Question about the 'sinlessness' of the Theotokos
Posted 16 July 2011 - 11:00 PM
Posted 17 July 2011 - 02:39 AM
Posted 17 July 2011 - 11:52 AM
Orthodoxy does not teach that sin is a crime to be punished, but it is a sickness to be healed. Is it hard to accept that perhaps the Theotokos, Christ's own mother, might have been one of the first to be healed? She is certainly a very special person, to be chosen to be the bearer of Christ. She was dedicated to God at an early age. The Greek word for "sin" literally means "to miss the target" and I have to believe that perhaps the Theotokos might have had much better aim than, say, the "average" person.
So, did the Theotokos ever commit an actual sin? We have firm testimony that the Apostles committed one sin or another (St. Peter even denying the Lord three times and St. Paul was an accomplice to murder!), but to say that the Theotokos sinned, you would need to tell me how she sinned for me to acknowledge it. The scriptural record is silent on that particular subject, but the Church certainly likes to think that she did not sin, in the absence of evidence to the contrary. Now if you asked her directly, she might even claim to be the first among sinners, even as all Orthodox Christians must do, but if ever there was a model of a Godly life, hers would be it, don't you think?
Interestingly enough, there are no hymns or prayers that specifically claim that the Theotokos was "without sin". If we pray as we believe and believe as we pray, then the sinlessness of the Theotokos is evidently not dogma, but I don't think it is an unreasonable conclusion nonetheless.
If you cannot reconcile this, or if your concerns are not allayed through your research, then perhaps you might trying ask her yourself and see if you don't receive an answer.
Posted 17 July 2011 - 05:51 PM
Once I had read about it I had no problems praying to the saints yet to my shame I had to the Theotokos, I was worried about honouring her too much and in some way worshiping her and I knew that was wrong, this is something I had trouble with for a long time. However, I no longer feel that way I honour her as the Mother of our God, I worship God alone who is glorified in His saints, she is given honour for that is what Christ wills she has a unique relationship of being the Mother of her God which we nor the saints can have. I would pray the prayers you feel conformable with I would suggest ,
'Rejoice O Virgin Theotokos, Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb.
For thou 'ast born the Saviour of our souls.'
as it is Biblical based and should be o.k. for you. Give it time and sometimes even though you know you are doing the right thing that it is o.k. then it might still feel odd to you - I had to force myself at times.
Posted 17 July 2011 - 10:22 PM
Posted 04 September 2011 - 04:07 AM
Idolatry is to believe that somebody is equal or greater than God.
See, if you call a girl great names and kiss her picture and kneel and do all stuff is not idolatry since girl is not equal or above God. In EOC nobody is equal or above God so there can not be idolatry.
Posted 04 September 2011 - 04:08 AM
Posted 04 September 2011 - 06:58 PM
Perhaps the best way to better understand the Orthodox veneration of the Theotokos is to attend services at an Orthodox Church and to simply spend a little time before an icon of the Blessed Virgin.
Posted 04 September 2011 - 07:52 PM
Just a humble thought from a fellow struggler.
Posted 05 September 2011 - 02:21 AM
I don't know if this relates to your struggle, but one of the problems I've seen some Protestants have with the idea of Mary being sinless derives from their view of sin and salvation. Basically, it is the idea that if she didn't sin, she would have no sin-caused separation from God and hence no need of Christ's sacrifice for salvation.
The Orthodox view is different. Even if Mary committed no volitional sin - for that matter, even if she committed no unintentional sin - she still shared in our common fallen human nature and so was in need of redemption.
By the way, based on personal experience I heartily second Herman's recommendation to ask her yourself.
Posted 13 September 2011 - 08:10 AM
Hi Michael Du
I have heard of Gen 3:15 being used to prove Mary's sinlessness. Gen 3:15 the proto-evangel pointing to Christ.
The enmity is absolute since it is God who is puts it there.
