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Poll
Question: Did the Theotokos ever personally sin?
Mary never personally sinned. - 32 (49.2%)
Mary might have personally sinned before the Annunciation, but she never did afterward. - 4 (6.2%)
Mary was sinless at the Annunciation but she might have sinned beforehand or afterward. - 4 (6.2%)
I don't have an opinion on this question. - 11 (16.9%)
None of these answers reflect my belief. - 14 (21.5%)
Total Voters: 65

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Author Topic: Poll: Was Mary Sinless? Please Only Orthodox Votes.  (Read 4040 times) Average Rating: 0
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St. Christopher
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« on: July 09, 2010, 07:54:21 PM »

This question came up during a catechism class at my parish.  My priest and catechist didn't know Orthodox have different beliefs on Mary's sinlessness.  I wanted something to show them that there are diverse beliefs about this topic.

I'm not trying to start a discussion on Mary's sinlessness because several already exist.
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2010, 08:06:20 PM »

I have had four parishes in my life, three Russian and one Serbian.  I would be astounded if any parishioner had ever said that the Mother of God is not sinless.  As I have mentioned in other threads, the minority opinion of two 4th century Catholic Church Fathers is completely unknown to the ordinary Orthodox except to internet cleverclogs such as thee and me.

It was a minority opinion which the Church never adopted into her Tradition.   In fact we could lay out a stronger patristic case for universal salvation (apokatastasis) than for the sinfulness of the Mother of God.

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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2010, 09:22:04 PM »

Call me a bad Orthodox (which I am), but I voted for the last option, as this issue really doesn't bother me one way or the other, since we will never have any proof anyhow. If Mary sinned, I would certainly not think any less of her-she was a human being after all.
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2010, 02:40:21 AM »

I think Mary was personally sinless, but she was nevertheless susceptible to the evils - not personal sins - of a fallen world; i.e. sickness, death, natural disasters and catastrophes, etc. Thus, when she calls Christ her "Saviour" [St. Luke 1:47], she demonstrates her humility and acknowledges her connectedness to a world and a human race that needs redemption.

It is a great mystery: she who is holy, pure, and without sin, more glorious than the Cherubim and Seraphim, greater than the heavens and higher than the earth, nevertheless worships and prostrates herself before God Whom she carried in her womb and nurtured as her Child. 


O Our Lady
The Virgin St. Mariyam:
In St. Gabriel's greetings,
"Peace be unto you."
Holy and pure
O Mother of the Almighty God:
"Peace be unto you."
Blessed art thou amongst women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Hail Mary, full of grace:
Pray for us before Our Lord Jesus Christ
That He may forgive us for our sins.
Besime Ab, WeWolde, WeMenfesQidus, Ahadu Amlak
-amen-


Selam
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2010, 03:30:06 AM »

Here's an article that has several Patristic quotes and an excerpt from St. John Maximovich' wonderful book The Life of the Virgin Mary, Theotokos;

“Original Sin” and the Mother of God
      
By a Priest of the Orthodox Church in America

 

 
First: The use of the term the stain of Original Sin is exclusive Roman Catholic Church terminology and is NOT Orthodox.

The Orthodox position is that we are all born into a sinful world made sinful by the Fall of Adam. No one is or ever has been conceived and born with a “stain” resulting from Adam’s sin. In her lifetime, the Blessed Virgin Mary did not sin by her own choice with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Because Roman Catholic doctrine teaches that all people bear the stain and guilt of original sin from the moment of their conception in the womb, the Roman Catholic Church had to devise a “Doctrine of Immaculate Conception” to confirm that the Holy Mother was sinless because, the Vatican rationalized, our Lord could not be born of someone sinful. The immaculate conception doctrine makes her different from the rest of humankind; it makes her not fully human because she was not by her own choice sinless but by the will of God. If Mary were sinless by God’s choice, not hers, then by virtue of the fact that she was as fully human as all of humankind is and has been, then God could make us all sinless and take away the free will given to us by our being created in His image and likeness.

The following is from the book Life of the Virgin Mary, The Theotokos by Blessed John Maximovitch, published by Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, CA:

The Heterodox Teaching
of “Immaculate Conception” and “Original Sin”

“Saint Ambrose (339-397), Bishop of Milan, comments that, ‘Of all those born of women, there is not a single one who is perfectly holy, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ...’

“The Orthodox Church teaches that the Virgin Mary was conceived by Joachim’s seed and the period of gestation was nine months. None of the ancient holy Fathers (ed.—only the Roman Catholic Church) say that God in miraculous fashion purified the Virgin Mary while yet in Anna’s womb. Only Jesus Christ is completely pure of every sin, while all men, being born of Adam, have borne a flesh subject to the law of sin. Many have correctly indicated that the Virgin Mary, just as all men, endured a battle with sinfulness, but was victorious over temptations and was saved by her Divine Son.”

