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Sinlessness of the Mother of God


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#41 Anna Stickles

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 07:50 PM

Yes, I do. I don't subscribe to supralapsarianism, which many, but not all Calvinists do. I don't believe that we inherit Adam's sin or guilt. We are not responsible for Adam's sin, but only our own.

But perhaps you are on to something. From time to time, the ghosts of Calvinism haunt me. That's to be expected since I have close friends that are Calvinists.


Yes, the ghosts of our past ways of thinking continue to haunt us for a long time because of how these ways of seeing things have become habits of mind. I have struggled and continue to struggle with this quite a bit.

#42 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 11:51 PM

The basic issue at stake here, which you cannot quite yet see, is that you are still holding on to a Calvinistic view of the Fall that sees the sin that entered at the fall in terms of causing a change of nature.


I would disagree with you, and if you had the opportunity to sit down with me over tea in my home, we would be able to discuss this at length. It is persons that sin, not natures. This is a basic understanding of Orthodox anthropology.

The Calvinists believe that all humans inherit Adam's guilt and his sin. That is, they inherit his sin as if they committed it themselves. This fits in quite nicely then, with the teaching on Imputed Righteousness in which all who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are born again receive the righteousness of Christ, and God regards them as if they have lived the perfect, sinless life of Christ. Iow, God completely forgives their sins and in exchange for their sins God gives them the righteousness of Christ, not unlike that of wearing a cloak or outer garment. There was a popular Protestant song some time ago that said, "Clean before my Lord I stand and in me not one blemish does He see." It could be likened to the angel of death passing over the door of the Israelites because of the blood of the lamb.

The end result is that depending on how exactly it is articulated - by law or by nature we are now sinful as an unescapable reality.

I'm not quite sure what it is that you're saying here so I will explain in my words what I believe.

1. Every human being is subject to the Fall.
2. The consequences of the Fall are such that all human beings (given that they live long enough and have the capacity to understand right from wrong) are born into such a state that at some point they will choose to sin.
3. This choice to sin will be made with the full knowledge that what they are doing is wrong.
4. Being born into a state of immortality (as in Adam all die), the human race is subject to sin.
5. Christ bore the sins (the last Adam became a life-giving spirit) of ALL the human race at Calvary including the Theotokos.
6. Through Christ, any human being who has been born from above and received His life and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit has power to overcome sin.
7. Each human being who misses the mark and sins, if in repentance and true humility asks for Christ's forgiveness, will receive His forgiveness because our God is merciful and compassionate.

And by the way, I attended a Wesleyan/Methodist college and am quite familiar with the teaching of sinless perfection and entire sanctification. But even in this teaching it is understood that all of the human race is subject to sin, with the only exception of Jesus Christ who is fully God and fully man. We were taught to seek entire sanctification, a spiritual condition/mindset in which a Christian's will is such that all his/her desires are to please God at all times = a state of sinless perfection.

This is what is at the root of the quote of yours that I included in and tried to address in my "pretzel post" . All of these things you list are intimately tied up with this root issue, and you have obviously cut off a lot of the branches but the root is still there and effecting how you perceive God's economy of salvation.

How I may perceive God's economy of salvation is one thing, and I grant you that I still need to mature and come to a better understanding. However, this subject has no bearing on the sinlessness of Mary. One can have a Scriptural understanding of salvation and be living in such a way as to attest to that very reality of what it is to be a Christian. Yet, the same person may not affirm the teaching of the sinlessness of Mary and that will have little bearing on their soteriology and the manner in which they live their faith. You're comparing apples and oranges here.

I have no doubt that there have been many faithful, devout Christians who have lived exemplary lives of what it means to love God, yet have not believed Mary to be sinless.

Edited by Darlene Griffith, 26 September 2011 - 12:07 AM.


#43 Antonios

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 08:56 AM

2. The consequences of the Fall are such that all human beings (given that they live long enough and have the capacity to understand right from wrong) are born into such a state that at some point they will choose to sin.


