Immaculate Conception

Hello All,

I was talking to a Protestant who was asking me more about the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In particular they were wanting to know Biblical references of Mary being sinless. They reject Tradition and the Magisterium I found the following link which provided more information The passage that the Protestant References was Luke 1: 26-56. The NAB Revised edition also references Titus 3:4 and Jude 25. I told that that I am still learning more about the Catholic Faith (I am currently attending RCIA with plans of being Confirmed this Easter Vigil), but I would be glad to try to find out more information about the Immaculate Conception. Are there any scriptural references abouut the Immaculate Conception? From what I can tell it looks like the Catholic Doctrine on the Immaculate Conception is a combination of Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium. I did explain to them that Tradition is an important part of the Catholic Faith. And that the difference in views on Mary being sinless may come from a difference in individual translations. They said that they try to use the Holy Spirit when reading the scriptures. I do think that the Holy Spirit helps us with reading the scriptures but believe that it is possible for the individual to misinterupt what they read.

Thank You for the Feedback,



First, you can always attempt to go back to the more fundamental question of sola scriptura and authority. Where in the Bible does it say the Bible is sufficient for all our beliefs? Most likely he’ll point to 2 Tim 3:16, which says,

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness”

Note that this speaks to the inspiriation and the necessiry of scripture, but not its sufficiency. In fact, no where does the Bible teach this. It is an unbiblical assumption, and by Protestant’s own logic, cannot be believed.

Then you have the issue of authority. Protestants will say that the individual believer can read and interpret the Bible themselves, without the Church. If you ask them what is the pillar and foundation of truth, most likely they’ll say the Bible. If they do not say the Church, point them to 1 Tim. 3:15:

But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth

After you show them this verse (or if they correctly answer “The Church”) ask: Which church? His individual church, most likely founded in the last 150 years. His denomination, most likely from the last 600 years? What about all the other churches that disagree with his? How can disagreement be the foundation of truth? “For God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor 14:33, KJV) There

Now, onto the question at hand. The difficulty with showing the immaculate conception in Scripture is that there is not a place that says “Mary was conceived without original sin” just as there is not a place saying “God is one divine being in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Go back to Genesis 3. In verses 14 and 15 we read what God says to the serpent (Satan) after he goads Adam and Eve into sinning.

Then the LORD God said to the snake:

Because you have done this,

cursed are you

among all the animals, tame or wild;

On your belly you shall crawl,

and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.f

15I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

They will strike at your head,

while you strike at their heel

All of the players of salvation history are present in this chapter. Here we have Adam, Eve, Jesus-the New Adam, and Mary-the New Eve. The “new” New American Bible uses the pronoun “they.” The Douay-Rheims uses “She” and most others use “he.” It is my understanding that in Hebrew, they are all correct.

So first God puts “enmity” between the Satan and “the woman.” Enmity means “The state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.” It is a shallow and sexist reading to say, as some has suggested, that this is why women don’t like snakes. Further, does it seem right to say that “the woman” with whom there is enmity is merely Eve? Quite frankly, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Everyone, Protestants and Catholics alike, believe that “the offspring” of the woman is Jesus. This is sometimes called the “proto-evangelium” because it is the first prophecy of Jesus. Of whom is Jesus the offspring? Keep in mind that it is odd to refer to the offspring of a woman. If you look at various translations at, you’ll see that many other translations say “seed” rather than offspring. Does it make much sense to you to speak of the “seed” of a woman? Quick biology lesson: women don’t have seeds, men do. To me, it makes about as much sense to speak of the seed of a woman as it does to speak of a woman being a virgin mother. Hmm…what does that tell you about who “the woman” really is? In other words, if Jesus is “the seed” of the woman, it is right to conclude that the woman being referred to here is the virgin mother, the woman who needed no seed of a man to conceive a child: Mary.

This is important because of “enmity.” This enmity was something God put between Satan and Mary. There is an active opposition to Mary by Satan. You will read this a lot of the Marian theologians like St. Louis de Montfort, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, and St. Maximilian Kolbe. Mary is God’s most glorious creation, and Satan HATES her. So here’s the point of this argument: if God put such strong enmity between Satan and Mary, do you think God would give Satan even one little victory over her, namely, original sin? Heck no!

