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Teke
Feb 7th 2008, 05:48 PM
For Excubitor, here is the wiki. (This is likely the feast Ex referred to in another thread.)


Nativity of the Theotokos

Main article: Nativity of the Theotokos

Mary was born to elderly and previously barren parents by the names of Joachim and Anna (now saints), in answer to their prayers. Orthodox Christians do not hold to the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, in which it is taught that Mary was preserved from the ancestral sin that befalls us all as descendants of Adam and Eve, in anticipation of her giving birth to the sinless Christ. The Orthodox believe that Mary, and indeed all mankind, was born only to suffer the consequences of the ancestral sin (being born into a corrupt world surrounded by temptations to sin), the chief of which was the enslavement to Death, and thus needed salvation from this enslavement, like all mankind. The Roman Catholic Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception also recognizes that Mary was in need of salvation, viewing her as prevented from falling into the filth of sin, instead of being pulled up out of it. Orthodox thought does vary on whether Mary actually ever sinned, though there is general agreement that she was cleansed from sin at the Annunciation.

This last sentence is the quagmire of the subject to Orthodox. If the Annunciation was like a baptism, then she was sinless at that point as is anyone who is baptized. But we all know that we don't remain sinless after baptism, because we are still subject to the passions of the flesh. So the possibility that she could have sinned is still present.

excubitor
Feb 7th 2008, 07:36 PM
For Excubitor, here is the wiki. (This is likely the feast Ex referred to in another thread.)



This last sentence is the quagmire of the subject to Orthodox. If the Annunciation was like a baptism, then she was sinless at that point as is anyone who is baptized. But we all know that we don't remain sinless after baptism, because we are still subject to the passions of the flesh. So the possibility that she could have sinned is still present.

The Nativity of Mary celebrates her birth. The feast I am talking about is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which ironically started as an Eastern festival but was adopted gradually throughout the West. Today it is considered a lesser feast in the East. Notice this quote from the wiki

While the Eastern Orthodox Churches have never accepted the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception, they do celebrate December 9 as the Feast of the Conception by St. Anne of the Most Holy Theotokos. While the Orthodox believe that the Virgin Mary was, from her conception, filled with every grace of the Holy Spirit, in view of her calling as the Mother of God, they do not teach that she was conceived without original sin as their understanding of this doctrine differs from the Roman Catholic articulation.[5] The Orthodox do affirm that Mary is "all-holy" and never committed a personal sin during her lifetime.

The Orthodox feast is not a perfect nine months before the feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos (September 8) as it is in the West, but a day later. This feast is not ranked among the Great Feasts of the church year, but is a lesser-ranking feast (Polyeleos).

Seeing that Orthodox do not accept the doctrine of original sin in exactly the manner that RCC do, its hardly possible for them to accept the doctrine of immaculate conception now is it. Nevertheless it is apparent from this festival that they believe some special grace was conferred upon Mary at her conception such that she committed no personal sin throughout her life.

The Wiki says it all. The orthodox doctrine differs only in its articulation. A difference so minor as to be straw splitting.

In your post you mentioned the variations of Orthodox teachings and described it as a quagmire. How true. The variations in articulation of these beliefs in the various Orthodox traditions are almost as bewildering as those to be found in protestantism. How am I to know which articulation of Orthodox belief you and I are representing. You might be speaking about your branch of Orthodox's articulation whereas I am trying to present a general overview of Orthodox belief. Indeed whereas I can say RCC believe such and such, in Orthodox I must say It is the custom in Orthodox to believe such and such because there is often nothing definitive written down and the various streams of Orthodoxy differ in their articulations.

The protestant system allows Christians to believe practically anything they like so we see how protestants have liberty in Christ. Orthodox are in bondage too and must follow the dictates of their patriarch whoever that may be. In this way Orthodox recognise the primacy of their patriarch and must follow his belief. At least Orthodox have unity of belief within their patriarchate. The Catholic system however binds every Catholic in the world to believe what the Pope believes (presuming the pope believes the catechism) therefore they have a kind of stifling unity which binds men into a common and shared belief. The Holy Spirit constantly wants to break out into every array of competing idea but the bondage of the pope is an obstacle which must be overthown so that the Holy Spirit can have its freedom to create thousands of different fellowships of believers.

I'm assuming here that the Holy Spirit wants to break away from the RCC catechism but then I might be wrong. Maybe the Holy Spirit is in perfect agreement with the catechism and loves the unity which it produces amongst Catholics.

David Taylor
Feb 7th 2008, 07:40 PM
Starting a new thread for this topic...it has nothing to do with the thread I started listing the ancient Pre-Nicene historical writings that tell us that Jesus Christ alone, is sinless.

