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Author Topic: The Mary thing.  (Read 6033 times) Average Rating: 0
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witega
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« Reply #135 on: March 16, 2012, 03:27:25 PM »

most people will say she was sinless, period.

Dear Ortho_cat,

By saying that, do they mean she was without involuntary sin?  Or is your point rather that most just don't get into specifics? 

If they specifically mean she was without involuntary sin, do you think it is possible for "most orthodox" to be wrong on any given issue?

Undoubtedly. There is a reason the Church has never considered 'majority-rules' voting as a way to determine anything of importance. Infallibility belongs only to Christ and through Him to the Church as a whole, never to a segment no matter how large a segment it might be.

In my experience, most Orthodox have simply never thought about this matter in any kind of systematic way (i.e., why does the Church say 'only Sinless' of Christ, why does it choose 'blameless' here for the Theotokos, what would it mean for our teaching on fallen human nature if the Theotokos really was completely free from sin, etc). There are multiple good reasons for that:

1) The answer to the question has absolutely zero dogmatic value (that is, whether the Theotokos ever sinned or not has no impact on my sin, my salavation or what I need to do about either)

2) Thinking about anyone else's sins (much less the Theotokos') is generally heavily discouraged as spiritually unhealthy. There are a few saints who were really extravagant sinners before their conversion (e.g. St. Paul's persecution of  Christians, St. Mary of Egypt's licentiousness) where we  find value in looking at the contrast as proof of the effectiveness of repentance and the possibility of coming to sanctity however low the starting point, but they  are definitely the exception rather than the rule. I don't know what sins St. Seraphim may have committed--and I don't want to know.

3) There is a strong emotional element here. As we become adopted sons of the Father through our union with the Son, so Orthodox tend to see the Theotokos as our beloved adopted Mother. It's not uncommon for people to think 'my mother's a saint' when she's really just a nice lady. And the fastet way to start a fight with someone is to say something negative about their mother--even when the statement might be  objectively true. So why would any Orthodox ever want to say something negative about our mother the Theotokos--who really is not just a saint but the greatest saint.
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« Reply #136 on: March 16, 2012, 04:21:01 PM »

I am honestly agnostic about the issue. I just don't see enough evidence in liturgy or scripture to come to a definitive conclusion regarding the nature of her sinlessness, and the references to such in patristics and writings of the saints seems to be contradicting in the degree or totality of her sinlessness. (As Witega mentioned, it does refer to Christ as the only sinless one in the Divine Liturgy). I don't find it spiritually healthy to meditate on the potential sins of another, especially a saint, but I do consider her to be the holiest woman to have ever lived, and that I believe the Church is abundantly clear on.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2012, 04:21:44 PM by Ortho_cat » Logged
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« Reply #137 on: March 16, 2012, 04:22:49 PM »

I am honestly agnostic about the issue. I just don't see enough evidence in liturgy or scripture to come to a definitive conclusion regarding the nature of her sinlessness, and the references to such in patristics and writings of the saints seems to be contradicting in the degree or totality of her sinlessness. (As Witega mentioned, it does refer to Christ as the only sinless one in the Divine Liturgy). I don't find it spiritually healthy to meditate on the potential sins of another, especially a saint, but I do consider her to be the holiest woman to have ever lived, and that I believe the Church is abundantly clear on.

I think this is the fair view to hold. Did Mary sin? What matters is that she was redeemed by Christ and needed a redeemer. What matters is she was truly the first Christian as she is the first person to have said "yes" to Christ. What matters is we are to follow the blessed Theotokos in her example and willingly bring Christ into our own lives.
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witega
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« Reply #138 on: March 16, 2012, 04:39:21 PM »

I don't find it spiritually healthy to meditate on the potential sins of another, especially a saint, but I do consider her to be the holiest woman to have ever lived, and that I believe the Church is abundantly clear on.

replace 'woman' with 'human who was not Incarnate God' and I don't think every Orthodox, past or present, would fully agree with that sentence.
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« Reply #139 on: March 16, 2012, 04:58:19 PM »

I don't find it spiritually healthy to meditate on the potential sins of another, especially a saint, but I do consider her to be the holiest woman to have ever lived, and that I believe the Church is abundantly clear on.

replace 'woman' with 'human who was not Incarnate God' and I don't think every Orthodox, past or present, would fully agree with that sentence.

Well Jesus Himself said that no man was more righteous than John the Baptist...
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acts420
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« Reply #140 on: March 16, 2012, 06:49:46 PM »

I've attempted to make the distinction before regarding her being sinless from voluntary sin while still being subject to involuntary sin. My viewpoint was rejected by most. Although in Orthodoxy there is a distinction between the two, most people you find will say that Mary was sinless in both aspects. With that being said, no one will throw you under the bus for believing either. It's not dogma by any means...i.e. to what extent/degree she was sinless doesn't affect our salvation.

It's good to know where the majority seems to stand.  But can't anything effect our salvation, depending on our own conscience before God?  Isn't salvation at its core a matter of God's judgment of the motives and intents of each heart, as each heart follows Him alone, more than it is a matter of adherence to certain doctrinal standards?  I don't know the answer to these questions.  I'm relatively new to the orthodox faith.

I do know this much:  given my experience in life, I personally would consider it unsafe to my salvation to change my view simply according to what is rejected or accepted by most modern Christians.  It seems to me that all peoples, even "God's People," struggle with imperfection.  Historically, in the people of God, I see a pattern where there seems to be a smaller remnant that goes against the grain and gets it right more often than the majority.  That doesn't mean I've got to try to be a rebel without a cause.  However, if my mind and heart sincerely lead me in a direction that is contrary to popular opinion, then I don't worry too much about it as long as my own conscience is clean.  This is especially true if the matter is not "dogma" according to holy tradition.  In fact, I would even expect such situations to occur as long as there is sin in the world.

Christ said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - even his own life - such a person cannot be my disciple."  I suspect this was said even for us, orthodox Christians, even today, to all of us sinners.  

Growing up as a Southern Baptist, I believed all sorts of false doctrines that everyone or most everyone around me believed, very many of them seemingly sincere, good Christians.  It took me 15 years to realize I had to walk according to the Word of God and my conscience in the Spirit, not popular opinion, not my families conscience, and not even my "spiritual" families opinion.  God only.  I was miraculously healed, had a vision of Christ, and believed at the age of 14.  However, it wasn't for 15 more years that I became willing to reject everything that everyone had ever told me about God, regardless how many of "them" there were, and just accept what God seemed to be revealing to my spirit.  Until I did that I was a Copier more than a Christian.  And thank God I finally became willing.  He saved me, and brought me to the Orthodox Church.

So... long story short.  I'm gonna go with "Mary probably had un-intentional sin."  Smiley   That's just me.  It's not a huge issue for me either.  I'm just trying to understand some of the words I'm saying in the liturgy and not just thoughtlessly repeat what I hear.

All that said, I do believe she chose not to sin though.  I think that is important.  Is that considered dogma?
« Last Edit: March 16, 2012, 06:52:30 PM by acts420 » Logged

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