This is true for me and for you and for every person who ever lived except for the Theotokos, which is why she was found worthy to become the Mother of God. I'm sorry you do not see the exceptionalism of the Virgin Mary. Is not the fact that she alone is the Mother of God exceptional? I think your stumbling block is because you think such exceptionalism would necessarily mean that she had no need for salvation through Christ. This is the root of your misunderstanding. You admit that an infant who has not sinned still dies, correct? That they feel hunger and pain and all the other effect on account of the fall? The Theotokos was born in the same vein, in the same fallen condition, and thus, without Christ, the Theotokos could not be saved from death. He is her Lord and Savior. At the same time she is His mother, the same mother whom He obeyed in the wedding at Cana even as He said "My hour has not come". If you can't see the exceptionalism in the person of the Theotokos, then it is very unfortunate. It was, after all, her flesh He assumed. It was her breasts He fed on. It was her arms He was coddled in and was nurtured. It was she alone who saw Him come into the world in the manger and leave the world on the cross. It was her intercession for the guests at the wedding which prompted Him to perform His first public miracle and turn the water into wine (even as He said His hour had not yet come).

4. Being born into a state of immortality (as in Adam all die), the human race is subject to sin.



The human race is subject to death from the fall. This is the ultimate effect of the fall - estrangement from God. In addition, as a consequence of the fall and because of such estrangement from God, our potentiality to sin has become a propensity to sin. However, acting on sin is NOT natural to us. It is in fact, that which is NOT natural to us and why we are said to 'miss the mark' when we sin. It is on account of our free will that we choose to sin (regardless of what Calvinists believe), and our subjection to sin is 'natural' to us only in that our will has been weakened because of the fall. This weakening does not mean however that we could not willfully always choose the good and never sin, for the potentiality to do this also exists, as rare as it would be. So rare, in fact, that only one person born of a mother and father was able to do this, and that is the person who gave birth to the Son of God.

5. Christ bore the sins (the last Adam became a life-giving spirit) of ALL the human race at Calvary including the Theotokos.

Christ bore the sins of all the human race on the Cross. Yes, of course. And because He did, He destroyed the power of death over the human race. This, however, is not any less true if the Theotokos had never sinned. The power of death still ruled over her even as she never chose to sin. Think about it: if this was not the case, then why do people die even after having confessed and received forgiveness on their death bed? If they received confession for their sins or are baptised on their death bed, why do they still die? Is not a person's sins cleansed at baptism and at confession? You are confusing our nature to die with our nature to sin. Death was introduce by sin, yes, but if one lives an entire life without sin, this does not overcome death. Think about Christ! We can both agree that Christ never sinned, but even still He died. His death, however, was different, because only by Christ, Who came from above, could death be destroyed, and that is why even as the Theotokos lived a life without sin, this was not enough to overcome the power of death, and why only by the work of Christ is she saved from death.

How I may perceive God's economy of salvation is one thing, and I grant you that I still need to mature and come to a better understanding. However, this subject has no bearing on the sinlessness of Mary.



If you confess that you still need to mature and come to a better understanding, then why are you so quick to throw away any progress you have made because of something that you can't understand? If the sinlessness of Mary is a stumbling block to you, then put it aside for now and pray for understanding.

One can have a Scriptural understanding of salvation and be living in such a way as to attest to that very reality of what it is to be a Christian. Yet, the same person may not affirm the teaching of the sinlessness of Mary and that will have little bearing on their soteriology and the manner in which they live their faith.


You think this may be true, but I would disagree. Such soteriology you speak of would not be orthodox and could very well affect the way one live's their faith. For example, ordained clergy members who speak against the sinlessness of the Theotokos are not only affecting their faith (even as they sing the hymns of the Church which profess this and serve in the feasts which celebrate this), but are affecting the faith of those they have been called to serve.

