I’ve been wrestling with the old “Free Will/Predestination” chestnut, especially with regard to Mary’s Fiat.
Like all of us, Mary had free will, right? When Gabriel appeared to her, she had the option to say “No”. But God still wants to effect salvation, so Jesus would have to be born to someone else. But Mary is the only person born without original sin, so as to be a suitable “ark”. Does that mean that if she had said no, God would have lined up a new Immaculate Conception in the next generation? Does that imply that there may have been previous Immaculately Conceived women who actually did say no?
And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Did the Church ever get an answer for that one? :rolleyes:
Interesting. Assuming a literal approach to Genesis, I wonder though, since Eve’s conception was via God’s direct hand using the flesh of Adam, while Mary’s was via the Holy Spirit through the flesh of both her parents, what sort of theological implications that difference may have (if any).
I wonder if anyone’s ever pondered that. It’s out of my pay scale, but I wonder if any of the doctors or great thinkers of the Church have said anything along those lines.
It’s a good question—I’m presuming we mean “immaculate conception” in a fashion synonymous with “without original sin”. Mary was conceived without original sin, Eve was clearly conceived without original sin, both were asked to do God’s will, Mary did, Eve did not. Eve’s refusal wounded creation and damned humanity; Mary’s acceptance healed creation and saved humanity. There’s a beautiful symmetry in that which I think gets summarized as “Mary is the new Eve”.
Marian devotion makes a bit more sense in this light—we are profoundly grateful that she did what she did, for had she not, who really knows what might have transpired? Thus the “What if”.
This is a subject that some of my Protestant friends bring up when they downplay the role of the BVM in our salvation–God would have just chosen another woman if Mary said “No”. But they fail to realize that God’s plan of salvation is eternal, and that God, who does not exist within the limitations of time and space as we do, and has all foreknowledge, included Mary in that plan from etenity, which includes all past, present, and future. So, like us, Mary had the free will to say “No” to God, but God, in His foreknowledge, knew she was to be the Mother of the Redeemer. He could not choose someone else. But this does not downplay her fiat, because Mary, in her humanity, had the free will to make her choice, just as we all have, because she was bound to our limitations of time and space and acted accordingly.
I am not sure I am being clear here, as this is very difficult to articulate, as I am certainly no theologian, and often raises more questions than it answers. But this is my understanding of the issue, as far as I am humanly capable of understanding it. Now perhaps there are those who are better schooled in these things who can explain it better and have much more knowledge than I do. But I say no to the fact that there could have been someone else because of the eternal nature of God and his eternal plan of salvation.
God, being eternal and omniscient, exalted Mary by selecting her to bear Jesus. As with Eve, Mary could have chosen to say no.
Indeed, if Mary was merely a slave, with no free will, what would the point have been of asking her at all?
This is what I refer to as the Calvinist puppet show—time and again, God tells us we have free will, and acts as though we do, and yet some claim we do not. It is as though God were putting on a puppet show. To what purpose? For what audience?
If Mary were not essential, if Mary were simply a disposable womb, why would God even bother to send an angel to her? Why not incarnate Christ as He did Adam?