling her Mother of God. However, when one looks at the term, itself, not the abuses nor the unnecessary, objectionable implications, I find little reason to object to the term, itself.

First, the title is not a new invention. It was widespread in the ancient Church, long before the Protestant Reformation. Second, even Rome defines the term in such a way as to fit the Chalcedonian statement. They make clear that the intent of the term is to affirm the full divinity of Jesus. The rest of the objectionable implications of the term, itself, they deny.

Third, the concept, though not the term, is found, even in popular Protestantism. An example of this is the popular Christmas song, Mary, Did You Know?. In that song, the question is asked, "Mary, did you know . . . when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God?" - Any Roman Catholic or Orthodox Christian who understands the concept would quickly declare that the song is expressing exactly what is affirmed by the title, "Mother of God."

Finally, we Wesleyan Christians are happy to affirm the same concept in our own hymnody. After all, don't we (thanks to Charles Wesley!) enthusiastically sing, "Amazing love! how can it be That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?" That "God" who died for us (viz., Jesus the Christ), we also confess to be "born of the Virgin Mary."

So, what is the point of all of this? Do I intend to start using the title, or am I advocating the use of it by others? - Not really. There are still far too many confusions and possible, unintended implications.

However, I think the point is, this is not really something Protestants ought to get worked up about. This ought not be something that divides Protestant Christians from their Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox sisters and brothers. We ought to allow them the liberty to use the terminology when we, while refraining from the terminology, nevertheless affirm its intended meaning through our own doctrine, as well as hymnody and popular expressions.

. . . Of course, as I have said, if I'm missing something, feel free to jump in with your comments!


Avey said...

Thank you for the article re Mary, but I think you have missed the main objection to the attention afforded to Mary in that the Roman Catholics maintain that she was taken to heaven and is immortal without an earthly death.... Protestants (and I am Wesleyan)actually agree with Orthodoxy in insisting that is unscriptural and therefore a key objection. But I do agree, we have tended to reject too much just because it is attached to Roman Catholicism.

Todd Stepp said...

Thank you for bringing this up. Although the concept of being "taken to heaven" is not foreign to the Bible (e.g., doesn't the Bible talk about a certain prophet in a certain hotrod of a chariot with fire painted on the side?), the Bible clearly does not make any such connection with Mary.

However, though I did mention a number of concerns with the Protestant "fear" of Mary, I did not intend to list all of the RC doctrines over which we would have issues. For example, I left out Rome's more recent language concerning Mary's mediating role in redemption.

My real concern was to say that none of those doctrines are directly implied from the proper understanding of Mary as Theotokos, and that, though the use of that term, itself, will likely not be taken up by Protestants any time soon, the term, itself, need not be such a cause for fear. - While objecting to the use of the term, most of us say (through our songs, hymns and doctrine) what was intended by the term.

However, again, thanks for bringing up this issue. - Perhaps, others will bring up other issues of agreements and disagreements that we may have with Rome or Constantinople concerning Mary.



Steven said...

In the fifth century a long an difficult controversy developed over the true understanding of the person and nature of Christ, called the Nestorian controversy. The third ecumenical council in Ephesus in 431, was concerned to defend the fact that the one who was born of the Virgin Mary was no other than the divine Son of God in human flesh. Mary gave birth to God in the flesh, to God as Man. Therefore , Mary is truly Theotokos. The battle cry of St. Cyril and the Council in Ephesus was: The Son of God and the Son of Man-one Son. Mary is Truly Theotokos.

The Orthodox Church does believe in the Dormition of the Theotokos, her falling-asleep and Assumption.

In Christ our True God,


Avey said...

agreed Orthodox believe that Mary actually died at some point, whereas Roman Catholics believe her Assumption without falling-asleep ie death.

The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary died a natural death, like any human being; that her soul was received by Christ upon death; and that her body was resurrected on the third day after her repose, at which time she was taken up, bodily only, into heaven. Her tomb was found empty on the third day.

Roman Catholic teaching holds that Mary was "assumed" into heaven in bodily form. Some Catholics agree with the Orthodox that this happened after Mary's death, while some hold that she did not experience death. Pope Pius XII, in his Apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus (1950), which dogmatically defined the Assumption, appears to have left open the question of whether or not Mary actually underwent death in connection with her departure, but alludes to the fact of her death at least five times.

Both churches agree that she was taken up into heaven bodily. The Orthodox belief regarding Mary's falling asleep are expressed in the liturgical texts used of the feast of the Dormition (August 15) which is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, and is held by all pious Orthodox Christians; however, this belief has never been formally defined as dogma by the Orthodox Church nor made a precondition of baptism.