I have no doubt that there have been many faithful, devout Christians who have lived exemplary lives of what it means to love God, yet have not believed Mary to be sinless.



There have been many faithful, devout Christians who have lived exemplary lives of what it means to love God who have believed in all KINDS of things, some of which should not be mentioned. This, however, does not mean we should separate ourselves from the Church so that we can justify in our minds our own personal beliefs and understandings over the explicit teachings of the Church.

Edited by Antonios, 26 September 2011 - 09:48 AM.


#44 Father David Moser

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 02:49 PM

We believe that the Virgin Mary did indeed live a sinless life. This is, as Fr Irenei has shown, very prominently stated in the services and prayers of the Church. However, her sinlessness is the result of her own effort and falls under the statement of Apostle Paul that "our righteousness is as filthy rags before God". Yes, she was sinless, but that isn't enough - she needs to be filled with grace as well and that required the work of Christ.

If the Virgin Mary, who was sinless, requires the grace of God to be saved - how much more do we, who are full of sin, require that grace. And, if I may say so in relation to this whole conversation - how is it that we who are full of sin dare to judge anyone, and especially the All-pure Virgin.

Fr David Moser

#45 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 04:02 PM

Achieving a genuine understanding of the Orthodox understanding of sin, sinfulness, and sinlessness is exceptionally difficult for us converts, especially for those of who have been formed by Reformed and Lutheran theology. The simple fact is, whether for good or ill, the anti-Pelagian controversy did not significantly impact the Eastern Church as it did the Western Church. Consequently, Orthodoxy has a different understanding of the relationship of grace and human freedom than does Western Christianity, though it is difficult to articulate what this difference is. To Western ears, some Orthodox teachers really do sound like Pelagians: "if you pray and work long and hard enough, you too can become sinless." It sounds like salvation through the ascetical disciplines. Grace slips in somewhere through the invocation of synergism, but it seems to take a back seat. This is a caricature, I know.

Matters have become more complicated since the Latin dogmatization of the Immaculate Conception. My impression is that some Orthodox theologians have over-responded to this doctrine, by either denying the sinlessness of the Theotokos or by over-statomg the autonomous freedom of every human being to live sinlessly.
I have personally come to the conclusion that the mystery of grace and free will is unanalyzable. What gets stated and stressed all depends on the needs of the theological and pastoral moment. My understanding of these matters has not changed much since I last meditated on the subject: "The Sinlessness of the Theotokos and St John the Forerunner." Perhaps one day some Orthodox theologian will be able to explain everything to me to my satisfaction. I am waiting.

Until that day, we are left with the deep Orthodox conviction of the sinlessness of the Theotokos ... but not only her but also St John the Baptist and perhaps other Old Testament saints. Converts to Orthodoxy, especially converts from Protestantism, need to revise their anti-Pelagianism in light of this conviction. I just do not know what precisely needs to be revised. But the place to begin our reflections is on God's sanctifying and purifying work within Israel and the holy ancestors of Christ.

Fr Patrick has criticized my recommendation of Sergius Bulgakov's The Burning Bush, but not only will I continue to recommend it, but I am also going to recommend Bulgakov's book on St John: The Friend of the Bridegroom. I do so not because I believe that Bulgakov's sophiology is beyond serious critique but because I believe that in these two books Bulgakov is reflecting deeply on truths he has received in the life of the Church.

Fr Aidan

#46 Anna Stickles

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 06:43 PM

Matters have become more complicated since the Latin dogmatization of the Immaculate Conception. My impression is that some Orthodox theologians have over-responded to this doctrine, by either denying the sinlessness of the Theotokos or by over-statomg the autonomous freedom of every human being to live sinlessly. ...

But the place to begin our reflections is on God's sanctifying and purifying work within Israel and the holy ancestors of Christ.


