Dear brother Mina,
Marduk, so nice to see you here again. Merry Christmas.
Thank you! I feel so blessed to be able to celebrate it twice!
I also feel blessed to be able to converse with you again. I really wanted to continue our conversation way back on the Pelagian issue. I don't know if it will be appropriate in this Forum, though.
I understand fully your beliefs, and I hope in saying what I said, I didn't misrepresent your beliefs.
Thank you for your careful and intelligent words throughout our conversation. Nothing you have ever said has ever been insulting. I've always sensed you were genuinely asking instead of pontificating what you thought I believed.
To pinpoint exactly where our disagreement is, I think you understand that our Church, at least the Coptic Church, sees the grace and sanctification the Theotokos and the Forerunner received does not result in the same way as the grace of baptism results in. Pre-incarnate grace occurred many times in the Old Testament, just not in the fullness of which the Incarnation brings.
This is how I feel it should be for consistency's sake. I wonder if other OO's feel the same way, and perhaps maybe the term "immaculate conception" could be interpreted another way in their traditions, given the context of many Church fathers who did not see the curse lifted until Christ was incarnate.
Yes. Thank you for pointing that out. I admit I must apologize for not being too clear on this point in our past conversations. Mary is indeed unique in the sense that she is the new Eve. As St. Ephraim wrote, before their respective decisions, Mary and Eve were “utterly equal.” I think he meant her spiritual state – being perfectly united to God, just as Eve was.
Let’s forget about the terminology. Let’s cut to the concepts. It’s about Mary’s perpetual spiritual state, nothing more, nothing less. Here are the questions I suggest we discuss, with my proposed answers:
(1) Did Mary have Grace even before the Annunciation? I propose she did, for the Angel had addressed her as “full of Grace” (or at least “abundantly filled with Grace”). Without this Grace, the belief that Mary could have followed the will of God throughout her life would be Pelagianism.
(2) What was the nature of this Grace? This Grace united her to God in the same way that Adam and Eve were united to God before the Fall. It is the same Grace every person receives at Baptism. This Grace would also strengthen her against the wiles of the Devil. It is this Grace with which she cooperated throughout her life to be sinless.
(3) But is not the Grace of Baptism obtained only from the Sacrifice? Yes.
(4) Then how could she receive this Grace before the Sacrifice occurred? Though the Sacrifice occurred temporally, the power of the Sacrifice is ETERNAL, as clearly demonstrated by St. John in his Book of Revelation.
(5) Does the Coptic Tradition accept such a possibility? Apparently so, since it accepts that she could have been cleansed of Original Sin at the Annunciation, which occurred before the temporal Sacrifice.
(6) If this power was available to God before the temporal Sacrifice, why did He not use it for all mankind? No one else was chosen to have the utterly and supremely unique honor of being Theotokos.
(7) Did Mary receive any Grace at the Annunciation? I propose she did (in line with our Coptic Tradition).
What was the nature of this Grace she received at the Annunciation? This Grace permitted corruptible flesh to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and bear Christ in holy virginity.
But I personally cannot find that phrase in the Coptic tradition.
Well, never let it be said that we Orientals did not know the value of looking at the meaning
of words instead of just the words themselves.
The title of the Decree is not dogmatic (in fact, the term "immaculate conception" is not even used in the definition itself).