Is it true that not all the early Church fathers


believed Mary was sinless? Did John Chrysostom say she sinned at some point in her life? That’s what I’ve read (wish I could remember the link). I know the RC believes it is an essential belief to say she was IC, yet not all the early fathers taught this. My EO best friend and her mother both believe Mary sinned, although probably mildly, since she was human. They’ve never been taught otherwise, although most EO seem to believe in her sinlessness.

Also, does this really matter to what Jesus did for us? He ate with sinners, whores, and the like. Couldn’t he have been born of a sinner and still remained holy? Couldn’t God the Father have just cleansed Him at birth, instead of Mary? Not trying to be offensive, just curious.



I’m no authority on this topic, but if I was God and I could make my mom however I wanted, I’d make her perfect. :smiley:

Ryan :slight_smile:


well you obviously aren’t God or you would be using correct grammer and the one and only time the English language uses the subjunctive tense (if I were) but anyways, God gave us all free will including Mary and Mary just was given an extraordinary amount of grace to remain sinless


Mary never sinned in her life and she was born without original sin. This is the Catholic belief and outlook on Mary. That is why we (Catholics) honor Mary so much becuase we realize how hard that must have been to do.


Sorry but it would be easier to understand your post if I knew what IC and EO meant. What do these abbreviations stand for?



Some people believe that Chrysotom did not believe in that Mary was perpetually sinless. I don’t know if that means he did not believe in the Immaculate Conception, though. I believe there is good authority that he believed fully in the virgin birth.

It would be unsurprising if such an early Church Father had a less well-formed opinion on such matters than we do today. The Church’s Traditions and Teachings did not spring forth whole made in 33 AD. Over time the Church has expanded its understanding of many things, and many topics that were later established by the various Councils were still being debated in Chrysotom’s time.


A point to keep in mind, we read the Early Church Fathers as proof that the teachings of the Church that are infallible because they were divinely revealed or are part of the Universal and Ordinary Magisterium of the Church, were in fact present from the very earliest days of Christianity - they were not made up 100s of years later by a mature Church (given the Catholic Church was not “legal” until around 313 AD).

However, the opposite is not true - not all that the Early Church Fathers taught was true or correct. If it was, they would be an infallible/inerrant source of our faith like the Bible and Magisterium, which they are not.

ECF writings are evidence of what the Church teaches infallibly, not the other way around.

Hope that is helpful!


IC = Immaculate Conception

EO = Eastern Orthodox


Romans 3:23 (New International Version)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Ah, Jesus is the only one who did not fall short of the glory of God, therefore he is the only one without sin.

Hebrews 1

1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

4Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.


Lets take a look at some excerpts of Chrysostom …Shall we?

“even to have borne Christ in the womb, and to have brought forth that marvellous birth, hath no profit, if there be not virtue. And this is hence especially manifest. ‘For while He yet talked to the people,’ it is said, ‘one told Him, Thy mother and Thy brethren seek Thee. Butt He saith, who is my mother, and who are my brethren?’ [Matthew 12:46-48] And this He said, not as being ashamed of His mother, nor denying her that bare Him; for if He had been ashamed of her, He would not have passed through that womb;** but as declaring that she hath no advantage from this, unless she do all that is required to be done**. For in fact that which she had essayed to do, was of superfluous vanity; in that she wanted to show the people that she hath power and authority over her Son, imagining not as yet anything great concerning Him; whence also her unseasonable approach. See at all events both her self-confidence and theirs. Since when they ought to have gone in, and listened with the multitude; or if they were not so minded, to have waited for His bringing His discourse to an end, and then to have come near; they call Him out, and do this before all, evincing a superfluous vanity, and wishing to make it appear, that with much authority they enjoin Him. And this too the evangelist shows that he is blaming, for with this very allusion did he thus express himself, ‘While He yet talked to the people;’ as if he should say, What? was there no other opportunity? Why, was it not possible to speak with Him in private?” - John Chrysostom (Homilies on the Gospel According to St. Matthew, 44)

