Poster "stunned" by Mary's Immaculate Conception


#1

So that I wouldn’t take the thread in which this statement was written off-topic, I decided to start a new thread:

In all sincerity, why were you stunned? What do you think it says about Mary that all Christians can’t embrace and/or about the Catholic Church? :slight_smile:


#2

What did he find hard? The writing of the ECF concerning Mary being sinless, and conceived without original sin?


#3

RR,

Do you believe that Mary was concieved without Original Sin?

A couple of other questions.

Do you believe that Jesus was concieved by the Holy Spirit?

Do you believe that Jesus was fully human and fully divine?


#4

I’m sitting here, not sure how to respond to these questions, but let me give it a try… I’ve known for years that Catholics teach that Mary was conceived without original sin. Whenever I stopped to think about the concept (which was not often), my thoughts ran along the line of “ok, this is not something I believe, but I suppose I don’t have a big problem with the concept”. My thoughts on the Assumption of Mary would be similar…that this teaching is not scripturally based, but does not contradict scripture either. (Yes, I know that you find the teachings to be Scriptural).

Then, however, I stumbled across the teaching that Mary was without sin. As I noted in my other post, I was stunned. Truly, truly stunned. I thought that even though I am Protestant (mostly Methodist and Episcopal Churches with brief stays a few other places), I had a respectable understanding of Catholic teaching, but this one caught me totally, absolutely off-guard. It is a matter of faith to me that only one human being, Jesus himself, is without sin. Tempted in all ways, yet still without sin. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, except for Christ. If this is true, as I believe it is, then to say that Mary was without sin is a very serious contradiction. Maybe I’m in a minority and this teaching of the Catholic Church is widely known among other Protestants, but it certainly was not known to me. I don’t know if I would have converted or not (for I do have other areas of disagreement as well), but this one pretty much did it for me.

Since this revelation, I’ve heard and read many Catholic explanations of the teaching and remain unconvinced. I’ve heard of the mud pit, and the Ark of the Covenant, and the argument of appropriateness as opposed to necessity and many others. And I remain unconvinced. Mary is blessed among women for all time, and beyond the end of time, she is a Saint and the Mother of God, but I cannot believe that she was without sin.

To respond to Orion’s questions, do I believe that Mary was conceived without original sin? At this point, no. Jesus was conceived through the action of the Holy Spirit, yes. And, yes, Jesus is fully human and fully God.


#5

Are you surprised that the Orthodox Catholic Church also teaches that the Theotokos is/was sinless (just not that she was immaculately conceived by the Latin doctrine of original sin)?

Also, why do you object to the sinlessness of the Virgin and her Assumption into Heaven, as these are universally proclaimed?

Just curious…

BTW; the only way to understand these things is through prayer; by the enabling grace of God, but you must act now as God is always there waiting for you…:thumbsup:

Prayers and petitions,
Alexius:cool:


#6

How about this from an Anglican.

Is it inconceivable that God preserved Mary from sin (an act of divine mercy) to specially prepare her is vessel of the Incarnation of God almighty? In other words God applied the merits of the Cross to Mary the moment he made her, he also gifted her with total sanctification instantly. Completely unusual? Absolutely. But so was her role in salvation history. Just think of it like this, Justification and Sanctification through Christ alone, was given to her from conception rather than through process. She just went through the redemption process miraculously different. But she still needed a savior and she still has one he just circumvented his normal means of freeing children of Adam by acting outside of time and space regarding Mary be preserving her from the very effects of the Fall. Hey, Enoch never died!

Maybe this is easier for me because of my former Calvinist current Augustinian view of divine sovereignty and election?


#7

Since you believe Jesus is fully human and He was “concieved”, Mary is fully his mother in the biological sense. Thus, if Mary was not without sin, you believe that part of Jesus’ humanity was stained by Mary’s sin. How does that reconcile with your belief that Jesus was fully God and without sin?

But more importantly, do you think it more reasonable that God would select as His mate a sinner and imperfect vessel to bear Himself or select one without sin and a perfect vessel to bear Himself?

I understand why it might be easier to not think about this (as you admit). But to not think about it and grasp it as a great mystery, denies one the opportunity to have a greater grasp of the mystery of the incarnation itself, the magnitude of the gift God made by sending His Son, and ultimately the Sacrifice of His Passion and Death.

RR, your posts are always filled with sincerity of purpose, interest, and probing. This yearning in you is a great blessing and I respectfully ask you to probe this “potential” mystery with an openness of heart and mind in prayer. I’m confident that it will illuminate much Truth and bring you closer to Christ (which is the goal of all of us on this journey).


