The Gospel According to Mark

No Mary immaculately conceived, no gospel:

In light of the Incarnation, it is profoundly mistaken to think that humanity is necessarily or naturally sinful. It isn’t. Sin is normal, but never natural. Nature is not corrupt; corruption is corrupt. Sin is precisely what is contrary to our human nature. It is damage to nature, not nature itself, which constitutes sin. Thus, sin (which we all inherit in Adam) is always a warping and a deformation of our nature. In Christian understanding, nature is essentially good since it and grace (not sin) have the same author: God. Grace does not build on sin. It heals sin, eradicates sin, repairs the effects of sin, forgives sin. When that process is complete (as it shall be for the saints in heaven) those saints shall no longer be afflicted by sin in any way. That would be impossible if sin and humanness were identical.

Very well then, if there is nothing intrinsically impossible with the idea of sinless humanness in heaven for people who don’t happen to be Jesus, there is also nothing intrinsically impossible with Mary is being preserved from sin right here on earth by the same God who gets people to heaven. It is true that, apart from the authority of the church, there is no way we could know this about Mary. But then again, apart from the authority of the church, there is no way we would know that the Holy Spirit is God either. All that means is that Scripture is intended to be read in light of the full teaching of the church. When we do, we find that to deny the sinlessness of Mary on the mere ground that she’s human and therefore must be sinful has the surprising effect of messing up our understanding of the Incarnation.

And there is an understandable reason for that. Mary is the source of the Incarnation. Christianity is not merely a religion of the word. It is a relationship with the Word made flesh. But the Word gets his flesh from somewhere. All Christians believe in the blood of Christ shed on the cross. But God the Son, in his divine nature, had no blood to shed till the received it in purity from his mother. No Mary, no Incarnation; no Incarnation, no death on the cross; no death on the cross, no resurrection; no resurrection, no salvation for the world. Get rid of Mary and you don’t get a purified faith: you get nothing. That is the consequence of overlooking this often neglected truth.

Well, isn’t it profoundly correct to think of humanity as necessarily sinful in the light of THE FALL? Why would the Son of God become incarnate if not to redeem sinners. Plus, I was under the impression that sin a violation of God’s law. Eating a piece of fruit is natural, after all.

Post-fall, sinless humans occupying heaven is impossible without grace and forgiveness. Using the possibility of sinless humans going to heaven as the grounds for Mary’s sinfulness seems like a real groin-tearing stretch.

And if Mary needs to be sinless to bear Christ, then what about Mary’s mother needing to be sinless to bear Mary? And what about Mary’s grandmother to bear Mary’s mother? You see where this is going — thanks to the fall, which you don’t apparently see.

But if you insist that we would not have Christianity without Mary, then why did Anselm (a saint by both your and my standards) instead of writing Cur Deus Homo not write Why Mary Conceived without Sin? (Sorry my Latin is rusty.)

One last question: how much theology do you possibly need to be ignorant of to find your apologetics compelling? (So many Marks, so little time.)

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34 thoughts on “The Gospel According to Mark

  1. Mark Shea? Seriously? He epitomizes the lameness of current lay Cafholic apologetics. And is it ever lame. The only living ones who sell at all outside of the Catholic ghetto are those like Peter Kreeft and Thomas Howard, former Protestants who sound far more like Protestants than Catholics. Scott Hahn? Never met a Proestant non-infatuated with Rome who can stomach him, despite the bouquet a crony endorsements he has accrued.

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  2. Darryl,

    “Well, isn’t it profoundly correct to think of humanity as necessarily sinful in the light of THE FALL? Why would the Son of God become incarnate if not to redeem sinners. ”

    Um … “Thus, sin (which we all inherit in Adam)”. Try to take a breath before going into RC nuking mode.
    Shea’s point is that sin is not part of our nature and so not necessitated by it; what God created is good – “Sin is precisely what is contrary to our human nature …. nature is essentially good since it and grace (not sin) have the same author: God … saints shall no longer be afflicted by sin in any way. That would be impossible if sin and humanness were identical.”

