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Catholics, why is it necessary to believe that Mary was immaculately conceived?

Discussion in 'Denomination Specific Theology' started by Ecclesiastian, Apr 22, 2019.

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  1. Ecclesiastian

    Ecclesiastian New Member

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    For those that don't know what the Immaculate Conception is, it's a Catholic doctrine that Mary was conceived, born, and lived a sinless life. Ignoring the implications this has for whether or not Christ's work was actually necessary, I wonder why Catholics now see this as essential dogma.

    I spoke online with a Catholic, albeit a nonpracticing one, about it. Basically it went something like this:

    Me: "Why must Mary be seen as sinless when the Apostles never commented on such a matter?"

    Them: "If Christ was born sinless, doesn't He require a sinless mother?"

    Me: "No, since He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and is God in the flesh."

    Them: "Even so, why would God be born of a sinful woman?"

    Me: "Wouldn't that require Mary to be born of a sinless woman also, and on throughout her ancestry, when we know from Matthew's genealogy that that isn't true?"

    Them: "Mary was shielded from original sin."

    Me: "So it's necessary for Christ to be born of a sinless woman to avoid the taint of original sin, but not Mary? Isn't that placing less limitations on a Human than on God?"

    Them: "Let's just drop it, Mary is very special to me."



    Now since this person was nonpracticing, I don't trust that I have all the facts. So Catholics, is there something I'm missing here? Why is it so central that Mary be sinless, rather than simply obedient?
     
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  2. Michael Collum

    Michael Collum Everything began with a voice, use yours Supporter

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    The scripture that comes to me is "corruption that enters the world through lust"

    If Mary did not have an immaculate conception, then corruption would have entered Jesus before he was born.

    Now, I'm interested in what the Catholics have to say.
     
  3. archer75

    archer75 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wait, who is allowed to answer here?

    Edit: Never mind.
     
  4. Davidnic

    Davidnic Well-Known Member Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    Catholics don't believe it was necessary only that it was fitting and that it happened.

    The dogma itself states that it is fitting. It does not say necessary. Catholics don't believe it based on it being necessary. God can do things however He wants.

    We would argue it is proper and correct that it was done this way. But not that it must have been done this way. Only God chose to do it like this. And then we appeal to proofs of Scripture, Tradition, and reason.

    There are several reasons for this. One is so that she could be the new Eve. This is one the most compelling theological arguments for many.

    The article from the Catholic encyclopedia has a decent progression of the history of the belief as well as arguments for it.


    CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Immaculate Conception
     
  5. Brianna Morrison

    Brianna Morrison New Member

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    I will say this. In Catholic theology Mary is the new ark of the covenant. The ark of the covenant in old testament times would have been purposely keeped as holy as possible. Thus Mary was saved form the stain of original Sin to fulfill the old covenant. That is just one explanation.
     
  6. HeartenedHeart

    HeartenedHeart Member

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    Muslims ultimately teach the same as 'catholics' on this, for they also teach that Mary was not touched by satan (see Hadith).

    The reason they ('catholics') need to teach it, is because of the verses on anti-Christ (denial of "the flesh") and their Augustinian dogmatic error (and erroneous theology) of "original sin".

    This was why the person answered you: "Them: "If Christ was born sinless, doesn't He require a sinless mother?""

    They equate sinful (fallen) flesh with sin itself. And thus if Jesus was born with fallen sinful flesh (as scripture actually says), their erroneous dogma of "original sin" would make Jesus a sinner by just being born. The two are not synonymous. Thus they have to deny that Jesus came "in the flesh" (fallen) which is exactly what John warned of, and so cooked up the immaculate conception (Mary) dogma to shield from the first erroneous dogma.
     
  7. TuxAme

    TuxAme Quis ut Deus? Supporter

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    Most simply, it's necessary to believe because it's a dogma that the Church has defined (with dogma being something divinely revealed). According to Catechism 88:

    The Church’s magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.

    So, we believe in any dogma because it is a matter of faith (rather than morals) which has been divinely revealed. I would recommend that you read the encyclical in which this doctrine was elevated to the level of dogma, Ineffabilis Deus, in order to get a bigger picture.

    The best way I can think to describe why God chose to grant Mary this singular grace is this. Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant because she contained within her Christ. The Old Ark contained the staff of Aaron, the stone tablets of the Commandments, as well as some of the manna from the Israelites' wander in the desert. Jesus represents the new contents of the Ark, as He is our true High Priest (Aaron's staff), the Word of God made flesh (the Commandments), and the True Bread come down from Heaven (the manna). Because Jesus is what the Ark contained, so Mary is the Ark itself which contained these things.

    To answer your question, "shouldn't Mary have also been born of a sinless woman?", the answer is, no. As the New Ark, Mary was free to be created (born) of sinful parents. Why is this? Because the original Ark was itself crafted from the hands of a sinful people, yet was allowed to contain Israel's holiest relics and to be overshadowed by God. One might say that, with this being the case, it was only appropriate for Mary's parents to not be sinless as her.
     
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  8. Ecclesiastian

    Ecclesiastian New Member

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    Thanks for the answers, guys! These really help me understand it better. The Catholic I was speaking with actually covered their perception of it by saying Mary was almost equal with Christ, which is a huge problem for anyone I think. I'm glad to see that the doctrine as taught by the actual Catholic Church isn't as idolatrous as some seem to lead us to believe.

    Though I would have to also ask; why does Mary offer a sin offering in Luke 2:22-24?
     
  9. TuxAme

    TuxAme Quis ut Deus? Supporter

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    I think that's the offering for being ritually unclean. Giving birth made one unclean until the proper rituals were completed, but there's no "sin".
     
