by Frank Marron (Lutheran)
Martin Luther gradually came out of medieval Roman Catholicism, which included an incorrect view of Mary in the role of salvation. Eventually, Luther’s writings reflect a man whose entire thinking became conformed to the Word of God, rather than held hostage to human traditions, empty philosophies, myths, legends, and human reason/logic. Luther matured to the point that whenever there was any apparent conflict between his human reason and the plain Word of God, the Scriptures always trumped the other.
Luther believed his greatest writing was The Bondage of the Will, and most theologians of all ages have had difficulty with this truth because their natural wills are bound and they cannot yield to the Holy Spirit. The bible is rather plain and easy to understand- the problem is that sinners do not want to receive the truths contained therein, including most theologians! Luther’s adversary during this confrontation was the genius Erasmus, who simply could and would not believe that all men are born with Satan as the rider of their wills. The Reformation was not intended to reform the Church, but rather reform preaching, The reason for this is that if one falsely believes men can choose correctly in spiritual matters, then sermons will always be oriented to encourage correct choices, as in many modern day lectures from Joel Osteen and Rick Warren, for example. On the other hand, if one believes all men are born DEAD in sin and in bondage to Satan(Ephesians 2:5; Col 1:13), then the sermons will preach Christ crucified for sinners and the emphasis will be on the accomplishment of Christ for sinners and the Means of Grace by which men are credited with His work. The emphasis in good preaching will be to allow the Holy Spirit to create and sustain faith by the Word of God so that the Holy Spirit becomes the rider of the human will rather than Satan. With the Lord in command of an individual’s will and a new heart, good works pleasing to God, referred to as fruits of the Holy Spirit, will automatically come forth.
What does this have to do with Mariology? Everything! If a person wishes to allow his human reason to be master over Holy Scripture, then it makes total sense that since Jesus was born without sin, his biological mother must also be sinless. Of course this ignores the domino-like reasoning which would say that the mother of Mary, Ann, would have of necessity also been sinless, as her mother before her, and so on and so forth. Human reason can readily accept such logic, even though Scripture clearly states that all are born dead in sin and slaves to Satan(Romans 3:23). The difficulty is that sinful men cannot accept the plain Word of God that Jesus was born sinless and that his biological mother was born in sin like all humans. Mary even confessed her need for the Savior (Luke 1:47).Humans continue to attempt to impose their fallible human reasoning in order to understand everything about God, whether revealed in Scripture or not. Most truth about God remains hidden from humans. Only that which God has deemed sufficient for salvation has been revealed in Scripture(2Tim 3:16; John 20:30ff). How the Son of God can become incarnate in the womb of the virgin and be unstained by sin is not something we humans can totally grasp with our brains, but instead we confess, or say back, to God what He has revealed to us. We are the pots and He is the master potter. When the Holy Spirit has created faith in our hearts, then it is easy to acknowledge what Scripture says about sin, death, Satan, Jesus, and Mary. Until saving faith is received it is difficult to deal with spiritual issues. In fact, unbelievers cannot understand anything spiritual(1Cor 2:14).
The entire issue of Mary and her sin is of the devil, who always attempts to tear our eyes off of Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith(Hebrews 12:2). Sometimes Satan even works miracles to do so, referred to as signs and false wonders(2Thess 2:9). As Luther discovered, believers must cleave to Christ at all times and not be persuaded by emotion or reason but rather the plain Word of God. The entire issue of Mary is one inherited from the confusion of the medieval period. The reason Mary was a virgin was not that being a virgin is anything special spiritually speaking, but rather it demonstrates the miraculous from God. Being a virgin doesn’t necessarily denote purity because God has always been interested in a person’s heart condition and motives(e.g. Psalm 51:10; Psalm 73:1), not their physical stature. Sure, being a virgin prior to marriage is the will of God, but so are pure thoughts. Virgins are sinners with impure thoughts as much as those who abuse their gifts of sexuality. The hang-ups with virginity and Mary ignore the critical importance of a pure heart, which only God the Holy Spirit can generate in a person through the Means of Grace.
Was Mary saved? I believe she was saved in exactly the same fashion as any human. She heard the Word of God from the angel, the fetus Jesus and faith were spontaneously generated in her body heart, and her mind started to be renewed to this faith as she pondered everything. Her faith was able to generate love, trust, and obedience to God as the Holy Spirit filled her heart and controlled her will. As time passed she, like the apostles, grew in her human understanding of the revealed will of God as manifested in Jesus the Messiah/Christ. Mary’s righteousness was foreign to her human nature, one that was reckoned to her by Christ through faith. The righteousness of Christ became Mary’s ticket to heaven, not her own unrighteousness and sinfulness. Although she played a special role in salvation history, Mary was saved exactly the way anyone else is: by the grace of God through faith in Jesus alone(Ephesians 2:8-9).
Other blog entries by Frank Marron:
Guest Blogger: Frank Marron (Lutheran)
Guest Blog: Law & Gospel
Guest Blog: The Word Of The Lord Endures forever, Not The words Of Martin Luther!
Guest Blog:Why Are There So Many Christian Denominations?
Guest Blog: Bondage Of The Will
Guest Blog: Thoughts on “The Examination of the Council of Trent”
Guest Blog: Properly Dividing Law and Gospel
Guest Blog: The Purpose Driven Life- A Review