Protestant Argument Against Devotion to Mary

One of my beliefs is that Mary, because she is the Mother of God, must be sinless and worthy of all praise.

But Protestants argue that if Mary had to be so great and sinless to be the Mother of God, then St. Anne and Joachim must also have been so great and sinless, and likewise their parents, and their parents’ parents, and so on back to the beginning.

How do we respond to this?

That’s where the Immaculate Conception comes into play.
Also of interest is the traditional Orthodox response, which is that, since the guilt of original sin is not one of hereditary guilt, but only one of hereditary nature, Mary could still be sinless even if her parents were not.

For those wondering about the Orthodox stance - it’s this very argument that leads them to deny the Immaculate Conception, as they feel that if there is no hereditary guilt in original sin there’s no need for an immaculate conception in the first place. Now, we know that the Immaculate Conception is a fact because of the Church, however the Church has always been vague on the subject of hereditary guilt vs. nature in original sin, so we can call that area a gray zone of sorts - a belief not generally used in the Church, but not being heretical.

How should you respond? Tell them you were mistaken and they were correct. There was no absolute necessity for the Virgin Mary to be sinless, full of grace, or even a virgin in order to be the mother of God. However, it was altogether fitting that she be all those things.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 722, says, “The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom ‘the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily’ should herself be ‘full of grace.’”

If you are preparing a great feast with the very best of food, you naturally, do not bring out the pedestrian day to day crockery. If you have a great wine, you symbolically put it in your finest goblet. It is natural to give dignity in the exposition of a great gift.
Thus it is naturally right and proper that our God finds flesh in his Human Nature in that of the Virgin Mary in the blessing of her immaculate conception. The Holy Spirit prepared the vessel of the Lord and found Mary; her fiat giving us our Saviour and all generations shall call her blessed.
Christ shows His respect and love for his mother in his first public miracle and in his gift of her to the Church through John as one of his last gifts from the Cross as he bled out his last offering to His Father in our Salvation.
Mary deserves our reverence and esteem, and my poor love as a natural reflection of my love for her beloved Son.

While devotion to Mary is nice and swell, I don’t think that the reason for her immaculate conception was related to aesthetics. It has more to do with original sin. If Jesus was to be sinless, he couldn’t have any original sin in him. So his mother was cleansed of original sin in order to prevent this from happening.

Just my two cents.

Well said. :thumbsup:

Mary.

Ultimately, Protestants link their heritage back to Martin Luther. There were no Protestants in the technical sense before him.

You could let these Protestants know that their founder had a great deal of respect for Mary, as can be seen here: catholicbridge.com/catholic/martin_luther_on_mary.php

My thoughts exactly. Todd, I respect your response as good because it is both agreeable (which we should try very much to be with others, especially Christians) and it is correcting the misunderstanding.

Our Lady is the Immaculate Conception.

You don’t have to overwork your responses. Simply state your case and move on.

Your successful argument against a Protestant regarding this hinges on the greeting, “Hail, full of grace” in Luke 1:28. You have to win Protestants with evidence and history and language, in this case, are the best evidence.

Here is one article that explains the verb tenses used in the ORIGINAL language (Protestants are so ignorant of history, generally, that they often fail to go the ORIGINAL language for clarification):

catholicexchange.com/mean-full-grace

In summary, (take from the article) the word kecharitōmenē, which is used in the ORIGINAL language for the greeting of Mary, is a tense of the verb charitoō. The tense is the key to the entire passage and dogma on Mary. This tense means “a completed action the effects of which still continue in the present.” This could also be restated, “completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace.”

Therefore, the angel’s greeting was saying that Mary was full of grace now, had always been full or grace, and would continue to be full of grace.

Sounds like Immaculate Conception to me :shrug:

I think you all make some very good arguments for Mary but I’d like to see more info from the early Church Fathers. I’ve been studying almost any book or writing that they wrote and I can’t see anything that speaks to the Immaculate Conception, or Mary’s Assumption. I am a Lutheran but just because Martin Luther spoke to these I don’t follow him blindly. I am in a “seeker’s” mode right now but I don’t pin my salvation on anything that I want to learn. I base it on Christ’s death, resurrection, assumption and His imminent return. I hope it’s soon.

