Immaculate Conception?

We are still studying this Roman Catholic article written in defense of Marian worship. Click here to read our previous study in this series.

Immaculate Conception?

The author of this article desperately tries to find a merit in Mary that would make her deserve a kind of worship… After he tried many other methods before (as we have seen in our previous articles), now he wants to make Mary sinless through a doctrine of an imaginary “immaculate conception” which, even by the confession of the same author, is not even accepted by the Eastern traditional churches… So let’s see now if this imaginary Roman Catholic doctrine has any basis in the Word of God (or in reality).

Let’s first see what the definition of the “immaculate conception” is…

The immaculate conception: Definition

I have met some Roman Catholics who think the immaculate conception means that Jesus was born from Mary without any man involved as the husband of Mary… Such misunderstandings still keep many misinformed Roman Catholics in this corrupted organization, as they don’t really know how deep its heresy goes… But here is how the official document of the Roman Catholic organization (the Catechism of the Catholic Church — referred to as CCC) defines the expression “immaculate conception”:

To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”.In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

Source: CCC 490-491

A doctrine based on many baseless assumptions

This doctrine is based on many baseless assumptions that the Roman Catholics have due to their wrong doctrines concerning Mary. In all our previous articles, we have seen how the main concern of a Roman Catholic’s mind is to find in Mary a certain merit that would make her deserve to be chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. A Roman Catholic thinks that it was a merit in Mary that made God choose her. In all our previous studies, we have seen how this is a baseless dream. Now, let’s see how this basic assumption has generated many other wrong assumptions upon which this doctrine of the immaculate conception is based as defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Assumption #1: That Mary may have been “enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role” without a living faith

Can anyone receive any grace or gift from God — other than the natural graces and gifts — without faith? Not at all! The Bible clearly teaches: “for of his fulness [i.e. of the fullness of Jesus Christ] we all have received, and grace upon grace.” (John 1:16) All Old Testament saints received personal spiritual graces by a personal faith in the coming Christ who was revealed to them through the shadows of the Old Covenant such as the different sacrifices. Unbelieving Jews could not receive any personal spiritual graces, but only received covenantal graces as members of the Old Covenant people of God. The Bible says that the unbelieving children of Israel could not receive any blessing from any promise because of unbelief (cf. Hebrews 4:2). And all New Testament saints from the time of Jesus until today and until the end of the world receive personal graces by faith in Christ who has come and has fully revealed God to us in His Person and is now dwelling in us through His Holy Spirit. And before the birth of Jesus, Mary was an Old Testament saint; she could not have received any grace or gift from God without a personal faith in the coming Christ. So it is a big unbiblical superstition to think that Mary could have been “enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role” before her birth or even before her personal faith in the coming Christ. There is no way to receive any grace from God without a personal faith. Of course, I should clarify here that this does not mean or imply that there was any time in Mary’s life during which she has lived in sin! You are not supposed to have lived in open sin at any particular period of your life so that God may save you… An openly sinful life is not necessary for Salvation; a repentant faith is… Many people lack assurance of their Salvation, because they don’t remember any exact time in their lives when they had passed from a clearly dark life to a clearly enlightened way. This usually happens with those who have been raised in a believing environment (such as a Christian family or a Jewish family like the one in which Mary was raised), because these people have always believed, even when their faith was not a living faith. These people have not had a time in their lives when they lived in open sin; and that is not even necessary for their Salvation. The essential is that they repent and have personal faith in Christ! Even if they did not sin openly or did not commit those “big” sins, they still need to repent and have faith in Christ, because all are sinners and fall short of the Glory of God (cf. Romans 3:23). Thus, Mary could not have received any grace from God without such a repentant faith. And indeed, Mary confessed that God saved her with such a living and repentant faith (which is the receiving of the forgiveness of sins): “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.” (Luke 1:46-47) The same chapter explains for us what Salvation is: “To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins (Luke 1:77) Mary received the forgiveness of her sins by faith in God, her Savior! And then grace upon grace followed…