Fr Aidan,

I appreciate your reflections here. One thing I have found in my reading of the ascetical literature and lives of the saints is that as far as I understand it Orthodoxy doesn't teach that we are all born in the same state of soul. I am open to correction if I am wrong, as this is observation from empirical evidence rather then taken from an particular Patristic theolgian. But it seems that just as our individual bodies are born in various states of health, illness, so too we are born with souls that can vary in how deeply they are effected by the Fall. This does not seem to be something generally recognized in the West.

My personal opinion is that the Theotokos, by God's providence was conceived with a soul fully alive, fully healthy, not according to her own virtue but as the culmination of the efforts of the OT saints and God's providence for the salvation of mankind. No NT author has ever said that the grace in the Law was empty, only that it was incomplete. The sacramental grace present in the OT dispensation was there preparing the way for Christ to be born, preparing the way for the Theotokos to be what she is. Her freedom was exercised to preserve this inviolate, but no one is autonomous, we are all interdependent.

#47 Archimandrite Irenei

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 06:45 PM

Dear Fr Aidan,

Thank you for your reflection. I found it both honest and reflective of a truly Orthodox position. And you are quite right that the misunderstanding of sin is one of the key issues with which people in western cultures struggle -- so strong has been the influence of understandings of it that come from outside the Orthodox tradition. This has been extremely apparent on these recent threads, where a misunderstanding of what 'sin' and 'sinless' mean has led people to deny both Church teaching and other resources, holding fast to a view that is grounded in understandings quite far from the mind of the Church.

INXC, Fr Irenei

#48 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 02:39 AM

I've read what has been said here and still am unconvinced of Mary's sinlessness. And I thought Orthodoxy always looks at everything through the lens of Christ. The problem is, we're not behaving much different from the Protestants who toss verses back and forth at each other, each trying to emphatically defend his/her position. Only here it's philosophical arguments that turn on themselves. Boiling it down to simple terms this is what I hear:

Jesus is sinless.
Mary is sinless too, but in a different sense than Jesus.
However I still have to use the word sinless to describe Mary, even though her sinlessness is different than Jesus' sinlessness.
Her sinlessness is different because she had to exert her own will and consciously choose the good at every turn.
Of course, she couldn't help but choose the good, since she was already cleansed from sin in the womb of her mother.
So, how does this make her different from Jesus in the final analysis?
Conclusion = It was not possible for Jesus to sin. It was not possible for Mary to sin.

This is misleading, good intentions notwithstanding. Who's changing the definitions of sin here anyway? I have a host of reasons why I cannot accept this teaching. My biggest problem with most of the answers I've seen thus far is not only do they ignore what Holy Scripture says about the condition of ALL human persons born after the Fall, they also contradict what Holy Scriptures say.

I got it. The Theotokos was somehow cleansed of all sin prior to being born but after her conception she never committed any actual sins always doing what was pleasing to God.

Problem 1: Since she was born into the world a perfect human being, it wasn't possible for her to sin. So, her ascetical efforts in always choosing to do what was right are meaningless. She couldn't do anything otherwise. There was only ever one option for her and that was not to sin. This, in my understanding, puts her right on par with Jesus.

Problem 2: Since she never sinned, she never had to repent. Never having had to repent, she never had to ask for forgiveness. I thought Jesus came not to save the righteous, but the sinners. That doesn't look good for a sinless Theotokos.

I've got more difficulties, lots more. By the time I'm done with this subject, I may have enough to write a 50 page essay!

Edited by Darlene Griffith, 29 September 2011 - 03:13 AM.


#49 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:19 AM

Oh, and the East vs West argument gets overused and old, like a worn out shoe. It boils down to: East is good. West is bad. East is theologically pure. West is theologically defiled. etc, etc, etc. It begins to sound a bit sanctimonious after awhile.

#50 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:25 AM

Fr Patrick has criticized my recommendation of Sergius Bulgakov's The Burning Bush, but not only will I continue to recommend it, but I am also going to recommend Bulgakov's book on St John: The Friend of the Bridegroom. I do so not because I believe that Bulgakov's sophiology is beyond serious critique but because I believe that in these two books Bulgakov is reflecting deeply on truths he has received in the life of the Church.