#8

originally posted by rr1213
she is a Saint and the Mother of God, but I cannot believe that she was without sin.

Look at it this way: since you agree that Mary is the Mother of God, how can you believe her to have had any sin at all?
Would God, The Perfect, not require a perfect vessel from which to enter the world? Mary HAD to be sinless or God could not be Who we know Him to be.
When I struggled with the Doctrine as a protestant, this is how it was explained to me and all of a sudden, it made absolute logical sense!


#9

rr1213 I’m totally understand where you are coming from. This was last big barrier to me and my conversion. I had no problem with Mary being “The Mother of God”. That was just logical. The Assumption I was fine with as well nothing really crazy about the idea especially once I understood what it really meant. Being born without original sin follows a logical thread so OK.

But sinlessness was a big shocker for me too. This seemed to fly in the face of everything that I understood about about the nature of salvation itself. What eventually pulled me over was the fact that the belief did exist in the early church and the fact that the ancient church regardless of sect Catholic, Orthodox etc. seemed to agree on this.


#10

[quote=rr1213]I had a respectable understanding of Catholic teaching, but this one caught me totally, absolutely off-guard. It is a matter of faith to me that only one human being, Jesus himself, is without sin. Tempted in all ways, yet still without sin. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, except for Christ. If this is true, as I believe it is, then to say that Mary was without sin is a very serious contradiction.
[/quote]

And here, I believe, is the difficulty, so I’ll just respond to this part of your post. :slight_smile:

At one time I too thought along these lines, and with good reason. I had been told/believed that Jesus must have been the only human being to have been without sin. And, the verse you cited from Romans would seem to support that idea. But, even the verse from Romans doesn’t say anything at all about Jesus’ sinlessness or any other individual, does it?

Paul, in the passage in Romans from which this verse is taken, isn’t addressing the idea of individual sinfulness. He had been discussing the Hebrews’ idea that they, being the children of Abraham, were without sin because they had the Law of Moses. Paul was saying that pagans and Hebrews alike are guilty of sin and in need of the gift of salvation.

It is a serious mistake for anyone to read into verses things they were not written to address. This is a literalistic reading not the literal one. Indeed, the literal reading is the one I described because that is what Paul was discussing. If it wasn’t what Paul was saying, then even Jesus would have to be guilty of sin, if the word “all” were meant to be read literalistically, as many Evangelicals read it.

This being the case, is it unreasonable that the Second Eve, the Mother of God, the Mother of all those who are living in Christ, should be sinless? No, it isn’t. Eve brought sin into the world and through Adam and Eve all humankind fell. The consequences of that great wound at still with us, Christian and non-Christian alike. God chose Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of his Son. We know this because Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were ordained from all eternity.

It is also only reasonable that his Mother would be all that a Second Eve should be–conceived without sin and sinless in her life due to the redemptive act of her Son, not solely to her own merit. She had no concupiscence/desire to sin, because she was ordained to be the Second Eve, the Mother of the Redeemed, as Jesus is the Second Adam, the Father of Redeemed Humanity.


#11

Being without sin should not be a big shocker. Read this from Catholic Answers:

The notion that God is the only being without sin is quite false–and even Protestants think so. Adam and Eve, before the fall, were free from sin, and they weren’t gods, the serpent’s assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. (One must remember that Mary was not the first immaculate human being, even if she was the first to be conceived immaculately.)

The angels in heaven are not gods, but they were created sinless and have remained so ever since. The saints in heaven are not gods, although each of them is now completely sinless (Rev. 14:5; 21:27).

Paul’s statements in Romans chapters 3 and 5 (no one is righteous; no one seeks God; no one does good; all have sinned) should not be taken in a crassly literal and universal sense–if they are, irreconcilable contradictions will arise. Consider Luke 1:6. Common sense tells us whole groups of people are exempt from Paul’s statement that “all have sinned.” Aborted infants cannot sin, nor can young children or severely retarded people. But Paul didn’t mention such obvious exceptions. He was writing to adults in our state of life.


#12

I’m baffled by this. Your response is unique in my experience. Generally the concept of Mary never having had original sin is far more difficult to accept than the idea that she never wilfully sinned. I tend to believe the latter and to be dubious about the former. Why do you find the idea that she never committed actual sin more difficult than the idea that she never had original sin?

Consider this–if as the Catholic Church teaches Mary was free from original sin from the first moment on, then that makes her the New Eve (indeed, the main basis for the IC in my opinion is the ancient tradition that Mary is in fact the New Eve). If Mary was free from original sin but then sinned later, that would in a sense be a second Fall of humanity. It would be a catastrophic act, hugely different from the sins that most of us commit every day.