Assumption #2: That only Mary is called “full of grace” by God

First, Mary was never called in the Bible “full of grace”, but “object of grace” or “graced one”… The Greek word used in Luke 1:28 is “κεχαριτωμένη” (“kecharitōmenē”), which literally means “[you who are] to-grace one”, and which means “graced one”, “one who has received grace or favor”. Note the part that I have put in bold in this Greek word, and look how this same word is used about all believers in Ephesians 1:6: “ἐχαρίτωσεν” (“echaritōsen”) in Ephesians 1:6 literally means “[those who] to-grace ones”, and which means “graced ones”, “people who have received grace or favor”, or “who are accepted”. So not only Mary is a graced person, but all true believers also are graced persons. Each has received some different graces, and of course Mary didn’t receive some graces that other believers received, just as no other human received the grace of becoming the mother of the Savior like Mary. Whether Mary or us, we all are favored people who have received graces without deserving them, so no saint of God should be put above another saint. All true believers are graced ones like Mary. Therefore Jesus wanted this to be clear in an incidence that we have seen before and which I will repeat here:

“And it came to pass as he spake these things, a certain woman, lifting up her voice out of the crowd, said to him, Blessed is the womb that has borne thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep [it]. (Luke 11:27-28)

Does this in any way mean that Mary is not blessed?? Does this mean that she’s not graced or favored by God?? Not at all. For Mary also is one of those who heard the Word of God and kept it. But this surely proves that Mary is not “more saint” or “more graced” than the other believers and that we should write catechisms about her and not about the other believers… All saints received grace and they didn’t deserve it, including Mary; they all are equal before God in merit.

Besides this, have you ever read in the New Testament Jesus saying that we should tell about something the virgin Mary did as an important companion of the Gospel Message? Well, Jesus said the following about what Mary, the sister of Lazarus did:

“Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:13)

So Mary of Bethany received a grace that the mother of the Lord didn’t receive, and yet this doesn’t mean that any of the saints of God is better than the others. The Spirit of God tells us in the Bible about the Grace of God revealed in the life of His saints so that we learn from their example and we walk in their way.

So Mary is not called “full of grace”, but “graced one”, just like all believers. But there are others in the Bible who are called “full of grace”, but the meaning of that expression is not the meaning that Roman Catholics give to it. It means someone who is in a stable spiritual obedience to the leading of God’s Spirit, and God’s graces are seen in his life in a constant manner (see Acts 6:3). An example of this is Stephen who is called “full of grace” in Acts 6:8 (and I won’t take here the example of the Lord Jesus who also is full of grace, because that’s a little different, as the Lord is full of grace by nature, while His saints are full of grace by faith in Him). Let’s read that part about Stephen: “And Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought wonders and great signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8) That expression “full of grace” in this verse is the Greek “πλήρης χάριτος” (“plērēs charitos”) which means “full of grace” and which is not used about Mary anywhere in the Bible (although that also may be true about Mary just as it is about many other saints of God other than Stephen).

Of course, you notice that this doesn’t mean that Stephen had to be born without the original sin; same with Mary… This means that Stephen walked by faith, receiving by faith grace upon grace from the Lord, and that’s why some manuscripts have “full of faith” instead of “full of grace” in that passage about Stephen, because it was always known among the Christians that no one can receive any grace in any way except by faith in Christ (the scribe may have done this copy error because of this fact). Mary couldn’t have received any grace from God except by faith; she received favor from the Lord, because the Lord had chosen her, and not the other way around (i.e. she was not chosen by God because she was “full of grace”…) She didn’t choose God; God chose her.

