One of the most difficult things for me to wrap my head around is the Catholic view of Mary’s role in the church.
Before I even say these things, I am clearly not a Marian theologian. Or any theologian. But the issue of Mary’s role in the church is a sticky one for us Protestants. Real sticky. It was one of my main issues why I couldn’t become Catholic when I went through RCIA 10 years ago. And I’m trying to work this all out at a level I can at least, for the most part grasp, with enough reason and understanding to make a decision, Lord help me.
This post will focus on the Assumption of Mary.
Ok- if the Assumption of Mary really was a belief held by the early church… which the following articles make some good points about… maybe ok, maybe.
Also what is the standard that the Protestant church uses in determining that the period is past for defining beliefs of the faith… I know the assumption was believed via official doctrine in the 1900’s, but why would the Holy Spirit stop working after the first few centuries of the Church to help the Church work things out even further?
As the following article states, “The Church imposes no time-limit on what God may teach her.” Ok. Fine. I can get behind that. The time in which we live has different needs and different questions than the Church did 1,500 years ago. Maybe this belief was just understood to be true and just needed to be formalized… maybe the need for a formalized belief on the subject didn’t need to be found until more recently.
The Protestant church doesn’t touch this, to my knowledge. It isn’t in the Bible. But I also know that the Bible said Jesus did many more things during his ministry and life than were recorded in the gospels (John 21:25). So it is kind of interesting that the default for Protestants is that Mary wasn’t assumed. She had a really special role in God’s plan… God could do what he wanted, and He had a history of assuming some of the other very holy people to Heaven in the Bible.
This isn’t definitive. It can’t ever be for a Protestant because of Sola Scriptura. The Bible doesn’t define this. But at least I think I can understand the reasoning the Catholic Church uses in making a statement of belief on the subject. It’s based on oral tradition in church history, basically. Just because it wasn’t formally stated as a belief, doesn’t mean it wasn’t held as a belief by the majority of early Christians. It’s possible, even, that the issue wasn’t even much up for debate until quite a bit into church history hence the late formalization.
That’s about all I can get through tonight. Other posts about Mary will include my thoughts and struggles and questions on:
Mary, Queen of Heaven
Mary, Mother of God
The Hail Mary Prayer
The Immaculate Conception
The Perpetual Virginity of Mary
Mary, friend of Christians and Intercessor
Oh my, this is going to be a long ride. This is very much one of the most difficult hurdles for me to get through. I hope to give it an honest and faithful and open-minded look. I don’t even feel like I would need to develop 100% confidence to make the leap to Catholicism. After all, I’m currently attending a church where a decent percentage of the attenders are Calvinist. I don’t agree with that theology, but people are pretty cool about it. But, in this, I have to be able to at least wrap my head around this and fit it into the larger context of the Catholic faith.