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Who is Mary?

Discussion in 'Mariology & Hagiography' started by mindlight, Sep 10, 2020.

Who was Mary? Choose the one nearest to your own view

  1. Mary was immaculately conceived, a perpetual virgin, assumed in heaven and the Mother of God

  2. Mary was a blessed woman and a great example to us all and the Mother of our Lord

  3. Mary was just another woman

  4. Other, Please explain

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    Being born an Anglican with a more Protestant than Catholic outlook and brought up with a high veneration of scripture I have always been intensely sceptical of Catholic and Orthodoc views of Mary and generally dismissed them as Marianity and a distraction from true religion. But recently I have been challenged by some of my readings of the Early Church Fathers who clearly had radically different views to Protestants today. I guess I wanted to use this thread to sift fact from fiction about Mary and to see what is solid and what is not. So I have a list below of assertions people make about Mary. Some of which are directly supported from scripture and some of which have been dominant in tradition. There is also a quiz. I would be really interested to hear how you approach the question of who is right and who is wrong about Mary on the individual assertions below.

    1) Parents: Joachim and Anna a barren woman - based on tradition. a descendant of David?
    2) Immaculate conception : so she was born without sin - tradition and Catholic doctrine 1854
    3) Virgin conception of Jesus by Holy Spirit - Matthew and Lukes gospel, Council of Nicea 325
    4) Bore Jesus in her womb leading to her description as the God bearer (Theotokos) or Mother of God as others emphasise - Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus) 431 refuted Nestorius who said she was only birth giver of Christ not God
    5) Virgin after birth process ie hymen did not break - Constantinople 553
    6) Bore other children after Jesus - Josephus mentioned Jesus had a brother James, The bible apparently mentions brothers and sisters. But Catholics suggest these were half brothers from Josephs previous marriage or cousins.
    7) Was present during Jesus ministry - mentions in Temple when a child, in Wedding Feast of Canaan, at cross, in room before Pentecost
    8) Died in Israel or Ephesus - conflicting traditions
    9) Assumed into heaven. Revelation 12:1;5-6 "woman clothed with the sun" - Catholics 1950
    10) Visitations and miracles through history. Are these real?

    The Catholics seem most devoted to Mary and have most to say about her. But Barth described this devotion as the biggest heresy of the Catholic church

    What do you think?
     
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  2. solid_core

    solid_core Well-Known Member

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    Other - "Mary was a blessed woman". Period.
     
  3. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother? Supporter

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    Yes. Our Lady occasionally carries messages from God. Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe and others, for example.
     
  4. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    Other. No to all the 'Catholic' stuff, except for those things they share with the Orthodox as a result of Rome's own previous Orthodoxy (e.g., Mary is Theotokos, virgin conception of Jesus, etc.); yes to everything affirmed in councils 1-3. Yes to those visitations which happened to Orthodox (e.g., Zeitoun); no to those that are specific to Catholics (e.g., Fatima).
     
  5. narnia59

    narnia59 Regular Member Supporter

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    I think Barth has no authority to define heresy at all.

    1) -- certainly part of tradition but not doctrinal
    2) -- Yes
    3) -- Yes
    4) -- Yes
    5) -- I would need to see the reference from the Council
    6) -- Mary had no other children
    7) -- Yes
    8) -- No opinion, not doctrinal
    9) -- Yes
    10) -- Part of private revelation. Those visitations from the Church that have been found to be authentic may be accepted by the faithful but not dogmatic and not required to believe.
     
  6. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    So you deny virgin conception or that she gave birth to Jesus?
     
  7. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    Are these messages always theologically and historically accurate. What would you say was the best èxample of where a Marian visitation advanced Gods Kingdom
     
  8. solid_core

    solid_core Well-Known Member

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    There is no such option in the poll. I deny everything that is not in the Bible, about her.
     
  9. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    That reads a little like just repeating the party line which in your case is Orthodox.
     
  10. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    Ok that sounds like the Catholic line. The fifth Ecumenical called her "ever virgin". Pope Martin interpreted that 100 years,later in terms of perpetual virginity before during and after birth.

    The main struggles I have with the Catholic view is that the level of their devotion contrasts with the paucity of scriptural references and goes well beyond them. Also there was no real affirmation from early church fathers about this perpetual virginity theme till Tertullian at end of second century and people of that time seemed somewhat ascetic in their ideas of purity. I do not see impurity in a faithful wife or mother who has had sex with her husband and given birth, so cannot see the necessity of virginity after birth in Marys case. Also it seems like a distraction from Christ to say she too was without sin when He is the One who redeems us not her, it was he who went to the cross not her, it is that brings God and Man together in one person

    Also why would Jesus need a perfect mum to be without sin. Sin is an activity not a state. So does it distract from the themes of incarnation to suggest that the humanity he inherited from his mother gave him struggles that he overcame perfectly

    Re the assumption , no real issues with that cause there is a biblical example in case of Moses. But not sure we can say for sure.