The Eastern Catholic observance of the feast corresponds to that of their Orthodox counterparts, whether Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox.

Todd Stepp said...

What an exciting conversation! And thanks, Steven for the extended history (more than I wanted to include in my article, but is great for this conversation!).

I would like to introduce you two, but I don't know that I know Avey. However, in case, Avey, you have not checked Steven's profile, he is a former Nazarene elder who is now a catechumen in the Orthodox Church.

Now, here is something to think about: We Protestants (for the most part) tend to say something to the affect that, if it is not found in Scripture it is not held to be required as an article of faith. Thus, the assumption of Mary would not be held as an article of faith (i.e., as a required doctrine). However, in as much as the Scripture does not say that Mary was not assumed into heaven, and, in as much as we do have other instances of some sort of "assumption" in Scripture (e.g., Elijah, as mentioned, before), there seems to be nothing that would require that a Protestant Christian could not have a private "opinion" (in the Wesleyan sense of the term) that agrees with Rome or Constantinople (at least regarding Mary's assumption).

It is clear, after all, that Wesley (and many others of his time and prior), though Protestant, assumed Mary's perpetual virginity. That concept is rejected, today, by most (I would guess) Protestant. Nor did it appear as an Article of Religion for the Anglicans of Wesley's day.

Please understand, I am not saying that it is my opinion that Rome or Constantinople is correct at this point. I'm only saying that such statements about Mary's assension are not necessarily "contrary" to Scripture or the creeds or the articles of faith throughout the Methodist/Wesleyan world.



Steven said...

Yes! Great conversation Todd.

And yes Avey you have a very good understanding of the Dormition of the Theotokos.

It's great that you are open minded about the Mother of God. For Orthodox Christians, the term Theotokos is very important in our understanding of who Christ.

Mary is also a sign of what is offered to all persons in the life of the Church. It is for this reason that Mary, with the divine child Jesus within her, is called in the Orthodox Tradition the Image of the Church. For the assembly of the saved is those in whom Christ dwells.

Have a blessed Christmas,


Avey said...

2. I am also an Elder in the CofN. I am a Prison Chaplain ordained with my wife who is the Pastor of a church in England.

Wesley had a very good principle in as much as he discouraged disagreements on issues, and I think this leaves space for personal views which do not get in the way of doctrine from Scripture. I draw a parallel within our own tradition re alcohol etc. Having said that, there is danger in these issues becoming destructive when a true relationship with Jesus Christ seems to be overridden for such issues - an over emphasis at times.

A silence in scripture can be dangerous though, and lead to all sorts of issues not addressed (this type of speculation is ideal in the current conspiracy culture). Having said that, this kind of speculation is fine if measured against Scripture, tradition, reason and experience....and if it doesn't fit these then an opportunity to be possibly be surprised by not totally excluding and not fully accepting

In Him

The Circuit Rider said...

Very good points, Todd.Trying to explain being the Mother of God can be almost as difficult as understanding the Trinity.As Wesleyans we tend to hyper-focus on the differences between ourselves and our Catholic friends, instead of united together on commom ground.With all the social issues being forced upon us, we need to unite now more than ever. God bless...keith 1 Cor 13

Avey said...

I found this link re the position of Luther and Mary... what do you think?

Eric + said...

Boy... I was away and missed all this! I am a much bigger "fan" of Mary than most other Naz. elders I know. I even have no qualms with the perpetual virginity or even the assumption (eastern or western views).

However, just down the street there is a very conservative RC university (many of the faculty you may recognize from EWTN). I was recently given a book by one of their Theology profs who is in dialogue with Rome about changing the church's official position about Mary's role in redemption.

Now I was always taught that "Catholics" believe Mary is the co-redemptrix (sp?) with Christ. This is exactly what this prof believes. In reading the book, and in further research, I was interested to learn that the official position is not that Mary shares in the redemption - but that there is a noticable "folk theology" that she is.

Just an interesting tidbit...

Perhaps Mary fascinates me because I was baptized on her feast day, and ordained on the Feast of the Visitation.

Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Fascinating conversation here. I would chime in saying that The Chalcedonian definition (which uses the term "Theotokos") is the place to start. We clearly believe (from Luke 1) that Mary is "the mother of my Lord" (and it is no great leap of logic to remember that our Lord is also God).

