An Anglican Take on the Immaculate Conception

Interesting service at Christ Church Vienna this morning. This was my first normal, Sunday morning Eucharist according to the no longer so new Common Worship liturgy, and I was astonished how similar to a Roman Catholic post-Vatican II mass it seemed.

The celebrant, Fr. Frank Hegedüs1)He introduced himself as a Californian; somewhere on the Diocesan website I read that he was originally ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest in the Franciscan Order and later became an Episcopal priest; with his surname he is obviously of Hungarian extraction. He celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination last month of St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Budapest, spoke about how tomorrow’s celebration of Mary’s Immaculate Conception by our Roman Catholic friends should remind us that whatever we believe about Mary, we ourselves definitely were not born without the blemish of original sin, and therefore need to come back, every day, to “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” as it was spelled out in today’s Gospel lesson:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” (Mark 1:1-3 ESV)

In other words, it reminds us that we do have that inherent tendency to sin and therefore need God’s grace and forgiveness every day.

An interesting take-off from one of the Roman church’s most misunderstood (and if you ask me, most unnecessary) doctrines.2)It is supposed to explain the sinlessness of Jesus; but it only shifts the problem down by a generation. If Mary could be conceived from two human, sinful parents without being tainted by original sin then Jesus could be conceived from the Holy Spirit and one human, sinful parent, without being thus tainted. And there is not a hint in Scripture of all of this, it simply states that Jesus was conceived by Mary of the Holy Spirit, and that He was without sin. As I see it, this is just one of many well-meaning but misguided attempts to define and understand, beyond what Scripture actually says, how those things it does say work, down to the last detail. We can’t define and understand these things, and we shouldn’t attempt to. God is beyond our comprehension, and so is everything about HOW He works that He hasn’t explicitly revealed.

References   [ + ]

1. He introduced himself as a Californian; somewhere on the Diocesan website I read that he was originally ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest in the Franciscan Order and later became an Episcopal priest; with his surname he is obviously of Hungarian extraction. He celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination last month
2. It is supposed to explain the sinlessness of Jesus; but it only shifts the problem down by a generation. If Mary could be conceived from two human, sinful parents without being tainted by original sin then Jesus could be conceived from the Holy Spirit and one human, sinful parent, without being thus tainted. And there is not a hint in Scripture of all of this, it simply states that Jesus was conceived by Mary of the Holy Spirit, and that He was without sin. As I see it, this is just one of many well-meaning but misguided attempts to define and understand, beyond what Scripture actually says, how those things it does say work, down to the last detail. We can’t define and understand these things, and we shouldn’t attempt to. God is beyond our comprehension, and so is everything about HOW He works that He hasn’t explicitly revealed.

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