What is the Anglican Church's view of the perpetual virginity of Mary?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Tom, May 30, 2017.

  1. Tom

    Tom New Member Anglican

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    Good afternoon,

    I was just wondering if the Anglican Church had a defined view on Mary the mother of Jesus' virginity. Did she have marital relations with Joseph after returning to Nazareth? Along with this question comes the issue of who the parents of Jesus' siblings James, Joses, Judas, Simon and His unnamed sisters were. The Catholic Encyclopaedia states from tradition that Joseph was 90 years old and that the siblings of Jesus were that of Joseph's previous marriage. But then the ambiguous word 'Until' in Matthew 1:25 which states that Joseph and Mary had no marital relations until Jesus was borne, suggests the opposite.

    I am rather confused on the matter and was wondering if there was a set doctrine in the Anglican church that cleared this debate up. If not it would be interesting to hear people's views on this topic.

    Thank You,
    Tom

    God Bless.
     
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  2. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    I don't believe there is a set doctrine on the matter, other than the fact that the belief is not prerequisite to salvation because it isn't Scriptural, but can be held as long as it isn't repugnant to Scripture. Its aforementioned repugnancy is somewhat contentious.
     
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  3. alphaomega

    alphaomega Active Member

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    I personally believe in the eternal virginity of Holy Mother Mary. I believe Ez. ch 44 speaks of it "the gate that will remain closed. It will not be opened,because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it. Therefore it will remain closed". In the ancient tradition of the Church this has been seen as pointing to the birth of Jesus and to Mother Mary as the eternal virgin. The traditions of the ancient church has held this belief since the earliest times.We are supposed to "stand firm and hold to the traditions"(2Thes.2:15) Anglicanism prides itself on "Scripture, Tradition, and Reason". Though not necessary for salvation, I believe Church history to be overwhelmingly in favor of this viewpoint.
     
  4. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    Our Blessed Mother has been venerated as the Blessed Virgin Mary for many centuries, and it's not without reason why this is so. Regarding virgin birth, there's precedent for this within the natural world as an amphibian (whose name I forget) gives birth without mating. Regarding reason, it's reasonable to assume that the earthly parents of Jesus would be exceptionally different to others and would abstain from marital relations in order to better worship God and care for His son made man, the Word become flesh
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2017
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  5. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The Anglican Church does not have a catechism on Mary. We use the Church Councils which in turn are based upon scripture and earlier teachings. Remember Church Councils are not formed to create new teachings, but to point out heresy from truth.

    Mary has been called Ever Virgin by Church Fathers. The 5th Council (Constantinople II) cleared up false teaching on Mary and called her Ever Virgin. The Church only clarified what was already there, much like the Christological heresies were denounced in Nicea etc.

    Mark 3:31 and other passages uses the word that originally translated "brethren". My KJV used brethren as do older translations like the Wycliffe and Geneva Bible. Both pre-date the KJV. The newer translation, to include the NKJV, translate the word to brother. These are usually protestant or evangelical bibles. The Douay-Rhiems, an older translation, also says brethren.

    What is the meaning of Brethren? It can mean brother, 1/2 brother, step brother, males of a similar kinsman grouping or have an ecclesiastical meaning. When I was a small child, everyone in my Baptist Church was Brother this or Sister that. I called very old men brother and very old women sister. I was young enough to be their grandchild.

    So context is needed and what is the churches teaching from the beginning. We know scripture uses words for describe people as Jesus's brethren. Does that mean his brothers by Mary, step brothers, or members of a kinsman group or some of his disciples. As scripture could be interpreted various ways, the Church in Council through the Holy Spirit clarified the confusion.

    Do not get hung up on word choice too much. I have a friend who has a first born. That is it. One child. He is first born and only born. She had no other children. So if a mere woman can have a first born and only born...so can the Blessed Mother.

    Matthew 1:25. The word until refers to time preceding. Such as we played until it got dark. The wording is to show Mary did not have sexual relations with a man, to include her husband. That they had sexual relations after the birth is not discussed. Again, the Church cleared up the confusion in the 5th Council.

    That Joseph had to be 90 years old, no evidence of that. He was older, but remember Mary was what we would call a teenager now...about 15 years old. I could see the Roman Catholic Church teaching this due to the fact that Matthew used many references from the old testament to tie Jesus to the prophets and kings of the past. To make him a continuation. Abraham was 90 when he became a father, so I can see trying to show a similarity.