The discussion on Scripture is also touching on some important stuff here. We (in the Anglican tradtion) do not hold as necessary any belief that cannot be established from Scripture - but that does not mean that we automatically reject it either. To me the real disagreement with Vatican 1 is not as much the doctrines about Mary's assumption or emaculate conception, but the fact that they are considered dogmas necessary for all Christians to believe.

My own musings on a "reformed Mariology" can be found here:


Todd Stepp said...

Thank you, Daniel, for your comments.

I would say you are correct about Vatican I.

Adam said...

Dr. Steppe,

I just found your blog and decided to comment, as this topic is quite dear to my heart. I was born Methodist, converted to Orthodoxy, and recently returned to Methodism.

One of the things I've come to love about Wesleyanism is that we're able to take the best of the past, bring it forward, and express it in a way that makes sense to contemporary Christians. If the purpose of referring to Mary as "Mother of God" is to teach a Christological lesson, it would seem to me that there are better ways to teach the lesson. When people refer to "God" they tend to automatically assign eternally pre-existent concepts. I think we would all agree that Mary did not give birth to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For this reason, I have often thought that the term "Theotokos" lends itself more to modalism in the minds of most people; not Christological clarity.

Also, even as Roman Catholics have that co-redemptrix business to worry about, there are some Orthodox prayers that would give any Protestant severe pause. The elevation of Mary's titles as a means by which to stress Christology is, in my opinion, not quite in keeping with our stated goal. Put another way, if we want people to understand Christology, I think we should explain Christology. If we want people to venerate and pray to Mary, we should use phrases like "Theotokos" and "Queen of Heaven."


Todd Stepp said...


Thank you for your comments.

I do not disagree with the point you are making.

As my article indicates, I am not advocating the use of the termonology. Rather, I am simply saying that the term is not something that really should divide us from our Roman and Orthodox sisters and brothers in Christ.

After all, though we may refrain from using the title (for some of the very reasons you mention), nevertheless, we do, in our own way (e.g., the two songs I made reference to), say the very same thing that our Orthodox and Roman sisters and brothers mean (at least officially) by that term.

So, in our discussions with these other branches of Christ's Church, let us "argue" over more significant disagreements (perhaps some of those further doctrines concernign Mary).

Thank you, again, for your comments!


Adam said...


Yes, I see your point and I agree that it shouldn't cause Protestants any great angst when "Theotokos" is used.

Thanks for the reply!


Stephen said...


Nice conversation. I'd like to add my 2 Turkish Lira worth.

I would tend to doubt the statement that "Protestantism, almost universally, denies it" (i.e. that Blessed Mary is Theotokos or Deipara or Mother of God)--at least from an Epicopalian / Anglican perspective. Anglicanism affirms the doctrine of the Theotokos based on the unity of the Hypostasis of God the Son (see the "Seattle Statement" from 2004).

Historically, the Fathers of the Reformation in England (and I noticed and concur with your accurate citing of John Wesley) affirmed the orthodoxy of the Council of Ephesus, considered Nestorius a heretic, and affirmed that the Blessed Virgin is indeed truly "Mother of God." It is also interesting to read some of the beautiful "theopaschite" verbiage in folks like Richard Hooker, and other English Divines. I would also be remiss if I neglected to mentione that the 1549 BCP affirmed the Theotokos in the Eucharistic Prayer. This liturgical affirmation in the anaphora was taken up by the Non-Jurors' Liturgy in 1718.

Furthermore, Reformers on the Continent also affirmed the teaching about the Theotokos. This is certainly upheld in the Lutheran Confessions as well as from Geneva.

I also have a good level of confidence that the Fathers of the English Reformation and those that came after were pretty firm in acknowledging the perpetual virginity of Mary. This was affirmed by Hugh Latimer, Thomas Cranmer, John Hooper, John Jewell, Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, Robert Abbot, Robert Field, Richard Crakanthorpe, James Ussher, William Forbes, John Bramhall, John Cosin, Herbert Thorndike, Jeremy Taylor, George Bull, Thomas Brett, and of course John Wesley.

That being said, the Reformation in England was brutal against *popular* Roman Catholic piety concerning the Mother of God, because such popular piety was way overboard even by today's Roman Catholic standards. Unfortunately, in my opinion, some good things of devotion got *temporarily* thrown out (I think the destruction of Walsingham was a tragedy). However, despite the terseness of the initial generations of Reform in England, the English Reformers were orthodox in their view of the Virgin Mary (with respect to her being the Deipara and aeiparthenos--ever-virgin).

