What is the Assumption of Mary?Question: "What is the Assumption of Mary?"
Answer: The Assumption of Mary (or the Assumption of the Virgin) is a doctrine which teaches that after the mother of Jesus died, she was resurrected, glorified, and taken bodily to heaven. The word assumption is taken from a Latin word meaning “to take up.” The Assumption of Mary is taught by the Roman Catholic Church and, to a lesser degree, the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The doctrine of the Assumption of Mary had its beginnings in the Byzantine Empire around the 6th century. An annual feast honoring Mary gradually grew into a commemoration of Mary’s death called the Feast of Dormition (“falling asleep”). As the practice spread to the West, an emphasis was placed on Mary’s resurrection and the glorification of Mary’s body as well as her soul, and the name of the feast was thereby changed to the Assumption. It is still observed on August 15, as it was in the Middle Ages. The Assumption of Mary was made an official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church in 1950 by Pope Pius XII.
The Bible does record God “assuming” both Enoch and Elijah into heaven (Genesis 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11). Therefore, it is not impossible that God would have done the same with Mary. It is not heresy to believe that God “assumed” Mary into heaven. The problem is that there is no biblical basis for the Assumption of Mary. The Bible does not record Mary's death or again mention Mary after Acts chapter 1. Rather, the doctrine of the Assumption is the result of lifting Mary to a position comparable to that of her Son. Some Roman Catholics go so far as to teach that Mary was resurrected on the third day, just like Jesus, and that Mary ascended into heaven, just like Jesus. The New Testament teaches that Jesus was resurrected on the third day (Luke 24:7) and that He ascended bodily into heaven (Acts 1:9). To assume the same thing concerning Mary is to ascribe to her some of the attributes of Christ. While the idea of the Assumption of Mary is not heretical in and of itself; in the Roman Catholic Church, the Assumption of Mary is an important step toward why Mary is venerated, worshipped, adored, and prayed to. To teach the Assumption of Mary is a step toward making her equal to Christ, essentially proclaiming Mary’s deity.
Recommended Resource: Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics by Ron Rhodes
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