    Hope this helps.

    Blessings

    Fr. Mark
     
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  6. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    When I review the prayerbook (1928) her feasts always refer the the Blessed Virgin.

    I agree with Fr. Mark's excellent analysis of the use of the word brethren. I heard it said once that there was no word for cousin, just as there was no word for grandfather, in Hebrew at that time, so brethren would be the way to account for such kinship. As I don't speak Hebrew myself, I can't vouch for the veracity of that statement. Perhaps others here can.
     
  7. Tom

    Tom New Member Anglican

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    Thank you everyone especially Father Mark,

    I have got the resounding opinion that many Anglicans believe in the Perpetual virginity of Mary, but I see how it is a personal belief as opposed to dogma. I hold Mary in high esteem among the Saints and hold a lot of the early Church's Marian devotional beliefs myself. So thank you for clearing up that the belief is not contrary to Anglican doctrine.

    I do not know whether I should put this on another thread but if the Blessed Virgin is ever virgin does that go hand in hand with the belief in the immaculate conception of Mary. I myself do not know were I stand on this belief. I have previously held a belief similar to the Orthodox Church in that of the assumption of Mary but not the immaculate conception. Does the Anglican Church have any view on the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary?
     
  8. Christina

    Christina Active Member

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    I don't think that the Anglican Church - in particular the Anglican Communion - has a defined view on Mary's perpetual virginity. Indeed I recently read a commentary on Matthew's Gospel by N T Wright (an Anglican theologian) who suggested that Mary was not a perpetual virgin. I was slightly shocked by Wright's own translation of the Matthew passage - which he translated as "When Joseph woke up from his sleep he did what the Lord's Angel had told him, but he didn't have sexual relations with her until after the birth of her son. And he gave him the name Jesus." Matthew 1:24 - 25 as per N T Wright. Wright went on to say that the idea of Mary's perpetual virginity was a legend and that there is evidence elsewhere (he doesn't say where, but presumably means in the Bible) that Mary and Joseph "lived a normal married life".
    Personally I hold to the view of Mary's perpetual virginity, although I don't believe that holding this view is necessary for salvation. This commentary gives an explanation of "brothers" and the use of the word "until", which I found useful.
    https://www.goarch.org/-/the-ever-virginity-of-the-mother-of-god
     
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  9. Christina

    Christina Active Member

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    This is interesting from the Anglican Catholic Church - it contains a section on the Immaculate Conception which basically suggests that it is more controversial than belief in perpetual virginity. Immaculate conception is not Anglican doctrine, but they see no problem with individual Anglicans believing it if they want to. I will see if I can find any statement relating to the Anglican Communion. Personally I do not believe in the Immaculate Conception but hold to the EO view.
    http://www.anglicancatholic.org/on-the-virgin-mary?class=greenlink
     
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  10. Christina

    Christina Active Member

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    This seems to suggest that the Immaculate Conception is compatible with Anglicanism and is sound. I have not heard of the writer.

    http://anglicanhistory.org/socialism/fhsmyth/immaculate1954.html
     
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  11. Christina

    Christina Active Member

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  12. Tom

    Tom New Member Anglican

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    Thank you Christina,

    I struggle with the Immaculate conception because does that not reflect pre-destination and the rejection of free will. Was Mary given free will to have Jesus? In Luke 1:31 it states "You will conceive and give birth to a son." This suggests that Mary had not yet conceived at the time of the annunciation, could Mary have pleaded to the LORD to not have been Jesus' mother? I do not see how Mary could have free will and be conceived without original sin.

    The Anglo-Catholic link makes a lot of sense, but the second link is a bit confusing though I guess it is compatible with Anglicanism which is such a wide spectrum anyway I would have been shocked for it not to have been.

    One argument I heard in favour of the Immaculate conception was that Mary is the New Ark of the New Covenant which like the Old Testament Ark was to be pure and without impurity.
     
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  13. Christina

    Christina Active Member

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    I think that Mary was obedient and submitted to God in accepting that she would become pregnant and have Jesus. I don't see the need for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, but I don't think it is a problem if people want to hold that view. I do have a problem with the RC view that it has to be accepted. The early Church and today the EO Church see Mary as representing the new Ark of the Covenant, but the EO Church doesn't accept the Immaculate Conception due to its different understanding of original sin. http://www.theorthodoxfaith.com/mary-as-the-new-ark-of-the-covenant/
    I can't find any Anglican sources that discuss Mary as the Ark of the Covenant.
     
