Excerpt from XXXVIII - 9(05)
what of the night?”
hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you,
the hour and the end!" Eze. 7:6 (Moffatt)
(Reverses John-Paul II)
News reports have noted Joseph Ratzinger as "the generally accepted head of the greater Christian Church" since his elevation to the Papal throne. While most greeted his election with unbridled joy and there was dancing and clapping in the square at St. Peters, there was uneasiness in liberal ranks at the hard line which he had taken during most of his priestly ministry. He has openly railed against homosexuality, abortion, birth control and a married priesthood. He clearly believes and preaches that only through the Roman Catholic tradition can a person find salvation. However, at his inauguration mass attended by kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, he seized the opportunity by challenging the Christian Church of his desire for unity, that is, Catholic unity. His first prayer as pope was that God would "grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd." Further, He promised that he would work "tirelessly" for the "visible unity of all Christians."
The Anglican Church is a case in point. While not a true Protestant Church as the Lutheran, it had broken with Rome, over other than doctrinal matters. It has been for a period of time in dialogue with Rome through the joint Anglican-Roman Catholic International Committee on unity. In 2003, the talks had been suspended by John Paul II after the Episcopal Church in the United States had agreed to the consecration of an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, had been in Rome prior to John Paul II's death, and his remarks then indicated that he did not expect any early progress toward unity between the two churches. But since the elevation of Cardinal Ratzinger as Benedict XVI the Vatican surprised Anglican leaders by announcing it was ready to resume talks on unity despite the barrier now separating the two churches. The announcement from the Vatican office that deals with other Christian faiths praised the way the Anglican leaders had handled the crisis over the gay clergy, suggesting that there was now a new hope that the dialogue could make progress toward full communion. It confirmed that a document to be issued on the Virgin Mary, which had been tabled because of the crisis, would be presented from Seattle, WA, the following Monday. It was; and carried as an Associated Press Release in newspapers across the country. It gives an insight into how controversial teachings will be handled on other doctrines.
In 1995, John Paul II, a devotee of the Virgin Mary, defined the top issues that would have to be resolved before Christianity could be reunited, including seemingly intractable differences over beliefs about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Now a 57-page statement raises the prospect that doctrine concerning Mary, and devotion to her need "no longer be seen as communion-dividing."
How various key differences were reconciled is worth noting.
We shall let the Associated Press release speak for itself on "Key Points of Accord:"
Non-Catholics typically say the Immaculate Conception, Mary's freedom from original sin and resulting sinlessness, contradicts the Bible's teaching that "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23) and that Jesus is the sole exception (Heb. 4:15). On that question, the accord says "we can affirm together that Christ's redeeming work reached `back' in Mary to the depths of her being, and to her earliest beginnings" without violating Scripture.
Mary's assumption into heaven at the end of her life is not taught in the Bible. But the accord says "we can confirm together the teaching that God has taken the Blessed Virgin Mary in the fullness of her person into His glory as consonant with Scripture," because God directly received others (Elijah, Stephen (?), the thief on the cross).
We are agreed that Mary and the saints pray for the whole Church, the accord states, and it's appropriate to request their prayers, just as Christians on Earth ask each other for prayers. Most Protestants, however, see no biblical justification for this practice.
Regarding traditional Catholic belief in Mary's life-long or "perpetual virginity," most Protestants hold that the Bible contradicts this by saying that Joseph and Mary did not come together "until" Jesus was born (Matt. 1:25). Without committing the Anglicans to a specific belief, the accord says, "our two communions are both heirs to a rich tradition which recognizes Mary as ever virgin."
"Mary's role in the redemption of humanity" and her biblical words ("all generations will call me blessed"), the accord says, support "appropriate devotion to her in both private and public prayer. But it emphasizes that veneration of Mary cannot supplant Jesus as "the one mediator" between humans and God (I Tim 2:5).
The new accord notes, but doesn't resolve, a related snarl.
In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed that the Immaculate Conception must "he believed firmly and constantly by all," and any dissenter is "condemned" and "separated" from true Christianity. Similarly Pope Pius XII's 1950 declaration on the Assumption said doubters "incur the wrath of Almighty God." Yet an Anglican principle, dating from 1562, holds that Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required." - Richard N. Ostling, Associated Press.
The lone US representative for the Anglicans on the committee which drew up the Accord, historian Rozanne Elder from Western Michigan University, said that ecumenists hope that Catholics will eventually "agree teachings proclaimed during the centuries of church separation cannot be binding on non-Catholics."
"Through two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring people under his deceptions" - Great Controversy, p. 588.
An Adventist Mariology
From among the "many voices" echoing down the corridors of Adventism (Review & Herald, Dec. 13, 1892), there has been proclaimed what could be called an "Adventist Mariology."
In a book blessed (p. i) by Dr. Ralph Larson, and edited by Dorothy Hilmer, is found the following Mariology:
As God [Jesus] chose Mary to he His mother. She was chosen because of her piety and her devotion and love to God. She was everything that God could find in a human mother, a sinner, but filled with love for God and her fellow men. In the prenatal experience, while in her womb, Christ was inheriting Man's love for God. In the post natal experience, He saw God through his (Sic.) mother. Mary was continually yielding her will to God's will. Christ learned these lessons from His mother's knee (Waymarks of Adventism, 2nd Edition, July, 1981, p. 39).
Think. Do not be deceived. He who was God came to be flesh. As God, He was love (I John 4:8). It was the very essence of His Divine Identity. To inherit in Mary's womb, a love superior to His own Identity would require an immaculate condition greater than even Rome gives to Mary.