They were also very, very respectful when mentioning the Virgin. Terms such as "Blessed Virgin," "Holy, Pure and Glorious," "Pure and Undefiled Virgin," "Blessed Mother," "Our Lady," "Holy Virgin," and "Most Holy Virgin," were not infrequent in the writings of even some of the most "low-church" English Divines.

Thus perhaps the statement "Protestantism, almost universally, denies it" may refer to what is known today in America as "Evangelical" rather than historic, confessional Protestantism?


Stephen said...

Regarding the Dormition and subsequent Assumption: I personally think it's possible and probable. After all, Enoch and Elias were translated to heaven without undergoing death. Moses was resurrected after death. So, why would it not be possible for the very Mother of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, to be resurrected after she died? Also, given the hunger for relics of the medieval Church, wouldn't relics of the Blessed Virgin's body have been circulating if indeed her body was still around?

Despite my willingness to accept this as a possibility and probability, I cannot agree with our Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox neighbors in viewing this as dogmatic material. The Roman Catholics affirmed this as a dogma in 1950.

The Eastern Orthodox, while denying they affirm this as a dogma (in the RC sense), do sort of slip it in as a somewhat sort of dogma in their practice.

--The feast of the Dormition is preceded by a 2 week fast, which even overshadows our Lord's feast of the Transfiguration on August 6.

--Also, Eastern Orthodox (like Anglicans) cite their liturgical services as indicative of what they truly believe. The Vespers and Matins services of the Eastern Orthodox faith are indicative of that faith's confidence in the apocryphal story of the dormition and bodily resurrection and assumption of the Theotokos.

--Eastern Orthodox will say that they don't consider the Dormition as dogma in terms of kerygma; perhaps true? but, it is still part of that faith's teaching in terms of "inner life" and inner-tradition. I doubt seriously that any member of the Eastern Orthodox faith would be at liberty (without being deemed a heretic) to deny the events as portrayed in the Vespers and Matins services for August 15.

In fact, if I had to absolutely choose between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics on the issue of the Dormition/Assumption (with no Protestant option), then I think I'd side with Rome. Rome only requires that a person believe that the Virgin bodily and in soul assumed into heaven at the completion of her earthly life--bam--that it.

However, even a cursory glance of the Eastern Orthodox services of the Dormition engages the worshipper in a lot of minute details taken from the Transitus stories and various apocryphal sources.

And again, why make that any kind of dogma at all?

Anonymous said...

Speaking as an Orthodox: I have never attended a parish or been under the direction of a spiritual father who suggested that the Marian nativity or dormition narratives should be understood in any way shape or form to be dogmatic. In fact several priests have advised me that it is an error in the extreme to consider either to be literal or discursive: the teachings of both relate to the promise of our salvation and our union with God in Christ. However, with the Ecumenical Fathers, we would consider those who teach that the Virgin is not Theotokos to be in Christological error, ie, heresy. It would be weird, and I doubt something a Bishop would allow to be taught, but one could be Orthodox and not labeled a heretic if one doubted the perpetual virginity of Mary. I think rather you'd be told you were on very dangerous ground, though, since we believe this is directly contradicted by Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiousity, is it in fact acceptable in the Nazarene church to teach that Mary is not Theotokos, ie, could one openly preach Nestorian teachings?

My family is Wesleyan and attend a somewhat liberal church, but even there I was told that the first four councils are normative (though one pastor insists it is a grave error not to affirm the first seven). In many ways I admire the Wesleys, but for the life of me, I can't see how they can be accorded a special charism or authority that trumps the ecumenical authority and witness of the pre-schism Church. There seems to be a certain arbitrariness in this, which is the main reason I continue to understand them as historically interesting but of little universal importance. I mention this as context for my question, not to challenge anyone's beliefs.

Todd Stepp said...

The doctrine of Theotokos is not the issue that would cause a problem for . . .those for whom it is a problem. :0)

Rather, it is the verbage and the associated bagage that the term brings with it, along with that which is largely misunderstood about what the RC church teaches about Mary and anti-Roman prejudices.

That is to say, while you likely would not hear the title used in a Nazarene setting (and you may hear some disagree with the title), the actual theology taught concerning the nature of Christ and the role of Mary would be quite orthodox. -Again, see above my example of the Charles Wesley hymn. - The issue is not whether Mary is mother of Christ who is God, but rather the assumption that the Theotokos somehow implies that Mary is mother of the Father who is God.