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  14. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    I once dated a Nigerian woman. She referred to women in the extended family as her"sisters"
     
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  15. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    Our Blessed mother to St Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes said the following "Je suis la concepcione imaculee ". Bernadette attested this to her bishop under oath. Bear in mind this was an uneducated young French girl whom one can assume had no knowledge of theology.
     
  16. ACC congregant

    ACC congregant Member

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  17. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    Theologians agree that Our Lady being the Immaculate Conception means that she was born with no stain of original sin, befitting for the Mother of God
     
  18. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, 490-493, talks about the Immaculate Conception. The catechism tells us that Mary was redeemed by the virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ. Redeemed before birth.

    Since she was redeemed and love God, she was obedient to God.

    At least two doctors of the Church, St Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure, questioned the validity of the claim. Other theologians and Saints of the church such as ST Bernard, Albert the Great and Peter the Lombard questioned the validity of the claim. The teaching was not dogma until 1854 by Papal Decree.

    The Anglican Position is that this teaching is not dogma but pious opinion and therefore not binding or a requirement for salvation or good standing within the Church. You are free to believe or not.

    Blessings

    Fr. Mark
     
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  19. Christina

    Christina Active Member

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    I post this only to show that others, including other theologians, take a different view and that this different view, for some, is partly based upon a different understanding of original sin.

    http://www.antiochianarch.org.au/Orthodox-view-on-Immaculate-Conception.aspx

    As Fr Mark has said, Anglicans are free to believe or not believe in the Immaculate Conception but, in our view, it is not a requirement for salvation, as articulated in this Anglican source I previously posted (there is a section on the Immaculate Conception)

    http://www.anglicancatholic.org/on-the-virgin-mary?class=greenlink
     
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  20. PotterMcKinney

    PotterMcKinney Active Member Typist Anglican

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    I wrote a post on reddit trying to explain the doctrine of Original Sin according to the 39 Articles that I find is a good middle way between the Roman Catholic and Eastern conceptions. @Christina , I wouldn't mind if you would comment on it from an Eastern perspective so that we could possibly hash out an Anglican response to this question.

    Article IX, Of Original or Birth-Sin, is as follows:

    >Original Sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk;) but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very
    far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in the Greek, Fronema sarkoV, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some
    the desire, of the flesh, is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.

    And Article X says:

    >The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
    These together say a few things.

    1. Humans are born with a total corruption and inclination towards sin. Note here that we are not born guilty for Adam's sin. Trinity- basically spoke my personal thoughts on the matter of whether Eden actually happened and whether there was actually a Fall. However, we are born with an inclination to sin. This is indeed difficult to swallow, but it certainly seems to have some bearing on reality. Babies, for instance, are only concerned with the material and therefore not God. Their ultimate concern is satisfying bodily desires, and until they develop that's all they have (and many people don't grow past that material mindset!). And, as children tend to do, they throw fits when they don't get what they want. Some children end up better than others, but just about all of them do this at some point. As to why it is passed down, so to speak, we can actually analogize it from an evolutionary standpoint. I like to think I'm fairly well-behaved, a little lazy but we're not perfect. I do not really plan on having biological children, but if I do I plan on doing it pretty responsibly when I'm married. However, another kid that's my age (~17-18) is currently in jail, I believe, for the third time. He also has three children with two different mothers. From an evolutionary standpoint, it was the bad and sinful behavior that ended up being sexually selected for. As a species in the wild, it makes sense that if you cling to bodily passions, like wealth, food, and sex, you're going to reproduce more than those less concerned with such things. You will also pass on the "sin gene," so to speak. All of this is to say that Original Sin is inclination towards sin, that one is born with it, and that it isn't merely metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, but actually something we can reason to.

    2. That, even though we aren't guilty for Adam's sin, we are guilty of being inclined towards sin. From a purely legal standpoint, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense that we are guilty of even thinking about sinning; such was what the Pharisees thought. And in secular law, that's correct, but not so with Divine law. Jesus makes clear that "if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment" (Matthew 5:22) and that "everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (5:28).

    The Article adopts a conception of the substance of Original Sin in a way closely paralleling the Eastern position of concupiscence, or inclination to sin, but affirms that one is nonetheless prone to damnation for the temptation alone as is appropriate for a Western church. This avoids both the extremes of Augustinianism and forms of Pelagianism, incorporates the knowledge of the Fathers, and is well based on Scripture.