Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A brief argument against Mary's Sinlessness

So I was listening to the 1987 debate between Catholic Answers founder Karl Keating and fundy KJV-Only-ist Peter Ruckman while I was moving to our new apt. And it's highly entertaining. And much to my surprise, one of the fundamentalists there actually asked a good question of Karl Keating. I could hardly believe it...

So Joseph and Mary go to present the infant Jesus at the temple and bring an offering. What's the offering for? A sin offering. Hmm, guess it was just an offering she gave just for the heck of it.

22 comments:

Lucian said...

... You mean, just like Christ was baptised just for the heck of it, right? (And watch Your mouth with these things -- some words just DON'T belong together in the same sentence, if You know what I mean).

Rhology said...

The difference between us, Lucian, is that one of us goes to the text to see what it says.

Matthew 3:11-15

I didn't see any mention of Mary doing or saying anythg special when she presented her sin offering. Why wouldn't she? She was a sinner saved by grace just like me.

Besides, aren't you Orthodox? You don't have a dogma of Immaculate Conception...

David Bryan said...

Indeed we don't. Makes it nice to show a difference between ancestral sin (which the Theotokos most certainly did have) and personal sin (which is not a dogma either way). Either way, Mary had sin to atone for, sin that was encoded in the very blood that had been defiled by her ancestral sin.

Lucian's point, though, was that Christ was baptized, yet not for the reason that most folks were -- for the remission of sins. It was done to fulfill righteousness, not necessarily to purge sin. Why could it not be so in this case? Why could the Theotokos not take her child to the temple to fulfill all rightousness (as indeed she would, regardless) yet without any real need for purification?

Again, I don't hold that Mary was free of ancestral sin (hence the need for purification), but even if she were, this is no prooftext against it, imo.

Rhology said...

One reason one should not assume that it was the same as Christ's baptism is, as I pointed out, Mary made no statement about it. It wasn't a special thing. It was just a matter of course, which was normal b/c she was a normal girl chosen by God b/c of His good pleasure.

David Bryan said...

"It wasn't a special thing. It was just a matter of course, which was normal b/c she was a normal girl chosen by God b/c of His good pleasure."

Neither does the Bible mention the above.

Rhology said...

So I'm just supposed to assume that she was NOT a normal girl, that she was special b/c of sthg other than God's choice, that she was sin-free even though she offered a sin offering and nothing else is known of her spirituality except her willingness to take custody of her crazy Son, rush Him to do miracles, and be among His disciples after His resurrection?

David Bryan said...

You would have to assume that--though she was highly favored and full of Grace, and the Lord was with her, as well as her worthiness to be called "blessed"--if you only looked to the canonical Scriptures for your knowledge of her life, sure.

Lucian said...

So Baptism isn't about sin? (That's what You're saying?).

"In one baptism unto the remission of sins", for instance.

Lucian said...

Rhology,

BTW, do Protestants believe that the Mother of God remained a virgin in the moments immediately following the Lord's birth? ... Or do they believe that she gave birth in child-labor, and/or that she lost her virginity by giving birth to Christ? Thanx.

Rhology said...

David Bryan said:

as well as her worthiness to be called "blessed"

It is an assumption on your part that she was "worthy" to be called "blessed". The basis of blessings in the Scr are so very often "I give so that no man may boast" "it's by grace", etc. A gift of blessing is a GIFT, upon the unworthy.

Lucian said:
So Baptism isn't about sin?

It is about sin for everyone except the sinless Messiah. Which John the Bap recognised. On which subject Jesus reassured him anyway.

do Protestants believe that the Mother of God remained a virgin in the moments immediately following the Lord's birth?

Honestly, I don't care. Not trying to be a jerk, but it's 100% unimportant to me.
If "virgin" = never had sex w/ a man, then yes, she remained a virgin until Joseph and she started normal marital relations after Christ's birth.
If "virgin" = her virginal membranes were intact, then I have no idea; the Scr doesn't say. All it does say is that she and Joseph had normal marital relations some time after Christ's birth, which answers the question about whether she was Ever-Virgin. But if you want to insist that her membranes remained inviolate during and after birth, I'll say it sounds really suspicious but it is not a big deal to me.

Lucian said...

David,

can *You* then (as a former Protestant) tell me what Protestants think about the Mother of God remaining a Virgin in the moments following Christ's birth? [if You want or need to break them up in groups, then please do so ... I'm not "expecting" them to ALL to have the exact same opinion on this].

-----
Alan,

I was curious about the issue when I asked the question. My answer would be that just as Jesus was batised without having sinned, so did Mary gave the sin-offering at 40 days after birth, without having her virginity defiled. (See Ezekiel 44:1-3).

The Gospeller doesn't tell us what You say. He simply says, (using a specific verb tense, which implies continuance [similar to the English Present & Past Perfect Tense]) that they haven't had relations (also implying that they didn't have them afterwards either).

