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A Protestant Reader Grappling with Mary Writes:

I was recently reading your three books on Mary, Mother of the Son.

Having a non-catholic background, being married to a catholic and raising our 5 children together, the issue of Mary has constantly troubled me.  Fortunately, my wife and I share common beliefs in terms of our faith on the vast majority of matters; however the position of Mary in the Christian Church remains once of constant disagreement.

I thought reading your books may address some of the concerns I have held.

While I found many aspects of your books compelling, such as your examination of the claim that Mary did not have children with Joseph after Jesus was born, I was disappointed with the lack of rigour given to proving the claims made by the catholic church about (1) Mary being without sin and (2) Mary’s assumption into Heaven.

On your approach to the claim of Mary being without sin, I found your attempted justification as to the validity of this claim through references to biblical passages in Luke, Romans and Psalms to be lacking.  Surely a claim of such magnitude requires extremely robust evidence to prove it is true or else it must be considered unproven and therefore likely to be untrue?   I found an interesting article in the link below which examines the catholic church’s claim of Mary being sinless and also addresses your dealing with this matter in your books:  http://aristophrenium.com/fisher/was-mary-sinless/

On your approach to the claim of Mary’s assumption into Heaven, it seemed to me that your “evidence” for this claim being true resides in the fact that there is nothing in the Bible to disprove it from having occurred.  Anyone with a sound mind would recognise the weakness of this position.  Intimating that something is or even could be true without strong evidence to demonstrate this being the case is the basis for a highly unsound argument.  As an example, many people claim that aliens are real and some even claim to have seen UFOs or to have been abducted by aliens.  There is nothing to disprove their claims; however most people would not actually believe their claims on the basis of a lack of compelling evidence.

Regrettably, on these two claims about Mary I was left believing that rather than searching for truth, you were simply trying to justify (albeit weakly) the unsubstantiated claims made by the catholic church.  In reality, this adds no weight to the validity of the claims and for most intelligent people, creates a lasting impression that they are in fact likely to be untrue.

I would greatly appreciate your considered response to these matters.

Thanking you in advance.

You’ve forgotten the point of Volume 1, Chapter 4.  The burden is not on the Church to prove its doctrine from Scripture.  That’s sola scriptura, which the Church does not and never has believed.  Rather, the burden is on the critic of the Church’s teaching to show that her doctrine is contrary to the teaching of scripture.  Neither the Immaculate Conception nor the Assumption are contrary to Scripture and both have abundant attestation in the Tradition.

Until you have really internalized that the teaching of the apostles is handed down by Tradition both written and unwritten (2 Thess 2:15) you will continue to make the mistake of assuming that all Christian doctrine is *derived from* and not simply *reflected by* the text of Scripture.  If you like, I can send you a couple of books that address this more fully.  One is called By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition and Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did.

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