Gen.3:15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
Perhaps a comment from Orthodox members could clarify this?
blessings in Christ
Posted 14 September 2011 - 03:56 PM
Patience and a hope that 2000 years of Orthodoxy might know more than you do about her. You also might want to puruse some of these threads as we have talked about this topic in detail. Me included. If you have trouble with the Theotokos, you will also have trouble with the saints, icons and confession.
Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 14 September 2011 - 07:02 PM.
deleted extraneous return
Posted 17 September 2011 - 06:29 PM
Scripture is also clear that just because God said and/or commanded something doesn't mean we can do it. Take all his commandments and laws but yet all of us have broken them. Also, this would make Father David's post wrong that no one can be perfect accept Mary, because if we could just simply be perfect then others before and after Mary would be able to. About your comment on the scripture not being in vain, your life goal is to be like Mary since she is the pinnacle of humankind yet you don't believe you will ever obtain her level of life. Is that in vain? Things don't necessarily need to be attained to be useful. I wouldn't regard any scripture as vain even though I myself fall short of it everyday.
Hieromonk Irenaeus forgive me the link you gave was an old thread from 2006 and I am responding to replies in this thread. I was not trying to change the subject.
Posted 17 September 2011 - 07:07 PM
You are only 2 1/2 hours north of St. Anthony's Monastery in Florence. Why don't you take a day trip down there and talk to them face to face rather than banter back and forth here? I am sure the holy elder can answer your questions.
I had this exact same question a few years back and the links above will help I am sure. Use the search feature here. Get a concensus of many threads and not just this one thread. Our ability to answer can change over time based on what we are thinking at the time, but this is not true for what the church does. Her answer does not change over time.
If I remember what I was told for this answer is that we all sin. big, small, little or great; we all do it. The Theotokos did it so much less than we and 100% not deliberatley but perhaps only through dire accident that the amount of sin she committed during her life was as close to zero as one can get. Hense our high water mark.
Consider her life. She was bore from 2 very pious old people who I am sure did not cease to praise God and as soon as she was weened she was presented to the temple where she lived her life in prayer and fasting. She alone ascended the steps to the temple which was a big no no back then for any female. She was cared for by the priests and holy virgins until she got the "call" from the archangel Gabriel. She was then the vessel of the Holy Spirit. This alone protected her the rest of her life but as Christ she chose not to sin and did not. We ALL have the choice not to sin. Did she sin? Tradition and scripture don't say so. Could she have sinned? possible, but not to any degree that would make her less than the most sinless person to have lived. Christ withstanding. Do I personally think she sinned? no, I don't. But then, what is sin to me might not be sin to you or to God. So His is the final judgement.
This is one of those things you are going to have to put back up on the rebuilt shelf and just believe. You can always ask her when you get there.
Posted 17 September 2011 - 08:24 PM
Don't be angry or lose your peace over what you don't understand. God is love. Time will prove all things.
Posted 17 September 2011 - 09:27 PM
My question was if this was the churches view on the subject. I defiantly know now what some peoples opinions are on the subject. Correct me if I am wrong, but the hynography in the church is about Mary being without corruption because she was not with a man, not because she was sinless. Scripture and even orthodox prayers as I posted above is clear that ALL mankind (and womenkind) has sinned. Can someone verify for me that the official church teaching is that Mary was without sin?
Unfortunately, you are operating from a western or at least non-Orthodox understanding of sin. Can you verify that anyone anywhere specifically says that the Theotokos sinned in any way shape or form? This is not to say that the Theotokos was not in need of Christ's redemption, that she was not born into sin, but it does not have to mean that she committed a sin. The Church certainly prefers to give her the benefit of the doubt in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.
What this ultimately means is that you and I can choose to sin or not to sin. We face this choice each and every day. Sometimes, with Christ's help, we even choose not to sin. Do you think otherwise? Do you claim that the Theotokos was less able than you to do so? Is is so hard to believe that perhaps she was more consistent in this than you or I? Really?
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