    “But if you insist that we would not have Christianity without Mary, then why did Anselm (a saint by both your and my standards) instead of writing Cur Deus Homo not write Why Mary Conceived without Sin? (Sorry my Latin is rusty.) ”

    That wouldn’t be the same Anselm that wrote the 3 Marian prayers found here would it – http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/anselm.html

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  3. vd, c, if that’s Shea’s point, then why did Mary need a miraculous conception? Because of the fall. Post-fall, sin is natural.

    Anselm’s prayers aren’t to Mary, right? They’re like prayer requests.

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  4. Darryl,

    “Post-fall, sin is natural.”

    Adam, you, me, Christ all have the same human nature. Otherwise, Christ redeemed nothing as the old maxim of Gregory of Naz states – “For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved”. We aren’t different creatures or some subhuman thing post-fall (which is also why your “Post-fall, sinless humans occupying heaven is impossible without grace” is off – pre-fall required it as well – no covenant of works business).

    And again, Shea explicitly states “Thus, sin (which we all inherit in Adam)” so your blasting him for somehow implying the fall has no effect and we have no need for Christ because sin is not intrinsic to human nature is completely off the mark.

    Any prayer to a saint is by definition intercessory. The point is Anselm wrote Cur Deus Homo and he also wrote those prayers that affirm the same sentiment Shea is endorsing – no Christianity without Mary – she’s not just some incubator afterthought.

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  5. “And if Mary needs to be sinless to bear Christ, then what about Mary’s mother needing to be sinless to bear Mary? And what about Mary’s grandmother to bear Mary’s mother? You see where this is going — thanks to the fall, which you don’t apparently see.”

    I’ve brought this up to RC’s many times. It’s always, “no, just Mary needed to be sinless”. How convenient. Rome is atrocious.

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  6. vd, c, have you not read Boston on the Four-fold state of man? Don’t complain if Roman Catholics don’t understand sin. Such as Christ and I have the same human nature but I need to be saved from my human nature. Huh? Oh wait, Christ and I don’t have the same human nature. But Mark Shea is right.

    Double huh.

    If only you, Mark, and the magisterium could be as clear as this: “By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.” (Confession of Faith 6.2)

    But that would mean giving up Aristotle.

    Well, what about Judas and Pilate? No Christianity without them, right?

    So you do pray to Mary. Why? She’s not god, right? Or should Anselm have written, Why Mary became God?

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  7. Was Mary Sinless? Seeing as everyone agrees it’s a tradition of the church, I can just claim to be augustinian and gladly move on to the next topic, since I can’t for the life of me figure out why maintaining this doctrine is necessary for the Christian. Thank you Martin Luther, hashtag sola scriptura

    For among the things that are plainly laid down in Scripture are to be found all matters that concern faith and the manner of life.

    -Augustine

    St. Augustine’s City of God and Christian Doctrine

    Chapter 9.—How We Should Proceed in Studying Scripture.

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  8. But CVD, the point is that Shea’s point doesn’t point to anything coherent.

    First, he says: Very well then, if there is nothing intrinsically impossible with the idea of sinless humanness in heaven for people who don’t happen to be Jesus, there is also nothing intrinsically impossible with Mary is being preserved from sin right here on earth by the same God who gets people to heaven.

    Preserved from sin? Yes, possible by the work of the Spirit. But failing to inherit sin from Adam? How? Catholics don’t believe children are born innocent.

    There’s a missing step in the argument, a missing mechanism by which Mary was born without original sin.

    Shea’s point fails to point.

    So let’s try to be intelligent readers and guess at the missing step. Perhaps Shea means that not only did God preserve Mary from sin, but He also caused her by some process to not inherit Adam’s sin. OK. That missing step would be congruent with the doctrine of Immaculate Conception. Let’s call that process “The Sinless Conception.”