Now, there is another argument which I normally use, and I think it is simpler to explain. Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. I think this is clear in two ways: 1) in Revelation 11-12. If you look at the end of Revelation 11, the Ark of the Covenant appears in the sky. At the beginning of Rev. 12, we see the woman giving birth to Jesus. This woman, in its literal sense, is Mary. Other theologians see her as Israel and the Church. Both of these interpretations are valid and accepted (and promoted) by the Church. But in its simplest sense, this woman is Mary (note the continuation of the word “woman” as well from Genesis, through the Gospels -cp. Jn 2-and Rev 12). 2) The Ark of the Old Covenant carried the word of God (ten commandments) and the bread of life (manna). Who carried the true Word (jn 1) and Bread (jn 6)? Mary!

How does this prove the Immaculate Conception? The old ark had to be perfectly made and was the most sacred object the Israelites had, to the extent that if they touched it, even accidentally, they would die. If the old ark which carried the inferior word and bread had to be perfect, even more so the New Ark!

I hope these two arguments, even if they don’t convince your Protestant friends, will convince you. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend reading Scott Hahn’s book “Hail Holy Queen.”

God bless,

Wonderful job!!

You are right…we don’t go by Scripture alone. Have your friends heard of the Early Church Fathers? I think you have an opportunity to introduce them to your friends. The link below has Scripture and ECF references:

This is a book I would recommend (it has been awhile since I read it): Hail Holy Queen by Scott Hahn which explains the different Marian Dogmas…

Most Christians know that the life of Jesus is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament. Through a close examination of the Bible, as well as the work of both Catholic and Protestant scholars and clergy, Hahn brings to light the small but significant details showing that just as Jesus is the “New Adam,” so Mary is the “New Eve.” He unveils the Marian mystery at the heart of the Book of Revelation and reveals how it is foretold in the very first pages of the Book of Genesis and in the story of King David’s monarchy, which speaks of a privileged place for the mother of the king.

Building on these scriptural and historical foundations, Hahn presents a new look at the Marian doctrines: Her Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, Assumption, and Coronation. As he guides modern-day readers through passages filled with mysteries and poetry, Hahn helps them rediscover the ancient art and science of reading the Scriptures and gain a more profound understanding of their truthfulness and relevance to faith and the practice of religion in the contemporary world.

Thank You for the great explanation and the additional resources.


St. Alphonsus de Liguori wrote The Glories of Mary in which he cites several Scripture verses that give witness to the Immaculate Conception.

Something to keep in mind when discussing this with a Protestant who relies solely on the Bible, is that while they see it as a proof text for doctrines, thus their idea that everything we believe must be explicitly stated in the Bible, the Church sees the Bible as a witness to the truths God gave the Partriarchs, Prophets, and finally to his Church. As you correctly stated, we do not see the Bible as an ultimate authority because God never gave authority to any writings–he gave authority to persons. This authority has been passed down through time from Abraham to Moses to Christ, who gave it to Peter and the Apostles. We do not use the Bible to prove anything, rather we see in it the things God has done and the things he is still doing for mankind, and in and through his Church.

The director of my RCIA program shared a useful link with me on the subject. . There are a few great references in scriputure which tells us that the Bible is not an ultimate authority

But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth. - 1 Tim. 3:15 NAB

Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours. -2 Thes. 2:15 NAB

There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written. -John 21:25 NAB

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book. -John 21:30 NAB


Indeed. :slight_smile: This might be the approach you should use with your friend. Be prepared, though for him to be skeptical and unreceptive to the idea of the Church having the authority to interpret the Bible. He’s probably believed in sola scriptura all his life. His identity as a Christian is essentially tied up in this definition. I am sure you are praying for him–and that’s what he needs the most. Prayers that the Holy Spirit will open his eyes and heart to see that what the Church teaches is true, and that Scripture agrees with the Church. I will offer today’s Evening Prayer especially for your friend. :crossrc:

Go on a bit in Timothy and you’ll find the sufficiency.

I assume you are referring to v. 17, which is variously translated as:

New International Version (©2011)
so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

New Living Translation (©2007)
God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

English Standard Version (©2001)
that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

International Standard Version (©2012)
so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good action.

NET Bible (©2006)
that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
That the man of God will be perfect and perfected for every good work.

GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
They equip God’s servants so that they are completely prepared to do good things.

King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

American King James Version
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.

American Standard Version
That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.

Douay-Rheims Bible
That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.

