Mary’s Place in Redemption

18 03 2007

from: J. Lawson, The Biblical Theology of Saint Irenaeus, London, The Epworth Press, 1948, pp. 150-51.

For S. Irenaeus this is the chief theological significance of the Virgin Birth, a doctrine to which he attaches great importance.

‘If, then, the first Adam had a man for his father, and was born of human seed, it were reasonable to say that the second Adam was begotten of Joseph. But if the former was taken from the dust, and God was his maker, it was incumbent that the latter also, making a recapitulation in Himself, should be formed as man by God [i.e. not by Joseph] to have an analogy with the former as respects His origin’ (Adv. haer. 3.21.10).

Furthermore, the disobedience of a woman provided the historical occasion of the Fall. In like manner, the obedience of a woman provided the occasion of the Incarnation of the One who recapitulated the Fall.

‘Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.’ But Eve was disobedient: for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin… having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, became the cause of salvation, both to herself and to the whole human race…. And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary’ (Adv. haer. 3.22.4).

The obedience of the Blessed Virgin Mary is in fact a subsidiary recapitulating action, exactly analogous to the obedience of Christ. She is a subsidiary Champion.

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16 responses

18 03 2007
Dim Bulb

Hello,

I don’t know if you are aware of this but a fine patristic study THE BLESSED VIRGIN IN THE FATHERS OF THE FIRST SIX CENTURIES by Thomas Livius is available on-line:
http://www.suburbanbanshee.net/MaryFathers/index.html

30 03 2007
Tom Bombadil

Hi James,

Thanks for this. I agree that we must view Mary as both highly favoured and blessed among women, or else we act violently towards the Scripture. I think it is also right to contrast Mary’s obedience with the disobedience of Eve.

She is indeed a champion of faith and obedience, in a very special sort of way. However, I’m not comfortable with saying that her obedience is “exactly” analogous to the obedience of Christ. What are the grounds for describing the two as “exactly” analogous?

I would like for you to please comment on John Paul II’s comments on Mary:

“Mary goes before us and accompanies us. The silent journey that begins with her Immaculate Conception and passes through the ‘yes’ of Nazareth, which makes her the Mother of God, finds on Calvary a particularly important moment. There also, accepting and assisting at the sacrifice of her son, Mary is the dawn of Redemption; … Crucified spiritually with her crucified son, she contemplated with heroic love the death of her God, she ‘lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she
herself had brought forth’ (Lumen Gentium, 58) … In fact, at Calvary she united herself with the sacrifice of her Son that led to the foundation of the Church; her maternal heart shared to the very depths the will of Christ ‘to gather into one all the dispersed children of God’ (Jn. 11:52). Having suffered for the Church, Mary deserved to become the Mother of all the disciples of her Son, the Mother of their unity … In fact, Mary’s role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son.”

Even in light of Simeon’s harrowing comment to Mary, it seems as if there is much speculation happening here, as to Mary’s experience at Golgotha.

Yes, she accepted the sacrifice of her Son, and indeed she was wounded, but how does she assist Christ? Does Christ need help? And in what manner are her sufferings at Golgotha efficacious for the Church? Is Mary adding to the perfect work of Christ? Does the church need Mary’s suffering for its salvation?

Would appreciate your comments.

31 03 2007
lfn

Hi James and TB. Intersting questions and I await James response. On one point, I don’t believe Mary’s action can be both “exactly” and “subsidiary”. It is precisly the distinction between the two that is important (in reference to adoration for example).

31 03 2007
HanseaticEd

Hi TB. From nothing to something! It seems this site has gone from only one or two readers to a few hundred over night… and there is barely anything on it! In any case, I appreciate your questions, and am trying to come up with some satisfactory answers, so if you bear with me, you can expect something as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I have invited a few other thoughtful sorts to weigh in, so it could be that in the next short while we hear something from them as well.

31 03 2007
HanseaticEd

Okay, TB. Here I go.

First of all, you mention that you agree ‘we must view Mary as both highly favoured and blessed among women’. Clearly you are right, save that we must also view her as being ‘full of grace’. That, too, is included in Scripture, and has been taken to imply something very important in terms of the story of Salvation. And these are just her ‘stand-alone’ characteristics. These are only things we can say about her before he cosmic ‘yes’. For from that moment on, she becomes something even greater as the Theotokos, the God-bearer.

