In my understanding the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception states the reason Mary cried out “my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47) was that she was preserved from falling into the pit of original sin which the rest of us were doomed to fall into.
But in my understanding the bible says that God “shows no partiality” (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Galatians 2:6). Why did Saint Paul claim “For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11), when he was living in a time when Mary was saved in one manner and the rest of humanity another? How can we call God just, when He grants original Sanctity and innocence to one, and original sin to the rest of mankind?
Why is it that Mary needed to be Immaculately Conceived in order to bear God in her womb? Why could God not simply protect Jesus, as Catholics say He did Mary, when Jesus was conceived? Is this impossible for God? If God can protect Mary from being stained by Original Sin, are we to think He cannot even protect Himself?
Responses are appreciated. Thankyou for the responses thus far.
If I am not mistaken, the notion of “no partiality” must be understood in the context of early salvation history. Namely, that Paul was asserting that salvation was not only for Jews. There was often that tendency to assume only Jews could be saved.
The OT also asserts God’s love for all nations. For example: Exodus 22:21 You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt…If you do afflict them, and they cry out to Me, I will surely hear their cryThe teaching of the IC is not dependent on whether or not God could have done it in another way. It is taught because it’s true. And it does not rest solely on Luke, but sacred Tradition and a number of verses in the OT and NT all point to this. If you would like a rundown, please ask. I or someone else would be happy to provide, but I wanted to stay on topic.
Mary did not *need *to be immaculately conceived in order to bear God, but it was fitting that she was.
I’ve heard it explained this way: if the President of the US would come to your town to visit, it would be fitting that all the pomp and circumstance that befits the Chief Executive be applied to the visit: parades, news media, ceremonies, speeches, VIPs, etc. However, it is not necessary that this occurs (he could come quietly without any hooplah), just appropriate and fitting.
Think of it this way, when you go to heaven, you will be perfectly holy, yes? Why?
Why do you need to be perfectly holy to stand in the presence of God in heaven?
Then think of the great gift and humbleness our God showed by allowing Himself to become God incarnate. Fully God, yet fully human. As a human, He felt all that we feel, but was also fully God, even in the womb. Imagine being God but being housed in a vessel that was anything but perfectly holy.
There are other arguments that bring in more intellectual minds. But frankly, as a mother who has experienced the intimacy of pregnancy, I find this emotional one very compelling.
I used to watch horror flicks. Never bothered me. When I was pregnant with my first, we rented a horror flick and I literally clapped my hands over my eyes because I did not want what I was seeing to affect my baby. What we see, think, feel and do is communicated to our baby in the womb. Imagine the horror God incarnate would have felt to be exposed so intimately to the fallen nature of man for that long in so intimate a manner, a manner not unlike one that I believe we will have in heaven with God I believe.
Again, many will come along with the intellectual arguments that make great sense. I present the emotional one for what it’s worth.
I believe Mary was “all holy”, “pure” and “immaculate”. I hold that she is “spotless, blameless and without blemish”.
But I can not hold that she was born without the effects of the Original Sin. I hold that she was sinless, but I can not fathom for myself, why it needs to be a state from conception?
Yes I have read Catholic arguments on the basis of scripture, but I do not agree that “full of grace” indicates any sense of sinlessness. St Stephen was “full of grace” (Gr. Plaris Charitas) (Acts 6:8) also, but nobody ever holds that he was sinless.
Can not the Original sin be a temporary seperation from God (the source of life) resulting in death and the propensity to sin. Does everyone need to be guilty of Adam’s sin? To me, nobody is guilty of Adams sin, but Adam alone.
To me it is the incarnation of Christ which united God to man once again and ended the Original Sin in the man Christ Jesus. This makes sense as God in the flesh can not be seperated from God.
I do not see why the Roman Church needs to believe that Mary both could not die and did not have the propensity to sin? God wants to save all people and He will do so by any means possible that does not contradict our free will. If it was fitting for God to apply Immaculate Conception to Mary, I can not see why he would not apply Immaculate Conception to the whole human race?
I also can not understand why (if the Immaculate Conception was revealed by God - as ineffibilis Dues claims) that it was not explicitly taught in the fathers until around the beginning of AD 1000 at the earliest.
Couple things…it is a fallacy to assert that Mary did not “need” to be Immaculately conceived and therefore it is not true. It is true because it is so. You could insist that Christ didn’t “need” to die on the cross because God could have brought about salvation any way He wanted, but that would also be faulty reasoning.
The teaching is not dependent on Luke, although that is a strong indicator of her having been perfected in grace. Don’t forget also her as the Ark of the New Covenant (e.g. see table here) and the perfect nature of the Ark. As Jesus is the new Adam (cf. Rm 5:14) we realize that He is the superior fulfillment (2 Cor 3:11) of His OT parallel. And as can be seen, Mary is the new Eve (see here for Scripture and early Fathers Tradition on this). Eve was conceived without sin, and remember how the NT versions are superior to the OT. She is the figure of the Church, which before being united to God will have been made perfect, and as Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit in bringing God incarnate into the world.