Darby Bible Translation
that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work.

English Revised Version
that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.

Webster’s Bible Translation
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.

Weymouth New Testament
so that the man of God may himself be complete and may be perfectly equipped for every good work.

World English Bible
that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Young’s Literal Translation
that the man of God may be fitted – for every good work having been completed.

And which “Barnes Notes on the Bible” says:

That the man of God may be perfect - The object is not merely to convince and to convert him; it is to furnish all the instruction needful for his entire perfection. The idea here is, not that any one is absolutely perfect, **but that the Scriptures have laid down the way which leads to perfection, and that, if any one were perfect, he would find in the Scriptures all the instruction which he needed in those circumstances. **There is no deficiency in the Bible for man, in any of the situations in which he may be placed in life; and the whole tendency of the book is to make him who will put himself fairly under its instructions, absolutely perfect.

(all of this from

Let’s distinguish between what we are talking about, and what the Bible says here. The question at hand is whether or not the Bible is sufficient for knowing and understanding all doctrine, without 1) the need for an interpreter, and 2) without the whole deposit of Sacred Tradition. Protestants say yes, Catholics say no.

The whole of these verses from 2 Timothy say (using the KJV):

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Absolutely! Amen! But what does v. 17 say? That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. It does not say “throughly furnished unto all good doctrine.” Good works refers to holiness, not necessarily doctrine.

Further, for either, do you really want to say that nothing else is necessary for doctrine or holiness? What about prayer? What about a solid understanding of the language you are reading the Scriptures in? What about a good translation/dictionary? What about good reasoning abilities? (Note what the LCMS says in its FAQ on the Bible:

There is much in the Bible that clearly purports not to be understood literally–but this must be determined by the Bible itself, not by science or human reason.

So in other words, can a person who has a very poor sense of logic (eg someone who thinks “The ground is wet, therefore it must be raining…even though there isn’t a cloud in the sky.”) understand Scriptures just as well as someone with better reasoning skills (eg. “The ground is wet, but there hasn’t been any rain, so there must be some other reason, such as a busted water main.”)?

All this is off topic from the IC question. If you want to discuss it any further, start a new thread.

Yea, I think a person w/limited reasoning skills would still have enough in the bible to attain salvation, God condescends to us, even to those of us who think we are learned! :smiley:

Paul lays out “sound doctrine” for us, and there is plenty in scripture to teach us on prayer. Now if your asking me if there’s no need for teachers and those who are skilled at the art and science of biblical interpretation, of course not! That is clearly taught in scripture as well.

“For by one sacrifice He has made perfect, those who are being made holy.” :thumbsup:

Ok, you start one if you wish, discussions have a way of…evolving! :smiley:

an essential reference to the importance of sacred tradition in the Church

Friend, you are thinking about salvation in the wrong way. Salvation has nothing to do with reading or understanding the Bible. Salvation is given to us as an unmerited gift. The price was paid by Jesus on the Cross and He is the only one worthy enough to save us.

That’s precisely why babies are saved at baptism. The baby didn’t do anything to merit that baptism–**and that is the whole point. ** It’s a gift. It is WRONG for anyone to put conditions on that gift like requiring the parents to be Christian or demanding that the baby wait to be baptized until they come of age so they “can understand what they are doing.” They DON’T have to understand–it’s a gift, and the only one who sets the terms is the gift-giver–Jesus. In the case of Mary He chose to give the gift at the moment of Her conception. That is His call to make, not yours or mine!

“For you have been saved by grace, through faith, it is the gift of God and not of yourselves, lest any man boast”…“faith comes by hearing, and that by the word of God.”

BTW, what does it mean when it is said that certain traditions can not be written down, why?

Are you seriously claiming that people who can’t or don’t hear a preacher preach are not saved? We have it on very strong authority that this is not the case:


“All men” would of course include everyone, regardless of whether or not they have heard a preacher preach.

Do not jump to conclusions!

I said nothing of the sort, but what you provided shows they must come to a knowledge of the truth…so, how so?

Then what ARE you saying? Are you claiming that Mary was not immaculately conceived? On what authority are you saying that?

No, not at all, we got off topic and you seemed to be continuing in that direction, so I just answered. I don’t know if she was or not, but I don’t believe it to be even implied in scripture, unlike the doctrine on the trinity, which clearly is.

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