Teke
Feb 7th 2008, 08:21 PM
The Nativity of Mary celebrates her birth. The feast I am talking about is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which ironically started as an Eastern festival but was adopted gradually throughout the West. Today it is considered a lesser feast in the East. Notice this quote from the wiki


Seeing that Orthodox do not accept the doctrine of original sin in exactly the manner that RCC do, its hardly possible for them to accept the doctrine of immaculate conception now is it. Nevertheless it is apparent from this festival that they believe some special grace was conferred upon Mary at her conception such that she committed no personal sin throughout her life.

The Wiki says it all. The orthodox doctrine differs only in its articulation. A difference so minor as to be straw splitting.

In your post you mentioned the variations of Orthodox teachings and described it as a quagmire. How true. The variations in articulation of these beliefs in the various Orthodox traditions are almost as bewildering as those to be found in protestantism. How am I to know which articulation of Orthodox belief you and I are representing. You might be speaking about your branch of Orthodox's articulation whereas I am trying to present a general overview of Orthodox belief. Indeed whereas I can say RCC believe such and such, in Orthodox I must say It is the custom in Orthodox to believe such and such because there is often nothing definitive written down and the various streams of Orthodoxy differ in their articulations.

The protestant system allows Christians to believe practically anything they like so we see how protestants have liberty in Christ. Orthodox are in bondage too and must follow the dictates of their patriarch whoever that may be. In this way Orthodox recognise the primacy of their patriarch and must follow his belief. At least Orthodox have unity of belief within their patriarchate. The Catholic system however binds every Catholic in the world to believe what the Pope believes (presuming the pope believes the catechism) therefore they have a kind of stifling unity which binds men into a common and shared belief. The Holy Spirit constantly wants to break out into every array of competing idea but the bondage of the pope is an obstacle which must be overthown so that the Holy Spirit can have its freedom to create thousands of different fellowships of believers.

I'm assuming here that the Holy Spirit wants to break away from the RCC catechism but then I might be wrong. Maybe the Holy Spirit is in perfect agreement with the catechism and loves the unity which it produces amongst Catholics.

A lot of understanding comes from semantics. So Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Reformed etc will have differing understandings, depending on how they reason out information.

So even with Roman Catholic statements sometimes they don't mean exactly what we think they do. For instance the use of the word "immaculate" in connection with Mary. To some this means she was conceived in a miraculous manner, which is true to an extent, as her parents were old and beyond child bearing years. So it was a miracle that they had a child. And we could say, this is truthful. But an Orthodox would not say she was conceived in the manner Jesus was.

There are others who believe "immaculate" simply refers to her being ever-virgin. And if this meaning is intended, there are numerous Christians I can quote from every known religious denomination on this matter.


Ever-Virgin references from early writers

Peter of Alexandria, Epiphanius, Athanasius, Didymus the Blind, Jerome, Cyril of Alexandria, Leo, Sophronius of Jerusalem, John of Damascus, John Cassian, Ephrem of Syria, and the capitula of the II Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. (In short, nearly everywhere.) One such example is in St. Ambrose of Milan (4th century): "The virgin did not seek the consolation of bearing another child" (See Letter 63; NPNF v.10, pg. 473). There are many other such quotes. Anyone familiar with the writings of the Church Fathers will see her being called "the Virgin" and "Ever-Virgin" frequently.

Hippolytus was a scholar, bishop, and martyr, who lived in or near Rome and wrote in Greek; he was martyred in A.D. 235. He is considered to be one of the most important witnesses as to how the early church worshipped.

Listen to some brief excerpts (ca. A.D. 210?) regarding the Blessed Theotokos:

But the pious confession of the believer is that, with a view to our salvation, . . . the Creator of all things incorporated with Himself a rational soul and a sensible body from the all-holy Mary, ever-virgin, by an undefiled conception, without conversion, and was made man in nature, but separate from wickedness: the same was perfect God, and the same was perfect man; the same was in nature at once perfect God and man." (AGAINST BERON AND HELIX., Frag VIII).

Notice that Hippolytus refers to Mary as all-holy, and ever-virgin. Since he does this in passing, we may be sure that he is introducing no new teaching about Mary, so that it was common to refer to Mary in these terms before Hippolytus wrote.

St. Ephrem (4th century):

Some dare to claim that Mary became fully Joseph's wife after the Savior's birth. How could she who was the dwelling-place of the Spirit, who was overshadowed by the divine power, ever become the wife of a mortal and bear children in pain, according to the ancient curse? It is through Mary, "blessed among women", that the curses uttered in the beginning have been removed according to which a child in such torments cannot be called blessed. Just as the Lord entered through all closed doors, so he came out if an original womb, for this virgin bore him truly and really without pain."

