Skip to comments.Was Mary Sinless?
Posted on 12/05/2010 6:14:57 PM PST by RnMomof7
............The Historical Evidence
The Roman Catholic Church claims that this doctrine, like all of their other distinctive doctrines, has the unanimous consent of the Fathers (contra unanimen consensum Patrum). They argue that what they teach concerning the Immaculate Conception has been the historic belief of the Christian Church since the very beginning. As Ineffabilis Deus puts it,
The Catholic Church, directed by the Holy Spirit of God has ever held as divinely revealed and as contained in the deposit of heavenly revelation this doctrine concerning the original innocence of the august Virgin and thus has never ceased to explain, to teach and to foster this doctrine age after age in many ways and by solemn acts.
However, the student of church history will quickly discover that this is not the case. The earliest traces of this doctrine appear in the middle ages when Marian piety was at its bloom. Even at this time, however, the acceptance of the doctrine was far from universal. Both Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux rejected the immaculate conception. The Franciscans (who affirmed the doctrine) and the Dominicans (who denied it, and of whom Aquinas was one) argued bitterly over whether this doctrine should be accepted, with the result that the pope at the time had to rule that both options were acceptable and neither side could accuse the other of heresy (ironic that several centuries later, denying this doctrine now results in an anathema from Rome).
When we go further back to the days of the early church, however, the evidence becomes even more glaring. For example, the third century church father Origen of Alexandria taught in his treatise Against Celsus (3:62 and 4:40) that that the words of Genesis 3:16 applies to every woman without exception. He did not exempt Mary from this. As church historian and patristic scholar J.N.D. Kelly points out,
Origen insisted that, like all human beings, she [Mary] needed redemption from her sins; in particular, he interpreted Simeons prophecy (Luke 2.35) that a sword would pierce her soul as confirming that she had been invaded with doubts when she saw her Son crucified.
Also, it must be noted that it has been often pointed out that Jesus rebuke of Mary in the wedding of Cana (John 2:1-12) demonstrates that she is in no wise perfect or sinless. Mark Shea scoffs at this idea that Mary is sinfully pushing him [Jesus] to do theatrical wonders in John 2, arguing that there is no reason to think [this] is true. However, if we turn to the writings of the early church fathers, we see that this is precisely how they interpreted Marys actions and Jesus subsequent rebuke of her. In John Chrysostoms twenty-first homily on the gospel of John (where he exegetes the wedding of Cana), he writes,
For where parents cause no impediment or hindrance in things belonging to God, it is our bounden duty to give way to them, and there is great danger in not doing so; but when they require anything unseasonably, and cause hindrance in any spiritual matter, it is unsafe to obey. And therefore He answered thus in this place, and again elsewhere Who is My mother, and who are My brethren? (Matt. xii.48), because they did not yet think rightly of Him; and she, because she had borne Him, claimed, according to the custom of other mothers, to direct Him in all things, when she ought to have reverenced and worshiped Him. This then was the reason why He answered as He did on that occasion He rebuked her on that occasion, saying, Woman, what have I to do with thee? instructing her for the future not to do the like; because, though He was careful to honor His mother, yet He cared much more for the salvation of her soul, and for the doing good to the many, for which He took upon Him the flesh.
Now why on earth would Jesus care for the salvation of Marys soul at this point in time if she was already preventatively saved through having been immaculately conceived, as was claimed earlier? That does not make any sense, whatsoever. Likewise, Theodoret of Cyrus agrees with John Chrysostom in saying that the Lord Jesus rebuked Mary during the wedding at Cana. In chapter two of his Dialogues, he writes,
If then He was made flesh, not by mutation, but by taking flesh, and both the former and the latter qualities are appropriate to Him as to God made flesh, as you said a moment ago, then the natures were not confounded, but remained unimpaired. And as long as we hold thus we shall perceive too the harmony of the Evangelists, for while the one proclaims the divine attributes of the one only begottenthe Lord Christthe other sets forth His human qualities. So too Christ our Lord Himself teaches us, at one time calling Himself Son of God and at another Son of man: at one time He gives honour to His Mother as to her that gave Him birth [Luke 2:52]; at another He rebukes her as her Lord [John 2:4]. And then there is Augustine of Hippo, whom many Roman Catholic apologists attempt to appeal to for their belief in the immaculate conception. They like to quote a portion of chapter 42 of his treatise, On Nature and Grace, where Augustine states,
We must except the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honour to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin.