And in addition to the ECFs on Mary as the new Eve, her nature without sin was asserted prior to 1000 A.D.
**So you have
**Mary full of grace
Mary new Eve
Mary figure of the Church
Mary the Ark of the Covenant
The ECF understanding these as Mary immaculately conceived
And don’t forget she is Mother of God
Hmm… I seem to disagree with ur second point. When Peter told the Lord that He did not need to die, the Lord responded “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23). Again St Paul reminds us “without shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these” (Hebrews 9:22-23).
Also in this passage St Paul even reminds us that Christ’s cross could only be applied AFTER His death on the cross. St Mary seems to contradict this rule. “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.” (Hebrews 9:16-17).
With regard to your first point. I find it problematic. I can not fathom for myself that God would keep hidden a doctrine from us until the middle ages. Even though we know of the"faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
These are beautiful images and I accept them all. But to me these images show nothing of an immaculate conception. Whether implicit or explicit.
Mary full of grace
I have spoken earlier of Acts 6:8. This passage was even written by the same author. I can not understand “full of grace” to indicate any sense of sinlessness, otherwise St Stephen would also need to be sinless by consistency.
Mary new Eve
This is an excellent typology used by both Greek and Latin fathers, however, I fail to see how this even implicitly speaks of an immaculate conception.
In my opinion, it fits more with the mindset of the fathers that “Eve showed us sin while in a state of original innocence while Mary showed us innocence while being in a state of original sin.”
This is consistent with Pope Innocent III who said after hearing about the controversy of the Immaculate Conception “Eve was produced without sin, but she brought forth in sin; Mary was produced in sin, but she brought forth without sin." (Pope Innocent, “De Festo Assump.” sermon 2 [AD. 1216]).
Mary figure of the Church
I have not heard this one before, but I found it quite interesting this article. But In my oppinion it speaks against your position rather then in support of it.
That passage cited says “Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth” (Revelations 12:2). Assuming the woman was Mary and the child is Jesus. I thought birth pain was a consequence of the original sin. “To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children’” (Genesis 3:16). If Mary was without Original Sin, why did she have birth pain according to this passage?
Mary the Ark of the Covenant
I see this as an excellent typology showing Mary as Immaculate, pure, holy, spotless, blameless, without blemish, made of incorruptible wood. Amazing.
But I can not see any implicit teaching of the Immaculate Conception here.
Thankyou Marco polo for your responses, they have been quite helpful thus far.
I would like to ask Catholics why they proclaim the Immaculate Conception as Dogma. Would they really be willing to excommunicate someone from the church of God if they only could not believe in the Immaculate Conception?
Let me just address this one real quick as I have limited time. Eve was immaculately conceived by God. She did not have original sin. Mary is an even more perfect version of her! Hence the ECF saw her as such.
Ematouk, you raise some good points. Unfortunately, I can’t help you as I also struggle with the teaching of the IC. Some would interpret the phrase “second Eve” as implying a sinless birth. I don’t think that is implied, especially since many of the ECF’s did not have a clear cut understanding of Original Sin. Also, one can see the parallels better in context. Eve’s disobedience is often compared to the Blessed Theotokos’ obedience.
“He who is estranged seeks pretexts to break out against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Prov 18:1-2)
I don’t know why God would not give everyone the same chance he gave Adam and Eve. To be made with out sin and the inclination toward sin. But God didn’t.
The same is true with Mary. One may not understand the “why” behind God’s reasions. But our lack of understanding shows us we need to dive into deeper water. Not dismiss and move on.
Since God is outside of time, He can save anyone by the cross whether they lived prior to or after Christ. Think of Elijah and Moses, clearly described as being in heaven, but supposedly no one could enter heaven until Christ died, no? So these are at least 2 exceptions. And of course as already noted, God is capable of creating persons w/o original sin (Adam & Eve in the OT…Jesus & Mary in the NT).
The Greek word used for Mary is kecharitomene. This is a perfect passive participle. The angel addresses her with this title. That’s why she was “troubled” by the greeting…it was quite unique. In Acts 6:8 the Greek here used for Steven is in the present tense (pleres charitos). Also, it is not used as a title.
Here is how apologist Mark Shea addresses that: By the logic of this argument, it would also be possible to indict Jesus as a sinner since He suffered toiled, sweated and suffered death, just like Adam (cf. Genesis 3:17-19).
See the rest of his address of Rev 12 in my post #5 over here.