Blessed John Maximovitch (1896-1966) affirms that The Church teaches that "through the fall of Adam and Eve, all of the human race inherited death, becoming enslaved to the devil through the passions. The progeny of Adam and Eve are not guilty of their first parents’ tasting of the fruit; we are not being punished for this first sin or 'original sin.' If, for the sake of argument, we maintain the invalid heterodox teaching that the Theotokos was preserved from this 'original sin,' that would make God unmerciful and unjust. If God preserved her, why then does He not purify all men? But then that would have meant saving men before their birth, apart from their will. This teaching would then deny all her virtues. After all, if Mary, even in the womb of Anna, when she could not even desire anything either good or evil, was preserved by God’s grace from every impurity, and then by that grace was preserved from sin even after her birth, then in what does her virtue consist? She would have been placed in the state of being unable to sin.

“The Virgin, as a true daughter of Adam and Eve, also inherited death. She was not in a state of never being able to die. Thus, St. John of Damascus writes on the occasion of her Dormition, ‘O pure Virgin, sprung from mortal loins, thine end was conformable to nature.’"

Blessed Archbishop John continues to comment that the Virgin was not placed in the state of being unable to sin, but continued to take care for her salvation and overcame all temptations. The righteousness and sanctity of the Virgin Mary was manifested in the fact that she, being “human with passions—like us,” so loved God and gave herself over to Him, that by her purity she was exalted above all other creatures. Mary was to become the Mother of God, the Theotokos, not because she was to  give birth to divinity, but that through her the Word became true man, God-Man.

The last comment made by St. John is so important -- “Mary was to become the Mother of God, the Theotokos, not because she was to give birth to divinity, but that through her the Word became true man, God-Man”.

If the Holy Virgin Mary’s human will was interfered with (ed.—as in Roman Catholic doctrine) She would not be totally human and therefore Jesus Christ would not be totally man (ed.—human) and totally God.”

http://aggreen.net/theotokos/orig_sin.html
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2010, 08:23:26 AM »

Well, of those who have an opinion on the issue, 13 say Mary was sinless and only 5 believe something else (and, of course, there's no way to know for sure that only Orthodox have voted). I think that's a pretty strong indicator that we do not have divergent beliefs about this issue.
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2010, 10:57:43 AM »

I agree with St. Ambrose, as well as the Apostle who wrote "All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God".  Since this was written after the life of Christ, and written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I have to assume that it applies to the Theotokos as well.  Only the God-Man Jesus was without sin.
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2010, 11:13:23 AM »

I think Mary was personally sinless, but she was nevertheless susceptible to the evils - not personal sins - of a fallen world; i.e. sickness, death, natural disasters and catastrophes, etc. Thus, when she calls Christ her "Saviour" [St. Luke 1:47], she demonstrates her humility and acknowledges her connectedness to a world and a human race that needs redemption.

It is a great mystery: she who is holy, pure, and without sin, more glorious than the Cherubim and Seraphim, greater than the heavens and higher than the earth, nevertheless worships and prostrates herself before God Whom she carried in her womb and nurtured as her Child. 


O Our Lady
The Virgin St. Mariyam:
In St. Gabriel's greetings,
"Peace be unto you."
Holy and pure
O Mother of the Almighty God:
"Peace be unto you."
Blessed art thou amongst women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Hail Mary, full of grace:
Pray for us before Our Lord Jesus Christ
That He may forgive us for our sins.
Besime Ab, WeWolde, WeMenfesQidus, Ahadu Amlak
-amen-


Selam


This is such an important doctrinal issue that I realize I may have erred in the wording of my original comments (see above in red). I think that may be incorrect.^ Mary remained sinless by her free will with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but she was technically susceptible to sin. In other words, she was not given a divine incubation from susceptibility to sin (which I believe is what the Catholic doctrine of the immaculate conception asserts), but rather chose not to sin even though she faced the same temptations and trials that any other human being faces.


Selam
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2010, 11:30:16 AM »

I agree with St. Ambrose, as well as the Apostle who wrote "All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God".  Since this was written after the life of Christ, and written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I have to assume that it applies to the Theotokos as well.

So why does the Church has named her as "All-Holy"? What does that mean if she wasn't sinless?

« Last Edit: July 10, 2010, 11:31:45 AM by Alpo » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2010, 12:31:35 PM »

I agree with St. Ambrose, as well as the Apostle who wrote "All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God".  Since this was written after the life of Christ, and written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I have to assume that it applies to the Theotokos as well.
So why does the Church has named her as "All-Holy"? What does that mean if she wasn't sinless?