And I hope Fr Patrick continues to criticize Sergius Bulgakov's writings on Mary. They border on blasphemy. If I'm not mistaken, a holy hierarch from San Francisco rejected Bulgakov's writings as well, and was rather vocal about it.

#51 Father David Moser

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:34 AM

I've read what has been said here and still am unconvinced of Mary's sinlessness.


After reading this thread and your protestations for a few weeks now, I would like to share the response of Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco to a similar line of questioning - perhaps it will help. There was a woman in one of his parishes who came up to him during one of his visits and began asking all kinds of questions about the beliefs of the Church. He patiently answered question after question. When it became apparent that there was no end to the questions and that his questioner was not to be convinced, the Archbishop said to her that she should attend all the services of the Church and listen carefully to the hymns and then after doing this for a year (or maybe it was three, I forget) she should come back and ask whatever questions remained. After that year (or three) had passed, Archbishop Anthony was again visiting the parish, but his questioner had no further questions for him, they had all been answered by the services of the Church.

Maybe that's what is needed here - less talking and more praying. Go to the services of the Church, listen carefully to the hymns. Pray to the Mother of God and ask her to reveal the truth to you.

Fr David Moser

#52 Archimandrite Irenei

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:42 AM

Dear in the Lord, Darlene,

I do not myself believe there is anything more pious about eastern, versus western, thought. I believe that in the above comments the modes of western intellectual analysis have been mentioned, not as a general commentary on western thinking or any claim of eastern triumphalism, but rather because in the matter to hand (that is, definitions of sin and how to view its relationship to purity and redemption), the alternative views that have been put forward in the current discussion are in fact directly related to expressions of western analysis and theological expression that have become almost classic examples of a genre.

As to your potential problems: the doctrine of the Orthodox Church is not that the Virgin was incapable of sin -- and transfiguration in God (which is the aim of every Christian person) is never equivalent to becoming God by nature, which is what would be required for such a claim. To be transfigured in Christ is the perfection of human freedom, not its loss.

As to the second: once again, this is an intellectual trap that is forced upon you by how you are defining sin, repentance and salvation. I entirely agree with you that, from that standpoint of what sin must mean, and how redemption must relate to acts of personal sin, such a position does not make sense. However, that standpoint is not the view of sin, repentance and salvation that we find in the hymns, the Fathers, or their understanding of the Scriptures.

As to the broader concern that the Church's doctrine somehow contradicts the Scriptures: this is, again, an issue of the pretext that you bring to your reading. You clearly have a rather well developed view of certain concepts (sin, salvation, redemption) and how passages in Scripture are to be read, which you bring to your reading, gained from some source or background other than the teachings of the Orthodox Church. This is fair enough -- one comes into the Church from whatever background one has. But what you are persisting in reading as a contradiction with the Scriptures is in point of fact a contradiction with your pre-determined interpretation of what the Scriptures mean. The Church herself grounds her proclamation in her Scriptures; the hymns of the feasts that extol the Virgin's purity and freedom from the taint of sin, do so in texts that are laden with Scriptural quotations, allusions, references. The Fathers who commentate on these themes, do so in harmony with the reading of the Scriptures. What is really at question here is how you approach the Scriptures, and derive your understanding from them. If you have already developed your view of what certain terms, concepts and ideas must mean, then of course you will find places where the Church says something different, and from your perspective the Church's teachings will appear to go 'against' Scripture. But this really is not the case.

