Mary and the Bible - Part 2, Immaculate Conception

Bible Christian Society


Mary and the Bible - Part 2, Immaculate Conception



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General Comments

Hey folks,

A few things:

1) Season 2 of my Blue Collar Apologetics series is now available at the Bible Christian Society website: I have to charge for it because I have to purchase the DVD set from EWTN, but I buy it at a discount and pass that on to you.  The 7 episodes cover the following topics:

     a) Mary and the Bible

     b) The Eucharist

     c) Authority and the Pope

     d) The Rapture

     e) Once Saved, Always Saved?

     f) Sola Scriptura: The Bible Alone?

     g) Sola Fide: Saved By Faith Alone?


2) For those of you in the Diocese of Birmingham, just wanted to let you know that I'm working on an advertising/evangelization campaign for internet, newspaper, radio, and television.  The e-campaign has already started.  The newspaper ads will feature a full page color ad in the Huntsville Times and Birmingham News the last Sunday of each month, beginning this month, so keep an eye out for them.  Meeting soon with someone to talk about developing some 30 and 60-second ads for television which will hopefully air towards the end of the year or the beginning of the new year.  Something along the lines of the Catholics Come Home ads, but maybe one or two or so with a little more oomph...something that challenges folks to think a bit about their beliefs.  I'll be working on radio ads in the not-too-distant future as well.

   If you would like to support this effort, you can make a donation to the Bible Christian Society here:


3) For those of you in the Detroit area, I will be speaking at the annual fundraising dinner for St. Paul Street Evangelization on Friday, September 15th.  More details coming soon.


4) Early heads up - I will be speaking at Our Lady of Angels parish in Woodbridge, Virginia, on Saturday, November 4th.  I'll give you more information on it as the date draws near.



This continues the series on Mary and the Bible that I started in the last newsletter.  This segment is on the Immaculate Conception.  I hope you will forward this to friends and family to hopefully plant some seeds...



Mary and the Bible (cont'd)

     This week I'm going to be looking at the biblical support for the Immaculate Conception.  The Immaculate Conception is the dogmatic teaching of the Church that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin, and the Church also teaches that Mary remained without any personal sin throughout her entire life.

     Whenever objections are brought up about the Immaculate Conception, they usually begin with something along the lines of: “I’m sorry, but nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about Mary being conceived without sin. Nowhere can you find the words ‘Immaculate Conception’ in the Bible.”  

     Okay, first point: We need to remember that not every Christian belief or practice has to be found directly in Scripture.  For example, the word “Trinity” is not in Scripture.  Yet all Christians believe in the Trinity.  The words “altar call” are not in Scripture.  The words, “Wednesday night church meeting,” are not in Scripture.  Yet, many non-Catholic Christians have altar calls and go to church every Wednesday night - even though neither of those things is found in the Bible.  

     Just because something is not directly mentioned in the Bible, doesn’t mean it’s not a valid Christian belief or practice.  Besides, the belief that every Christian belief has to be found in the Bible, is not in the Bible.

     So, regarding the Immaculate Conception, here’s the thing - if God created Eve without sin, couldn’t He have done the same for Mary?  And, who is greater, the woman who was the instrument through which salvation came into the world, or the woman who was the instrument through which sin came into the world?  So, the first question you always need to ask someone who objects to the Immaculate Conception is this: “Could God have created Mary without sin if He wanted to?”  

     Is Mary not greater than Eve?  Does not the angel Gabriel proclaim Mary to be “full of grace” (Luke 1:28)?  Is not Mary referred to by Elizabeth as “Blessed among women?”  And was not Elizabeth “filled with the Holy Spirit” when she spoke these words (Lk 1:41-42)?  And did Mary not say, in Lk 1:48 that “all generations will call me blessed?”  Do all generations call Eve blessed?  Is Mary not greater than Eve?  Isn’t Mary, by the mere fact that she bore God in her womb, the greatest of all women?  Then, isn’t it at least possible, if not probable, that God would have saved Mary from sin from the very moment of her creation?  

     And there is indeed scriptural support for this belief.  In Genesis 3:14-15 it says, “The Lord said to the serpent…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  This is a clear reference here in Genesis to Jesus Christ conquering Satan, crushing Satan’s head.  This verse is known as the protoevangelium - the first gospel.  

     And Jesus is the seed of what woman?  This is the only place in Scripture that I know of where it mentions the woman’s seed, and not the man’s seed.  We normally associate the seed with the man, not the woman.  And, of course we know why it says the seed of the woman here in Genesis, because Mary conceived Jesus of the Holy Spirit – not of man.  

     So, the woman spoken of in Gen 3:15 is, in a very fundamental sense, Mary.  Now, what do we have going on here?  God Himself tells Satan that He, God, will put enmity between the woman, Mary, and Satan.  Enmity, in my dictionary, is defined as “hostility between enemies”.  If you sin, can you say that there is enmity between you and Satan?  By sinning, aren’t you actually taking Satan’s side?  So, if God Himself put enmity between Mary and Satan, how can you say that she ever sinned?  That would put her on Satan’s side, at least some of the time.

     Also, we have more evidence of the sinlessness of Mary from Revelation, chapter 12.  In Revelation 12 we have the woman who brought forth the male child Who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron.  This child is Jesus Christ (see Revelation 19:15-16).  Who is the mother of Jesus Christ?  Mary.  So, just as in Genesis 3:15 we see Mary being referred to at a fundamental level, so also the same can be said for Revelation 12:1-6.  