Assumption #3: That a believer should be sinless in order to obey and please God

It is true that Mary should have had faith (or at least be effectively called to faith by God’s Grace) in order to give her immediate assent to her vocation (and that is not a merit in her, because it’s only by the grace of God), but does this mean that she needed to have had received such graces as to be sinless in order to give that assent? The assumption of the Roman Catholics in this doctrine of the immaculate conception is that Mary could not have agreed with her vocation unless she was sinless (and “preserved immune from all stain of original sin”). Abraham, the father of believers, gave God his immediate assent when He called him (cf. Genesis 12:1-4); does this mean that Abraham was sinless?… Paul also obeyed the Lord Jesus immediately when He appeared to him (cf. Acts 9:5,6,8); does this mean that Paul was sinless?… Paul even said that he was sanctified (set apart) by God from his mother’s womb (cf. Galatians 1:15)!! Does this mean that Paul was born clean from the original sin?? Even Roman Catholic apologists mention Jeremiah and John the Baptist who both were sanctified (set apart) by God from their mother’s womb (Jeremiah: Jeremiah 1:5; John the Baptist: Luke 1:15). Does this mean that Jeremiah and John the Baptist were born sinless?… (Note that “sanctified” in the previous sentences does not mean that those people were practically purified from sin, but that they were set apart by God for a purpose). So why would Mary need to be sinless when all what is needed to obey God is to experience His Salvation by faith? All what is needed in order to truly obey God is a living faith. This is seen in the examples of Hebrews 11 where all those people mentioned there have obeyed God by faith, and not because of any merit in them. So where is the biblical reason that would make it necessary for Mary to be born sinless in order to obey God? The real answer to this question is given by the Catholic Encyclopedia (which, of course, is a wrong answer as we will see): “There is an incongruity in the supposition that the flesh, from which the flesh of the Son of God was to be formed, should ever have belonged to one who was the slave of that arch-enemy, whose power He came on earth to destroy.”(*) This leads us to examine the fourth assumption that is behind this human-made doctrine…

Assumption #4: That God formed a flesh for Jesus from Mary’s flesh in the natural sense

I quote again the Catholic Encyclopedia:

There is an incongruity in the supposition that the flesh, from which the flesh of the Son of God was to be formed, should ever have belonged to one who was the slave of that arch-enemy, whose power He came on earth to destroy. (*)

This assumes that Jesus received His flesh from Mary’s flesh in the natural sense. So let’s see what the Bible means by “flesh”, and then we examine this assumption.

Although the word “flesh” usually means “the earthly body” in the Bible (as our body was formed from the dust of the ground or of the earth), but this by extension also means the nature of this earthly body, i.e. the human nature. Thus it is written that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). Note that the Bible doesn’t say that Jesus just received a flesh¹, which would mean that the Logos (the Word) became the soul of that flesh (“flesh” here being considered to mean “body”)… The Bible says that the Word Himself, the Son of God, became flesh. The Son of God didn’t just become an “earthly body” (as the first meaning of the word “flesh” is), but He became human, He became human by nature, He became body and soul and spirit. So John 1:14 uses the term “flesh” as meaning “human” or “human nature”. By the use of this term “flesh” to point to the human nature, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that the human nature is earthly by nature, being the same flesh (nature) of Adam who fell in sin and was separated from God (i.e was dead in sin). Thus those who are still in their sins are called “in the flesh” (or fleshly by nature², as in Romans 8:9), or “in Adam” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:22), as both expressions mean the same thing (i.e. naturally sinful). And those who are thus “in the flesh” by nature cannot please God (cf. Romans 8:7-8), not because of a simple weakness or stain of sinfulness that they have in their nature, but because they are sinful by nature, they are flesh by nature³. We have a natural impossibility to obey God’s Law, because we are flesh by nature (cf. Romans 3:20 and Galatians 2:16 and Romans 8:7-8). It is not just a simple weakness in our humanness which otherwise would be good, but it is the nature of our fallen humanness.

Now, we have seen that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). He took from Mary our human nature, but not in a natural way, or else the Spirit would not say that the Word became flesh. He didn’t take from Mary the sinfulness of her humanness, but only her humanness, and this could not have happened in a natural way. Thus the Son of God is both the Head of the new humanness and at the same time He is of the same humanness of Mary (and thus of Adam). The Epistle to the Hebrews explains all this with a short expression that I will emphasize in the following quote: “For we have not a high priest not able to sympathise with our infirmities, but tempted in all things in like manner, sin apart.” (Hebrews 4:15) The Apostle Paul explains in his First Epistle to the Corinthians that Jesus is not naturally of the same earthly nature of Adam, but He is a totally new Man, supernaturally human (the incarnation of the Son of God is supernatural): “Thus also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam a quickening spirit. But that which is spiritual [was] not first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual: the first man out of [the] earth, made of dust; the second man, out of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-47) Jesus is this second Man who came from Heaven. And we all know that Mary is not the source of this second humanness, because Mary is not heavenly by nature… Jesus’ flesh is not the same sinful flesh of Mary, but the same flesh of Mary supernaturally and without sin. Therefore Paul doesn’t say that Jesus had exactly the same flesh as we have by nature, but he says that Jesus has the likeness of our sinful flesh: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, having sent his own Son, in likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, has condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). So there is no necessity for Mary to have a sinless humanness (sinless flesh), because Christ didn’t take her sinful flesh (but was born supernaturally), and because Christ came to redeem this sinful humanness of which Mary also is a member.