"For where parents cause no impediment or hindrance in things belonging to God, it is our bounden duty to give way to them, and there is great danger in not doing so; but when they require anything unseasonably, and cause hindrance in any spiritual matter, it is unsafe to obey. And therefore He answered thus in this place, and again elsewhere, 'Who is My mother, and who are My brethren?’ (Matt. xii. 48), because they did not yet think rightly of Him; and she, because she had borne Him, claimed, according to the custom of other mothers, to direct Him in all things, when she ought to have reverenced and worshiped Him. This then was the reason why He answered as He did on that occassion…And so this was a reason why He rebuked her on that occasion, saying, ‘Woman, what have I to do with thee?’ [John 2:4] instructing her for the future not to do the like; because, though He was careful to honor His mother, yet He cared much for the salvation of her soul" - John Chrysostom (Homilies on the Gospel According to St. John, 21)


Myfavoritemartian – I believe that is the passage that lead some to say that Chrysotom did not believe Mary was ever sinless, because he said that Christ rebuked her to save her soul, perhaps implying that she had sinned by presuming to direct Him.

I have no idea if that is what Chrysotom meant by this homily, but again, I don’t think it calls into question the Church’s teachings today.


Basil explains that the meaning of Luke 2:34-35 is clear. Mary sinned, and she needed to be restored after Jesus’ resurrection, just as Peter was restored:

“About the words of Simeon to Mary, there is no obscurity or variety of interpretation…By a sword is meant the word which tries and judges our thoughts, which pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of our thoughts. Now every soul in the hour of the Passion was subjected, as it were, to a kind of searching. According to the word of the Lord it is said, ‘All ye shall be offended because of me.’ Simeon therefore prophesies about Mary herself, that when standing by the cross, and beholding what is being done, and hearing the voices, after the witness of Gabriel, after her secret knowledge of the divine conception, after the great exhibition of miracles, she shall feel about her soul a mighty tempest. The Lord was bound to taste of death for every man–to become a propitiation for the world and to justify all men by His own blood. Even thou thyself, who hast been taught from on high the things concerning the Lord, shalt be reached by some doubt. This is the sword. ‘That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’ He indicates that after the offence at the Cross of Christ a certain swift healing shall come from the Lord to the disciples and to Mary herself, confirming their heart in faith in Him. In the same way we saw Peter, after he had been offended, holding more firmly to his faith in Christ. What was human in him was proved unsound, that the power of the Lord might be shewn.” - Basil (Letter 260:6, 260:9)


Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria doesn’t seem to have viewed Mary as sinless. He refers to Christ as the only sinless person:

“Now, O you, my children, our Instructor is like His Father God, whose son He is, sinless, blameless, and with a soul devoid of passion; God in the form of man, stainless, the minister of His Father’s will, the Word who is God, who is in the Father, who is at the Father’s right hand, and with the form of God is God. He is to us a spotless image; to Him we are to try with all our might to assimilate our souls. He is wholly free from human passions; wherefore also He alone is judge, because **He alone is sinless. **As far, however, as we can, let us try to sin as little as possible. For nothing is so urgent in the first place as deliverance from passions and disorders, and then the checking of our liability to fall into sins that have become habitual. It is best, therefore, not to sin at all in any way, which we assert to be the prerogative of God alone…But He welcomes the repentance of the sinner-loving repentance-which follows sins. For this Word of whom we speak alone is sinless. For to sin is natural and common to all.” (The Instructor, 1:2, 3:12)


Leo I
Leo I,
a Roman bishop of the fifth century**, taught that sin is transmitted by means of sexual intercourse, thus suggesting that Mary was conceived in original sin:**

“And whereas in all mothers conception does not take place without stain of sin, this one [Mary] received purification from the Source of her conception. For no taint of sin penetrated, where no intercourse occurred.” (Sermon 22:3)

Elsewhere, Leo refers to Jesus being the only one conceived without sin. He even refers to Christ’s stock, a reference to Mary, being corrupt:

“For the earth of human flesh, which in the first transgressor was cursed, in this Offspring of the Blessed Virgin only produced a seed that was blessed and free from the fault of its stock.” (Sermon 24:3)

And elsewhere:

“And therefore in the general ruin of the entire human race there was but one remedy in the secret of the Divine plan which could succour the fallen, and that was that one of the sons of Adam should be born free and innocent of original transgression, to prevail for the rest both by His example and His merits. Still further, because this was not permitted by natural generation, and because there could be no offspring from our faulty stock without seed, of which the Scripture saith, ‘Who can make a clean thing conceived of an unclean seed? is it not Thou who art alone?’” (Sermon 28:3)

The unclean seed would include Mary. And he refers to there being one from Adam who is sinless.