Finally, I realise that on the internet things tend to get discussed in quite 'intellectual' terms, however I do not feel it is correct to suggest that the discussion here is proceeding by 'philosophical arguments', turning in on themselves or otherwise. What we have is a clear and straightforward teaching presented by the Church as her own. It is not a debating point. However, when contemporary minds struggle with it, they are forced into at times quite bizarre philosophical acrobatics to defend their dissent; and to this we try as much as is beneficial to respond to those intellectual concerns in a way that points the intellect back toward the teaching of the Church. But at the end of the day, as at its beginning, the Church's teaching here is very clear, straightforward, and unambiguous. Where our minds falter because we've inherited concepts, readings, paradigms, etc. that make the Church's proclamation challenging to us, that make it seem to be senseless to us, then we must learn to behold in the Church a wisdom greater than our own, and seek the conversion of our minds to the teaching of Christ in His Church.

INXC, Fr Irenei

#53 Antonios

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:46 AM

I've read what has been said here and still am unconvinced of Mary's sinlessness. And I thought Orthodoxy always looks at everything through the lens of Christ. The problem is, we are not unlike the Protestants who toss verses back and forth at each other, each trying to emphatically defend his/her position. I have a host of reasons why I cannot accept this teaching. My biggest problem with most of the answers I've seen thus far is not only do they ignore what Holy Scripture says about the condition of ALL human persons born after the Fall, they also contradict what Holy Scriptures say.

I got it. The Theotokos was somehow cleansed of all sin prior to being born but after her conception. She never committed any actual sins always doing what was pleasing to God.

Problem 1: Since she was born into the world a perfect human being, it wasn't possible for her to sin. So, her ascetical efforts in always choosing to do what was right are meaningless. She couldn't do anything otherwise. There was only ever one option for her and that was not to sin. This, in my understanding, puts her right on par with Jesus.


No, Darlene, you keep missing the point made over and over again. She was not born a perfect human being- she was born in the fallen human condition just like everyone else with the potential to sin, and it was always possible for her to sin. Instead, and unique to her (the one God chose to become the pure and holy living tabernacle of God incarnate), by her ascetical life in humble obedience to God, she did not commit sin. She COULD sin, but she did not. There is nothing meaningless at all in this, in fact, this is why she is regarded as 'more honorable than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim'. She was not an automaton of God's grace, but a willing and obedient servant who found favor with God, enough so that He sent His Archangel Gabriel to her to announce the good news and His Holy Spirit into her and assumed her spotless flesh.

IN CONTRAST, Her Son Jesus Christ, Who IS perfect by nature (perfect Man and perfect God) COULD NOT sin.

This is why He is God and she is His creature.

I don't understand why this is so difficult for you to understand but it must do with your preconceived Protestant beliefs and the misunderstanding of Scripture you keep referring to regarding the nature of sin and the human condition.

We are ALL in need of salvation in Christ, the Theotokos included, because without Christ, then there is no resurrection into life, there is no restoration and reconciliation. Infants who die without sin still die. And children who die without sin still die. And adults who die without sin still die. Death, which was introduced before we came to be and which became our nature could not be overcome by following the law and living a sinless and righteous life. Something greater and before us needed to remedy this. Only by God coming down and lifting us up has death been overcome, and this is how Christ saves me and you and the Theotokos and why all three of us call Him our Lord and God.

Problem 2: Since she never sinned, she never had to repent. Never having had to repent, she never had to ask for forgiveness. I thought Jesus came not to save the righteous, but the sinners. That doesn't look good for a sinless Theotokos.


And what is it to you if she never had to repent? Worry about your own sins and stop judging the Mother of God.

I've got more difficulties, lots more. By the time I'm done with this subject, I may have enough to write a 50 page essay!


You would do better by reading the Fathers and studying the hymnology of the Church and praying to God for understanding in all this. You are making this much more complicated then it needs to be and it has to do with what has been ingrained in your head over years as a Protestant. Humble yourself, check your baggage at the door, learn to listen to the wisdom of the Church and stop kicking against the goads. You can bring up all the Scripture versus you want and Protestant talking points you wish, but without the foundational understanding of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, then you risk making an idol of the Scriptures and even worse, an idol of your own mind's interpretation of the Scriptures.

Forgive me, please, Darlene, for my harshness. I'm just trying to help.

