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ARCIC statement on the Blessed Virgin Mary: the debate continues

by
02 November 2006

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From Dr Eric Whittaker
Sir, - In his contribution to the subject of opinions about Mary ( Letters, 3 June), the Revd Richard Chown writes: "After all, her genes are his genes."

This is misleading. Jesus must have had some genes that were not Mary's, or he would have been a clone of Mary and, therefore, female. These other genes might have been produced miraculously out of nothing, having never previously belonged to a human being, but then he would not have been "made like unto his brethren" (Hebrews 2.17).

Alternatively, one might suggest that they were miraculously transferred from Joseph without sexual contact, which would at least make sense of the genealogies listed by Matthew and Luke, but would have been a miracle designed purely to compel belief - and such use of miracle was rejected by Jesus in the temptations.

It seems that belief in the Virgin birth is implicitly contrary to other fundamental Christian beliefs. This is a much more serious question than either the immaculate conception or the bodily assumption, which relate not to historical fact, but to one's personal attitude to Mary.
E. J. W. WHITTAKER
60 Exeter Road
Kidlington Oxon OX5 2DZ

From the Revd John Wells
Sir, - One of the letters that you publish ( 3 June) suggests that "there are clear indications in the New Testament of the way women's headship roles [in the Church] could develop"; and that therefore "most Anglicans [perhaps most of those with whom the writer associates] would say that the ordination of women to the priesthood is consonant with scripture."

Another seems to suggest that we should "interpret the Bible in a way that offers a celebration of diversity in human sexuality". Neither writer makes a direct assertion of the view that he or she is proposing; and neither quotes or indicates any scriptural text to back up the proposition.

I cannot agree with either of your correspondents; yet I cannot offer a reasoned disagreement when neither offers a definite statement or a scriptural proof. May I suggest that those who write to a Christian paper should state their views clearly and unambiguously; and that if they are appealing to scripture they should state the texts or passages on which they are relying.

A scriptural discussion of the two topics might well start with 1 Timothy 2.12 and 1 Corinthians 6.9ff respectively.
JOHN M. WELLS
2 Clarkesmead, Tiptree
Colchester CO5 0BX

From Mr Michael Rathbone
Sir, - Regarding the ARCIC statement on the Blessed Virgin Mary and the RC doctrines of the immaculate conception and the bodily assumption: I suggest we look to the Eastern Orthodox Churches for guidance.

If my understanding is correct, the Orthodox position is that because these are doctrines lacking in scriptural warranty, and are based upon papal infallibility, they may be left to the conscience of the individual believer. A position that seems to me both eirenic and logical.
MICHAEL RATHBONE
18 Pollard Crescent
Beverley Road, Hull

 

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