Martin…As in Martin Luthe


LOL! I am very sorry, no offense meant. :blush:


Don’t feel bad! I’ve been mis-reading his Username all this time as well!

Time to update the prescription on my contacts!


No offense taken friends! I don’t think I’ve ever corrected anyone, not sure what caused me to today?:stuck_out_tongue:


Tertullian wrote,

Now, it would not contribute to the purpose of Christ’s abolishing sin in the flesh, if He did not abolish it in that flesh in which was the nature of sin, nor (would it conduce) to His glory. For surely it would have been no strange thing if He had removed the stain of sin in some better flesh, and one which should possess a different, even a sinless, nature! Then, you say, if He took our flesh, Christ’s was a sinful one. Do not, however, fetter with mystery a sense which is quite intelligible. For in putting on our flesh, He made it His own; in making it His own, He made it sinless


In all else, then, that I have said, although it is out of my power to mention everything, the martyr of Christ is far inferior to Christ Himself. But if any one shall set himself in comparison, I say, not with the power, but with the innocence of Christ, and (I would not say) in thinking that he is healing the sins of others, but at least that he has no sins of his own, even so far is his avidity overstepping the requirements of the method of salvation; it is a matter of considerable moment for him, only he attains not his desire. And well it is that he is admonished in that passage of the Proverbs, which immediately goes on to say, “But if your greed is too great, be not desirous of his dainties; for it is better that you take nothing thereof, than that you should take more than is befitting. For such things,” it is added, “have a life of deceit,” that is, of hypocrisy. For in asserting his own sinlessness, he cannot prove, but only pretend, that he is righteous. And so it is said, “For such have a deceiving life.” There is only One who could at once have human flesh and be free from sin. Appropriately are we commanded that which follows; and such a word and proverb is well adapted to human weakness, when it is said, “Lay not yourself out, seeing you are poor, against him that is rich.” For the rich man is Christ, who was never obnoxious to punishment either through hereditary or personal debt and is righteous Himself, and justifies others. Lay not yourself out against Him, you who are so poor, that you are manifestly to the eyes of all the daily beggar that you are in your prayer for the remission of sins. “But keep yourself,” he says, “from your own counsel” “cease from your own wisdom”—E.V.]. From what, but from this delusive presumption? For He, indeed, inasmuch as He is not only man but also God, can never be chargeable with evil.


Ambrose believed that original sin was communicated by means of sexual intercourse. Thus, Jesus avoided original sin by being born of a virgin. Mary, however, would have original sin:

“He was man in the flesh, according to His human nature, that He might be recognized, but in power was above man, that He might not be recognized, so He has our flesh, but has not the failings of this flesh. For He was not begotten, as is every man, by intercourse between male and female, but born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin; He received a stainless body, which not only no sins polluted, but which neither the generation nor the conception had been stained by any admixture of defilement. For we men are all born under sin, and our very origin is in evil, as we read in the words of David: ‘For lo, I was conceived in wickedness, and in sin did my mother bring me forth.’” (On Repentance, 1:3:12-13)

And if any Catholic wants to argue that Ambrose’s phrases “every man” and “all” are referring to all people except Mary, Ambrose tells us elsewhere that being immaculately conceived is unique to Christ:

“For the Lord Jesus alone of those who are born of woman is holy, inasmuch as He experienced not the contact of earthly corruption, by reason of the novelty of His immaculate birth; nay, He repelled it by His heavenly majesty.” (cited in Augustine, On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin, 2:47)

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