#54 Antonios

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:14 AM

Darlene, I just saw what Father David and Father Irenei posted above. Listen to them and learn from them. Take my posts with little attention, as I am not a spiritual guide or pastor or teacher and my words may actually do the opposite of what I am trying to do. I just read your post in the other thread and see that this is a major struggle of faith for you and I am sorry that you are going through this. I will stay out of this conversation from here on out. I urge you to be patient and to pray. This is really the best advice I can give.

#55 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:35 AM

And what is it to you if she never had to repent? Worry about your own sins and stop judging the Mother of God.

Don't assume I don't worry about my own sins. If anything, I suffer from scrupulosity that reaches perilous dimensions at times . It may not appear that way here on Monachos, however. The persona that tends to emerge in debate here just obscures the real me. Trust me on this one.

Forgive me, please, Darlene, for my harshness. I'm just trying to help.

Antonio, you don't even come close to some Calvinist's I've rubbed elbows with in debate. You'll never know the levels that harshness can reach until you've disagreed with a Calvinist. Trust me on this one too. ;-)

#56 Kosta

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:45 AM

I have to add that the Orthodox church does not define WHEN the Theotokos became sinless. In the latin doctrine of the immaculate conception, the when is meticulously defined at the certain point in time (at the very moment of conception). Whether we say the Theotokos remained sinless from the womb or was cleansed at the Annunciation or at Pentecost, we are simply expressing our opinion for the Church has not defined this. If a person is baptised, his sins are wiped away and if the baptized happens to die immediately after baptism then he dies sinless. Likewise an infant is considered sinless. We must keep in mind that the process of divinization which is a mystery.

The service of the entry into the temple explains that she is sent their to be'safeguarded' (meaning she could fall to sin) and to be 'prepared' to recieve God:

"Ann the all-blessed cried out rejoicing: 'O Zacharias take her whom the prophets of God proclaimed in the Spirit, and lead her into the holy temple, there to be brought up in reverence, that she may become the divine Throne of the Master of all, His palace, His resting place, and his dwelling filled with light."

"The Theotokos, glorious fruit of a sacred promise, is truly revealed unto the world as higher than all creation. Piously lead into the House of God, she fullfills the vow of her parents and she is preserved by the Holy Spirit"...

Here is another example taken from the Matins service of the Entry into the temple:
"Mary without spot rejoiced in body and spirit, dwelling as a sacred vessel in the temple of the Lord. Recieving heavenly food, she who was to become the Mother of Christ the Savior according to the flesh increased in wisdom and grace. Thy wise parents led thee to the innermost part of the temple, O undefiled Virgin, there to be brought up in strange fashion and prepared as dwelling place for Christ our God."

Should we conclude that the phrase; 'Mary without spot rejoiced in body and spirit' mean she was without sin from the womb? One can hold this opinion, on the other hand this is what the matinal canon of the Anunciation teaches (which is written in the form of a conversation between the Theotokos and the Archangel Gabriel):

Theotokos: Recieving the glad tidings, O Gabriel, I am filled with divine joy. For thou dost speak to me of joy, a joy without end.
Angel Gabriel: Divine Joy is given to thee, O Mother of God....(Canticle 6)

Theotokos: The descent of the Holy Spirit has purified my soul and sanctified my body: It has made of me a Temple that contains God, a Tabernacle divinely adorned, a living sanctuary and the pure Mother of Life...(canticle 7)

The phrase, 'Mary the spotless one rejoiced in body and spirit' makes more sense in the context of the matinal canon of the Anunciation. The angel brought her the good news and imparted divine joy within her. At that moment she was overshadowed by the descent of the holy spirit making both her body and soul "spotless".