Assumption #5: That original sin is just a stain that can be removed

As we have read in the CCC, Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854 (emphasis added by me):

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

The Pope thinks original sin is just a stain that may be removed without a total change of this earthly body… This is consistent with the Roman Catholic erroneous definition of original sin which we find in the Catholic Encyclopedia stated in the following way (emphases added):

Original sin may be taken to mean: (1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam. (*)

This definition dreams that the consequence of Adam’s sin was just a stain that was passed to us, and not a total spiritual separation from God (in the Bible, this separation is called death, just as the separation of the soul from the body is called death; in the Bible, death is a separation and not an annihilation). The Bible says that the consequence of sin is not just a stain that may be removed, but spiritual death or separation from God: “For the wages of sin [is] death (Romans 6:23). It is to be noted that “sin” is not always used in the Bible to signify particular sins, but when it is used in singular it usually means the sinful nature or the principle of sin that entered the human nature and the world that is under man’s headship because of Adam’s sin committed in the origin of humanity. The Bible presents the original sin as this sin principle and as this death nature that entered to the human nature through Adam’s sin: “For this [cause], even as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12), and again: “Behold, in iniquity was I brought forth, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) We are by nature dead in sin and by nature separated from God, and we all need the new nature in Christ who reconciles us with God to be His children through Christ‘s nature (or Christ’s new humanness), and not through our own nature. As we have seen above, this sinful nature is also called “the flesh”, because it is the nature of this humanness that we have received from Adam and it is naturally inherent to our earthly bodies which we have received from Adam. This flesh or original sin will remain in us as long as we are in this earthly body, because it is inherent to our humanness. What we have now is the death of this flesh (i.e. we are spiritually separated from our old nature which is in Adam and we are new creatures in Christ). But this sinful flesh will exist as long as we are in this earthly body. We have the sure hope of salvation from the existence of this sinful flesh when our bodies will be transformed to be like the heavenly second Man; this is called “the redemption of our body” and is explained in the following two passages:

1. “And not only [that], but even we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, we also ourselves groan in ourselves, awaiting adoption, [that is] the redemption of our body. For we have been saved in hope; but hope seen is not hope; for what any one sees, why does he also hope?” (Romans 8:23-24)

2. “Thus also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam a quickening spirit. But that which is spiritual [was] not first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual: the first man out of [the] earth, made of dust; the second man, out of heaven. Such as he made of dust, such also those made of dust; and such as the heavenly [one], such also the heavenly [ones]. And as we have borne the image of the [one] made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly [one]. But this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, nor does corruption inherit incorruptibility. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed (1 Corinthians 15:45-51).

So as the Bible so clearly teaches that the original sin or the flesh will exist as long as we are in our earthly bodies and that our bodies will not be redeemed from this sinful flesh until the day of resurrection (or the day of the change of those who are still alive and have not been fallen asleep), then when Roman Catholics say that Mary was cleansed at the moment of her conception from the original sin, do they mean that Mary had a glorified or risen or changed or spiritual body while she was on earth?… I guess they don’t mean this, but they say it because they don’t have the biblical definition of original sin as we have seen. They make the same error when they say that the original sin is cleansed in a baby when he is baptized… But biblically the implication of their doctrine of immaculate conception is that Mary had a glorified or risen or changed or spiritual body while she was on earth, and this is a blasphemy, as this makes Mary equal to Jesus in holiness and in nature, as Jesus alone is said to be sinless in His humanness while He was on earth (and of course He rose from the dead in the same humanness4 which is supernatural).

It is also to be noted that the Church Fathers did not teach that Mary had no original sin. On the contrary, some Church Fathers made it very clear that Mary had this original sin. For example, Augustine wrote: “He [Christ], therefore, alone having become man, but still continuing to be God, never had any sin, nor did he assume a flesh of sin, though born of a maternal flesh of sin” (De Peccatorum Meritis, Book II, Chapter 38 — emphasis added). Only Jesus Christ never had any sin.