With all due respect, I don’t think you’ve thought this through. The proposition that Mary was, in Wesleyan terms, entirely sanctified from the first moment of moral responsibility is a far less radical and disturbing one than the proposition that she was without original sin. And if she was without original sin, then she certainly never abused that God-given innocence to repeat the Fall of our first ancestors.

In Christ,

Edwin


#13

Quite right, although I think “vessel” is far too weak to describe Mary’s contribution. Mary is the one and only source of Christ’s humanity. Christ has united God and man perfectly in Himself. Could He have done this if humanity was derived from a corrupt source, a corrupt mother?


#14

Contarini,

Some of your confusion may be because many protestant churches don’t really even teach a formal “original sin” doctrine. Protestants typically believe that man has a “sin nature” which is a much more vague doctrine.

For many protestants Original Sin as the Catholic sees it is kind of new in an of itself. So when you say the Mary was born without original sin then it just doesn’t have the same impact to most protestants.

However from a protestant frame of mind to say that she never sinned is tantamount to saying there was no point in Jesus dying on the cross. Protestants look at the nature of Christ’s redemptive work from a COMPLETELY different angle than Catholics.

In the Protestant (especially evangelical) outlook everybody has sinned. When you’re young you are innocent so your ignorance protects you. This is why protestants have always believed that babies go to heaven. Eventually you come to the “Age of Accountability” this is different for everybody but it more or less means that you now are mature enough to understand good and evil and the consequences thereof. At this realization is usually when one first hears the call of the Holy Spirit to salvation. At that point one can make the choice to give their life to Jesus (Saved).

Anyway, to the Protestant Jesus came to save us from our sins. So if someone never sinned then they had no need for Jesus. If someone never sinned then they are going to heaven regardless.

Now, rr1213 may have differing views on some of this but I’m just saying that for most protestants (generically speaking) this is pretty much the deal. I realize being raised Catholic all of this may be “out there” for you but there are millions who more or less hold to the above. This is why I said I understood where rr1213 was coming from.

Understand that whether or not you understand why rr1213 was shocked he nevertheless was. We all come from different places. Protestants and Catholics have totally different wiring on some things and it’s good to keep that in mind. It took me years to convert to Catholicism because of my previous very strongly held beliefs.


#15

Sinlessness: yes; Immaculate Conception: no

Again, look at the Orthodox position on original sin. If she were born immaculately w/o original sin, then why did she die? To say that each person is responsible for Adam’s personal sin and therefore guilty before God is totally obsurd!
This kind of thinking finds its origin in Blessed Augustine, not the earlier fathers; especially the Apostolic Fathers who strongly denied such a teaching and held to the orthodox Jewish position (which St. Paul, Christ, and other Jews would have believed)…:confused:

Prayers and petitions,
Alexius:cool:


#16

Sinlessness: yes; Immaculate Conception: no

Again, look at the Orthodox position on original sin. If she were born immaculately w/o original sin, then why did she die? To say that each person is responsible for Adam’s personal sin and therefore guilty before God is totally obsurd!
This kind of thinking finds its origin in Blessed Augustine, not the earlier fathers; especially the Apostolic Fathers who strongly denied such a teaching and held to the orthodox Jewish position (which St. Paul, Christ, and other Jews would have believed)…

Yes but rr1213 isn’t having the issue with her being born without original sin so why bring up that part of OE teaching? I was simply trying to state that the historical evidence is compelling as this is what helped me to convert.

Again the issue here is that everyone is assuming rr1213 should obviously already understand and view things from a Catholic perspective. He isn’t Catholic so if we’re going to help him understand our point of view then we need to try and understand his.

Why is everyone acting like they’re trying to argue the Immaculate Conception and Original Sin too me when I already believe in them?


#17

Good:) ! Then it would personally help me if you could explain why the Theotokos died, if she was born w/o original sin. I’ve never heard this explained and this is a minor reason why Orthodox reject the Immaculate Conception. Thank you:thumbsup: !

Prayers and petitions,
Alexius:cool:


#18

It’s my understanding that she may or may not have died. We really don’t know for sure. We are not required to believe that she did die, just that she was assumed into heaven.


#19

Sorry Orthodoxy a Hebrew thought don’t mix. The Orthodox position on original sin is slightly too Hellenistic and does not engage the Hebrewness of the scriptures at all. St. Augustine is fully in line with St. Paul on the Fall and original sin. The Orthodox suffer from there disregarding Hebrew categories completely on this matter.


#20

I’ve never understood the thinking behind this question, since Christ died, and He was certainly born without original sin.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.