Q. This passage in scripture clearly eliminates any possibillity that Mary was without sin.
Romans 3:23...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
And also as seen in
Acts 4:10-12-12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”.
A. I would like to address the second verse submitted first. It is unclear why, since you gave no explanation for it in the context of the immaculate conception of Mary but I will take a stab at what you may have been getting at.
As a Protestant the sinlessness of Jesus was emphasized as being very bound up in salvation itself. Only one without sin could have been the savior of the world. And that is very true. But it is not true that sinlessness makes one automatically a savior. But that is the conclusion to which many jump when they hear that we believe Mary was without sin. It sounds blasphemous! As if we are making her a goddess–a member of the Trinity…uh quadrinity?Another Savior!
That is not what is taught in the Catholic Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. I even had a good friend question me after my conversion as to why Jesus had to die on the cross.
“Why didn’t God just have Mary crucified if she was sinless?”
My friend was serious because in the minds of many Protestants: Sinless=Savior. Or sinless = Divinity.
They forget that both Adam and Eve were created without sin. Most of the Angels did not sin and people in Heaven do not sin and that does not make any of them God. So sinlessness is a human trait that God desired. Mary is human. Her sinlessness makes her special but not divine in any way. And she is the mother of our Savior she is not a savior.
And further Mary needed a savior as well to save her from the stain of original sin. Jesus saved Mary from sin BEFORE she sinned rather than AFTER she sinned.
Is it not fitting that the God the Son would create His mother PERFECTLY PURE for His indwelling of her womb?
Now, as for the “all have sinned” passage. This does need some explanation for the Protestant.
First: If all means absolutely all, no exceptions then in order for Jesus to be fully human He would have sinned. But we all agree that Jesus’ humanity is an exception to the rule. But, if there is one exception, why not two? or three? Nothing in scripture specifically says Jesus is the only exception. In general it is certainly true that most people, nearly all people have sinned. But the passage does not state that there are absolutely NO EXCEPTIONS.
Second: “All”certainly does not necessarily always mean absolutely every single person without exception. In normal everyday speech we say things like, “Everyone was there.” The whole town came to the game.” “All the other kids have one.”
These are hyperbolic uses of “all” and “everyone” and “the whole town”. I don’t think Paul was being hyperbolic however. I believe he was making a generalization without mentioning exceptions.
Third: “All have sinned” cannot mean absolutely all, because babies and small children have not sinned. Until the age of reason they are unable to choose to sin. They may possess a sin nature, a fallen nature and be subject to sin but they have not actually committed sin of their own free will. Therefore they have NOT sinned. So, at any given moment in time there are thousaands of human beings who have not sinned….yet.
Therefore, the Catholic Faith teaches us and has taught us from the very beginning of Christianity that Mary was without sin.