Please understand that none of this is said in malice or anger. I love my Catholic and Protestant friends that I’ve made on here.

God bless all!!

Rita

Mary, rather than being the exception, fulfills the original intention of what God wanted for all his human children, to be members of his family from the first moment of their existence.

By her qualities of receptivity (to the workings of the Spirit in her body and soul from the first moment of her conception) and fruitfulness (in conceiving and bearing the Eternal Word made Flesh, the Source of our grace), she mirrors the Holy Spirit, who is the Person of receiptivity and fruitfulness within the Trinity.

Yet I really don’t think Protestants will be convinced of anything you say that isn’t literally in the Bible.
We are lucky to find a Catholic Bible that has ‘full of grace’ instead of ‘highly favored’.
It is so sad these poor sinners are deprived from a relationship with Mary.
Some say that converting a Protestant just doesn’t work. They have to come to their own conclusion often after long years of discernment.
What we can do is respond by upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Always be a happy, loving, and kind Catholic.
Remember to confidently ask the Blessed Mother for the great grace of their conversion.

I hope you realize that Catholics believe the underlined part as well. I don’t necessarily think that the “other stuff” is tied into our salvation, BUT I do think it can be an aid along the way.

As for ECF’s on the issue, yes, I have struggled with that as well but, and this is huge, I believe in the authority of the Catholic Church. There are many things I still don’t fully understand but I believe the Catholic Church to be the authority left by Christ. I also had to come to understand that the ECF’s did not address every single belief that the Church holds as true because many of the ECF writings are done *in response to *an issue going on in the Church at the time, just as most of the NT writings are. Therefore, if you are only writing to settle the issue or to remind a group of Christians of what had previously been taught regarding that issue, you wouldn’t necessarily remind them OF EVERY SINGLE article of the faith. You’d only remind them of what needed reminding, right? Therefore, if the beliefs held by the Church surrounding Mary had never been questioned, you wouldn’t have to write about them, would you?

That reason, along with the “full of grace” meaning, helped solidify the Immaculate Conception belief in my mind.

I believe the argument is that if Mary could have been protected from sin; then Jesus likewise by the same means could have been protected by sin.

Since Mary, who according to the CC was sinless but had parents who had sinned; then God could have equally done the exact same thing for Jesus, so it makes this requirement sort of unnecessary. Although, I would say that Jesus is quite different in that He wasn’t born of natural relations.

I’m not saying that the immaculate conception didn’t happen… Perhaps God wanted it that way and therefore it’s true. What I’m saying is that there’s really no reason for it, because any criteria of conception that God supposedly applied to Mary, who had sinful parents, can be applied to Jesus, who wasn’t even conceived by natural means.

Would but that your claim here were true–alas, they do not.

They pretend to claim roots to the original Church; they pretend that ML did not invent a theology, but ‘brought the Church back’ to its roots. That’s complete garbage of course, but that’s what they claim.

But you are certainly correct–protestant theology indeed, originates with Martin Luther.

The point is that it wasn’t done of necessity.

The Lord could have ‘poofed’ His Son into existence; could have created Him out of whole cloth, if He were so inclined–just as (presumably) He made Adam. (or even not bothered redeeming His traitorous, ungrateful children, at all…).

But instead, out of His love for His children, He chose to conceive His Son by the Holy Spirit, and through a woman–the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Of all the human beings before, since, and contemporaneous with Mary, He chose her. In fact, He created her, for this role–leaving Himself not just vulnerable as an infant…

…but subject to her exercise of her free-will, to assent to this mission; and therefore, dependent upon her ‘yes’ (or rather, vulnerable to her ‘no’–her declination–due to fear, doubt, faithlessness, inconvenience…a thousand other reasons not to assent…if that’s how she chose to exercise her free will).

It is quite fitting that He would conceive such a unique woman, without the stain of original sin–that she would be better suited and better disposed, to assent to this most challenging divine mission.