However, those who quote this passage miss the point of what Augustine is trying to communicate. He was trying to refute the Pelagian heretics (who were the ones who were claiming that Maryamong other biblical characterswere sinless, since they denied the depravity of man). The article explaining Augustines view of Mary on Allan Fitzgeralds Augustine Through the Ages helps clear up misconceptions regarding this passage:
His [Augustine's] position must be understood in the context of the Pelagian controversy. Pelagius himself had already admitted that Mary, like the other just women of the Old testament, was spared from any sin. Augustine never concedes that Mary was sinless but prefers to dismiss the question Since medieval times this passage [from Nature and Grace] has sometimes been invoked to ground Augustines presumed acceptance of the doctrine of the immaculate conception. It is clear nonetheless that, given the various theories regarding the transmission of original sin current in his time, Augustine in that passage would not have meant to imply Marys immunity from it.
This same article then goes on to demonstrate that Augustine did in fact believe that Mary received the stain of original sin from her parents:
His understanding of concupiscence as an integral part of all marital relations made it difficult, if not impossible, to accept that she herself was conceived immaculately. He specifies in [Contra Julianum opus imperfectum 5.15.52] that the body of Mary although it came from this [concupiscence], nevertheless did not transmit it for she did not conceive in this way. Lastly, De Genesi ad litteram 10.18.32 asserts: And what more undefiled than the womb of the Virgin, whose flesh, although it came from procreation tainted by sin, nevertheless did not conceive from that source.
As can be seen here, these and many other early church fathers did not regard Mary as being sinless or immaculately conceived. It is quite clear that the annals of church history testify that Rome cannot claim that this belief is based upon the unanimous consent of the fathers, since the belief that Mary was sinless started out among Pelagian heretics during the fifth century and did not become an acceptable belief until at least the beginning of the middle ages.
As has been demonstrated here, neither scripture nor church history support the contention of the Roman Catholic Church that Mary was sinless by virtue of having been immaculately conceived. In fact, Rome did not even regard this as an essential part of the faith until the middle of the nineteenth century. This should cause readers to pause and question why on earth Rome would anathematize Christians for disbelieving in a doctrine that was absent from the early church (unless one wants to side with the fifth century Pelagians) and was considered even by Rome to be essential for salvation until a century and a half ago. Because Rome said so? But their reasons for accepting this doctrine in the first place are so demonstrably wrong. After all, they claim that this was held as divinely revealed from the very beginning, even though four and a half centuries worth of patristic literature proves otherwise. This ought to be enough to cast doubt not only on Romes claims regarding Mariology, but their claims to authority on matters of faith and morals in general.
Again, as said, this depends upon the Decretal of Gelasius, yet in surviving manuscripts the Decretal exists on its own and also appended to a list of books of Scripture titled as attested as canonical by a Council of Rome under Pope Damasus I, bishop of Rome 366383. Since that list contains a quotation from Augustine, writing about 416, it is evident that the title Incipit Concilium Vrbis Romae sub Damaso Papa de Explanatione Fidei, the so-called Damasine List, is of no historical value  Moreover, Rome has clearly evidenced that it feels free to define unanimous consent to be something quite different in reality to that, while making good use of forgeries.
This also from the Catholic Encyclopedia you quote:
"Two documents of capital importance in the history of the canon constitute the first formal utterance of papal authority on the subject. The first is the so-called "Decretal of Gelasius", de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris, the essential part of which is now generally attributed to a synod convoked by Pope Damasus in the year 382. The other is the Canon of Innocent I, sent in 405 to a Gallican bishop in answer to an inquiry. Both contain all the deuterocanonicals, without any distinction, and are identical with the catalogue of Trent."
Whether the Church defines something as infallible is immaterial; it was the teaching of the Church. The Church rarely makes infallible definitions as it's ordinary definition is sufficient. When seriously challenged, infallible definitions are made, as at Trent.
Whether something is infallible is NOT immaterial, as something being the teaching of the Church means little if it is going to allow so much debate for so long. The same Catholic Encyclopedia page goes on to state,
In the Latin Church, all through the Middle Ages we find evidence of hesitation about the character of the deuterocanonicals. There is a current friendly to them, another one distinctly unfavourable to their authority and sacredness, while wavering between the two are a number of writers whose veneration for these books is tempered by some perplexity as to their exact standing, and among those we note St. Thomas Aquinas. Few are found to unequivocally acknowledge their canonicity.
On Catholic Answers Fr. Sebastian Walshe addressed the topic Can Doctrine Develop? (as has Webster.) Walshe explains in this short mp3 clip, that there was uncertainty about which books were canonical previous to Trent's infallible declaration.