#57 Antonios

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:49 AM

Antonio, you don't even come close to some Calvinist's I've rubbed elbows with in debate. You'll never know the levels that harshness can reach until you've disagreed with a Calvinist. Trust me on this one too. ;-)


Come now, Darlene, it's not their fault. How can it be their fault when they have no will! ;)

#58 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 02:25 PM

You and I (and presumably the Theotokos) face decisions to give in to sin or not, every day, perhaps even every minute. Sometimes we actually decide NOT to give in to sin. Some are better at this than others. The great theologians of the Church have written mountains of literature on how to do this, on how to be "perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect". It is an achieveable goal, to become consistant in not sinning, to become a better marksman such that we can "hit the mark" each and every time. Some will do it sooner than others. Is it so hard to believe that perhaps, of all people, the Theotokos was better at this, more consistant, at an earlier stage (perhaps even from the start), than others? She who was dedicated to God at a very early age by very pious parents, who lived in the Temple, and who was closer to Christ than anyone could possibly be since she carried Him in her own body?

This is ALL about Christ. The Theotokos would not be the Theotokos without Christ. How can it be anything except about Christ? If Christ can help us achieve a state where we no longer sin (it can happen or our Lord Himself is a liar), doesn't it make sense that Christ might be able to help His own mother to do so?

#59 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 06:25 PM

Theotokos: The descent of the Holy Spirit has purified my soul and sanctified my body: It has made of me a Temple that contains God, a Tabernacle divinely adorned, a living sanctuary and the pure Mother of Life...(canticle 7)

The phrase, 'Mary the spotless one rejoiced in body and spirit' makes more sense in the context of the matinal canon of the Anunciation. The angel brought her the good news and imparted divine joy within her. At that moment she was overshadowed by the descent of the holy spirit making both her body and soul "spotless".

And this I can beleive. (as per what I have bolded.). Again, though, what is bolded is quite different than what others are saying about the sinlessness of the Theotokos.

#60 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 06:53 PM

You and I (and presumably the Theotokos) face decisions to give in to sin or not, every day, perhaps even every minute.

So true.

Sometimes we actually decide NOT to give in to sin.

Glory to God!

Some are better at this than others. The great theologians of the Church have written mountains of literature on how to do this, on how to be "perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect".

Yes, I would agree that some are better at this, although I would prefer to say more ardent and dilligent to guard their souls.

It is an achieveable goal, to become consistant in not sinning, to become a better marksman such that we can "hit the mark" each and every time. Some will do it sooner than others.

I heard this teaching while attending a Wesleyan/Methodist college in the form of Sinless Perfection and Entire Sanctification. I can accept that it very well may be true. I think, perhaps there are those who have been an example of what the Scriptures attest, "...whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin." But this testifies of a process, and with an understanding that sin has been committed previously prior to arriving at this state.

Is it so hard to believe that perhaps, of all people, the Theotokos was better at this, more consistant, at an earlier stage (perhaps even from the start), than others? She who was dedicated to God at a very early age by very pious parents, who lived in the Temple, and who was closer to Christ than anyone could possibly be since she carried Him in her own body?

It's not hard to believe at all. In fact, I do believe that the Theotokos was more consistent at being faithful to God than any other human being. As a "mere" human being, (how Fr.Thomas Hopko puts it) she is THE prime, THE quintessential, THE unique and best example of a Christian to all of us. There is none, no one, anybody, that compares with the blessed Theotokos. She outshines us all! However, to agree to all that is bolded above is not affirming that Mary was sinless, and never ever missed the mark her entire life.

This is ALL about Christ. The Theotokos would not be the Theotokos without Christ.

Amen. And as I've heard it said, the gospel is not about Mary, but Mary is all about the gospel.

How can it be anything except about Christ? If Christ can help us achieve a state where we no longer sin (it can happen or our Lord Himself is a liar), doesn't it make sense that Christ might be able to help His own mother to do so?

Achieve, as in achieve at some point, most certainly yes. Achieve as to begin accomplishing at some point, yes. To achieve without ever one set back, without ever missing the mark, not once, nada....Nope, don't accept it.

Edited by Darlene Griffith, 29 September 2011 - 07:14 PM.





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