Mark Shea’s errors on the Blessed Virgin Mary

In a post titled How I Came to Think Differently about Mary, Mark Shea proposes a few serious theological errors about the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Humanity of Christ

Shea claims: “the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity derives his humanity–all of it–from her!”

The human nature of Christ is body and soul, and is like our human nature in all things but sin. The soul of Christ, just like the soul of every human person, is created directly by God out of nothing. No one’s soul is derived from their mother or father. So the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, does not derive all of his human nature from Mary. The body of Christ was derived from the body of the Blessed Virgin Mary only, by the power of the Holy Spirit. She is His sole immediate ancestor; he has no biological father who would contribute to the composition of his body. But the soul of Christ was created by God; it is not derived from Mary.

It’s a problem when Catholics blog on important questions of doctrine, without careful consideration of what the Church actually teaches on the subject. To be faithful and to avoid harming souls, a Catholic cannot simply post his or her own thoughts, without regard for the teachings of Jesus Christ through His Church.

Mary’s Yes

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and Mother of us all, has free will. She exercised that free will in saying Yes to God, when she consented to the virgin conception and Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, Mark Shea claims that without Mary, we would not have salvation through Christ. He also seems to imply that Mary could have said No to God.

“Because the entire reason we are able to call Jesus “savior” at all is because the God who cannot die became a man who could die. And he chose to do it through Mary’s free “yes” to him. No Mary, no human nature for Christ. No human nature for Christ, no death on the cross. No death, no resurrection. No resurrection, no salvation. Without Mary, we are still in our sins.”

First of all, we cannot assume, since God chose a particular way to save us, that it was the only way. God could have chosen to save us through Christ without Mary. As we understand God’s plan, it was much more fitting to save us through Christ with Mary, than without her. But God was not so constrained that if Mary said No, all would be lost.

Second, Mary could not have said No, even though she had free will.

All the souls and holy angels in Heaven have free will, yet they cannot say No to God. All the souls in Purgatory cannot sin, even though they have free will. All the reprobate souls and fallen angels in Hell cannot sin, even though they have free will. Every valid Pope from Saint Peter to our present Pope Francis, and all their valid successors as well, cannot commit the sins of apostasy, heresy, or schism and cannot teach heresy. How can this be? The prevenient grace of God acts on the will and intellect of created persons, prior to any possible exercise of free will.

Even though Mary freely said Yes, she could not have said No. She was preserved from original sin at her conception by the prevenient grace of God. She was kept free from all personal sin her entire life by the prevenient grace of God. She could not have said No to the Incarnation, because the prevenient grace of God preserved her from saying No to God throughout her entire life. She freely said Yes, but this does not imply that she could have said No.

Salvation for all?

Shea promotes the heretical claim that “we may reasonably hope” that “perhaps” all human persons will be saved. This claim contradicts the dogmatic teachings of multiple Ecumenical Councils. But Shea is uncorrectable.

So many Catholic writers today teach from their own mind and heart, not from the mind and heart of the Church of Jesus Christ. Magisterial teachings as well as theological arguments have no effect on them, once they have made up their minds about an idea.

It is very troubling that certain Catholic authors, who teach grave errors to the faithful, are so popular within the Church. Does no one notice that their words are contrary to the teachings of the Faith? Why is this happening in the Church today? It seems to me a clear indication that the great apostasy is near.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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6 Responses to Mark Shea’s errors on the Blessed Virgin Mary

  1. Dan says:

    Ron, your proposition or “proof” (if I’m reading you correctly) that Mary was unable to say “No”
    to the Holy Spirit because she was “sinless” fails. It fails by your misunderstanding of
    what sinless means.
    With your indulgence;
    Of course Mary could have declined. Your examples (the infallibility charism of the popes\ is an entirely separate doctrinal issue) employing super-natural free will (heaven,hell, purgatory, is not relevant either. Mary’s decision was a decision made by her in the sinful temporal world..
    Just as her
    decision to marry Joseph. The Incarnation was contingent on Mary’s and Joseph’s decision to marry.. The temporal decision to marry Joseph (and vice versa) absolutely underpins the whole narrative of the pregnancy, birth, ministry and death of our Lord.
    Ron, You are a bit confused as to what sinlessness means: There is a clear distinction, if I may; Mary lived a sinles life, in a sinful temporal world, Mary was able not to sin, this does not mean: she was unable to sin,
    Laus Deo

    Dan Falcone

    • Ron Conte says:

      You misunderstood me. I’m not saying that Mary could not say No because she was sinless, but because of the prevenient grace of God. Other examples of the prevenient grace of God are her Immaculate Conception, her sinlessness, and the other examples I gave. It is my considered theological opinion that she could not have said No. You are free to disagree. I don’t believe that God had no other way to save us than IF Joseph agreed to marry Mary and IF Mary agreed to the Incarnation. We don’t know what other options God had.

  2. We call Mary the “new Eve”. Adam and Eve were also created without sin or the disordered inclination towards sin that we have from their first sin, which is what we call original sin. Adam and Eve, just like Mary, were born without original sin, but that didn’t stop them from being able to exercise their free will to choose against God’s will in the garden.

    Is what you are saying with “prevenient grace” that, because she was given the state of grace at birth and pardon from original sin, that she was part of God’s plan from the beginning such that God wouldn’t have given her these gifts if He knew she was to refuse? Because God is timeless, maybe she did choose “yes” at the “same time” as God gave her pardon from original sin, at the moment of creation? Maybe her pardon from original sin necessitated her to say yes to God, and not vice-versa?

    I am in no way an expert, but I feel that saying that Mary truly had no choice takes away her free will and lessens her apparent devotion to God. Please correct me where I am wrong.

  3. Joshua says:

    Mr. Conte, this question is a little off topic, but I was wondering if you could help me. Does Jesus Christ have two souls – one divine and one human? I know that The Church teaches that Our Lord has two wills, one divine and one human. But what about the soul? I would assume that he only has one soul, but I would still like some clarification on the subject if you wouldn’t mind. Thank you.

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