But necessary? Not at all.

God would remain God, if Man were never redeemed.

(though His love for us, would have remained rejected, and unfulfilled; and His love for us, as manifested through His Son, made it worth His while–and therefore, altogether fitting, that His plan of redemption be carried out…beginning with an immaculate conception, free from Sin).

If Our Lady had reason for declaring that she is indeed the Immaculate Conception then the reason is a good one. A reason which belongs to our Creator. And I can think of many reasons why it is paramount for Catholics to accept and embrace this Dogma.

If we believe our Creator’s plan was perfectly loving then we could also note that His plan was necessary and to have done anything, any other way, would have been less than perfect. Our Creator can not go against His own nature: Perfect Love.

But instead, out of His love for His children, He chose to conceive His Son by the Holy Spirit, and through a woman–the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Of all the human beings before, since, and contemporaneous with Mary, He chose her. In fact, He created her, for this role–leaving Himself not just vulnerable as an infant…

…but subject to her exercise of her free-will, to assent to this mission; and therefore, dependent upon her ‘yes’ (or rather, vulnerable to her ‘no’–her declination–due to fear, doubt, faithlessness, inconvenience…a thousand other reasons not to assent…if that’s how she chose to exercise her free will).

It is quite fitting that He would conceive such a unique woman, without the stain of original sin–that she would be better suited and better disposed, to assent to this most challenging divine mission.

:thumbsup:

Interesting you put: “created for”. “Created for” or chosen for - maybe the same meaning, in entirety?

But necessary? Not at all.

God would remain God, if Man were never redeemed.

If our Creator’s plan was to be fulfilled, then what He Willed, was from the Beginning, necessarily loving.

…and His love for us, as manifested through His Son, made it worth His while–and therefore, altogether fitting, that His plan of redemption be carried out…beginning with an immaculate conception, free from Sin).

:thumbsup: New Eve. New Adam.

The Immaculate Conception:

*“He was the ark formed of incorruptible wood. For by this is signified that His tabernacle was exempt from putridity and corruption.”
Hippolytus,Orat. Inillud, Dominus pascit me(ante A.D. 235),in ULL,94

“This Virgin Mother of the Only-begotten of God, is called Mary, worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, one of the one.”
Origen,Homily 1(A.D. 244),in ULL,94

“Let woman praise Her, the pure Mary.”
Ephraim,Hymns on the Nativity,15:23(A.D. 370),in NPNF2,XIII:254

“Thou alone and thy Mother are in all things fair, there is** no flaw in thee and no stain in thy Mother**.”
"Ephraem,Nisibene Hymns,27:8(A.D. 370),in THEO,132

“Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin** whom grace has made inviolate, free of every stain of sin**.”
Ambrose,Sermon 22:30(A.D. 388),in JUR,II:166

“We must except the Holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honour to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin.”
Augustine,Nature and Grace,4236,in NPNF1,V:135

“As he formed her without any stain of her own,so He proceeded from her contracting no stain.”
Proclus of Constantinople,Homily 1(ante A.D. 446),in ULL,97

"A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body, like a lily sprouting among thorns."
Theodotus of Ancrya,Homily VI:11(ante A.D. 446),in THEO,339

“The angel took not the Virgin from Joseph, but gave her to Christ, to whom she was pledged from Joseph, but gave her to Christ, to whom she was pledged in the womb, when she was made.”
Peter Chrysologus,Sermon 140(A.D. 449),in ULL,97

“[T]he very fact that God has elected her proves that none was ever holier than Mary, if any stain had disfigured her soul, if any other virgin had been purer and holier, God would have selected her and rejected Mary.”
Jacob of Sarug(ante A.D. 521),in CE

“She is born like the cherubim, she who is of a pure, immaculate clay” Theotoknos of Livias,Panegyric for the feast of the Assumption, 5:6(ante A.D. 650),in THEO,180*

The Assumption:

