Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Emergent Monday - The Immaculate Conception May Not Mean What You Think It Means

In the liturgy of the Catholic church December 8th is the feast  of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation. A holy day of obligation is a day which those faithful to the RCC are required to attend Mass. That is unless December 8 falls on a Sunday, then the feast is transferred to December 9th because the Second Sunday of Advent outranks the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Keep in mind that not all countries have the same Holy Days of Obligation. Italy for example has six, while the primarily Muslim country of Indonesia has ten, and the incredibly Catholic country of the Philippines has three. I suppose this is due to to the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has an advantage (they claim) over protestantism - that they have a pope to rule them and make sure that everything is standardized. (That wasn't meant to sound sarcastic, but how can it not?)

Here in the United States the average Protestant would recognize a few of the holy days of obligation: Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, Solemnity of All Saints (All Saints' Day), Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas), then there's the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Notice that this is not the Immaculate Conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of Mary, I can't find evidence that the romish church celebrates that actual miracle. Instead they invented one; the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates the conception of Mary in her mother Anne's womb immaculate and free from all forms of sin.

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was conceived by normal biological means, but God acted upon her soul keeping her "immaculate" at the time of her conception. In other words she was born without original sin. Therefore, being free from original sin from her conception Mary received the sanctifying grace that Catholics believe comes with infant baptism. Not only that but she remained sinless though the rest of her life. The biblical references for this are: 
  1. ...
  2. ...
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No, there are no biblical references at all for this. In fact the Catholic encyclopedia itself clearly states "No direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from Scripture." and it goes on to state that this teaching comes from tradition. It goes on to say that early church fathers whose opinions differ from those of today's purveyors of this Mary-palooza were clearly in error. The "sinless Mary" dogma evolved over years, a lot of years. In fact it is believed that the theory of the immaculate conception of Mary actually came from Islam (carried back to Rome by Crusader knights?). A passage in the Koran reads "I have called her Mary; and I commend her to thy protection, and also her issue, against Satan driven away with stones" Scholar George Sale stated:
It is not improbable that the pretended immaculate conception of the virgin Mary is intimated in this passage. For according to a tradition of Mohammed, every person that comes into the world, is touched at his birth by the devil, and therefore cries out, Mary and her son only excepted; between whom, and the evil spirit God placed a veil, so that his touch did not reach them. And for this reason they say, neither of them were guilty of any sin, like the rest of the children of Adam. ( George Sale, Koran, commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammed, chapter 3, p. 39)
In volume 5 of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon wrote "The Latin Church has not disdained to borrow from the Koran the immaculate conception of his virgin mother." It's argued by the Catholic Church that Mary's immaculate conception concept couldn't have come from Islam because in Islam all children are born without sin... maybe they should rethink this argument, it argues against their point more than for it.

There were long drawn out debates with many celebrated church fathers arguing against the dogma. St. Bernard labeled it as a presumptuous novelty. Saint Thomas Aquinas refused to concede the Immaculate Conception, Saint Bonaventure also argued against it as did the celebrated John Duns Scotus. In fact it was nearly 1,900 years after the conception of Mary that the Roman Catholic Church finally settled on this dogma. After years of debate the "Vicar of Christ" announced ex cathedra (meaning that he is infallible) 
We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful. — Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854
and the feast of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary was born. I'm sure a specific young preacher in England noticed. Charles Haddon Spurgeon began preaching in April 1854 at the age of 19. As I mentioned, C.H. was not very happy with popes, and a few years after Pope Pius IX's remarks Spurgeon gave his most fiery anti-papist sermon War! War! War! I'm sure the papal finalization of the imaginary Immaculate Conception had a bit to do with it.

The concept of being born without original sin is doubly wrong because to begin with "original sin" is a construct of the Catholic church, there is no scriptural support for the concept. But to live without sin? To claim that someone is able to live without sin invalidates all of scripture. Why bother sending a savior if He wasn't needed in the first place? 

Every December 8th (or 9th) the pope emerges from his gilt encrusted palace and heads for the Column of the Immaculate Conception in the Piazza di Spagna. Atop the column is a statue sculpted by Giuseppe Obici that depicts Mary crushing a serpent under her heel. In his annual glorification of Mary the pope prays something odd for someone who supposedly is familiar with the word of God: “We thank you, O mother, because in showing yourself to us you free us of all stain of sin,” He's praising her for being his savior and this statement makes Jesus' execution and rising from the dead meaningless.

In an interview with the Christian News Network Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries said “Not only is Mary’s immaculate conception and her sinlessness not revealed in God’s inspired, infallible Word, it goes directly against the teaching of Scripture... The Bible clearly states that the sin of Adam was spread to all his descendants, including Mary.” and pointed out the following verses that show the unbiblical nature of this teaching
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12)
as it is written, There is none righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24)
Gendron also said that not only is the doctrine of immaculate conception unbiblical, but Bergoglio’s assertion that Mary “frees us from the stain of sin” is an affront to the gospel. “He profanely attributed to Mary what Christ alone had accomplished on Calvary’s cross,” Gendron said. “The pope’s prayer robbed Christ of His glorious accomplishment of purifying for Himself a people for His own possession (Titus 2:14). It was Jesus who ‘made purification of sins’ and ‘sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high’ indicating His redemptive work was finished (Hebrews 1:3).” (source)

Personally I don't think Bergoglio (Pope Francis) robbed Christ of anything. What the "Vicar of Christ" did was spit in Christ's face. 


  1. I misunderstood the Roman Catholic concept of "Immaculate Conception" myself, failing to realize that it was a reference to Mary being "immaculate" (sinless), not to being a virgin. As it turns out Mary herself disagrees with their assessment when she says, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." (Luke 1:46-47) No sinless person needs a savior.

    However, I should point out, when you said, "'Original sin' is a construct of the Catholic church, there is no scriptural support for the concept," you may find genuine, Bible-believing, reliable Christians who would disagree with you on that. The likes of John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, John Piper, even Jonathan Edwards all teach it. (See, for instance, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-the-biblical-evidence-for-original-sin) Just pointing that out. It makes no difference to the error of "Immaculate Conception".

    1. There is a difference between what we believe as original sin and what the Catholic church defines what is an original sin. Yes, we are tainted by sin, we have a sin nature. The council of Trent defines it: Original sin is described not only as the death of the soul (Sess. V, can. ii), but as a "privation of justice that each child contracts at its conception" (Sess. VI, cap. iii) in other words, an infant is condemned to hell at birth, and that infants only salvation lies in the RCC's belief of baptism for the remission of sins. Could this be what lead to their 'immaculate conception' dogma, because if Mary were born sinless then Jesus wouldn't contract original sin from her?

  2. Excellent article, lad! Way back when I heard the term "Immaculate Conception" I thought it referred to Jesus, and I discovered that most Protestants think the same thing!

    You might find my article about the Roman Catholic Mary to be of interest:

    There appears to have been a sequence of events leading to the idea for this dogma. First, she is the "Mother of God." Then, since according to Romanist ideology sexual relations are somehow "icky," Mary had to remain a virgin or her body would be tainted. So once they made Mary the "mother of God," and "pure" sexually, then she had to have been conceived without sin or she would be tainted and unable to bear the Savior. This ended up leading to the Assumption - the teaching that she was so holy and sinless that she never died but was assumed directly to heaven. This all leads to the almost dogma (but being taught unofficially) that Mary is a co-redemptrix and co-mediator with Jesus. A long chain of false teaching making Mary into a god.

  3. If Mary never sinned, then how come she could not have died on the cross for our sins?