Skip to comments.How I Changed My Mind About Mary
Posted on 05/05/2002 11:30:36 PM PDT by nickcarraway
by Mark Shea
How I Changed My Mind About Mary
It once seemed perfectly obvious to me that Catholics honored Mary too much. All those feasts, rosaries, icons, statues and whatnot were ridiculously excessive. Yes, the gospel of Luke said something about her being "blessed" and yes I thought her a good person. But that was that.
No Mary, No Salvation
People who celebrated her or called her "Mother" or did all the million things which Catholic piety encourages bordered on idolatry. It was all too much. Jesus, after all, is our Savior, not Mary.
However, after looking at the gospel of Luke afresh and thinking more and more about the humanity of Jesus Christ, some things dawned on me. For it turns out that Luke said more than "something" about Mary. He reports that God was conceived in her womb and thereby made a son of Adam! This means more than merely saying that Mary was an incubator unit for the Incarnation. It means that the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity derives his humanity--all of it--from her! Why does this matter? Because the entire reason we are able to call Jesus "savior" at all is because the God who cannot die became a man who could die. And he chose to do it through Mary's free "yes" to him. No Mary, no human nature for Christ. No human nature for Christ, no death on the cross. No death, no resurrection. No resurrection, no salvation. Without Mary, we are still in our sins.
Too Much vs. Just Enough
This made me see Mary very differently. The Incarnation is vastly more than God zipping on a disposable man-suit. He remains man eternally. Therefore, his joining with the human race through the womb of Mary means (since he is the savior of us all), that she is the mother of us all (John 19:27). Moreover, it means that her remarkable choice to say "Yes" to the Incarnation was not merely a one-time incident, it was an offering of her own heart to God and us. Her heart was pierced by the sword that opened the fountain of blood and water in Christ's human heart, for it was she who, by the grace of God, gave him that heart (Luke 2:35; John 19:34).
Seeing this, I began to wonder again: If Catholics honor Mary "too much", where did we Evangelicals honor her "just enough." Mary herself said "henceforth, all generations will call me blessed." When was the last time I had heard a contemporary Christian tune on the radio sung in honor of Mary? Or a prayer in church to extol her? How about a teensy weensy bit of verse or a little article in some magazine singling out Mary as blessed among women? Aside from "Silent Night" was there anything in Evangelical piety which dared to praise her for even a moment? I was an Evangelical for seven years and I never saw so much as a dram of it.
St. Luke? Is That You?</>
So the question became for me, "How could we talk about something being 'excessive' when we had virtually no experience of it ourselves?" What if it was we Evangelicals who were excessive in our horror of Marian piety and Catholics who are normal? Judging from the witness of the early Fathers and even of Martin Luther (who had a very robust Marian devotion and whose tomb is decorated with an illustration of the Assumption of the Virgin into Heaven) it seemed to me that it was we Evangelicals who were excessive in our fear of her rather than Catholics who were excessive in their devotion.
"Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen."
There. That didn't hurt a bit. In fact, I think I heard St. Luke pray it too!
As you say, though, if that "plevnw" language were to result in Mary being "immaculately conceived," then it would also have to apply to the Saint Stephen.
What we have, then, is what I orignally stated: the only argument for the "immaculate conception" is a logically derived one. That is, pre-incarnate Jesus, knowing Mary was to be his mother, saw fit to give her the gift of perfection for His benefit and for the removal from him of "original sin," a doctrine that is itself suspect.
Mary said, "I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to thy word." With that the angel left her.
Just as all of us that have met the grace of God personally...she desired God...she chose what is natural to one that sees God..go back into the OT and read what happened EVERY time man met God..He said here I am Lord. That goldie is the effect of God's grace...:>))
When we are full of God's grace, as the devout Jewish girl Mary was, then we submit to God's will more fully. Yet to say that none of us have a choice in the matter takes this discussion to an entirely different place. It becomes an issue of the nature of God Himself.
Luke 1:31 "You will..." NIV Luke 1:31 "And, behold, thou shalt conceive..." KJV
goldenstategirl, I like you but that was a little too much for me to kid about!
Bogus! see... Martin Luther's Tomb / Epitaph for Henning Goeden
Henceforth desist in posting this disinformation. A retraction is in order too in the name of intellectual honesty.
