I wanted to see what you thought about the perpetual virginity and sinlessness of Mary. I grew up never having talked about this but a friend of mine has been explaining this church doctrine to me. In my research, I found that apostles and church leaders, including ones that evangelicals look up to like Martin Luther and Zwingili, believed and didn’t question this doctrine. I’m torn on the issue but want to know your thoughts and the implications of believing or not this doctrine and whether it is sound theology.
Remember the early reformers were Catholic priests trying to reform the Catholic church. Their primary problems were indulgences. The Mariolotry, the worship of Mary, was much later. Some of the early reformers hung onto that because that’s what they knew. But later in Luther’s writing, he moved away from that.
Lorraine Boettner, a reformed Presbyterian, did some work on this many years ago. Mariolotry is a recent development in Catholic dogma from about the fourth century. When the Veneration of Mary began, it was only to emphasize the fact that the person born to Mary was truly divine. She was called the mother of God.
Jumping to the New Testament, there’s two passages worth noting. In Mark 6:3, it says, ‘Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are His sisters not here with us?’ And they took offense at Him.” So, Catholics may explain it away as His siblings being brothers or sisters in the Lord.
However, there’s nothing in the Biblical language of this passage that makes that option relevant. And then in John 2:12, it says, “After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother, and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.” Here we see a clear distinction between the literal brothers and those who were disciples.
Now some of the Mariolotry, interestingly, makes her a type of Eve. We must remember that Scripture, not history, is our best teacher. Contextual history is imperative to understand, but the plain language used in the Bible is the best argument.
Sound Theology: God’s Holiness, not Mary’s
In the last 30 years, a co-redemptress theology has emerged, especially in Latin cultures, claiming that Mary is as important as Jesus. However, we never see evidence of this in the Bible. The Magnificat itself is evidence of Mary’s own view of her lowly state. God chose Mary, not because of her merit, but because it was His will.
There is a larger problem with this theology evidenced in the promise of the Davidic throne. Within this line were many checkered personalities, and yet Mary is made out to be sinless within this theology. The truth is that God uses imperfect people whom He wills to carry out His perfect plan.
Find more episodes of Ask Dr. E here.
Call or text us your question at 615-281-9694 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.