Now, I don’t think that the words ‘exactly analogous’ are particularly problematic. First of all, these are Lawson’s words, and while as an interpreter of Irenaeus’ Biblical theology he may not be infallible, he is generally very reliable. Having said that, I think what he means by ‘exactly analogous’ is that Mary’s obedience is ‘nothing less than’ analogous, and we know that analogy is always ‘like’ a thing; not the thing itself. In other words, Christ’s obedience is Christ’s obedience. Mary’s obedience is Mary’s obedience. And hers happens to be like his.

Lawson calls Irenaeus ‘the first theologian of the Virgin Mary’ (p. 152), because of the place Irenaeus gives her at the centre of his doctrine of recapitulation. Taking St Paul’s motif of Christ as the Second Adam for his starting point, the rest of his exegesis is coloured by it. From such things as St Luke’s genealogy to every physical detail of Christ’s life, the work of Christ is understood in terms of recapitulation, and Mary is an intrinsic part of that. For all things to be restored to their rightful places, there had to be a remedial action that would counteract those that had set humankind on the course of death in the first place. Hence, just as the disobedience of the man had to be remedied by a new obedience, so did the woman’s. Ephrem picks this up and uses it freely in his sermons and poetry, as do numerous Fathers thereafter, East and West. (I will be adding an Irenaeus bibliography shortly, if you are interested).

But this brings us to the late Pope John Paul’s words.

Beginning with the first sentence, we find reference to Mary’s Immaculate Conception. What this means, of course, is related to her being ‘full of grace’. To be ‘“full” of grace’ means to be free of the sting of death, which in turn constitutes the primary result of the sin of Adam. It seems entirely reasonable to me that God’s chosen vessel should have been freed from the stain that afflicted the rest of humanity if she was to serve as God’s dwelling for a time. But back to Pope John Paul’s words.

You highlight ‘…accepting and assisting at the sacrifice of her son’ as a source of consternation, to which I can only say that if we envisage the Sacrifice of Calvary in liturgical terms (as I suspect the Pope would have), to be present is to assist. Think of any celebration of the Mass, with its orders of ordained and lay ministers gathered around the altar. I grew up serving on the altar, and would have been said to be assisting by my presence, even if I was not actively engaged in a specific, physical task. There is a sense in which any Catholic Christian (Orthodox, Roman, and Catholic-minded Anglican) might speak this way (I’m sorry, but I don’t know what your tradition is). By attending the Liturgy, one is ‘assisting’ in the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary. And so, if Mary is Mother and embodiment of the Church, we are simply taking up our role as images of her when we gather. The fact that she united herself with the Sacrifice of her Son is merely the vocation of all Christians, and she happens to have set down the pattern for Christians.

I think that Mary’s sufferings are efficacious insofar as they constitute an extension of her first obedience. Again, if being united with Christ is the primary vocation and destiny of the Church, then the fact that she led the way means that she has become the prototype, in much the same way as the Church calls her the Second Eve. It is in this way that I would say the Church needs Mary’s suffering for its salvation.

Ultimately, is Mary adding to the perfect work of Christ? Yes, in the sense that in order to become incarnate, and remould humanity in the image for which it was intended, God needed the cooperation and participation of creation. In which case, Mary is the locus. A merely omnipotent God could have saved us any way he wanted, but God is not merely omnipotent. He is personal, and so covenantal. And covenants are always made up of two parties.

31 03 2007
Fr Jay Scott Newman

Dear Tom Bombadil (whom I greatly wish had been included in Peter Jackson’s masterpiece!),

John Paul is writing here in a vein first mined for us by St. Paul. At Colossians 1:24, the Apostle writes “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church….”

Neither Paul nor John Paul is teaching that Christ’s work of redemption was incomplete or that His sacrifice on calvary was not sufficient for the salvation of the whole world. Rather, Holy Scripture and Tradition both insist that the Lord Jesus associates His disciples with His unique work of redemption in such a way that they become instruments of grace for others. Notice, they do not give grace; they are merely the conduits of grace for others, but by this cooperation in the work of redemption, they extend the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice to other people, thus “filling up what is lacking”, namely the submission of the entire human race in the obedience of faith to the Lord Jesus and His Gospel.

Notice how Paul explains his own words in that same sentence: “I am filling us what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to the saints.” What John Paul is saying in the passage quoted above is that the Blessed Virgin Mary accomplished this task before and better than anyone else, becasue she was the first and most obedient disciple of her Son. The union with her crucified Son which she experienced at the foot of the Cross is exactly what every Chrisitan is called to share as the cost of discipleship, and Mary shows us both that this perfect surrender is possible and and how to accomplish it.

A common expression among Catholics confronted with suffering is “Offer it up!” This is nothing other than the sound-bite version of the sublime truths revealed on Calvary, taught in Holy Scripture, and lived by the saints of every age.

31 03 2007
Tom Bombadil

Dear Ed and Fr. Newman,

Thank you for your thoughtful replies.

Fr. Newman, I too deeply lament Bombadil’s absence in Jackson’s work. Few understand how important Bombadil is to the story as a foil to Sauron.

While I can enjoy the films as films, in many ways I think they are an unmitigated disaster, turning Tolkien upside down. In my mind, his representation of Lothlorien is enough to confirm this. But that is another topic.

You’ve both given me much to ponder.

Ed, when you say, “just as the disobedience of the man had to be remedied by a new obedience, so did the woman’s”, in what way do you understand Christ’s life, death and resurrection to be serving as a remedy for Eve’s disobedience? Is Christ a Savior to Adam in a way that He is not to Eve?

Another question I am eager to ask is this: If Mary is indeed Coredemptrix, and that to the exclusion of all other creatures, I take it that her situation and position is of utmost importance to the church. Now, being so important, why is her person and role utterly neglected by the teaching of the Apostle’s outside of the Gospel accounts? Christ as redeemer is replete throughout the epistles; Mary as Coredemptrix is not to be found. In fact, Mary’s name is not to be found anywhere outside of the gospels, except for a sole and fleeting reference in the Acts of the Apostles. There is no way of identifying the Mary of Romans 16:6 with the mother of Jesus Christ. Now, is not the complete absence of any reference to Mary’s importance to the Church in the epistles deeply problematic for an understanding of Mary as Coredemptrix? If she indeed is such a unique and important figure, would Paul not have at least mentioned her?

Finally, may I ask if you to be very honest. In your desire to see Christ exalted above every other name, does the language of “coredemptrix” give you no discomfort?

31 03 2007
Fr Jay Scott Newman

Dear TB,

I agree with you entirely about Jackson’s treatment of Lothlorien, although the entire sequence is completely different and a bit better in the extended DVD version than it was in the theatrical run.

Although there is an orthodox and Scriptural way to call Mary co-redemptrix, I pray God that the Church will never employ the title co-redemtrix in official teaching about the place of the Virgin Mary in the economy of salvation, and this is my prayer for several reasons which are beyond the scope of this discussion. For now, I would simply say this: The only orthodox sense in which Mary can be called co-redemptrix would require that the same title be used of every saint in glory and, agruably, of every disciple on The Way.

Marian maximalists can be found in every age of our history, and most of the time they provide good reason to fear mariolotry as the result of an unbalanced approach to these questions. But the constant doctrine of the faith, especially as reflected for our time in the 8th Chapter of Lumen Gentium, refuses to allow the distortions of devotion to become dogma. If you haven’t read Lumen Gentium in a while, I commend it to you as a good place to start. Then follow that up with paragraphs 963 to 975 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Two excellent books by Luigi Gambero are also most helpful: “Mary and the Fathers of the Church” and “Mary in the Middle Ages” (both available from Ignatius Press). Fr Gambero traces most effectively the true development of doctrine on the role of Mary in the plan of salvation.

1 04 2007
Tom Bombadil

Dear Fr. Newman,

Many thanks for your words.

1 04 2007
HanseaticEd

Hello again, TB.

While you and Father Newman were carrying on the discussion on that side of the Atlantic, I was wrapped up warmly in bed. Now I suspect you’re at your respective churches ringing in the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. Hopefully this will be of interest for a Sunday afternoon.

You first raised this question:

“Ed, when you say, ‘just as the disobedience of the man had to be remedied by a new obedience, so did the woman’s’, in what way do you understand Christ’s life, death and resurrection to be serving as a remedy for Eve’s disobedience? Is Christ a Savior to Adam in a way that He is not to Eve?”

No. Christ is most certainly the instrument of Salvation to the whole human race just as He was the instrument of its creation. However, just as the race was created in distinct genders, so did each of those genders take a specific role in its ‘downfall’. The whole of this story represents the beginning of Christian anthropology, of which gender is very much a part.

In any case, the role of Mary in ‘recapitulating’ womanhood corresponds with Christ’s recapitulation of Adam for the same reason that both a man and woman willfully consent to the first disobedience. It would have been enough had Adam (or possibly Eve) partaken of the fruit on his own. But then we might have rightfully asked what the place of the other was in the order of creation. As it is, both the man and the woman participated, each in their own way, and both fell. Now, in order for the picture of salvation to come to an unambiguous conclusion, it is, simply, most fortuitous that both participants should be represented distinctly. The saving initiative is God’s. That he should see the original, double disobedience overturned in an act of double obedience is a further revelation of His immense Love.

But that only deals with Mary’s ‘yes’. In reading Irenaeus (yes, I am putting alot of emphasis on what he has to say in all of this; but he is the first theologian to speak on the question), one sees that Christ’s recapitulative work on behalf of humanity touches on every aspect of human life, from age, to activity, to intellect, to sacrifice. Adam and Eve took their distinct part in first disobeying, but of course, their suffering of the effects thereafter was identical. This means, in turn, that what Christ does beyond Mary’s ‘yes’ is done for all, be they male or female. The Sacrifice he offers on the Cross is a recapitulation of the ineffective, repeated sacrifices of the Temple priests, and those were offered on behalf of all the people.

We might conclude from all of this that the Word’s condescension in the Incarnation was a remedy for Adam’s self-exaltation in the eating of the fruit. Meanwhile, Mary’s ‘yes’ to the angel Gabriel was a remedy for Eve’s ‘yes’ to the fallen angel Satan. Beyond that, it is Christ’s taking on of every aspect of what it is to be human, that remedies every aspect of what it is to be a fallen race. His Sacrifice, and his conquering of death, unquestionably applies to every human being: man, woman, and child.

I hope that I have been clear in this. I only ask that, if I have not, you attribute it to me and not to the Fathers I am trying to interpret.

As for the next part of your comment, concerning the fact that ‘Mary’s name is not to be found anywhere outside of the gospels, except for a sole and fleeting reference in the Acts of the Apostles’, I can only suggest that it has something to do with how the Church elucidated her importance over time.

In the same way that we can see, without a doubt, the true nature of Christ revealed through the whole of the New Testament, we know that it is not until the Council of Constantinople in 381 that the Church comes up with the final form of a statement to describe this, and then, takes another 70 years to compose a satisfactory definition for Christological orthodoxy. It is not at all unreasonable to suppose that St Paul was not remotely concerned with talking about anything other than the good news of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord whom he had met on the road to Damascus. But on that note, there is much that we take for Christian orthodoxy (i.e. the highly developed doctrine of the Holy Trinity) that is specifically mentioned neither by the Gospels nor the Epistles. Of course it is there; it’s just that it takes some time for it to emerge as an issue before the Church is forced to elucidate it more precisely.

Arius forced the Church to hammer out what it understood about the three persons of the Godhead. It took Nestorius to force the Church into saying anything precise about Mary. As we have seen, she had been spoken about quite elaborately since at least the second century, but it took just less than three hundred more years before this occured.

As for your last, and more personal, question, my short answer is ‘yes’, while for my long answer, I appeal to Father Newman’s words. I am not what one would call a Marian ‘minimalist’, as I can well understand how such language as co-redemptrix comes to be used, but when I teach, I consider the salvific work of Christ to be our primary cause for joy, while everything else is simply part of that wonderful in which He chooses to reveal Himself.

1 04 2007
Tom Bombadil

Thank you James, for this lengthy, thoughtful reply: a lot of grist for the mill.

Could you please clarify yourself a little further? When you say that “Mary’s ‘yes’ to the angel Gabriel was a remedy for Eve’s ‘yes’ to the fallen angel Satan,” and that Christ’s life, death and resurrection “remedies every aspect of what it is to be a fallen race”, how do you distinguish Mary’s remedy from Christ’s remedy? That is to say, if Christ remedies “every aspect” of human sin, what is left for Mary to remedy?

Thank you also for your thoughts on doctrinal development.