The holiest person in all of human history behind Christ Himself. All-Holy by her life and example, and the greatest and foremost of all of the saints of God. But such a person needn't be without any sin at all.
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« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2010, 02:22:59 PM »

I agree with St. Ambrose, as well as the Apostle who wrote "All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God".  Since this was written after the life of Christ, and written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I have to assume that it applies to the Theotokos as well.  Only the God-Man Jesus was without sin.
I had to deal with this argument in the Protestant anti-Catholic polemic (http://gospellightbiblebaptist.com/insidepg/62errors.html, back when this was published solely in pamphlet form and the Internet wasn't what we know today) that ironically drove me to traditional Christianity (via Catholicism to Orthodoxy).  I eventually concluded that in this passage from his Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul was most likely not postulating a strict mathematical "ALL" to which there could be no exceptions.
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« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2010, 03:22:46 PM »


Like Rosehip said, maybe I'm a poor Orthodox Christian, but I voted
None of these answers reflect my belief. mainly because "Duh, I dunno?!!!" was not one of the options. Cheesy

I personally have no definitive opinion, and am not concerned about such things. But I'm sure that makes me a heretic so begin the finger pointing! Wink

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« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2010, 04:57:27 PM »

I agree with St. Ambrose, as well as the Apostle who wrote "All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God".  Since this was written after the life of Christ, and written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I have to assume that it applies to the Theotokos as well.

So why does the Church has named her as "All-Holy"? What does that mean if she wasn't sinless?



Given the filth of a person like me, she would be comparatively "All Holy" if she had committed a thousand sins. 
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I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.
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« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2010, 05:03:39 PM »


 But I'm sure that makes me a heretic so begin the finger pointing! Wink




 Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy I couldn't resist!  Notice, though, that when I point at you, three fingers are pointing back at me?  Let me learn from this little illustration, O Lord!
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« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2010, 05:04:58 PM »

I agree with St. Ambrose, as well as the Apostle who wrote "All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God".  Since this was written after the life of Christ, and written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I have to assume that it applies to the Theotokos as well.  Only the God-Man Jesus was without sin.
I had to deal with this argument in the Protestant anti-Catholic polemic (http://gospellightbiblebaptist.com/insidepg/62errors.html, back when this was published solely in pamphlet form and the Internet wasn't what we know today) that ironically drove me to traditional Christianity (via Catholicism to Orthodoxy).  I eventually concluded that in this passage from his Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul was most likely not postulating a strict mathematical "ALL" to which there could be no exceptions.

Yes, I still deal with the literalism that came with my Lutheran upbringing.  But I like to think that all means all, particularly given the Orthodox view of sin vs. the Western view.  The BVM was "sinful" and in need of redemption like all of mankind to the extent that "sin" means "to miss the mark", or in other words, imperfect.  She was not perfect as only God is perfect.  She was truly and fully Human as we all are, without the divine nature of her Son and our Savior.  Now as to whether or not she ever committed any sinful acts or gave in to temptation - I do not know.  I am far from being her judge, and certainly can hold that possibility in my mind.
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« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2010, 05:05:46 PM »

From the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy:
Quote
Having beheld the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One.

That's a categorical statement and one proclaimed as the teaching of the Church every time we gather for Liturgy. Anything else is private opinion.



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« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2010, 05:06:48 PM »

... But I'm sure that makes me a heretic so begin the finger pointing! Wink

 Grin Start asking tricky questions to any ordinary churchgoer and sooner or later they will be tricked to utter a heresy. In my opinion only those who teach heresy are to be "pointed" at. Laypeople who do not have the job of teaching the faith should not be examined too closely. Ignorance is not heresy.

As for the Theotokos, I believe as follows "Sinless? Really? OK then, neither do I find anything to accuse her of".

Angry Off topic note: The spellchecker on this forum really is heretical (possibly nestorian), it does not recognize the title Theotokos to the mother of our saviour.   Grin
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« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2010, 07:35:08 PM »

From the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy:
Quote
Having beheld the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One.

That's a categorical statement and one proclaimed as the teaching of the Church every time we gather for Liturgy. Anything else is private opinion.





That one is after the Gospel, at matins, not at the great entrance.
 But the Mother of God is called numberless times "immaculate"/"most pure" in our services.
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« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2010, 07:49:05 PM »

From the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy:
Quote
Having beheld the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One.

That's a categorical statement and one proclaimed as the teaching of the Church every time we gather for Liturgy. Anything else is private opinion.


From the Liturgy:  "One is holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ..."

Nevertheless the Church's teaching is that while the Mother of God was capable of sinning she never chose to, and so she is sinless.

There must be some writings on the web which speak of this.
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« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2010, 09:57:28 PM »

I think that the Theotokos never personally committed a sin.

On the other hand, I do believe that she was afflicted with the condition that we call ancestral sin, and was only purified from it at the Annunciation.

As such, with respect to the former I think we could say that Mary was without sin, however with respect to the latter I think we could say that she (before the Annunciation) suffered the same fallen condition we are all born into that is without sanctifying grace, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or full communion with God.
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« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2010, 06:39:29 PM »

I like deusveritasest response.

I also like the Holy Spirit's response to St. Silouan:

"In church I was listening to a reading from the prophet Isaiah, and at the words, 'Wash you, make you clean,' I reflected, 'Maybe the Mother of God sinned at one time or another, if only in thought.' And, marvelous to relate, in unison with my prayer a voice sounded in my heart, saying clearly, 'The Mother of God never sinned even in thought.' Thus did the Holy Spirit bear witness in my heart to her purity."    Smiley
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