     And what does it say about this “woman” in Revelation 12?  It says the dragon - Satan - pursued her (verse 13), but that the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness (verse 14).  In other words, Satan pursued Mary, but he never caught her because of some special grace that God provided for her (see also verses 15 and 16).  Hmmm.  What could that be referring to?  If Mary had ever sinned, then Satan would have indeed caught her.  

     Okay, all of this is not “proof” from the Bible that Mary was immaculately conceived or that she was without sin her entire life, but it is indeed evidence that points in that direction.  So, let's now address another one of the objections to the sinlessness of Mary.  That objection is this: “For there is no distinction since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Rom 3:22-23).  This passage is taken as an absolute.  I have been told many times that, “The Bible says all have sinned and all means all, period!  And that includes Mary!”  

     Whenever I hear someone make that objection, the first question I will ask is this: “So, what you’re telling me is that ‘all’ means every single person who has ever lived, without exception, correct?”  “Yes, except for Jesus.”  “Oh, so there is an exception.”  “Yes, but only for Jesus - everyone knows Jesus didn’t sin so that is simply assumed in what Paul wrote.”  “Okay, I’ll grant you that.”

     “But,” I will ask, “what about babies, have they committed any sins?”  “Well, no.”  “Oh, so there are more exceptions than just Jesus, right?”  “Everyone knows a baby can’t commit a sin.”  “Well, what about young children under the age of reason - say, 4 or 5 years old and younger - have they committed any sins?”  “Well, no, not until they’re old enough to understand what a sin is.  But, once they are old enough, everyone commits sin.”  “Okay, so there are even more exceptions to ‘all’ beyond just Jesus and newborn babies, right?”  

     The point I am making with them is that the word “all” in Rom 3:23 is not an absolute.  I am trying to plant that seed in their minds that there are, even according to those who at first glance treat this verse as an absolute, exceptions to the rule.  After making that point, I ask the following question: “Are you seeking God in your life?”  I have yet to have a single person in these situations tell me that they are not seeking God.  After all, Jesus says, “Seek, and ye shall find.”  Seeking God is the business of every Christian.  

     So, after they tell me they are indeed seeking God in their life, I turn to verse 11 of Romans, chapter 3, and point out to them that the Bible says “No one seeks for God.”  And I tell them that, “No one means no one, period!  And that includes you!”  At which point I inform them that either they are not searching for God in their life, or the Word of God is wrong.  “Which is it?” I ask.  This is the point where folks start to say things such as, “Well, what that really means is...”  Or, “Well, you’ve got to understand the context of what Paul is saying...”  Or a number of other things along those lines to try and explain away the words of verse 11.

     What has happened here is that I used the absolutist method of interpretation that they used for verse 23 - “All means absolutely all!” - and applied it to verse 11 - “No one means absolutely no one!”  So, if absolutely all have sinned in verse 23, then absolutely no one is seeking for God in verse 11.  But, they are seeking God, they tell me.  I am seeking God.  You are seeking God.  Lots of people are seeking God, so it is obvious that there is some sort of problem with the way they are interpreting this entire passage.  

     Folks who use this absolutist interpretative methodology have a pretty much universal inability to reconcile verse 23 with verse 11.  Which gives you the opportunity to say something along the lines of, “Look, I brought this up simply to show you that you cannot interpret verse 23 in an absolute manner.  If you do that, you get yourself in trouble when it comes to other parts of this passage.  All of which is to say that you cannot use verse 23 to ‘prove’ that Mary committed sin just like everyone else.”

     Now, I can almost guarantee that no one is going to say, “Oh, that makes’ve convinced me.”  But, the point of this is not to change someone’s mind on the spot, but to plant a seed or two...make them think...and give the Holy Spirit a chance to bring about a change of heart and mind on the matter.  

     When taken in context, Romans 3:22-23 is not - in any way, shape, or form - a proof for Mary having committed any personal sins.  It is not addressing itself in regard to individuals, rather it is speaking of Jews and Greeks (essentially, all non-Jews), in a general manner (verse 9), and speaking to the fact that even though the Jews have the works of the law (verse 20) and Israel is a privileged nation (verses 1-2), they, just like the Greeks, still have need of being redeemed and saved through faith in Jesus Christ (verse 22).  The works of the law will not save them.

     Another objection that I’ve heard about the sinlessness of Mary is that Mary herself tells us that she is a sinner when she says, in Luke 1:47, “And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...”  If she never sinned, then she didn’t need a savior, right?  Well, let me ask you this, if you’re walking down a path, and you step into a big hole in the path that had been hidden by branches and leaves...if someone pulls you out after you’ve fallen in, then they’ve “saved” you from that hole, haven’t they?  

     But, if right before you step into the hole someone comes along and says, don’t step there you’ll fall into a hole and get hurt...well, that person saved you from that hole before you ever fell in, didn’t they?  Just so with Mary.  Jesus saved her from sin before she was ever tainted with sin.  So Mary did indeed need a savior, but she was saved before she was ever tainted with sin. 

     To conclude, the Bible nowhere teaches, or even implies, that Mary committed sin during her lifetime.  However, there is indeed biblical evidence that supports what the Church teaches on Mary’s Immaculate Conception and lifelong sinlessness.  


Next week: More on Mary...


Closing Comments

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