I'm glad you brought this up. Look at the whole quote here:
Acts 6:8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people.
However you posted it this way:
And Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people.
Grace and power is not Grace.
(Sorry about the delay. I was busy and coouldn't get back here until now)
Plus, one was the message of God delivered by the Angel Gabriel.
Grace and power is not Grace.
If you say, "I am hungry and tired" and "I say I am hungry," we are both hungry. This is a very weak argument hardly sufficient to sustain the weight of a claim to Mary's sinlessness.
Plus, one was the message of God delivered by the Angel Gabriel
And the other was the words of Luke written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Again, a weak argument for anyone who believes in the inspiration of the Bible, which I believe you do.
Hey, this isn't my full time job or anything, I do have priorities. If someone wants to pay me to post on FR though, I'm willing
Yes, as was Stephen, Moses, Paul, Rahab, Peter, Adam, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther, my mom, me, you, Rnmom, polycarp and even rdb3. Everyone except Jesus!
Rom 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Mary proclaimed her own sinful state steve
Luk 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
She KNEW she needed a savior...
Were Marys parents sinners or were they sinless too?
Any Scripture for this? I think your stew has no rabbit in it al all!
Mary was a believer, these terms are not applicable to a believer after conversion.
giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins COL. 1:12-14
WHY? Nothing is impossible for God.... His Holy Spirit indwells believers today who are not sinless!
***The Immaculate Conception is clearly a belief which exalts Jesus!***
Jesus was/is fully exalted apart from this recent dogmatic assertion. It elevates Mary beyond the appropriate biblical honor due her.
Genesis 3 says
15and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
The wider quote shows clearly that the enmity is between Satan and Jesus (Mary's seed).
Well, "Sola Scriptura" may not suffice, but the following may be helpful:
THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
490 To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role." 132 The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace". 133 In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace.
491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, 134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:
The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. 135
492 The "splendour of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son". 136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love". 137
493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia), and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature". 138 By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.
Yet God was able to preform a miracle and make her sinless from two sinful parents...why not just make the Son sinless (Which he did) There was no need for Mary to be sinless if there was no need for HER parents to be sinless to have a sinless child .
Drj: My point. Take a crack at Post #127.
When Fundamentalists study the writings of the Reformers on Mary, the Mother of Jesus, they will find that the Reformers accepted almost every major Marian doctrine and considered these doctrines to be both scriptural and fundamental to the historic Christian Faith.
Mary the Mother of God
Throughout his life Luther maintained without change the historic Christian affirmation that Mary was the Mother of God:
"She is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God ... It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God."1
Again throughout his life Luther held that Mary's perpetual virginity was an article of faith for all Christians - and interpreted Galatians 4:4 to mean that Christ was "born of a woman" alone.
"It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a Virgin."2
The Immaculate Conception
Yet again the Immaculate Conception was a doctrine Luther defended to his death (as confirmed by Lutheran scholars like Arthur Piepkorn). Like Augustine, Luther saw an unbreakable link between Mary's divine maternity, perpetual virginity and Immaculate Conception. Although his formulation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was not clear-cut, he held that her soul was devoid of sin from the beginning:
"But the other conception, namely the infusion of the soul, it is piously and suitably believed, was without any sin, so that while the soul was being infused, she would at the same time be cleansed from original sin and adorned with the gifts of God to receive the holy soul thus infused. And thus, in the very moment in which she began to live, she was without all sin..."3
Although he did not make it an article of faith, Luther said of the doctrine of the Assumption:
"There can be no doubt that the Virgin Mary is in heaven. How it happened we do not know."4
Honor to Mary
Despite his unremitting criticism of the traditional doctrines of Marian mediation and intercession, to the end Luther continued to proclaim that Mary should be honored. He made it a point to preach on her feast days.
"The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart."5
"Is Christ only to be adored? Or is the holy Mother of God rather not to be honoured? This is the woman who crushed the Serpent's head. Hear us. For your Son denies you nothing."6 Luther made this statement in his last sermon at Wittenberg in January 1546.