    Is the fruit of Fatima a growth in Gods Kingdom and in true devotion

    The third council in Ephesus battled Nestorius who asked questions like how could God have a mother. I did not agree with his answer but it was a fantastic question. We cannot dismiss that special contribution Mary made. She was Jesus's mother but she was not there before Creation and nor was she there before God.
     
  11. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    And? Why would you expect anything else?

    You start a thread with a distinct RCC vs. Everyone Else bias, and now you're type as though you're surprised that someone has chosen to answer in favor of their own Church, and not the RCC. Okayyy. :scratch:
     
  12. narnia59

    narnia59 Regular Member Supporter

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    I am not certain that “ever virgin” dogmatically means leaving the hymen intact which is why I asked for the citation. I know that some interpret it that way, but I think in terms of official teaching the term is just “ever virgin” and doesn’t specify how the birth occurs; just that Mary never has sexual intercourse.


    There is nothing impure or wrong with a faithful wife or mother having sex with her husband or giving birth. We must remember though that this is not the norm; it is a once in eternity unique situation.

    All Marian dogmas are Christo-centric, meaning they illuminate a truth about Christ, either his Divinity, or humanity, or both. The dogma of Mary ever-virgin speaks to Christ’s divinity. When you look at the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament – would the Israelites ever have considered using it for “ordinary” things? Would they have taken the dishes that had been consecrated for use in the tent and used them for everyday purposes? There certainly isn’t anything inherently wrong with using dishes to serve a normal meal. But they weren't even allowed to touch the Ark -- it had to be moved without touching it. So the answer is no, they never would have used it for ordinary things because it had been consecrated and set apart by God for his specific purposes. As was Mary. There is no other person who is worthy to share the same womb that bore Christ, it’s as simple as that. if you were St. Joseph, would you at least not have thought twice about whether it was appropriate to have sex with the woman who had given birth to the son of God?

    There is also Scriptural evidence that Mary’s intention was to remain a virgin her entire life. God did not “derail” her plans at all.

    There is not “necessity” that Mary remain sinless in order to give birth to Christ. But it again points to his humanity and divinity. It is fitting that she was saved by him from sin in a unique and more profound way.




    I believe it has shown to be that, but again it is not dogmatic in any way and not required of a Catholic to believe.



    I believe the issues that people have related to the title of Mary as “Mother of God” is because we have confused “mother” with “creator” in our thinking. Mothers are not “creators” of their children. The Council is clear in articulating that dogma that Mary did not precede God nor create him. This is their statement:

    "Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh."

    This again speaks to both the divinity and humanity of Christ. Divinity in that it clearly states that Jesus is God – Mary is the mother of God. Humanity in that it clearly states that Mary is the mother of God – he has a human nature and is truly one of us.
     
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  13. FenderTL5

    FenderTL5 864511320 Supporter

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    The Virgin Mary is the Theotokos, the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son and Word of God. She conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. She was cared for by her betrothed husband, Joseph, who took the child and his mother into his home as his own.

    The title Theotokos (in Greek, Θεοτόκος) is a Greek word that means "God-bearer" or "Birth-giver to God." Calling Mary "Theotokos" not just to glorify her, but to safeguard a right doctrine of Christ's person, the Incarnation. Orthodox Christians feel that one cannot really believe in the Incarnation and not honor Mary.

    The Orthodox Church calls Mary "immaculate," "pure," or "spotless" (achrantos in Greek). Some Orthodox state that she was free from actual sin, some say she never sinned, and others just say she died sinless.

    The majority of Orthodox have rejected the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, for it seems to separate Mary from the rest of mankind. It is important that Mary was the same as all mankind so that all Christians can follow her example and submit to God's will. Mary was born a sinner, a human with full human nature. Mary’s Son, Jesus the Christ, took flesh from her. So as Son of God, He assumed fallen human nature from her and redeemed humanity by His Crucifixion and Resurrection.

    According to Orthodox Tradition, Mary died like all humanity, "falling asleep," so to speak, as the name of the feast indicates. She died as all people die, not "voluntarily" as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world.

    The Apostles were miraculously summoned to this event, and all were present except Thomas when Mary passed from this life. She was then buried.

    Thomas arrived a few days later, and desiring to see her one more time, convinced the others to open her tomb. Upon doing so, the Apostles discovered that her body was no longer present. This event is seen as a firstfruits of the resurrection of the faithful that will occur at the Second Coming of Christ. The event is normally called the Dormition, though there are many Orthodox parishes in English-speaking countries with the name Assumption. In Greek, Dormition is Koimisis—falling asleep in death—from which the word cemetery derives.
    She truly died and was raised up by her Son as the Mother of Life and participates already in the eternal life of paradise. This life of paradise is prepared and promised to all who "hear the word of God and keep it." (Luke 11:27-28)

    from The Magnificat
    My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
    For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
     
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  14. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother? Supporter

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    Does the gigantic conversion of Mexico count?
     