The Ark was constructed with the purest gold and precise measurements (Ex 25:10-38) and if anyone so much as even touched it they dropped dead (2 Sam 6:6-7). Just the image of so much “pure gold” in its construction should be enough to agree it is “implicit.”
I think I already answered your first question: because it’s true. And I don’t believe the Catholic Church does formal excommunications like that anymore, but the person excommunicates himself by rejecting defined Revelation, which is in a sense Christ.
God bless you…that is about as good as I can do without going into essay depth on each of these. Also, all of these points should be taken together…not any single one as the “proof text”. When you see them all together, you see they all point to the same concept of IC. Accept or don’t accept it as you understand. I don’t tell someone to believe something about which they are genuinely unconvinced. :o
I’m sorry I can not agree with this statement, as even GandalfTheWhite has pointed out. Elijah’s chariot entered “heaven” referring to the sky - not to the heavenly Jerusalem. The prior interpretation would contradict many passages in the bible including “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13).
Adam and Eve were created before sin entered the world in Genesis 3. Sin is the seperation from God (the source of life) thus resulting in death and a propensity to sin. Jesus is God and therefore since God entered in the flesh, His incarnation is enough to end the seperation from God in His own body. This is why the church explained that Christ is without original sin - because He is God and God can not be seperated from Himself.
Mary is not God. This same logic can not be applied to Mary also.
The tense does not mean anything. I know my Greek. Kecharitomena indicates Mary was “filled with Grace” some time in the past with continuing effects to the future. Plaris Charitas indicates a present tense - he is “full of grace”. Can we say Stephen was sinless as he showed signs among the people? If not, then we can not say Mary was sinless because she was full of grace.
I have just read that post. I think Mark Shea is more addressing a Protestant argument whereas Protestants feel that Mary is a sinner. I am simply saying she was born with the effects of the Original Sin (as defined by the Orthodox Church - like the Catholic church’s belief minus the inherited guilt of Adam). But I feel Mark Shea’s defence is quite weak also. The passage does not accuse Jesus of being a sinner at all. Mark Shea must remember that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) He “bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24) and again He “gave Himself for our sins” (Galatians 1:4). Mary did not take upon anybody else’s sin, so the current response Mark Shea provides is not sufficient.
I agree. Mary is pure, immaculate and “all holy” and can not be touched by sin. But being a descendent of Adam, she suffered death like everyone else. She still had Original Sin (but not inherited guilt). Please read the Earliest documentation of the Assumption, and notice it says She died (The Account of St. John the Theologian of the Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God [AD 400]). You will find it at Newadvent or you can search it on google - its easy to find.
Yes. It still does. Excommunication is dogma of the church, you must accept it if you are to take the Eucharist on Sunday.
In all honesty, if an Orthodox Christian feels compelled to believe in the Immaculate Conception, they may without being called a heretic. This is because in the Orthodox Church the teaching of the Immaculate Conception belongs to the realm of “theologomenon” (Theological oppinion). But in the Catholic church, in saying it is Dogma, a priest needs to feel comfortable forbidding communion to someone on the basis they do not accept the Dogma of the IC. If I were a Roman priest, I would not have the heart to forbid them the body of Christ for rejecting a doctrine which has no basis except by the decree of a pope in the 1800s. I would also find it difficult forbidding the body of Christ simply for rejecting a doctrine which is hardly central to the Christian proclaimation of Salvation.
Thankyou very much Marco polo. I really appreciate my discussion with you. You have been very kind in your language and for that I am greatful. If you feel you can no longer discuss the matter with me, then I understand and I thank you for your time.
Excommunication is not a dogma. It’s not a belief but a practice. She has the right to formally excommunicate people and she still excercises it (and so she should).
But in the Catholic church, in saying it is Dogma, a priest needs to feel comfortable forbidding communion to someone on the basis they do not accept the Dogma of the IC.
If a Catholic does not accept this as a dogma then he must reject other dogmas such as papal infalliability when making ex cathedra pronouncements.
If I were a Roman priest, I would not have the heart to forbid them the body of Christ for rejecting a doctrine which has no basis except by the decree of a pope in the 1800s.
I disagree that it has no bases except by the degree of the Pope. This thread is here to discuss it. What I want to say is that if you were a Catholic priest then you would hopefully accept that ex cathedra pronouncements are infalliable and that all must accept them.
Mary is not God. This same logic can not be applied to Mary also.
But God protected Mary from being stained by the Original Sin. This is certainly something that God can do, especially since he exists outside of time.
That is up for debate as I understand it (See the 3rd Q&A here). Either way, my point was that Christ’s Cross is applied in either direction of time, otherwise, no one in the OT could be saved.
I stand corrected on this. The questioner was asking me the type of excommunication a common person would have if they rejected the IC. I am fairly certain I heard Jimmy Akin explain informal excommunication when he was explaining “anathema”. Perhaps you can clarify Gandalf?