The Dogma of
the Immaculate Conception
As a Christian, I have every respect for Mary,
the mother of the Lord. When I write against the doctrine of "the
immaculate conception", I am not writing against Mary. On the
contrary, I seek to present the truth about her.
The image of Mary crushing the serpent's head
is taken from a incorrect translation of Genesis 3:15: "I will put
enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she
shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel" (Douay-Rheims
Bible). Modern Catholic Bibles correct the mistake: "I will put
enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and
hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel"
(New American Bible).
The Bible teaches that the woman's seed,
JESUS, crushed the serpent's head. Why is then that Catholics
continue to portray Mary as if she crushed Satan's head? Jesus came
to the world to give us victory over our enemy. "For this purpose
the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of
the devil" (1 John 3:8). Let us therefore trust in Him alone to give
us victory over the devil, sin and death.
The modern Catholic Church teaches that Mary
was conceived without sin.
Through the centuries the Church has become
ever more aware that Mary, 'full of grace' through God (Luke 1:28)
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,
Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of
original sin. [Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854)] (Catechism of the
Catholic Church, paragraph 491).
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was
not taught in the first centuries of the Christian church. While
there were some fathers who believed that Mary led a sinless life,
there was a unanimous agreement that all natural descendants of Adam
were conceived in sin. Augustine writes: "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).
"The first real advocacy of the dogma comes in
the twelfth century in the writing of a British monk Eadmer. But
ranged against him in their denial of the dogma are names which are
revered in the Church of Rome - Bernard Clairvaux, Peter Lombard,
Bonaventura and Thomas Aquinas, to name a few. It was not until the
fourteenth century that Duns Scotus elaborated the theory which was
ultimately to win the day for the Franciscan advocates of the dogma
in their debate with the Dominicans who had fiercely opposed it" (H.M.
Carson, Roman Catholicism Today).
Catholic scholars admit that this doctrine is
not explicitly revealed in Scripture. The Catechism refers to Luke
1:28 for scriptural evidence. But "full of grace" could not possibly
mean conceived without sin for the very same word is used in
Ephesians 1:6 where it refers to ALL believers. Certainly no one
would argue that all Christians were conceived without sin!
Contrary to the Roman Catholic teaching, the
Scripture plainly teaches that "all have sinned, and come
short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). All Adam's descendents
share his sinful nature: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into
the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for
that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). Therefore all need to be
saved. Mary herself calls God "my savior" (Luke 1:47). Evidently she
did not know the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate
Of Christ alone it is ever expressly stated
that He was "without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Christ alone is immaculate
from conception, and therefore qualified to die in the place of
sinners. Christ, who knew no sin, "bare our sins in his own body on
the tree" (1 Peter 2:24).
The implications of this dogma are very
serious. The Pope warns:
Hence, if anyone shall dare -- which God
forbid! -- to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let
him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment;
that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated
from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own
action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should
express in words or writing or by any other outward means the
errors he thinks in his heart (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus).
The Roman Catholic magisterium would have us
believe a doctrine that is neither taught in the Scriptures nor in
the writings of the early church fathers - as if this doctrine is
essential to the Christian faith. But we are convinced that the
Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation by faith in
Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 3:15). We don't need any extra-biblical
doctrines for our salvation. In fact, it is the Roman Church that
suffered "shipwreck in the faith" by embracing a doctrine that is
contrary to the Bible; and "separated from the unity of the Church"
which for centuries knew nothing of the theological inventions of
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