  15. prodromos

    prodromos Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Ditto. :)
     
  16. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    No but I was interested in why you differed from the RC line. The poll gives the headcounts
     
  17. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    Maybe this is the essential discussion when it comes to Mary and indeed a discussion of saints. The RC seem to make this strong separation between the Sacred and the Profane, the Holy and the ordinary. But the whole point of the Incarnation was to bring God back into our lives and to redeem us from our sins. Jesus as man went to toilet, got tired, slept, had to blow his nose, was instinctively attracted to a pretty woman and occasionally got body odour. He did not walk around 1 foot above the ground glowing like some neon lamp in a dark place. It seems to me to dehumanise Mary to suggest that her experience of God and that of bearing Jesus in her womb meant that thereafter she no longer wished to be a human being. Our experiences of God do not overwrite our humanity they purify and animate it. Also she was not some box in the Holy of Holies containing the law. She was a woman with a womans desires and feelings. I do not know what Joseph felt. Presumably though he wanted to marry Mary in part cause she was an attractive female with whom he could envisage having sex, it was a normal jealous reaction to suspect her when she was found to be pregnant of having slept with another man. Again does the fact that God was in her life in such a profound way make her more or less attractive. Personally I think a Christian wife is pretty hot actually.

    Where is the scripture that says that Mary intended to remain a virgin?

    Sinless is in thought and action which is pretty much impossible in a fallen world without Christ. Mary was not always pregnant with the Son of God inside her. Having a sinful mother does not have to mean those sins are inherited in the child and especially when the action of conception inside that woman involved the Holy Spirit of God. What the doctrine of the immaculate conception does is widen the scope of sinless perfection to Mary and by association to the church. It thereby eliminates the distinction between Christ and the Church and grants an authority and devotion to the church which actually belongs only to God.


    Well we both accept the ruling of the Council of Ephesus on this. Personally I doubt Nestorius himself really believed much different from this and it came down to the semantical definition of motherhood. Mary was not there before creation and indeed before God but she did bear God in her womb and could thereby be called his human mother.
     
  18. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    We all accept the third council ruling on the Theotokos but what do you mean by honouring Mary. Do you pray to her and ask her to intercede for you for instance, do you elevate her above other mothers of Christian children. Do you honour her specificially cause she was the mother of Jesus?

    This doctrine does seem to come late in the game and reflect cultural biases. Also it makes the Redemptive choices and activity of Jesus all the more profound to consider that he battled with the fallenness that he inherited from his mother and yet overcame it. She was his mother when she did as he said and obeyed Gods laws not when she sinned

    We agree Mary is blessed. The Dormitian or Assumption is a cool story, it is biblically possible, makes sense of certain themes in scripture and I hope it is true. Was this in Ephesus or Jerusalem according to Orthodox tradition and was that in 41AD?
     
  19. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

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    The Spanish conquest was the major factor. Many converted simply cause Catholicism became the new state religion. The Catholics were clever in contextualising the Christian message to the local feelings and traditions. But not sure there is any real evidence that a presentation of Mary was the crucial factor here.

    The vision of our Lady of Guadalupe spoke to the heart of the Mexican experience and millions converted in the wake of that vision. I do not know if this was an actual vision or a clever trick to displace the mother goddess of the Astecs Chimalma with a Christian alternative. I think I would like to believe it was real but ultimately it was just an illustration of where Mexico was at that time not where they were heading. Christians do not worship Mary but rather the royal King in her womb and a Mexican would have to see deeper than that vision of Mary to find Christ and salvation.

    The Grand Conversion Story - Our Lady of Guadalupe December 12th
     
  20. narnia59

    narnia59 Regular Member Supporter

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    I’m going to split this into a couple of posts for readability.

    I think the idea that if Mary is conceived without sin would make her no longer wish to be a human being is most problematic.

    There seems to be a view that this would make Mary somehow “less human,” and a fallen human nature somehow makes us “more human.”

    Adam and Eve were created without sin. God’s intent was they would live a sinless life in harmony with him. That was God’s definition of what it means to be “human.” When Adam and Eve freely choose to reject God and follow Satan, they place humanity under the bondage of sin. This is why St. Paul so often refers to sin not as simply acts of wrongdoing, but rather as our cosmic enemy that has enslaved humanity, and over which we have no control (Romans 3:9, Romans 6:6, Romans 6:17).

    The “normal” things you mention Jesus would have done as part of being human – those are all true for both him and Mary, as well as Adam and Eve before the fall. But those are completely different than a fallen human nature that is attracted to sin as a “good.” Christ was not enslaved to the powers of sin. He could be tempted, yes, just as Adam and Eve were tempted. At the moment of their temptation though, they were not yet under the bondage of sin. Only when they yielded to Satan do they become enslaved.

    Being created without sin simply means Mary is in the same state that Eve was upon her creation. This is why very early in Christian history (before the New Testament was formed, or the dogma of the Trinity developed), the early church fathers recognized Mary as the “new Eve.” There is a strong Scriptural basis for that if you have not explored it.

    Eve before the fall had complete freedom of will, was fully human, and had a human experience as God designed. This did not make her “less” human, it made her more so. As with Mary. Being conceived without sin did not mean she was not able to sin any more than Eve was not. It simply means that free from the bondage of sin, she could face the same choices Eve did and choose differently.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
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