“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

December 8, 2008

Something to Read on The Feast of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception

By Patrick Madrid
This Rock Magazine, December, 1991

HIS FACE STIFFENED, and his eyes narrowed to slits. Until now the Calvary Chapel pastor had been calm as he "shared the gospel" with me, but when I mentioned my belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception, his attitude changed. 

"The problem with you Roman Catholics," he said, thin forefinger stabbing the air a few inches from my face, "is that you’ve added extra baggage to the gospel. How can you call yourselves Christians when you cling to unbiblical traditions like the Immaculate Conception? It’s not in the Bible--it was invented by the Roman Catholic system in 1854. Besides, Mary couldn’t have been sinless, only God is sinless. If she were without sin she would be God!" 

At least the minister got the date right, 1854 being the year Pope Pius IX infallibly defined the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, but that’s as far as his accuracy went. His reaction was typical of Evangelicals. He was adamant that the Catholic emphasis on Mary’s sinlessness was an unbearable affront to the unique holiness of God, especially as manifested in Jesus Christ. 

After we’d examined the biblical evidence for the doctrine, the anti-Marianism he’d shown became muted, but it was clear that, at least emotionally if not biblically, Mary was a stumbling block for him. Like most Christians (Catholic and Protestant) the minister was unaware of the biblical support for the Church’s teaching on the Immaculate Conception. But sometimes even knowledge of these passages isn’t enough. Many former Evangelicals who have converted to the Catholic Church relate how hard it was for them to put aside prejudices and embrace Marian doctrines even after they’d thoroughly satisfied themselves through prayer and Scripture study that such teachings were indeed biblical. 

For Evangelicals who have investigated the issue and discovered, to their astonishment, the biblical support for Marian doctrines, there often lingers the suspicion that somehow, in a way they can’t quite identify, the Catholic emphasis on Mary’s sinlessness undermines the unique sinlessness of Christ. 

To alleviate such suspicions, one must understand what the Catholic Church means (and doesn’t mean) by the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pope Pius IX, in his constitution Ineffabilis Deus (issued December 8, 1854), taught that Mary, "from the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin." The doctrine includes the assertion that Mary was perpetually free from all actual sin (willful disobedience of God, either venial or mortal). 

Several objections are raised by Protestants. . . . (
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1 comment:

  1. What an incredible article, Patrick. Well done! (and thanks for posting it)