    But now, Shea says

    we find that to deny the sinlessness of Mary on the mere ground that she’s human and therefore must be sinful has the surprising effect of messing up our understanding of the Incarnation.

    And there is an understandable reason for that. Mary is the source of the Incarnation. Christianity is not merely a religion of the word. It is a relationship with the Word made flesh. But the Word gets his flesh from somewhere. All Christians believe in the blood of Christ shed on the cross. But God the Son, in his divine nature, had no blood to shed till the received it in purity from his mother. No Mary, no Incarnation; no Incarnation, no death on the cross; no death on the cross, no resurrection; no resurrection, no salvation for the world. Get rid of Mary and you don’t get a purified faith: you get nothing.

    How does that follow? First, no-one is literally advocating “getting rid of Mary”, so we must take that as a rhetorical flourish that means “get rid of Mary’s sinlessness.”

    So, says Shea, if we deny Mary’s sinlessness, then Jesus cannot be born pure.

    And at this point, we all throw up our hands and ask, If Mary can be born without inheriting sin from Adam, then why couldn’t Jesus?

    That’s the ball-game. If a Catholic can postulate a Sinless Conception for Mary, born of two humans, then the Protestant can postulate a Sinless Conception for Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit.

    Mary’s sinlessness (whether true or false) is entirely theologically unnecessary. There is no actual need to suppose it.

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  9. Mary’s sinlessness (whether true or false) is entirely theologically unnecessary. There is no actual need to suppose it.

    Cletus’ pastor who claims infallibility for himself, says otherwise.

    So there.

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  10. Post-ascension appearances of — wait for it — Mary. Plus, it’s an anniversary:

    Today Catholics celebrate the anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in the Portuguese village of Fatima in 1917.
    These extraordinary events can be seen as ushering in the catastrophic twentieth century. By 1917 the first World War was grinding on with horrors never before imagined by the human race. The lady of Fatima predicted another war if mankind did not repent. This war would be presaged by a heavenly sign. This took place with an amazing display in the night sky across Europe on January 25, 1938–just before Europe was plunged into another war.

    The rest of the century would witness untold misery and bloodshed in genocide, atomic warfare, terrorism, famine, natural disaster and the rise of technologies that would poison nature, destroy the family and set humanity on a course of self destruction.

    The miraculous nature of the events at Fatima have been affirmed by the church and most of the popes of the last century have had a strong personal and seemingly apocalyptic association with the prophecies given to the three children. The co-incidence of the dates of May 13 (when the apparitions began) and October 13 (when the apparitions ended with the miracle of the sun) are interesting. Pope Piux XII was consecrated bishop on May 13, 1917 – the day of the first apparition and became known as the Fatima Pope. He consecrated the world to Our Lady of Fatima and made repeated references to the prophecies.

    And we’re supposed to believe the science behind climate change?

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  11. The above goes against the language of the Scriptures. But what is worse, it, in the end, returns people to have hope in the hopeless, obedience to the law.

    Using the language of the Scriptures, we see that there are 3 natures: our created nature, our fallen nature, and our new nature. And it isn’t until the fallen until we have physically died that our fallen nature can no longer affect us.

    As for Mary, she had problems. But Jesus was immaculately conceived so we can trust God to overcome any problems Mary’s own nature might have presented. All of this leaves only God to be worshipped through Jesus.

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  12. Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Mary being Co-Redemptrix. But hey, that’s just weirdo rad-trads, right? Mary was just sinless, ‘cuz reasons.

    And neo-Caths wonder why we take such issue with Mariolatry.

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  13. All those supposed Mary apparitions were demons. It’s been documented that they have looked differently. People have described her differently If it was always Mary, then all the descriptions of her would be the same but they’re not. They’re not seeing Mary, they’re seeing demons. Satan coming as an angel of light and all that. Run far from Rome and do it now.

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  14. “Get rid of Mary and you don’t get a purified faith: you get nothing. That is the consequence of overlooking this often neglected truth.”