As to scholars disagreeing, isn't that what scholars typically do? Again I am not a scholar, but I have had discussions with even Catholics about different scripture passages (one that comes to mind is the feeding of the 5,000- some claim it was not a miracle, Jesus merely induced everyone to share what they had); if people on a non-scholarly level cannot agree, I would not expect scholars to!
There are different degrees in which persons are scholars, and I would not call myself one either, but one can research and see what evidence and scholarship says. And while scholars do disagree, once a matter settled by Rome is to be no debate, which is why Trent settled the issue of the canon, while your contention was that the canon was settled, and made Luther look like he alone stood in disagreement with Trent, which was far from the case. I trust that has been clarified.
Regarding your mega posts, I wish I had the time to spend on them, but I do not. So I consider throwing a dozen or more links at someone, and expecting them to research and respond to them is a bit much. If you want to argue with scholars, FR is probably not the place to do it. I am not a scholar, nor do I have the time to be one. So basically mine is a protest against information overload!
Well, when debating a historical issue such as this, one must deal with substantiated research. I could have simply stated by position, but which would have been simply my position. I also could have made the entries much shorter by simply posting links without any of their content, but that would have likely been protested, and one which I can sympathize with.
I come close to agreement with your last paragraph. To me it comes down to whose "experts" you believe.
This had less to do with what much research shows then with unsubstantiated claims. And I do understand if it was more than you could digest, but at least it is there for you and others. Thanks be to the God of truth; may we all have a heart to obey it, wherever it may lead.
Godwin’s Law can only be invoked if the comparison is to Nazis.
Considering that the involvement of the Ratzinger family with the Nazi’s is a documented historical fact instead of just an accusation or comparison, your attempt to invoke Godwin’s Law fails.
That said, I do not consider what one does as a teenager to be of much consequence myself. People often change as they mature and what they do as a teen does not set their personality or character in stone.
It’s what he does and says now that concerns me more.
So, denying the basic tenets of Christianity, you say that it's possible for one to "keep the whole Law" in spite of the fact that Jesus said one can't.
One cannot keep the "whole Law" whether that law is Judaism or Catholicism. either that or God is a liar
You are now in a hole you dug for yourself, asserting that someone can be just like Christ, even a pharisee. I'd run away too
So I forget - who is it that gets the cake?
Well, store-bought cakes often stink anyway - good for your sister. I have a deceased parent too, and of course may older relatives who have passed on and whom I look forward to sesing again someday. And no, veneration isn’t worship - I don’t worship my mom, but at 82 and holy as a saint she is definitely venerable.
But Catholics believe in the communion of the saints living and dead and ask for their intercession in prayer, the same way you might pray for a sick friend or ask said friend to pray for you.
I know you don’t believe in this (I don’t think). Still, have a merry Christmas and remember that we are all grateful Mary said “yes.”
dont know, but you get the old pie in the face, soupy
Seriously, anyone trying to connect Hitler with the Catholic Church need only google "Hitler's Bible." Hitler replaced God with "The State" throughout the book. Like most socialists and all communists, he wanted to destroy Christianity.
Either Lenin or Stalin, I forget which, said "Religion is the opiate of the masses." The Soviet plan was for the religious grandmothers to die out and Church with them.
Let's stick to arguments with merit.
Josepf Ratzinger, Sr. retired in 1937 at the age of 60, five years before the Orpo mandatory retirement age and within 6 months of the Orpo being transferred from the interior ministry to the SS.
His early retirement came as a consequence of the absorption of the Orpo into the national police force. As a member of the Bavarian State Police Joseph Ratzinger had been active in restraining the excesses of the Nazi party and was forced to move and forfeit promotion opportunities because of that.
Not that any of this has anything to do with the Pope, but this is illustrative of the depths some will stoop to to deride, belittle, and mock Catholics given the slightest opportunity.
And why on earth would I want to stay in a church that can't even teach correctly to its members what it considers the truths it holds?
There is no need for writing any kind of law be it, criminal, traffic, civil, spiritual etc., etc., unless its anticipated there will be those that will break it. So why do you make such a big deal out of the "law"? After all, in your own "alleged" infallible writings Jesus in Matthew 5 encouraged others to keep it. I'm sure he was aware there were those in the audience who had broken a law previously and would probably in the future. Why is it always "all or nothing" with you people?
What is wrong with kneeling? Have you ever knelt to pray? I've seen non-Catholics kneel to pray- are they worshiping the bible?
The problem is, we're only supposed to pray to God. You're praying to creation when you need to pray to the Creator.
