The Virgin Mary – What’s the Fuss? Who Is the Virgin Mary? Who Is the Virgin Mary?

The Virgin Mary – What’s the Fuss?
Who Is the Virgin Mary?
 
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Within the New Testament of the King James Version, the name “Mary” is recorded some 54 times in 46 verses of scripture. These occurrences represent seven persons bearing the name “Mary”. For the purpose of this article, I focus on Mary, the mother of Jesus, highly regarded within Christendom. However, among Roman Catholics, Mary is viewed as one without sin and thus worthy to bear Jesus. On the other hand, while Protestants respect Mary as the vessel through whom God chose to send His son, Mary is not idolized. Accordingly, I share these differences and summarize with an Adventist position regarding the Virgin Mary.
 
Looking at Mary from a Catholic’s Perspective
Key to understanding Mary from a Catholic perspective is to look at the Immaculate Conception. “This dogma . . . states that Mary, like her divine Son, is exempt from original sin” (Is There Something About Mary by George Reid, Adventist Review, November 8, 2007).  In fact, Pope Pius IX, in 1854, in the bull “Ineffabilis,” attributed to Mary infallibility. Pope Pius contends, “The Most Holy Virgin Mary was in the first moment of her conception, by a unique gift of grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin” (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 199). As such, Pope Pius believing that this information has been “revealed by God,” insists that it “must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful” (Ibid).
Additionally, Catholics reference three scriptural passages to support their position. The first is Genesis 3:15 in which they view  “the seed of the woman . . . as referring to the Redeemer . . . and thus the Mother of the Redeemer came to be seen in the woman” (Ibid. p. 200).
Luke 1:28 states, “Hail, favored one!” or “one full of grace.” Therefore, Ludwig Ott argues that “The expression ‘full of grace’ . . . in the angel’s salutation, represents the proper name, and must on this account express a characteristic quality of Mary.” Further, Ott saw this quality as extending “over her whole life, beginning with her entry into the world” (Ibid).
In the third passage, Luke 1:42, employing the words of Elizabeth, “Most blessed are you among women,” Ludwig Ott argues, the “blessing of God which rests upon Mary is made parallel to the blessing of God which rests upon Christ in His humanity. This parallelism suggests that Mary, just like Christ, was from the beginning of her existence, free from all sin” (Ibid., p.201). So without question, Mary is viewed as someone to be revered by Catholics. In fact, as of 1950 Catholics accepted that, “Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (Mary for Evangelicals, p. 244). This dogma is known as the Bodily Assumption.
 
Looking at Mary from a Protestant’s Perspective
          On the other hand, Protestants and Adventists, reject the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary, for it contradicts the “universality of sin.” The Apostle Paul clearly states in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (KJV). As for the three texts alluded to, they all seem to fall short of substantiating the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. An examination of Genesis 3:15 would reveal that Mary was not in the picture. And as for Luke 1:28, it would be very difficult to prove a sinless conception of Mary as implied by Ludwig. Quite frankly, the Immaculate Conception is not supported by this passage. Again, it must be concluded that it would be farfetched to apply the same blessings and sinless state of Christ in His humanity to Mary. As noted already, Protestants regard Mary as one chosen of God for a special ministry.
 
Adventists’ View of Mary
            Adventists share the same views as expressed above by Protestants. Embracing the Catholic thinking would bring into question several teachings such as the doctrine of sin, the matter of human nature, spiritualism, the immortality of the soul and the interpretation and acceptance of scripture over tradition. Notwithstanding, these facts the focus ought to be on Christ or God, and not on the means that He has chosen to introduce His Son to the human race. To do so is to miss the purpose of the Savior’s birth. It was to bring salvation, and that fact still stands today. To ensure that there would be no misunderstanding, before Jesus was conceived, the angel informed Mary of His birth in Luke 1:35. Later, as seen in Luke 2, she and Joseph are reminded of the role of the child through the Magi, the words of Simeon and the naming of Jesus. Therefore, I conclude that it is Jesus and not Mary who must be uplifted, exalted and worshiped. Let’s maintain the biblical focus.