John Calvin: It has been said that John Calvin belonged to the second generation of the Reformers and certainly his theology of double predestination governed his views on Marian and all other Christian doctrine . Although Calvin was not as profuse in his praise of Mary as Martin Luther he did not deny her perpetual virginity. The term he used most commonly in referring to Mary was "Holy Virgin".
"Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the same time the eternal God."7
"Helvidius has shown himself too ignorant, in saying that Mary had several sons, because mention is made in some passages of the brothers of Christ."8 Calvin translated "brothers" in this context to mean cousins or relatives.
"It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor."9
"To this day we cannot enjoy the blessing brought to us in Christ without thinking at the same time of that which God gave as adornment and honour to Mary, in willing her to be the mother of his only-begotten Son."10
"It was given to her what belongs to no creature, that in the flesh she should bring forth the Son of God."11
"I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin."12 Zwingli used Exodus 4:22 to defend the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity.
"I esteem immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste, immaculate Virgin Mary."13
"Christ ... was born of a most undefiled Virgin."14
"It was fitting that such a holy Son should have a holy Mother."15
"The more the honor and love of Christ increases among men, so much the esteem and honor given to Mary should grow."16
We might wonder why the Marian affirmations of the Reformers did not survive in the teaching of their heirs - particularly the Fundamentalists. This break with the past did not come through any new discovery or revelation. The Reformers themselves (see above) took a benign even positive view of Marian doctrine - although they did reject Marian mediation because of their rejection of all human mediation. Moreover, while there were some excesses in popular Marian piety, Marian doctrine as taught in the pre-Reformation era drew its inspiration from the witness of Scripture and was rooted in Christology. The real reason for the break with the past must be attributed to the iconoclastic passion of the followers of the Reformation and the consequences of some Reformation principles. Even more influential in the break with Mary was the influence of the Enlightenment Era which essentially questioned or denied the mysteries of faith.
Unfortunately the Marian teachings and preachings of the Reformers have been "covered up" by their most zealous followers - with damaging theological and practical consequences. This "cover-up" can be detected even in Chosen by God: Mary in Evangelical Perspective, an Evangelical critique of Mariology. One of the contributors admits that "Most remarkable to modern Protestants is the Reformers' almost universal acceptance of Mary's continuing virginity, and their widespread reluctance to declare Mary a sinner". He then asks if it is "a favourable providence" that kept these Marian teachings of the Reformers from being "transmitted to the Protestant churches"!17
What is interpreted as "Providence" by a Marian critic may legitimately be interpreted as a force of a very different kind by a Christian who has recognized the role of Mary in Gods plan.
1Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], volume 24, 107.
2Martin Luther, op. cit., Volume 11, 319-320.
3Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works,
English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St.
Louis], Volume 4, 694. 4 5
4[Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works (Translation by William J. Cole) 10, p. 268.
5[Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works
(Translation by William J. Cole) 10, III, p.313. 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
6Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Volume 51, 128-129.
7John Calvin, Calvini Opera [Braunshweig-Berlin, 1863-1900], Volume 45, 35.
8Bernard Leeming, "Protestants and Our Lady", Marian Library Studies, January 1967, p.9.
9John Calvin, Calvini Opera [Braunshweig-Berlin, 1863-1900], Volume 45, 348.
10John Calvin, A Harmony of Matthew, Mark and Luke (St. Andrew's Press, Edinburgh, 1972), p.32.
11Ulrich Zwingli, In Evang. Luc., Opera Completa [Zurich, 1828-42], Volume 6, I, 639
12Ulrich Zwingli, Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Volume 1, 424.
13E. Stakemeier, De Mariologia et Oecumenismo, K. Balic, ed., (Rome, 1962), 456.
16Ulrich Zwingli, Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Volume 1, 427-428.
17David F. Wright, ed., Chosen by God: Mary in Evangelical Perspective (London: Marshall Pickering, 1989), 180.
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What are you thinking, hourly or salary?
I do not demonizer her..do not be dramatic..The truth is there is NOTHING in scripture to indicate that she was considered sinless by the early church..she was an obedient and holy woman..blessed by God..foreordained , elected for this purpose.
But nares..she was fully human, subjesct to the same temptations and sin as all of us..
She knew she needed a redeemer...Luk 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Jesus said that only His Father was good...I think His words speak in support of Romans...
Sola Scriptura..prove all of that in scripture THEN we can talk:>)