The Second Council of Constantinople, 553, Capitula II:

If anyone shall not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, the one from all eternity of the Father, without time and without body; the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Mother of God and always a virgin, and born of her: let him be anathema.

The ancient Christian titles for Mary, Theotokos ("Birth-giver to God") and Meter Theou ("Mother of God"), are not to be understood in the sense that she somehow created God. Even mothers giving birth to exclusively human children do not create their children. Rather, these titles for the Virgin are an affirmation that the Christ contained in her womb is indeed God, the Theanthropos ("God-man"). She is not His origin nor the source of the Godhead, but she did quite literally give birth to God. If we affirm that Jesus Christ is God, then we must call her Theotokos, for she gave birth to God Himself. Nestorios the heretic in the ancient Church refused to call her Theotokos, preferring instead Christotokos, because he couldn't get his mind around the idea that a creature could give birth to the Creator, yet is this scandal not at the heart of the Incarnation? Nestorios's doctrines insisted on a separation between the divine Logos and the man Jesus, that somehow the Son of God had inhabited a man, not that God became man as the Christian faith has always held. Is the one who was in her womb God? Then we must call her Theotokos.




Ever-Virgin references/testimony of Reformers (Protestants)

John Calvin:

He says that she [Mary of Cleophas] was the sister of the mother of Jesus, and, in saying so, he adopts the phraseology of the Hebrew language, which includes cousins, and other relatives, under the term 'brothers.' - John Calvin, Commentary of the Gospel According to John, on John 19:25

The word 'brothers', we have formerly mentioned, is employed, agreeably to the Hebrew idiom, to denote any relative whatever; and, accordingly, Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons because Christ's 'brother' are sometimes mentioned. - John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. II, p. 215 (on Matthew 13:55)

[Note: Helvidius was a 5th-century Christian who denied the perpetual virginity of Mary and was rebuked and refuted by Jerome in his treatise, "On the Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary Against Helvidius"]

Huldrych Zwingli:

I give an example: taught by the light of faith the Christ was born of a virgin, we know that it is so, that we have no doubt that those who have been unambiguously in error have tried to make a figure ofspeech of a real virgin, and we pronounce absurd the things that Helvidius and others have invented about perpetual virginity. - Huldrych Zwingli. "Friendly Exegesis, that is, Exposition of the Matter of the Eucharist to Martin Luther, February 1527", in Selected Writings of Huldrych Zwingli, Volume Two, trans. and ed. by H. Wayne Pipkin, Pickwick Publications, 1984 p.275.

Then the pious mind finds wonderful delights in searching for the reasons why the lamb chose to be born of a perpetual virgin, but in this other case it finds nothing but a hopeless horror. [The other case that Zwingli here refers to is the Real Presence] - Huldrych Zwingli. "Subsidiary Essay on the Eucharist, August 1525", in Selected Writings of Huldrych Zwingli, Volume Two, trans. and ed. by H. Wayne Pipkin, Pickwick Publications, 1984 p.217.

Martin Luther:

A new lie about me is being circulated. I am supposed to have preached and written that Mary, the mother of God, was not a virgin either before or after the birth of Christ, but that she conceived Christ through Joseph and had more children after that. - Martin Luther, "That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew", in Luther's Works, vol. 45, ed. Walther I. Brand, 1962, Muhlenberg Press, p. 199.

The form of expression used by Matthew is the common idiom, as if I were to say, 'Pharaoh believed not Moses, until he was drowned in the Red Sea.' Here it does not follow that Pharaoh believed later, after he had drowned; on the contrary, it means that he never did believe. Similarly when Matthew says that Joseph did not know Mary carnally until she had brought forth her son, it does not follow that he knew her subsequently; on the contrary, it means that he never did know her. Again, the Red Sea overwhelmed Pharaoh before he got across. Here too, it does not follow that Pharaoh got across later, after the Red Sea had overwhelmed him, but rather that he did not get across at all. In like manner, when Matthew says, 'She was found to be with child before they came together,' it does not follow that Mary subsequently lay with Joseph, but rather that she did not lie with him. - Martin Luther, "That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew", in Luther's Works, vol. 45, ed. Walther I. Brand, 1962, Muhlenberg Press, p. 212.

John Wesley:

I believe that he was made man, joining the human nature with the divine in one person; being conceived by the singular operation of the Holy Ghost, and born of the blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as before she brought him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin. - John Wesley "Letter to a Roman Catholic"

Protestants who deny the ever-virginity of the Theotokos are breaking even with their own fathers in faith.

See any straw splitting...:spin: