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Can I just add or quote the Saturday Theotokia:"O you who is without sin, and pure,The Saintly in EverythingThe One who presented to us God,Carried Upon Her Arms"(Ti-atsolep ensemneh).
minatasgeel said:Can I just add or quote the Saturday Theotokia:"O you who is without sin, and pure,The Saintly in EverythingThe One who presented to us God,Carried Upon Her Arms"(Ti-atsolep ensemneh).
katanikhoros said:It seems that in a relative sense, there is no greater human after Christ than her, and so compared to us she is indeed sinless (as we call Enoch and St. Bishoy perfect and the Gospel refers to Zechariah and his wife as blameless along with Job). This is in a relative sense, since we also affirm that no one is without sin even if his life is a day on earth as we say in the Litany of the Departed. This means compared to Christ who has absolute sinlessness, she is in need of salvation.Does this make sense?God bless
It seems that in a relative sense, there is no greater human after Christ than her, and so compared to us she is indeed sinless (as we call Enoch and St. Bishoy perfect and the Gospel refers to Zechariah and his wife as blameless along with Job). This is in a relative sense, since we also affirm that no one is without sin even if his life is a day on earth as we say in the Litany of the Departed. This means compared to Christ who has absolute sinlessness, she is in need of salvation.
Now look at biblical translations of Job 14:4,5. This is from the NKJV: "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one! Since his days are determined," This translation, in my opinion, is rather loose. Nearly all other biblical translations say the same thing. Regardless of biblical translation, the premise is the same. No man is sinless even if his life on earth is one day. No one can bring a clean thing out of an unclean (thing)? This includes an immaculate birth of God since God cannot be born through sin or be subjected to sin. All mankind is unclean because of our fallen nature. It is foolish to think that any man, woman or creation that is unclean can become immaculate or hold God or give birth to the infinite, immaculate God by their own merits. If God had to purify Isaiah's mouth with a coal taken from the temple by a seraphim so he can simply speak about God, what do you think it will take for God to make a fallen creation give birth to God?
The answer is Luke 1:28: ke,aritwmeny (full of grace). Grace made St Mary ready to give birth to God. In other words, there is nothing St Mary could or could not do which would qualify her to give birth to God because she is a creation (specifically a human who shares the fallen nature). As one of the fathers once said, "God does not choose the qualified. God qualifies the chosen." He qualifies the chosen by the grace.
The problem Catholics have is that when St Mary was called ke,aritwmeny, it was before she consented to the Incarnation. Thus, she was already filled with grace by some other means. The RC defined this other means as her own immaculate conception (as mabsoota pointed out). But dogmatically this is a problem because, as Minasoliman said quoting Fr Taros Malaty's definition of grace in a recent discussion, " 'Grace is the presence of God working in us.' This presence is not some sort of space created and consecrated by God, but God Himself dwelling in us to work in us. Otherwise, if this was just a mere imitation without God’s indwelling, there is no need for an incarnation."
As you can see, we have the chicken and the egg conundrum: The only way for a creation to give birth to God is to have God dwell in the creation. Thus, St Mary IS sinless. Not by nature but by grace. Not by superhuman works that qualified her to become the Theotokos but by grace she was chosen to be the Theotokos while God dwelt in her. (Notice the past tense of the verb. It's very important.)
(By the way, a similar conundrum is found in the Magnifica praise of St Mary, "My soul magnifies the Lord". I won't elaborate unless someone wants me to because it is outside the topic)
All other reasons explaining the sinlessness of Mary falls short. It doesn't matter if she called her son savior. (One can call God savior or ask God to save/deliver/pass temptation and still be sinless. Jesus did it in Gethsemane.) It doesn't matter if sinless negates free will. (If this were true, Jesus has no free will). It doesn't matter if there was someone else who better than St Mary, she would have been the Theotokos. (The absence of proof is not proof. You can't prove what someone is because no one else is the same or better). It doesn't matter if she chose not to sin after the annunciation (she can't choose not to commit sins she commits unwillingly or unknowingly). It doesn't matter if one is relatively sinless compared to the absolute sinlessness of God. (You can't have contradictory absolute truths, nor can you have an absolute truth contradict a relative truth. Truth is truth. Either man can be absolutely sinless in himself or not, regardless of his relative relationship with God's absolute sinlessness.) All of these are weak arguments because they do not address the nature of sin and how sin affected man and how God dealt with sin. (Sounds eerily familiar to St Athanasius' On the Incarnation).
It seems that for St. Athanasius, many have been wholly clean of sin, and then he proceeds to give two particular examples of those who were hallowed even from the womb, Jeremiah and John the Baptist. Being 'sinless' in an entirely legalistic sense seems to be quite possible to St. Athanasius. However these people were still in 'need of salvation' (a strange phrase to me for it seems that we are and will all always be radically in need of God) due to our own condition of mortality and corruptibility made real in us by our departure from Him Who Is Giver of Life and He Who Abides Forever.
The comments of Orthodox Scholar Jaroslav Pelikan (Memory eternal!) are of immense value here in commenting on the human condition for the fathers (particularly St. Athanasius):
Despite all this strong language about sin, however, the fundamental problem of man was not his sin, but his corruptibility. The reason the incarnation was necessary was that man had not merely done wrong-for this, repentance would have sufficed- but had fallen into a corruption, a transiency that threatened him with annihilation. As the agent of creation who had called man out of nothing, the Logos was also the one to rescue him from annihilation. This the Logos did by taking flesh. For this theology, it was the universality of death, not the inevitability of sin, that was fundamental. The statement of Romans 5:14, that ‘Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam,’ was taken to prove that there were many who had been ‘pure of every sin,’ such as Jeremiah and John the Baptist (cf.Against the Arians 3.33). It was death and corruption that stood in the way of man’s participation in the divine nature, and these had to be overcome in the incarnation of the Logos." Pg 285 of The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600).
My problem with that is that knowledge precedes choice. You cannot choose to sin, that is separate yourself from God, without knowing that you are sinning. Otherwise what are you choosing? You cannot sin without choosing to sin, and you cannot choose to sin without knowing what it is you are choosing. Imagine someone choosing sin without knowing (I'm not speaking about factual information) that they are choosing to sin.
Now of course we can not hold to a Total Depravity theology. For if we were totally depraved with a flesh that always sins, then we could not be judged for any sins we do....unless Christ condemned sin in the flesh. Thus, in Romans 8, St Paul makes the point we have chosen to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. We are freed from the carnal mind and sin, even though the body is dead and we sin unwillingly and unknowingly through the body. "And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."