I'll reserve my worship for Christ. Meanwhile, you may do what seems right in your own eyes.
The point that I'm making to MaryZ is theological, she claims to be a Christian ( I think) but is denying the very basics of Christianity by asserting that after the Resurrection one can save himself, and even better, a pharisee can do it by keeping the Law. Well no one could "save" himself or anyone else, before or after, God is the only Savior. As a Christian, she is either denying Christ's work on the cross as the completed Plan of Salvation and the old Law is done away with, or she does not comprehend it.
That sounds like the eneMedia with Cindy Sheehan.
Let's take a look at the FACTS that can actually be documented:
1. Joseph Ratzinger, Sr. was a police officer. ALL German police forces were taken over by the SS in 1936. He retired in 1937. That is a documented FACT.
2. In 1941 at the age of 14, Joseph Ratzinger, Jr. was forced into the Hitler Youth, all indications are that he never attended a single meeting. That is a documented FACT (And yes, I am well aware of the difficulties that anti-Catholic bigots seem to have with the notion that it is impossible to prove that he never attended a meeting; however, since the bigots are the ones using his membership to advance their agenda, it is THEIR duty to prove if he attended any. Keep in mind that the Pope has long been a well-known figure in Germany and Italy, if someone had seen Him at a meeting, they probably would have come forward by now).
3. In 1941, one of Ratzinger's cousins was forcibly euthanized in the Nazi Akton T-4 Program. That is a documented FACT.
4. In 1943, while a seminary student, Ratzinger was inducted into an anti-aircraft unit. Toward the end of the war he would desert when his unit collapsed and he spent a short time in a POW camp. That is a documented FACT.
5. In 1945, right after the war ended, Ratzinger reentered the seminary. That is a documented FACT.
Now for the FALSEHOODS used to try to make the Ratzingers Nazis:
1. Ratzinger's 1951 ordination photo has been cropped (to make it appear that he was giving a Nazi salute) and posted on this forum. That is a documented FACT.
2. A photo has been posted on here that purports to show Ratzinger in the late 1930s (when he was not yet a teenager) as a priest for high-ranking Nazis (who the bigots couldn't even label correctly). That is a documented FACT.
I've got to say the Religion Forum at FR is a fascinating place.
Every year at Christmas and Easter the media puts "specials" on TV to try to prove the Christianity is based on a myth. And every August and December on FR, the anti-Catholics post threads to prove the same thing. It's really quite comical to watch.
I almost think it's time for a new "law" for the FR Religion Forum:
An anti-Catholic thread, if it continues long enough, will eventually contain some version of ALL of the following:
1. Everything Catholics believe about the Blessed Virgin Mary is false, she was just picked because God needed her womb.
2. Saint Peter was never pope, in fact Jesus was mocking him when He changed his name to Peter.
3. John Chapter 6 and Matthew Chapter 25 DO NOT mean what they say (e.g. sola scriptura is supplanted by Protestant tradition on this portion of the Bible).
4. Catholics never read the Bible.
5. The Pope is a Nazi.
6. If in doubt about 1-4 see #5.
Initially it was your parents and God parent's fault. However, at some point in the process you have to accept responsibility.
We ask for Mary’s help because she is our spiritual mother and a very powerful intercessor. Did not Paul ask others to pray for him, as he would pray for them?
Jesus taught us the Our Father, Catholics pray it all the time, including at Mass!
Do you pray to Jesus?
If He said to only pray to the Father, you’re disobeying Him!
Comprehension is subjective. Again, I refer you back to Matthew 5. Law done away with? Your Messiah said "18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled". Obviously "all" hasn't been fulfilled yet cuz Heaven and earth are still here. Trinitarian interpretations of such things as "the fall" and "original sin" seem to fog one's perception.
Grizzled Bear, Thank you. If a non Catholic wants to argue that they do not believe in the Sacrifice of the Mass or other Catholic doctrines that is a legitmate argument. If a non Catholic wants to challenge the fact that Catholics believe in Purgatory that is a valid point. If a non Catholic takes issue with our belief in infused justification they can argue their point fairly and coherently. (I know I’ve seen it done before).
All of the above are Catholic doctrines which Reformed denominations disagree with and which they can support with appeal to Scripture and the reasoning of their founders. What is often forgotten that the Catholic Church appealing to Scripture and to Apostolic Tradition have reached different conclusions.
But to resort to libelous statements to support an argument is the refuge of scoundrels. You do not engage in that practice and I appreciate it.
In Christ, we have a new creation, all things are being made new, when He returns it will be complete
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