The Immaculate Conception

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Mary

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My friend and I have been arguing about the immaculate conception for a while… It’s so frustrating because she’s Coptic Orthodox and we agree on almost everything, except this. She claims that Jesus coming to earth to a sinful woman, though still a holy woman, emphasizes the great love God had towards us… This question may have been posted elsewhere, but there are so many threads I haven’t been able to read them all! 🙂

Any ideas for arguing this? Thanks!

God bless,
Mary
 
First things first, don’t let this issue detract from the things you have in common. You and your friend share many beliefs and it would be a shame to let this disagreement cause an “argument”. That said, I applaud you for wanting to explain your faith and understand it as much as possible.

Karl Keating addresses this issue in Catholicism and Fundementalism . The most persuasive argument in my opinion is the greeting Gabriel gave to Mary at the annunciation. He described her as being full of grace. Mr. Keating argues convincingly that in the Greek the type of grace used to describe Mary is both permanent and singular and indicates a perfection of grace. It makes sense to assume that a permanent grace would have been permanent from the beginning and not permenant only after Gabriel’s visit.

Some people argue that Mary’s immaculate conception was invented in 1854 and that Catholics did not believe in this before that. In Why Do Catholics Do That K.O.Johnson points out that the believe of the immaculate conception is clearly implicit in early Christian hymns and explicit in many early authors, including St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. He also notes that a feast day celebrating the Immaculate Conception was celebrated in the East as early as the 7th century, so the doctrine has a lot of history and has been accepted by many well-read people over the centuries.

This is not going to be an issue that will be easy for a Christian who is not in communion with the church to accept. However, by showing the dogma’s history and biblical basis you should at least be able to show your friend why you are comfortable with it.

Good luck!
 
Actually, the Coptic Orthodox have a very long and venerable tradition of Mary, the Theotokos, being without sin. Here’s a discussion from a Coptic message board on this subject.

Not exactly an “official” source, but a start.
 
Some people argue that Mary’s immaculate conception was invented in 1854 and that Catholics did not believe in this before that. In Why Do Catholics Do That K.O.Johnson points out that the believe of the immaculate conception is clearly implicit in early Christian hymns and explicit in many early authors, including St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. He also notes that a feast day celebrating the Immaculate Conception was celebrated in the East as early as the 7th century, so the doctrine has a lot of history and has been accepted by many well-read people over the centuries.
I think you may be mixing up Johnson’s book with another. I don’t remember Johnson going into this issue at all.
 
I think the views of the Oriental Orthodox Church (of which the Coptic Orthodox Church is a member, and holds primacy) are akin to that of the Orthodox Church. In which case, the following link may be of some assistance.
 
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Charles:
He also notes that a feast day celebrating the Immaculate Conception was celebrated in the East as early as the 7th century, so the doctrine has a lot of history and has been accepted by many well-read people over the centuries.
Can you provide any more information on this? I have never heard of such a feast day before.

John.
 
Keep in mind that the Church, the Pope in particular doesn’t declare something infaliable unless it is being challanged. The imaculate conseption was being challanged by alot of protestants in the 18whatevers and that is why the Pope declared it infaliable.
 
Can you provide any more information on this? I have never heard of such a feast day before.
I know you’re being sarcastic. Does December 9 ring a bell to you?
 
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DominvsVobiscvm:
I know you’re being sarcastic. Does December 9 ring a bell to you?
December 9, The Conception of the Holy Mother of God by Saint Anna, celebrated 9 months before the nativity of the Theotokos :).

It was not however, to the best of my knowledge, ever called the feast day of the Immaculate Conception in the East which is what Charles’ post seemed to be claiming. Perhaps you can understand why I asked for confirmation, and no I was not being sarcastic :(. While the hymns and prayers of the church frequently refer to Holy Mary as Immaculate, particularly on that feast day, they do not carry with them the Western understanding of “original sin”. Thus, while the words might be the same, the theology behind them is not.

For we do not have a High Priest Who is not able to sympathise with our weaknesses, but One Who hath been tempted in all respects according to our likeness, without sin. - Hebrews 4:15

“that which He has not assumed He has not healed” - Saint Gregory Nazianzen.

If Mary was conceived without the same fallen nature as the rest of humanity, then the flesh taken on by Christ would have been perfect, in no need of healing. He would have restored nothing and only Mary’s unfallen nature would have been glorified, only Mary would have been saved.

John.
 
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prodromos:
For we do not have a High Priest Who is not able to sympathise with our weaknesses, but One Who hath been tempted in all respects according to our likeness, without sin. - Hebrews 4:15

“that which He has not assumed He has not healed” - Saint Gregory Nazianzen.

