"Love! Do you know the meaning of the word?" 'How should I not?' said the Lady, 'I am in love...in Love Himself.'
~C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Best Biblical Argument for the Immaculate Conception of the BVM

Considered by many Protestants to be the hardest of the Marian dogmas to accept, the Immaculate Conception is not something clearly spelled out in Scripture. Of course, just because something is not explicity stated in the Bible does not mean it is not to be believed. However, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, that she was in the first moment of her conception preserved free from the stain of original sin, is actually centered in the first recording of the Gospel, the proto-evangellium.

In Genesis 3:15, the motif known as the "Seed of the Woman" is born. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed. He will bruise thy head, and you will bruise his heel." In God's conversation with the serpent we rightly emphasize the latter half of this prophecy; God's promise that at the Crucifixion of the Child of the Woman the head of Satan would be definitively crushed. Yet it cannot be overlooked that the Lord also states that enmity will exist between the serpent and the Woman. This is not in any way a clear statement that Mary was immaculately conceived, but if Mary was at emnity that means she was a foe, an opposite. What is the opposite of utter sinfulness? You guessed it.

In the end, I still think the best argument for this dogma is that Christianity has always taught that Christ takes his entire human nature from his mother. If he is perfect, and he is, how can his mother not be perfect? How would Christ not be infected with her sin?

Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis


  1. I have issues with this belief that are not unusual. If Mary was of Immaculate Conception, wouldn't there need to be a long line of women who were conceived in the same way, otherwise, she would receive her humanity from her mother and so on. I have also been taught that in Biblical times, humanity was passed through the father to the child. I am willing to dialogue about this, I just cannot accept it at this time or for that matter even see why it matters to my salvation.

  2. It matters greatly to your salvation unless you have another way for Jesus to be perfect, while taking his flesh from someone imperfect. In other words, something unnatural happened along the way. Why not believe what the Church has taught for so long?

    The papal bull which make this dogma explicitly states that Mary was saved in view of the merits of Christ, in the moment of her conception, from original sin. That means that there does not have to be a long line extending backwards of perfect people.

    The only plausible argument I can come up with which could supplant this is that original sin is only passed through the Father, and thus the Virginal conception of Christ not only shows his divinity, but frees him from sin passing to him. But what I always come back to on this is that David said in Psalm 51 "in sin my mother conceived me." David's mother was an extremely holy woman, as he himself attests in other places. If sin is also associated with the mother, and not just the father, than something had to take place to preserve Christ's human soul. And as said before, that obviously has huge ramifications for any understanding of Christ as perfect sacrifice for sin.

  3. What I meant in wondering whether or not this has anything to do with my salvation is does it matter where I believe Christ's divinity comes from or does it just matter that I believe he is divine? And I think we need to be careful that we are not taking scripture out of context in the case of Psalm 51. Yes, it is definitely foreshadowing the birth of Christ, but it is definitely a Psalm of David about himself. Further, why couldn't it be talking about the actual act of sex itself when it talks about conceiving in sin. If that is what is being referenced than Christ would still be sinless b/c he was conceived without that act.

    Just thoughts, I have wrestled with this many times in the past and can't make up my mind.

    And I often wonder if it matters to my salvation, simply b/c Christ himself says we need the faith of a child and I don't know one child on earth that could understand this particular teaching or dogma. I believe that Christ meets us where we are and that some are given an abundance of faith that can handle wrestling with these issues and others have a very simple faith and never even ponder anything beyond the fact that Christ died for their sins and if that is their state are they less saved than those who struggle and debate deep theological issues that cannot be proven with mere scripture?

  4. I think it's important to understand "necessary to salvation" as meaning we are not to hold thing that are contrary to Christian belief. In other words, I can't understand the doctrine of the Trinity fully, but I accept it and don't contradict it.

    I think a child-like faith is just that. It doesn't understand everything and doesn't need to, that doesn't mean it can't and shouldn't try to seek out more.

    As far as the context of Ps. 51...I use that to say, David claims part of his "proneness" toward sin comes from the fact that he is the child of a woman. His mother was a holy woman and so the sexual act is likely not what is being referred to. And there is certainly nothing wrong inherently with sex.

    To me the doctrine just makes sense. No it isn't spelled out very clearly (if at all) in the Bible. But neither is gravity. The early attestation of the doctrine in the Gospel of James, just makes me feel comfortable accepting it as truth.