"All haVE SINNED," Contradicts ST. MARY SINLESS..?
EXPLANATION TO OBJECTION OF ST MARY’S SINLESS CONCEPTION [Part III]
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit One God Amen
There are many objections raised around the Eritrean dogmatic view of St Mary’s sinless conception. All objections, for sake of clarity, could be summed into three major fundamental questions. The third and final objection is as follows:-
In Romans 3:23 St Paul says, “...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Wouldn’t this contradict the doctrine of St Mary’s sinless conception?
There are two words related to sin in Greek - amartema and amrita. Amartema refers to the individual act of sin, such as the sin of our parents in the Garden of Eden. Whereas the word of amrita literally means “missing the mark” referring to the condition we all humanity born into-- death. If we read Romans chapter 3 as a whole, St Paul is talking about how not only the gentiles who knew not God, but also the chosen people of God have sinned in their deed and action [as personal sin we commit] as opposed to inherited effect of the “original sin” [mentioned in Romans 5:12]. . In Romans chapter 3:23, St. Paul is talking about “Amartema” [like all have sinned in their action and fall short of glory]. As mentioned in the Bible, this word can not refer to St. Mary as She has FULL OF GRACE. The sentence “Hail, full of grace” [Lk 1:28] has a meaning that is already accomplished in the past as opposed to the thing happening in the future. Fullness in grace indicates she is already free from all sin. Every sin diminishes grace as Adam and Eve lose their grace when they fall.
St Paul in Romans 3:23 didn’t say the effect of sin reigned since Adam, but said “have sinned” to emphasize on the kind of "actual" sins people committed in a collective term. Similarly, King David in Psalm 14: 3-5 has used the same word to describe those [the chosen and Gentile nation] who haven’t honored God in their deed saying, “they have all gone astray, they have all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no not one…”. In both above statements we could see how King David and St. Paul are talking about a personal sin we do in deed as in a collective way; instead of the effect of “original sin” we inherited. The above statement couldn’t be used for all people; for example, Our Lord Jesus Christ who has no sin or kids who haven’t sinned yet. Therefore, St Paul’s above verse couldn’t be implied or used against the doctrine of St Mary’s Sinless conception as it is talking about the actual sin we do instead of the effect of original sin that we inherited.
It is perplexing that the Eastern Orthodox Church who doesn’t even believe in the concept of “original Sin”, have a stand against St Mary sinless conception. In fact, “the [Eastern] orthodox church [as a whole] has never made any formal and definite pronouncement regarding the matter [St Mary’s sinless conception]…. [accordingly..] If an individual orthodox today felt compelled to believe in the immaculate Conception, he or she couldn’t be termed a heretic for doing so” [Timothy Ware, the Orthodox Church 1997 Page 259-260].
The idea of Eritrean/ Ethiopian Orthodox dogmatic doctrine of St Mary’s sinless conception is catholic in origin is unfounded and baseless. As mentioned on previous articles, so many apostolic and patristic have thought of St Mary’s sinless conception in early years of Christianity. Ethiopian origin saints, like St Yared and Abba Giorgis the Gascha (the Ethiopian St Cyril) and others have written extensively about this subject even before 1850’s [This is the year when the catholic church came with dogmatic teaching of Immaculate Conception]. The similarity of theological teaching between the catholic church and Orthodox in general [like believing in the sacraments, honoring and venerating saints...] when it agrees with the principle of the Bible, Holy Tradition and agreed principles of church fathers should indicate authenticity of the teaching instead of “heresy”.
People are getting on the wrong side of this argument [beside so many reasons] not because they read it literally from the bible but due to their “either/or” principle of reading and understanding the bible. They have the mentality that either St Mary was conceived with sin or those who support St Mary’s sinless conception are equating her with God or implying she doesn’t need a redeemer and so on. Though this principle can work somewhere, it is a false dichotomy when it applies to St Mary.
St Mary could be both sinless since conception before the angel told her the good news, and still could pray “ my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" [Luke 1:46] to thank her God who preserved her from sin in the first place. The core idea here is that St Mary is preserved [free] from original sin since conception and has never been touched by personal sin. The Church Scholars teach that the Mystery of Incarnation could only be preserved and find its consistent teaching in-light of the dogmatic teaching of St Mary’s sinless conception. From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation, the bible showed that she was chosen from the beginning to be part of His grand plan of redemption. Prophet Isaiah describes God’s choice’s and preservation of St Mary as, “Unless the Lord of hosts had left to us a very small remnant, We would have become like Sodom, We would have been made like Gomorrah.”[Is 1:9] Her father King Solomon also described her sinless since conception saying, “You are all fair, my love, And there is no spot in you.” [Song of Solomon 4:7].
This is the teaching of the Holy Church, “My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. [Proverb 6:20-21]
“O Virgin, full of glory, with whom or with what likeness shall we liken you? You are the loom from whom Emmanuel took his ineffable garment of flesh. He made the wrap from the same flesh as that of Adam, and the woof is your flesh. The shattle is the Word Himself, Jesus Christ. The length of the wrap is the shadow of God the Most High. The weaver is the Holy Spirit” [Liturgy of St, Mary]
“Rejoice, Oh, Vessel unblemished, perfect, and spotless Woman”
Praises of St Mary read on wednesday [ውዳሴ ማርያም ዘረቡዕ]
May Her intercession and blessings be with us now and forever. Amen.