If Mary was conceived without the same fallen nature as the rest of humanity, then the flesh taken on by Christ would have been perfect, in no need of healing. He would have restored nothing and only Mary’s unfallen nature would have been glorified, only Mary would have been saved.
First things first, are you saying that if Jesus wasn’t born with original sin, he could not have saved us from it? I do not see how Mary’s conception bears any ability/non-ability of our Saviors ability to save us. Mary was saved by God from original sin at conception, thus making her a pure vessel that could hold God. Mary was promised to us as pure from Genesis 3:15: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; " The word enmity implies complete and total opposition, thus no sin. No sin, then no original sin. You can also look at the Blessed Virgin as the new Ark of the Covenant, which was made with pure gold over acadia wood, also pure, thus no defects. Jesus assumed a human nature, and conquered sin/death.

John
 
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Mary:
My friend and I have been arguing about the immaculate conception for a while… It’s so frustrating because she’s Coptic Orthodox and we agree on almost everything, except this. She claims that Jesus coming to earth to a sinful woman, though still a holy woman, emphasizes the great love God had towards us… This question may have been posted elsewhere, but there are so many threads I haven’t been able to read them all! 🙂

Any ideas for arguing this? Thanks!

God bless,
Mary
That is weird, since according to most Orthodox ALL HUMAN is Immaculately conceive. Only after the baby enter in the world that original sin operates.
 
Beng: Just in case you weren’t aware of this, the Coptic Church is an Oriental Orthodox Church, not an Eastern Orthodox Church (the EOC formally went into schism in the 11th century…led by Constantine, while the Oriental Church has been in schism since the 5th century…originally led by Antioch and Alexandria). Though I do not know what view the Oriental Church holds on the transmission of original sin, I would guess it would be the same view as that of their Byzatine brothers. And in the Eastern Orthodox view, it is true that no one inherits original sin, but as I understand it, they still teach that all humans inherit a fallen nature and a tendency to sin…as they are born spiritually dead (otherwise, why would the Eastern Church baptize their children?)

Mary: Do you know if the Oriental Church claims to be the ‘one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church’ as the Eastern Orthodox Church does? And if they do not, how to they justify their schism? And if they accept infallibility of the Church, how do they justify leaving over the decrees of an ecunemical council? (Anyone else can feel free to answer as well…I’m very interested in Oriental Orthodoxy, but know little about it).
 
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DominvsVobiscvm:
I think you may be mixing up Johnson’s book with another. I don’t remember Johnson going into this issue at all.
Why do Catholics do that? by K.O.Johnson (not one of my favorites but I do refer to it from time to time) discusses this issue fairly extensively in the footnote on p.113
 
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prodromos:
It was not however, to the best of my knowledge, ever called the feast day of the Immaculate Conception in the East which is what Charles’ post seemed to be claiming. Perhaps you can understand why I asked for confirmation, and no I was not being sarcastic :(. While the hymns and prayers of the church frequently refer to Holy Mary as Immaculate, particularly on that feast day, they do not carry with them the Western understanding of “original sin”. Thus, while the words might be the same, the theology behind them is not.
My source for this is also Johnson (see my previous post). My home library is not as extensive as it should be so I don’t have a separate confirmation. Here is the quote, however, from p.113:

“…it {the Immaculate Conception} was also explicit in liturgy; a feast day commemorating the Immaculate Conception was celebrated annually in the East by the 7th century,…”
 
Prodromos is correct when he says that the feast, in the East, is not called the “Immaculate” Conception.

That having been said, the doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness is very much grounded in the theology of the Eastern Fathers. Its implicit in her identification as the “New Eve,” another very Eastern concept.

Do you believe, Prodromos, that the Theotokos ever commited actual sin?
 
I have a question of my own on the Immaculate Conception, and hopefully someone may be able to give me an answer. I am a convinced and committed Catholic who happens to enjoy good fellowship with a certain Pentecostal church. One of their biggest problems with Catholicism is the Immaculate Conception. They believe that Original Sin is passed on to the child from the father only, the woman does not pass on the original sin that has stained her. They quote Romans 5:17-18 to support this view, (no mention of Eve in this passage).For this reason, they say, Mary didn’t need to be free of Original Sin in order to give Jesus His sinless human nature. Does anyone know the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding from whom we inherit Original Sin? Is it from both the father and mother, or just the father alone?
 
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yochumjy:
First things first, are you saying that if Jesus wasn’t born with original sin, he could not have saved us from it?
If “Original Sin” is understood as a state that is conducive to sin, then yes, otherwise how could Hebrews 4:15 be true.
Mary was promised to us as pure from Genesis 3:15: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; " The word enmity implies complete and total opposition, thus no sin. No sin, then no original sin.
Orthodox do not believe babies are born guilty of sin. Rather, they are born with a tendancy towards sin (which Adam and Eve did not originally have). Thus, to have “original sin” does not automatically mean you have sinned so it does not preclude Mary being pure.

John.
 
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Lukey:
Does anyone know the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding from whom we inherit Original Sin? Is it from both the father and mother, or just the father alone?
All of humanity inherits the effects of the fall. Even if we took an ovum and provided it with the necessary chromosones to become fertilised without recourse to using anything from male sperm, the human that this process produces would still be subject to the effects of the fall.

newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994909

Regarding Romans 5:17-18, last time I looked my bible also contained Genesis 3:6 :rolleyes:

John.
 
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