As for Wesley, he is the conduit through which the faith once delivered the the saints has been delivered to us. We stand as spiritual decendents of the Wesleys.

However, Wesley points us to the ecumenical creeds and the Church Fathers. He understood that the faith of Methodism was, indeed, the faith of the Church of England, and the Ancient Church, and the faith of the apostles. The Articles of Religion are essentially the Anglican Articles.

There is, in that sense, nothing unique to the Methodist faith.

Put another way, Wesley stands subject to and pointing us toward the creeds, the councils, the Fathers, the Scriptures. Their special charism and authority do not trum the pre-schism church.

But that they have demonstrated a "special charism," I would firmly believe. And frankly, I can't imagine that one would see the Wesley's of little universal importance. If one considers the breadth of Methodism world wide, along with those who have decended from it (e.g., Pentecostalism), and, thus, through them the spread of the Gospel, I would question what one means by importance.

Nevertheless, I do appreciat your comments. And perhaps you will grow in your appreciation of the Wesleys! :0)

Anonymous said...

Thank you - that was very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Not certain where Avey got the objection that Rome teaches Mary is immortal without an earthly death. As I used to be a Catholic catechumen I know this to be false. The teachings on the Assumption of Mary as defined by Pope Pius XII leans strongly eastward. In the Eastern circle of Christianity Mary died and is said to be resurrected and brought up to Heaven (generally three days later). This is called the Dormition of Mary in the East.

Before I became a member of the ACA, I wanted to make certain my Mariology would be accepted. The Vicar General answered my question as to whether we honour the Virgin Mary with an "Of course! She's the Mother of God! We don't worship her but then again, no one does." I still pray the rosary (I was kind of an oddball Eastern Catholic catechumen for doing that). You might be interested in Pelikan's "Mary Through the Centuries" which goes through the development of Mariology. Most Christians tend to accept the first three councils (up through Ephesus) and it is at Ephesus that Nestorianism is refuted and Mary is defended to be the Mother of God. Even the Assyrian Church of the East seems to accept this.

Todd Stepp said...

Thank you for contributing to this conversation!

Anonymous said...

Your welcome. The confession rite at my church also includes mention of Mary as Ever-Virgin.

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Michael Mohajer said...

I am a Roman Catholic and I just want to offer a correction in what you mentioned: Roman Catholics don't believe that Mary didn't experience death! They believe in her assumption (body and soul) to heaven. But whether she died or not, it is not a dogma. So a Roman Catholic is free to believe that Mary died before assumption to heaven (Most Catholics believe this) or she didn't die at all. The tradition goes that since Mary wanted to be like Christ in every possible sense, she chose to die so she fell asleep (died) and then (on the third day) she was taken up to heaven. Even though Pope Pius XII declared her assumption as a dogma, it doesn't mean that this doctorin was invented by him as some Protestants assume. The tradition goes back to the early Christian writings and that's the very reason that the Orthodox church believes exactly the same.

Michael Mohajer said...

Just a little insight: Even though there is no direct indication in the Scriptures on assumption of Mary, but Revelation 12:14 could be an indirect indication (where it says the woman was given two wings of eagle to fly). This part is not a Catholic teaching, but my own insight which may not have much worth. However, as you might know, for the Catholics there are 3 source of divine inspiration: The Scriptures, Tradition, and Ecumenical Counsils. The two latter shall never contradict the Scriptures however. So since there are lots of early Church Fathers writings about the assumption of Mary, we can believe that it really did happen. You correctly mentioned of other "taking up to heaven" experiences in the Scriptures (Elijah, Enoch, Moses), so Mother of God can easily be believed to have assumed in heaven.
One more thing I'd like to add: The term "Mother of my Lord" was first given to Mary by Elisabeth who said this term while she was filled with Holy Spirit in the gospel of Luke. John 1:1 says that the Word was God. So saying Mother of God is as correct as saying Mother of the Lord. Because the second person of the holy Trinity (The Word) is our Lord and is God. We can alternatively use these terms. As it was correctly mentioned by one of the Orthodox brothers, the emphasis on using "Mother of God" was to condemn the Nestorious heresy. It was being used way before then, but in the Calcedon it was emphasized.

Antipas Prayer Force: said...

I have a novel idea: Read and accept the Biblical account

Todd A. Stepp said...

Antipas . . .

Please clarify how anything in the article or the comments (not sure which you are referring to, of if both) fall short of your "novel idea." - I'm very hesitant about commenting further, because I'm looking for clarification, so that I am not misunderstanding. But, your comment does seem quite snarky . . .