Rhology said...

Lucian,

Her virginity has nothing to do w/ whether she was a sinner or not.
I was a virgin when I got married and I was 100% a sinner.
The point is that there's nothing in the text that would differentiate Mary from anyone else at the time. She did exactly what poor women did to obey the Levitical law. It's only by ASSUMING some non-Scriptural idea that you commit classic eisegesis.

As for the Greek rendering of the "until" of "Joseph kept her a virgin until she gave birth," see:

Eric Svendsen's definitive book on the topic.
See relevant articles here, here, and here.
Biblically, it's not in question.

Lucian said...

I'm speaking of the verb, not the adverb. (And, as I've repeatedly told You, THAT's what Christianity IS all about [i.e., exegesing Christ into the pages of the O.T.] ... otherwise we'll all be Jews).

-----
And the Law was respected by both Christ and his mother. Because both of them were meek and humble. (cf. Luke 1:48; Matthew 11:29). i.e., not "for the heck of it", as You've God-fearlessly expressed Yourself.

Rhology said...

Baptism was not part of the OT Law so I don't see the connection.

But yes, Mary was definitely a 100% God-fearing Jew, a faithful one! And she performed the sin offering transparently b/c she was following the OT Law for sinners. Sin offerings are sacrifices for sinners.
This is no indictment of Mary, to say she was a sinner. It's an indictment of those who would throw around this novel idea of Mary's sinlessness.

Lucian said...

The connection is OT ritual washings, which Jews practice even today [they sold *Synagogues* to buy *water-wells*, for cryin' out loud!], ... this, and the words of Jesus about "fullfilling ALL righteousness" (that is, of the law -- so that it might be abolished). -- glad, though, You see "no" connection. I'm glad for You.

That particular offering was for post-birth cleansing. (NO EXEGESIS THERE!). -- You forgot how to read English ? [We have this celebration on the 2nd day of February. We call it "The Reception Of The Lord"].

Neither was baptism "required" of Christ, nor that particular offering, 40 days after birth [of a male-child], required of Mary.

-------
P.S.: I *CAN'T* believe You tried to dodge the fact that baptism isn't a cleansing of sins. (by stating out facts that are not only irrelevant, but also blatantly false).

Lucian said...

... and sorry for the double-negation in my last paragraph. (It should read "that baptism IS a cleansing of sins"). Calques die hard. :p

Rhology said...

The connection is OT ritual washings

Oops, you're right. My mistake.

That particular offering was for post-birth cleansing.

Yes. And Leviticus specifically refers to it as a SIN OFFERING.

6'When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.
7'Then he shall offer it before the LORD and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female.
8'But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.'"

Neither was baptism "required" of Christ, nor that particular offering, 40 days after birth [of a male-child], required of Mary.

I don't understand - could you clarify, please?

I *CAN'T* believe You tried to dodge the fact that baptism IS a cleansing of sins

No, I believe it is. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, which occurs concurrently w/ the justification of the believer by grace thru faith plus nothing, is 100% efficacious for the cleansing of sins. All sins, past, present and future. Goes farther than the Orthodox doctrine of baptism does, actually.

Lucian said...

1a) Baptism is for cleansing sins.
2a) So are sin-offerings.
3a) Christ was baptised.
4a) But he had no "need" to.

1b) Sin-offerings are for cleansing sins.
3b) Mary gave a sin-offering.
4b) Though she didn't have to.

-----
P.S.: It seems like her sin is the one of giving birth. :)) -- and with this witty, wise-guy remarque I rest my typing. :)

Lucian said...

I don't understand - could you clarify, please?

It seems YOU already did, when You've copy-pasted this:

7'Then he shall offer it before the LORD and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood

Rhology said...

4b) - that's an eisegetical assumption on your part. I'm glad I don't have to defend something like that.

Cleansed from the flow of her blood, fine. By a SIN OFFERING. *And* a burnt offering. But remember, the former is an offering FOR SIN.

Lucian said...

Yes. And these were for the cleansing of her blood.

------
[Which cleansing, -in our opinion-, was not "needed", because she neither conceive, nor gave birth, as other women do: that is, by pain]. -- That's the exegesis part that You were refering to. [She subjected to this, though, -so our exegesis follows-, because of the same reason her Son underwent baptism (again, "un-needed" for Him): because both were meek and humble (Luke 1:48; Matthew 11:29) and underwent the Father's will at all costs[*] (stoning for Mary, for giving birth to a {possibly} illegitimate son -- good that Joseph changed hids mind; crucifixion for Jesus, for daring to call himself God ... sheesh! can You even imagine the nerve of This Guy? ;D )].

[*] - Philippians 2:8.

Lucian said...

a normal girl

:) -- this one made me smile.

James 5:17.