  10. Davidnic

    Davidnic Well-Known Member Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    For a view of a rightly ordered Catholic devotion to Mary.

    Marialis Cultus (February 2, 1974) | Paul VI
     
  11. Ecclesiastian

    Ecclesiastian New Member

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    Believe it or not I thought so as well, but I realized a problem with that. Leviticus 12 outlines the offering for purification after childbirth as being only one pigeon/turtledove, and a lamb. The sin offering is two turtledoves, as Mary offered.

    Edit: Nevermind, I just reread the prescription for impoverished people that two turtledoves will suffice. One of which is a sin offering, however.
     
  12. TuxAme

    TuxAme Quis ut Deus? Supporter

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    I was about to mention that there were different offerings for the well-off and the poor.

    Yes, it's a "sin" offering, but as I said earlier, doesn't necessarily imply any moral guilt. This offering was to bring her back into the covenant life of Israel as she had spent the time between Jesus' birth and arriving in Jerusalem in a state of legal impurity. "Legal impurity" doesn't suggest sin as we understand it today.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  13. Davidnic

    Davidnic Well-Known Member Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    Yes, it's not an issue of guilt but of fallen nature
     
  14. JackRT

    JackRT Flat earther waking up ... Supporter

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    At a very early date the Christian church developed the theory / dogma of Original Sin based largely on the mythology of the creation as found in Genesis. Not realizing any better, they accepted the story as literal history. We all know, or should know, that the theory of Original Sin is based on the notion that we are a fallen race, unworthy of God because of the sin of our primeval parents Adam and Eve. St Augustine further developed the theory by stating that the stain of the Original Sin was passed on to the children through the seed of the father.

    This concept further confirmed the notion in the early church that sex was inherently evil and to be discouraged except for procreation. What is interesting as well is that Genesis is a Jewish scripture and the Jews never developed the theory of Original Sin. Moreover, the rather earthy Jewish attitude toward sex lacks entirely the Christian distaste for it.

    The notion that Original Sin was passed on through the father's seed, somewhat like a spiritual HIV virus, turns out to have been inherently flawed. We must realize, that at that point in history, it was believed that the father, and the father only, contributed what we would today call the genetic make up of the child. What they called the male seed was regarded as containing an entire nascent human being. As a consequence, they regarded any wastage of the seed as tantamount to murder. This explains why masturbation, coitus interuptus and even homosexual acts were considered to be serious sins. The role of the woman was solely that of providing the warm nurturing environment for the developing child. She had no genetic contribution to make. Since she contributed nothing to the make up of the child, she could, of course, not be the agency through which Original Sin was passed on. Of course the mother herself was cursed with Original Sin but this flaw in her was not felt to have any bearing on the state of the child.

    Now when we link these notions to the Nativity story we get further complications. Mary was believed to have become pregnant through the agency of God. God of course contributed the seed (genetic material) and Mary's role for the next nine months was as a nurturing womb. Jesus was born sinless because of course God was sinless. The stain of the Original Sin did not afflict him. It did not matter that Mary was afflicted with the sin.

    This entire theory fell apart about several cemturies ago when it was discovered by microscopic studies that the mother did indeed contribute genetically to the child. She of course supplied the egg cell to be fertilized by the male sperm.

    This realization seems to have provided a good deal of the impetus for the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. If Mary through her egg contributed to the genetic make up of Jesus then she too could pass on Original Sin. The Immaculate Conception solved this problem quite neatly by stating that Mary herself must have been concieved immaculately (without sin) through the agency of the grace of Jesus somehow applied retroactively.
     
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  15. Silverback

    Silverback Well-Known Member

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    It would seem to me that since God cannot abide with sinners, and that Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit who is of the same substance as the Father and the Son (Divine, coeternal) then Mary would have had to have been a special case of some sort. However, it's not mentioned in God's word, which to me makes it speculation.

    God's word says that "all generations shall call me blessed" and that she was "full of grace" and that the "Lord is with her".

    Add to that she was Christ mother, I don't think you would be honoring our Lord while at the same time disrespecting his mother.

    Being protestant, and Lutheran prohibits me from asking for intercession from her, and I don't really by into all of the doctrine surrounding her, but if you accept the virgin birth, the immaculate conception seems to flow pretty well.
     
  16. JackRT

    JackRT Flat earther waking up ... Supporter

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    I will leave Christ aside and ask why Jesus was able to "abide with sinners" on a regular basis?
     
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  17. Silverback

    Silverback Well-Known Member

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    Good point
     
  18. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There is a big difference between what some people say and the official Catholic teaching. It is worth asking whether they told you right. In the case of the mainstream media, ALWAYS question whether they got it right.
    Probably for a similar reason that Jesus submitted to the baptism of John, though he certainly didn't need it for his own sins.
     
  19. ChristianForCats

    ChristianForCats God Seeker

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    How do we know Mary was immune ot sin and not just always obedient?
     
  20. TuxAme

    TuxAme Quis ut Deus? Supporter

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    Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium doesn't give us that option. Gabriel referred to Mary as being full of grace, even before she said "yes" to God. It was a part of who she was prior to that moment.

    As the New Eve, she necessarily must have been free from the sin of the first Eve (as Eve was born without this sin, obviously). So, we need to rule out the possibility that she had original sin. Gabriel's greeting reinforces this teaching, as she was described as being full of grace (as I already said) before saying yes.

    And as far as the Magisterium goes, I have already posted a link to what the Church (founded by Jesus on Peter) has said about her immaculate conception and total freedom from sin.
     
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