I would want to say, however, that the debates on Christology in the third and fourth centuries were, as you would I am sure admit, rooted deeply in the theological material of the Epistles (and Gospels, of course). I am also read in the area. Consequently, I would challenge your comparison of the doctrine of Coredemtprix with the doctrines of Christ’s divinity or Christ’s humanity or the doctrine of the Trinity. As I see it, you’ve introduced a false analogy. There is a fundamental difference: the latter doctrines ARE present, albeit in a theologically unrefined form, in the Epistles; and I would add richly, wonderfully present (the “highly developed doctrine” of the Holy Trinity as expounded, for instance, in Augustine’s De Trinitate or in Nazianzen’s Theological Orations are of course not present in the epistles; but we would all admit, I am sure, that we find the Holy Trinity clearly, richly, gloriously attested to in the Epistles). The former, the doctrine of Mary as Coremptrix, is just not present in the epistles at all–not a hint.

My former point was that the Apostles, in their respective Epistles, ignored any notion of Coredemptrix (a doctrine I take to be fundamentally important to the Church if indeed true), in a way that they did not ignore ideas about Christ’s role as Redeemer, or in fact other theological ideas that were later refined by the church.

Therefore, yes, indeed, I agree with you that theological material in the Gospels and Epistles underwent a process of elucidation and refinement in the fathers. This, however, does not solve the problem of the silence of the Apostles, their silence in the epistles over the matter of Mary as Coredemptrix.

Peace to you all.

2 04 2007
lfn

Mary as Coredemptrix is not taught as doctrine, but rather is a tendency in some forms of Marian devotion (if I understand Fr. JSN earlier comment).

2 04 2007
HanseaticEd

Thanks for keeping me on my toes, TB.

The first thing I would make by way of response, is an appeal to LfN’s comment above. However, even admitting a distinction between official doctrine and pious language, still leaves me with the exegetical question you have posed. So much for a cop-out.

I entirely agree that there is a difference between the presence in the Epistles of what would become our doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the lack of presence of Mary. It would be silly of me to argue otherwise. Having said that – and this has everything to do with the type of hermeneutic we employ – I do think that there is warrant for the interpretation of Mary we have been discussing.

Of course, the appeal I primarily make is to Irenaeus; but not Irenaeus alone. The aforementioned Ephrem is another important Father who interprets Mary as the Second Eve (with all that such an interpretation entails), while numerous sources suggest that, early in both Greek and Syriac thought, the motif was virtually assumed (see, for example, H. Graef, ‘Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, vol. I, New York, 1963, pp. 37-45). It even makes an appearance in the 5th-Century Latin poet Caelius Sedulius’ ‘Carmen Paschale’ (Book II, 30):

Sic Evae de stirpe sacra veniente Maria / Virginis antiquae facinus nova virgo piaret / Ut quoniam natura prior vitiata iacebat Sub dicione necis, / Christo nascente renasci Possit homo et veteris maclam deponere carnis

Thus from the root of Eve comes Holy Mary / The New Virgin redressing the sin of the old virgin / As since by birth, the elder, having been corrupted, lay dead under the rule of death / By Christ springing forth, man might be able to be born again, and to give up the stain of the old body.

In any case, while this interpretation of Mary’s role is rooted in Antiochene, and so typological, exegesis, it clearly becomes a part of mainstream Patristic understanding. As Pelikan says, ‘…as Christian piety and reflection sought to probe the deeper meaning of salvation, the parallel between Christ and Adam found its counterpart in the picture of Mary as the Second Eve, who, by her obedience had undone the disobedience of the mother of mankind… . [I]n its fundamental motifs the development of the Christian picture of Mary and th eventual emergence of a Christian doctrine of Mary must be seen in the context of the development of devotion to Christ and, of course, the development of the doctrine of Christ’ (J. Pelikan, ‘The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)’, Chicago, 1971, p. 241).

So it appears there is an intrinsic relationship between the doctrine of the Incarnation and the Church’s understanding of Mary, but you may appreciate the way Paul Evdokimov (an Eastern Orthodox theologian) describes it: ‘In the theology of the Fathers, the veneration of the Virgin is the exact opposite of the sentimental amplifications and deviations of “Mariolatry”; there is no need for the latter, because true veneration expresses what is immeasurably greater, the immanent core of the Incarnation’ (P. Evdokimov, ‘Woman and the Salvation of the World’, Crestwood, 1994, p. 195). One gets a sense from Evdokimov’s words that he would be quite happy with the suggestion that, where Catholics err is not so much in their understanding, but in their insistence on over-defining things (as the Orthodox might equally say about something like transubstantiation).