    Any takers? Can you refute this concluding statement?

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  15. Joe m
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
    Mark Shea? Seriously? He epitomizes the lameness of current lay Cafholic apologetics. And is it ever lame. The only living ones who sell at all outside of the Catholic ghetto are those like Peter Kreeft and Thomas Howard, former Protestants who sound far more like Protestants than Catholics. Scott Hahn? Never met a Proestant non-infatuated with Rome who can stomach him, despite the bouquet a crony endorsements he has accrued.

    ___________________________

    D. G. Hart
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink
    Joe m, thanks for the skinny.
    _______________________________

    Wow, what gratuitous slime. Yet we quote gay seminary washout Michael Sean Winters of the apostate National Catholic Reporter authoritatively around here. Amazing.

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  16. Would anyone aside from me like to see vd, t’s hierarchy of Roman Catholic authorities? Don’t you think he could help out the church if he published his thoughts? He’s like an Al Mohler who never writes about the faith but corrects any Protestant who does.

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  17. DGH, personally, not really. I mean, they all submit to Pope Francis anyway. He may have a point that we think too much about RCism here, their history (I.e. Borgias, Avignon) I find interesting, but you make a good point RCism of the 21st century seems too much “golly gee wilikers” Mister Rogers kinda ethos.

    Like you, their Church is not my cup of tea, not really impressed with them given their wealth and size. I could go on and on..

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  18. D.G. Hart:
    Mrs. W. “Get rid of Mary and you don’t get a purified faith: you get nothing.”

    Show me where the apostles said that.

    Time’s yours.>>>>

    Seriously? You don’t understand? It’s pretty simple. Get rid of Mary, and Jesus was never born, and there was no Incarnation. She is the woman prophesied about in Genesis 3:16. She is the virgin who conceived and bore a Son – Immanuel, God with us – Jesus.

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  19. D. G. Hart
    Posted May 15, 2015 at 6:38 am | Permalink
    Would anyone aside from me like to see vd, t’s hierarchy of Roman Catholic authorities? Don’t you think he could help out the church if he published his thoughts? He’s like an Al Mohler who never writes about the faith but corrects any Protestant who does.

    Whenever you resort to these personal attacks like this, you’re admitting you have no reply.

    Your chosen authorities on Catholicism like Rod Dreher [ex-Catholic], Michael Sean Winters [gay ex-seminarian] and Ross Douthat [New York Times columnist] are wanting.

    Aquinas is good. Pope Ratzinger is good. Peter Kreeft seems cool, though I never heard of him until now.

    http://chnetwork.org/2011/10/hauled-aboard-the-ark-conversion-story-of-peter-kreeft/

    The typical Calvinist anti-Catholic attitude I knew was not so much prejudice, judgment with no concern for evidence, but judgment based on apparent and false evidence: sincere mistakes rather than dishonest rationalizations.

    That’s been my experience, although with some very pointed exceptions. =:-O

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  20. She is the woman prophesied about in Genesis 3:16.

    Huh?

    To the woman he said,
    “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
    Your desire shall be for your husband,
    and he shall rule over you.”

    I thought RCs didn’t believe she felt the pains of labor:

    CATECHISM OF THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
    PART 1: THE CREED
    Article III

    We can also know what the Church believes from her prayers:

    In the preface of the votive Mass in honor of Mary at the foot of the cross, we read the words: “She who had given Him birth without the pains of childbirth was to endure the greatest of pains in bringing forth to new life the family of the Church.”
    www[dot]cst-phl.com/marian.html

    On the contrary, Augustine says (Sermone de Nativitate supposititious), addressing himself to the Virgin-Mother: “In conceiving thou wast all pure, in giving birth thou wast without pain.”
    I answer that, The pains of childbirth are caused by the infant opening the passage from the womb. Now it has been said above (Q28,A2, Replies to Objections), that Christ came forth from the closed womb of His Mother, and, consequently, without opening the passage. Consequently there was no pain in that birth, as neither was there any corruption; on the contrary, there was much joy therein for that God-Man “was born into the world,” according to Isaiah 35:1,2: “Like the lily, it shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise.”
    SUMMA THEOLOGICA
    Q35,A6
    http://www.catholicforum.com/forums/showthread.php?11870-Did-the-Virgin-Mary-suffer-the-pains-of-childbirth

    So yeah , I seriously dont understand, and doubt DGH is doing much better with what wrote here.

    How is Mary Prophesied in Gen 3:16?

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  21. Whenever you resort to these personal attacks like this, you’re admitting you have no reply.

    Tom, my sense is DGH doesnt care whether you think he has no reply. He’s having a conversation as best hr can, you and webfoot choose to come here and discuss your view s on religion, no one is making you, and if either of you feel uncomfortable, you can now out anytime.

    Dgh is an ordained presby elder, Erik an ordained Reformed elder, me an ordained presby deacon. We aren’t infallible, but our motives are not nefarious. We want to open up the floor to see what you have to say. Its a safe place here , I’ll do my best to help moderate things. My religious life is an open book, I enjoy hearing from others who wish to share, that’s all.

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  22. https://oldlife.org/2013/12/wow/comment-page-4/#comment-109929
    Question and Answer
    The OPC, original sin and immaculate conception

    Question:

    Do Presbyterians believe in original sin and immaculate conception? What method(s) of baptism do they employ?

    Answer:

    Thank you for your questions to us. Let me answer them in the order you bring them.

    Yes, we believe that the Bible teaches that all men are born with the guilt and corruption brought about by Adam’s sin. As our Westminster Confession of Faith expresses it (in Chapter 6 regarding the Fall into sin):

    3. They [our first parents] being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.
    Just as a note: that last phrase about “ordinary generation” specifically refers to the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, the only one born without this guilt and corruption.

    From that previous quotation, you can see that we do not believe in the immaculate conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We believe that only Jesus Christ was born without sin.

    We believe that the proper method of Baptism would be by sprinkling or pouring, though we accept immersion as a valid means. This is because the Biblical meaning of baptism refers to the washing and marking by the Holy Spirit, who descends from above.

    I hope these answers are helpful.
    Question and Answer
    Why wasn’t Mary’s sin passed on to Jesus?

    Question:

    A non-Christian asked if we teach that Jesus was sinless because he did not have a human father, wasn’t his human mother, Mary, sinful? Why wasn’t her sin passed on to her son, Jesus?

    Answer:

    You ask an important question about the sinlessness and perfection of Jesus Christ.

    As you suggest, if there is any way in which Christ partakes of sin, he is disqualified from being the only redeemer of God’s elect (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 21). The testimony of Scripture about this is clear. Hebrews says that Christ was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sinning (Heb. 4:15). Christ challenged his adversaries to prove that he had sinned and they could not (John 8:46). As the apostle Paul put it, “For our sake he made him [Christ] to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21, cf. 1 Pet. 2:22, 1 John 3:5). He is a high priest unlike any other who is “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Heb. 7:26). His title as the Lamb of God (John 1:29) also draws our attention to his innocence.

    The early church thought deeply about this as it formulated clear statements about Jesus Christ having two natures, a divine nature and a human nature, yet being one person. Christ unites in himself uniquely and in an unrepeatable way, this union (called the hypostatic union) of the human and the divine. This is the mystery of the Incarnation that the creeds of the church confess.

    The way in which God answers your question is in the mystery of the virgin birth. The Scriptures begin from, what one theologian terms, “above” (Donald Macleod). John 1 or Philippians 2 show this movement from the eternal Son of God to the incarnate Son of God. This is how the Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes it:

    Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin. (Q. 22)
    As Matthew described it, Mary was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit (1:18), and then the angel explained it to Joseph: “that which is conceived in her [Mary] is from the Holy Spirit” (1:20). The explanation to Mary herself, in response to her “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34), leaves any human agency out of the incarnation in the normal way of conception, for the angel tells Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called ‘holy’—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Without further description of how this would occur, the Bible testifies that the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary (the same idea as the cloud which overshadowed the Mount of Transfiguration) in such a way that she indeed became the bearer of the Holy One of God (Gal. 4:4); and her offspring, Jesus Christ, remained without sin. God does not specify in greater detail than this how the conception of Jesus by-passed Mary’s own sinfulness to preserve Christ’s sinlessness, but the rest of Scripture, as I indicated above, affirms that Christ did not inherit our sin nature. He came to be the Second Adam (Rom. 5) who could forgive sins because he himself was both the One offended and himself sinless.

    The glory of the grace found in Jesus Christ is that though he was without sin, yet he had pity upon sinners so as to die in their place while we were enemies, ungodly, and sinful (Rom. 5:6, 8, 10). We need a Savior who is fully human to bear patiently with us, yet is able to atone for our sin as the final and perfect sacrifice. The sinlessness of Christ makes a passage like Isaiah 53:9–11 so marvelous in that Christ had no deceit in his mouth and by his death he made many to be accounted righteous.

    I hope this is of some help.

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  23. Mrs. W. I understand that Mary gave birth to Jesus.

    But you can make a similar argument about Rahab. Don’t you know the genealogies of the Bible? Wait, you’re Roman Catholic.

    The point is that the Bible and the apostles don’t say no Mary, no faith. In fact, you can’t imagine a Saint less prominent in the very books written by the people who knew her.

    You believe what you want to believe.

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  24. D.G. Hart:
    The point is that the Bible and the apostles don’t say no Mary, no faith. >>>>

    Actually, there are several points that you seem to be missing, and my mistake on the ref. for the protoevangelium did not help.

    1. Genesis 3:15 prophesied a specific woman, not just any old woman. My bad. I did say Genesis 3:16 earlier. Here is what I meant.

    Genesis 3:15English Standard Version (ESV)

    15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring[a] and her offspring;
    he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

    2. Same with Isaiah 7:13-15

    Isaiah 7:13-15English Standard Version (ESV)

    13 And he[a] said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.[b] 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

    3. Surely you are not saying that the apostles denied these two passages that are clearly talking about the Virgin Mary?

    4. Surely you are not saying that God did not know who would be the mother of His Son? The apostles knew that Mary was His mother.

    What are you saying?

    The Incarnation is dependent, of course, on God’s sovereign will. That makes the Incarnation dependent on God’s instrument, Mary – the woman, the virgin. You do use the term “incarnation”, which is a word that no apostle ever used. Right?

    The propagation of the Gospel is dependent on those who preach it, as per Romans 10

    14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

    In the same way, the Incarnation is dependent on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sure, your tradition teaches you that Mary was not perpetually virgin. Your tradition teaches you that God did not protect Mary from original sin. I certainly hope that your tradition does not teach you that it would be impossible for God to protect the Mother of God from the taint of original sin. He could do that, right? You just believe that He did not do that.

    Your conscience tells you that those traditions are not true. That is your right. Maybe we could talk about what Augustine believed about the Blessed Virgin Mary. That might make for an interesting and profitable conversation.

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  25. Mrs. W., who’s denying the virgin Mary? What I’m denying are all the other claims made on her behalf. And you have yet to address that the New Testament is remarkably silent about her compared to all the falderal in your circles. Immaculate conception. Rosary. Apparitions? Bodily assumption. She’s there in the NT. But the big deal in the Bible is Jesus, right?

    Plus, interpreting the Bible is above your pay grade. You’re supposed to pay, pray, and obey.

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  26. BTW, no Rahab, no Incarnation, either, but she was not The Woman and she certainly was no virgin.

    Rahab is, though, proof of that fact that justification is not by faith alone.

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  27. @ Mrs. W: I hope it’s OK for me to interject, but I would ask the question (and answer it) this way.

    Given that the gospel of Mark (and Luke, and Matthew, and John) are silent about Mary’s sinlessness and her perpetual virginity, what does that tell us about the centrality and importance of those concepts, even if true?

    Here’s what Irenaeus said:

    We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. — Irenaeus, Adv. Haer, 3.1.1

    The plan of salvation is handed down in the Scriptures so as to be the ground and pillar of the faith. He then goes on, of course, to defend a public, not hidden, tradition handed down from the apostles. But for Ir., the Scripture is the ground and pillar of faith, confirmed by that publicly known tradition.

    From this, I think it’s safe to conclude that if none of the gospels teach any of sinlessness nor perpetual virginity nor coredemptrixhood, then those doctrines are not the pillar and ground of the faith. They are not gospel issues.

    So when you ask whether it is logically impossible that sinlessness and PV are true, you are setting too low a bar for the ground of our belief. We are not committed to believing anything that might be logically possible! (I’m sure you agree).

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  28. Jeff Cagle:
    So when you ask whether it is logically impossible that sinlessness and PV are true, you are setting too low a bar for the ground of our belief. We are not committed to believing anything that might be logically possible! (I’m sure you agree).>>>>>>

    I am setting the bar low for you, if the possibility of God’s miraculous intervention in human affairs in order to accomplish His plan of redemption is a low bar.

    The first question to be answered is, “Can God do it?” At least it was for me. That questions should be easy to answer in the affirmative.

    The difficult question for Protestants is, “Did God do it?”

    Remember, too, that the very concept of original sin is one of your Reformed traditions. It is based on Scripture, plus logic, plus St. Augustine and others. So, you do not arrive at the doctrine of original sin through sola scriptura.

    You might be interested in this entry about “original sin” from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm

    Remember, too, that the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary was discussed for a long time among Church theologians. It was not made official until 1854, but it had been postulated from the time of the Church fathers.

    Once again I refer you to the Catholic Encyclopedia.
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm

    Notice what Augustine said.:

    “In refuting Pelagius St. Augustine declares that all the just have truly known of sin “except the Holy Virgin Mary, of whom, for the honour of the Lord, I will have no question whatever where sin is concerned” (On Nature and Grace 36).”

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  29. Yes, certainly, God could easily lead Mary to take a vow of virginity. It seems somewhat improbable for someone who would then consent to be married, but it could happen.

    And I cannot rule out on logical grounds that God could prevent the transmission of original sin to Mary. It would be require a high bar of Scriptural proof to believe that He did so (since the default position is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”), but I cannot tell Him what He cannot do.

    The question, as you say, is whether God actually *did* either of those things. And there’s a really wide gap between “could have” and “did.”

    Webfoot: Remember, too, that the very concept of original sin is one of your Reformed traditions. It is based on Scripture, plus logic, plus St. Augustine and others. So, you do not arrive at the doctrine of original sin through sola scriptura.

    Not so. You are taking three different components (Scripture, logic, tradition) and treating them as equal ingredients, as if using Scripture alone ought to exclude entirely the use of logic or tradition.

    And of course, that is not what sola scriptura is or means. I’m a little surprised — do I remember correctly that you were originally Protestant? In the correct understanding of sola scriptura, each of Scripture, logic, and tradition plays a particular role.

    The meaning of sola scriptura is that

    * Scripture is alone the final authority
    * Doctrines should not be taught or required of believers unless they can be shown to be directly taught OR taught by good and necessary inference from Scripture (there’s logic for you)
    * Tradition is a subordinate authority, given to temper the noetic effect of sin in and creaturely limitations of individuals. Specifically, the decisions of the church are to be received with submission insofar as they are consonant with Scripture.

    So actually, I would dispute the assertion and say rather that the doctrine of original sin is taught by good and necessary inference in Scripture, and confirmed by church tradition. That’s straight-up sola scriptura.

    So let’s accept original sin as a settled theorem. How do you get from there to Mary’s sinlessness?

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