Assumption #6: That Mary is the new Eve

The Roman Catholic article on which we are commenting says:

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary, who is “full of grace,” and heralded as “the new Eve” by the Church Fathers, was without Original (and consequently actual) sin from the moment of her conception.

This assumes that those Church Fathers who assumed that Mary is the new Eve were right… But, as we have seen above, JESUS is the second Man! Just as the first Eve was the wife of the first man Adam, the CHURCH is the bride of the second Man Jesus, and not Mary! Mary is a member of the Church. Eve was from the same nature of Adam, made of his flesh, and she sinned when she disobeyed God’s order which made Adam her head to whom she had to be subject, and she took the decision of eating from the forbidden tree and gave Adam to eat, and Adam sinned by following her leadership into sin. The new Eve, the Church, is created in Christ Jesus (see Ephesians 2:10 and Ephesians 5:30-32), and she will have the same heavenly humanness of Christ, as we have seen above. The first Eve was defeated by the serpent when she disobeyed her head (Adam); the new Eve will overcome the serpent through obedience and subjection to Christ who is her Head: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20) The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that the second Eve is the Church who is the bride of Jesus (the second Man), and that this second Eve should not be deceived like the first Eve: “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2-3).

Conclusion

Thus, once again, we see that all Roman Catholic doctrines about Mary tend to replace Jesus Christ with Mary and to deify Mary in order to worship her and to ask her to save them… This is blasphemy. Although the author of the article that we are studying, as well as all Roman Catholic scholars, admit that this doctrine has newly become a dogma and is not in the Bible, and that even the Eastern Church does not agree with them concerning this doctrine, and yet they refuse to see that they need to be reformed and to go back to the Bible leaving all their human-made additions to the pure truth of God’s Word…

Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ

___

NOTES:

1. Some Roman Catholic apologists assume that the Son of God received a body from Mary in a natural way, and they forget that the Word became flesh, and not only received a flesh. For this position, they use the following verse which they misunderstand: “Wherefore coming into the world he says, Sacrifice and offering thou willedst not; but thou hast prepared me a body.” (Hebrews 10:5) If we understand this verse in the way those apologists understand it, then we will believe that the Logos only became the spiritual soul of that body which is NOT the Logos incarnate… And this is a heretical opinion, because the Bible clearly teaches that the Logos became flesh. That heretical opinion would mean that the body of the Son of God is not the Son of God Himself, and this would be similar to the beliefs of the Gnostics. We should note that no verse of the Bible contradicts the Bible, so Hebrews 10:5 does not contradict John 1:14. Hebrews 10:5 should be understood in context, and that context speaks about the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ in contrast with the animal sacrifices of the Old Covenant. Verse 10 says: “by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” So when in verse 5 He speaks about God preparing Him a body, He is speaking like someone who says “God has given this baby two beautiful eyes”, which of course does not mean that God gave that baby two eyes that are not part of his own body. God has prepared a body for Christ means that He chose for Him this means as an offering for sin.

2. This is not the same as in 1 Corinthians 3:3 where the term “fleshly” means “those who walk like those who are fleshly by nature (like mere men)” as the same verse also explains; those who are fleshly by walk should examine themselves to make sure they are not fleshly by nature, as 2 Corinthians 13:5 says.

3. The Lord Jesus said: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) Note how the Lord called the nature of that which is born of the flesh as “flesh”, and not flesh and soul and spirit as would assume those who think “flesh” only means “body”. The Lord made it clear that man needs to be born again, because that which is born of the flesh is flesh by nature and thus naturally unable to please God.

4. As the Creed says (text from the more exact Armenian version; emphasis added): “He suffered, was crucified, was buried, on the third day He rose again, He ascended into Heaven with the same body, [and] sat at the right [hand] of the Father. He is to come with the same body and with the Glory of the Father to judge the living and the dead; of His kingdom there is no end.”

___

Next study in this series>>

Posted in Religious Movements | Roman Catholicism and similar heresies
This is part 8 of the series: Roman Catholic desperate defense of Marian worship

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Religious Movements, Roman Catholic desperate defense of Marian worship. Bookmark the permalink.