question about Immaculate Conceptiongreenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread
I have a question regarding the Immaculate Conception. I have heard Protestant objections that our greatest Theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas, denied the Immaculate Conception. Now the premise of this question is not my doubting whether it is true or not; I know it has to be true logically, historically, and Spiritually, but I was kind of concerned that Aquinas didn't acknowledge it. My mother, a brilliant Theologian from the University of St. Thomas, said that Aquinas did NOT deny it, he just said it is not known as of yet. If the latter is true, then the Protestants who told me this are (as they do in Scripture) taking exegesis to a whole new low.
Paul M, David F, or Gail, if you read this, please help me understand so I can defend Our Lady here at School! God Bless
-- Andrew Staupe (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 18, 2004
Bump to New Answers to invite comment.
-- (email@example.com), April 18, 2004.
Protestants couldn't care less whether Aquinas believed in the Immaculate Conception per se. What they are really after is the Church's teaching that Mary was sinless. They want to insist upon their simplistic, hyperliteral interpretation of Romans 3:23 - "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". Their line of reasoning goes like this ... "Catholics believe Mary was sinless BECAUSE she was immaculately conceived ... therefore, if Aquinas didn't believe in the Immaculate Conception, he MUST have believed that Mary was a sinner like the rest of us". Nope, sorry. Like most Protestant attempts at criticizing Catholic beliefs, this line of reasoning is simply based on far too little knowledge, and you can bet that anyone who offers it has never read a word Aquinas wrote.
First, Aquinas lived before the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception had been infallibly defined by the Church. Therefore he, like other theologians of the time, were engaged in study and discussion of the issue, and were free to present their opinions and reasoning, a process which always necessarily precedes formal definition of a dogma. His personal position was in fact one of openness to, but not commitment to the idea that Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception; so in that broad sense he did not "believe in the Immaculate Conception". But, his writings make it completely obvious that he absolutely believed that Mary was made immaculate by God at some point prior to her birth, that she was born free of original sin, and that she never personally committed sin.
Here are some of his own statements, from the Summa, III:27:
"... Now the Blessed Virgin was chosen by God to be His Mother. Therefore there can be no doubt that God, by His grace, made her worthy of that office, according to the words spoken to her by the angel ... But she would not have been worthy to be the Mother of God, if she had ever sinned. First, because the honor of the parents reflects on the child ... Secondly, because of the singular affinity between her and Christ, who took flesh from her: and it is written 'What concord hath Christ with Belial?' Thirdly, because of the singular manner in which the Son of God, who is the 'Divine Wisdom' dwelt in her, not only in her soul but in her womb. And it is written: 'Wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins ....'"
(continuing, from Summa ...)
"... We must therefore confess simply that the Blessed Virgin committed no actual sin, neither mortal nor venial; so that what is written is fulfilled: 'Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee,'"
So, it is obvious that the question of where Aquinas stood on the Immaculate CONCEPTION has no bearing whatsoever on his belief in the immaculate NATURE of Mary from at least the moment of her birth, and her resultant sinlessness.
-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), April 18, 2004.
Dear Paul M.,
Do you have a Theology degree? If not, I think that you should be awarded one. You always have a solid answer for me, and I need solid answers here at school. What was your path to apologetic study? I want to learn as much about my faith and defend it as you.
God bless you~
-- Andrew Staupe (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 18, 2004.
andrew, paul m is a deacon... that is how he knows so much.
-- paul h (dontSendMeMail@notAnAddress.com), April 19, 2004.
I am tickled pink. I love this forum. I started at the top of this thread and thought of three points I would want to make. Then by the time I read to the bottom all three are already made. I love you people.
-- Dan Garon (email@example.com), April 19, 2004.