Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Assumption of Mary

A while back, because I like to try and stretch myself and I enjoy theology, I borrowed the book A Year with John Paul II: Daily Meditations from His Writings and Prayers from the library. Figuring I'd read a bit about this Pope, who I of course new a little about, but has always represented the Catholic church in my mind.

There were some really good things in there, such as the ultimate goal of a Christian is holy living, because Christ is holy. I agreed completely with that. Then there were some things I disagreed with, such as during the Eucharist, the bread and wine actually being the flesh and blood of Jesus and not just a symbol of it. Then there was something new I learned about, which is the Assumption of Mary.

You can get a quick overview of this event here: Yeah, I know Professor Van Kuiken, it's Wikipedia, but I'm not writing a paper for you - which means it'll have to do! Basically, if you like me are too lazy to click links, the Assumption of Mary is the Catholic claim that the Body of Mary (Jesus' mom) was taken up into heaven. This was a completely new claim to me upon learning about Assumption Day, which is in August, and learning what it was all about. There are different schools of thought, one that says she was taken up pre-death, while others saying it was post-death.

Now at first, I thought this claim was ludicrous, but now that I've had a month or so of thinking about it and talking to a devout Catholic friend about it, I'm not so sure. Miracles have happened in the past and continue to happen today, so why not this miracle? The first and foremost thing, whenever I'm discussing theology, is to be sure I attempt to check it in scripture. The Assumption of Mary, simply put is not in scripture. So that immediately takes away the factness (my spellchecker is saying this is not a word, but I disagree) of it. However, something I've really thought about this past month, is that just because something isn't fact doesn't mean it didn't happen. What I'm saying is that, just because I didn't tell you in my blog that my favorite color has changed to green, doesn't mean that my favorite color isn't green.

So this is where I fall on the Assumption of Mary, it could've happened. We know of 3 times in the Bible where someone was assumed into heaven: Enoch, Elijah, and of course the person the whole point of the Bible is about Jesus. So, from that, I know that this is something that does have precedent. There are many miracles that aren't recorded in the Bible, at least from Jesus' works (John 21:25). So I'm thinking it isn't much of a stretch to imagine others weren't recorded, even though they easily could've since the Assumption of Mary would have happened even before 90 AD (estimate) when the last book of the Bible was written.

Whats the important take-away from this? Well, for me there are two. First, don't just write something off because you've never heard of it or doubt it happened. Second, don't glorify something so much that isn't in the Bible and part of God's Word. Even though I think it is possible the Assumption of Mary could have happened, that doesn't mean I worship Mary. I don't put Enoch anywhere near the level of Christ. I don't put Elijah anywhere near the level of Christ. Both of these assumptions are in scripture. Mary, even though she was obviously a follower of God, may have been assumed to heaven. However, if it did happen, the whole reason it happened would've been for the same reason Enoch & Elijah's fancy trips to heaven happened, to bring Glory to God. Not to bring glory to Mary. That would miss the point.

As always, when I write these theological posts, I'm writing them from the layman's perspective of one that doesn't have their profession as a professor of theology or pastor or priest. So, go do some research yourself, but being the do-it-yourself type person I am, I'd say that even if I was able to devote my full time to theology.

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