*"If the Holy Virgin had died and was buried, her falling asleep would have been surrounded with honour, death would have found her pure, and her crown would have been a virginal one…Had she been martyred according to what is written: ‘Thine own soul a sword shall pierce’, then she would shine gloriously among the martyrs, and her holy body would have been declared blessed; for by her, did light come to the world." Epiphanius,Panarion,78:23(A.D. 377),in PG 42:737

“[T]he Apostles took up her body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoined to the soul, [Mary] rejoices with the Lord’s chosen ones…”
Gregory of Tours, Eight Books of Miracles,1:4(inter A.D. 575-593),in JUR,III:306

“As the most glorious Mother of Christ,our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body** together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him**.”
Modestus of Jerusalem,Encomium in dormitionnem Sanctissimae Dominae nostrae Deiparae semperque Virginis Mariae(PG 86-II,3306),(ante A.D. 634) from Munificentis simus Deus

It was fitting … that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinised, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and full glory … should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up to heaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God.” Theoteknos of Livias,Homily on the Assumption(ante A.D. 650),in THEO,57

“You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dewlling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissoultion into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life.”
Germanus of Constantinople,Sermon I(PG 98,346),(ante A.D. 733),from Munificentis simus Deus*

fwiw.

Good post–except that the ‘argument’ doesn’t hinge on ‘Full of Grace’–that is merely more (and very compelling) evidence supporting the propriety and Truth, of the Immaculate Conception.

btw, I’ve always loved St. Thomas Aquinas’ take on the Angelic Salutation:

*THE ANGELIC SALUTATION

This salutation has three parts. The Angel gave one part, namely: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.”[1] The other part was given by Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, namely: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”[2] The Church adds the third part, that is, “Mary,” because the Angel did not say, “Hail, Mary,” but “Hail, full of grace.” But, as we shall see, this name, “Mary,” according to its meaning agrees with the words of the Angels.[3]

“HAIL MARY”

We must now consider concerning the first part of this prayer that in ancient times it was no small event when Angels appeared to men; and that man should show them reverence was especially praiseworthy. Thus, it is written to the praise of Abraham that he received the Angels with all courtesy and showed them reverence. But that an Angel should show reverence to a man was never heard of until the Angel reverently greeted the Blessed Virgin saying: "Hail."

THE ANGEL’S DIGNITY

In olden time an Angel would not show reverence to a man, but a man would deeply revere an Angel. This is because Angels are greater than men, and indeed in three ways. First, they are greater than men in dignity. This is because the Angel is of a spiritual nature: “Who makest Thy angels spirits.”[4] But, on the other hand, man is of a corruptible nature, for Abraham said: "I

will speak to my Lord, whereas I am dust and ashes."[5**] It was not fitting, therefore, that a spiritual and incorruptible creature should show reverence to one that is corruptible as is a man*. Secondly, an Angel is closer to God. The Angel, indeed, is of the family of God, and as it were stands ever by Him: “Thousands of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him.”[6] Man, on the other hand, is rather a stranger and afar off from God because of sin: “I have gone afar off.”[7] Therefore, it is fitting that man should reverence an Angel who is an intimate and one of the household of the King.

Then, thirdly, the Angels far exceed men in the fullness of the splendor of divine grace. For Angels participate in the highest degree in the divine light: “Is there any numbering of His soldiers? And upon whom shall not His light arise?”[8] Hence, the Angels always appear among men clothed in light, hut men on the contrary, although they partake somewhat of the light of grace, nevertheless do so in a much slighter degree and with a certain obscurity.** It was, therefore, not fitting that an Angel should show reverence to a man until it should come to pass that one would be found in human nature who exceeded the Angels in these three points in which we have seen that they excel over men–and this was the Blessed Virgin**. To show that she excelled the Angels in these, the Angel desired to show her reverence, and so he said: “Ave (Hail).”

“FULL OF GRACE”

The Blessed Virgin was superior to any of the Angels in the fullness of grace, and as an indication of this the Angel showed reverence to her by saying: “Full of grace.” This is as if he said: “I show thee reverence because thou dost excel me in the fullness of grace.”

cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/aquinas/apray-hm.htm

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