Having said that, Evdokimov is no less insistent on the high place of the Virgin. The quote above is, in fact, extracted from a much longer section of text; one that is worth citing at length.

‘Man brings his offering, bread and wine, to the temple; and God, in the royal gesture of his [love], changes them into his Body and Blood, food for gods. Humanity brings the thrice-pure offering, the Virgin, and God makes of her His mother, the Mother of the Living One, and thereby Mother of all the living. the human vessel proves itself worthy of the Uncontainable who takes his substance from this vessel. Mary is not a woman among women, but the advent of women, the New Eve, restored in her motherly virginity. The Holy Spirit descends on her, and reveals her – not as an “instrument”, but as the objective human condition of the Incarnation. Jesus was able to take on human flesh only because humanity, in the Virgin Mary, gave it to Him… .

‘There is a mysterious coincidence in the theological silence that surrounds both the Holy Spirit and the Virgin during the first three centuries – but their double kenosis ends with a radiant and simultaneous proclamation, during the fourth and fifth centuries… . As the New Eve, she contains in herself all of humanity, as Adam did; and her flesh, which she gives to her Son, is that of the “mother of all the living” (Gen. 3:20). “This is your mother,” Jesus tells John; and, in the person of John, it is humanity that recovers its mother. She covers the entire universe with the grace of her motherly help, for she carries the universe within her, and gives birth to it for the age of the Spirit. “There is only one Virgin Mary; and I may call her the Church,” Clement of Alexandria says,’ (ibid, pp. 194-5).

So there you have it. I think in all that I have said and cited above, what I am trying to express is that I don’t think any separation need be made between the salvation that Christ brings, and the role the Virgin Mary plays. They are intimately and inextricably related. Again, I would say, this is not because God is somehow dependent on humanity, but precisely because he loves us so much that he enters into covenant with us. And that covenant is seen in, and expressed by, the role of Mary in the story of salvation par excellence.

2 04 2007
Tom Bombadil

Dear Ed,

You are far too generous with sharing your learning. Thank you for your time, energy and care.

As I said before, you’ve given me a lot to ponder.

I do believe, of course, that Mary played an essential role in God’s plan of Salvation. Her act of obedience contributed to our salvation. But so did Abraham’s. And, as I reflect upon the two acts of obedience, Abraham’s and Mary’s, I am tempted to conclude that Abraham’s act was far more profound with respect to the exercise of naked faith. I am overwhelmed by the existential crisis of Abraham’s sacrifice. Mary embraced the promise by faith; Abraham embraced the slaughter of the promise, by faith (which, I suppose, Mary did also at Golgotha–even so, the character of Abraham’s test of faith and obedience is utterly, and chillingly, unique in Scripture, if only because Abraham was not only willing to allow the slaughter, but in fact became the slayer. Mary was not called to crucify her Son).

In fact, can we not comment on numerous acts of faith and obedience throughout Scripture that uniquely contribute to God’s plan of Salvation in Jesus Christ, such as Rahab’s? In this sense, Rahab’s act of faith and obedience give’s way to the Last Adam too. And while we honour the pattern and example of Rahab, and seek to emulate her way of faith and obedience, we do not raise her above the rest of humanity. Having said that, let me affirm that I believe Scripture when it says that Mary is highly favoured and blessed among women, but only because chosen to bear the Godman, not on the basis of her own merits.

I believe Mary too stands in need of salvation–for all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory; there is none righteous, no, not one (there I go; I dropped the bomb).

Mary was indeed full of grace. I don’t see logically why this makes her free from original sin.

Perhaps this is the crux of the issue: if Mary was a sinful woman, and stood in need of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ as do we, the whole issue changes.

At the end of the day, I find arguments for Mary’s sinlessness (and perpetual virginity) and stature as coredemptrix (there I go with that word again–I’m still not quite clear what is being said about this term as “non official doctrine”–if it’s not official doctrine, then I am not much concerned with it) crippled with a poverty of biblical support. I just don’t see it in Scripture. It seems like logic chopping to me.

Ed, thank you for taking the time to banter with me.

2 04 2007
HanseaticEd

You’re always welcome around here, TB. And at ‘fides et ardor’ for that matter.

I shall look forward to any further banter that may arise.

3 04 2007
lfn

Ed, does your view of Mary depend upon her being sinless from conception?

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