A look at the biblical foreshadowing of The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception

December 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I wrote this article 20 years ago to give an overview of some of the biblical aspects of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Pope Pius IX, who defined this dogma, declared that Our Lady, “in 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” (Ineffabilis Deus, 1854).

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, his 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 many 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. . . . (continue reading)
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27 Responses to “A look at the biblical foreshadowing of The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception”
  1. Roland Sternfels says:

    Great article. Thanks so much for republishing!

  2. Gregory says:

    Sue,

    Just backing-up, and expanding upon, what Larry said and also to address the philosophy issue:

    I’ll let Fr Hardon’s catechesis on angels do the hard work for me (link below) and I’ll just provide a common-speak nutshell. Angels, like us, have a will. Like us, they can sin. The distinction is that once an angel has sinned that’s it. One strike and out. Their decision is binding for all eternity. On the other hand, we can sin, repent, sin, repent, sin, repent and repeat the whole sorry cycle until our death. At the moment of death, however, our state is binding for all eternity. Notwithstanding teaching on purgatory, it doesn’t matter if one truly repents only an hour before death, after a lifetime of previously unrepented sin. That person’s soul is saved. Sure, it may need some lengthy and not very pleasant purification and re-ordering in purgatory (think the dislocated shoulder analogy: you need it, you want it, you crave it, it will indeed hurt…but oh the relief). The fact remains, though, that person has made it to the right side of the line.

    http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Angelology/Angelology_027.htm

    Philosophy – don’t be afraid. Quite the opposite. Catholicism needs to reclaim is philosophical heritage. Tell your brother to brush up on St Paul (Areopagus speech), Justin Martyr, St Augustine, St Anselm, St Bonaventure and St Thomas Aquinas to name just a few. The Catholic Church rests on an ampersand: Christ AND His Church, Scripture AND Tradition, Faith AND Reason.

    The last of those couplets, Faith and Reason, as Blessed John Paul taught us, are the two wings on which we fly closer to God, to THE Truth (sic – capitals) and our knowledge of it.

    Essential reading to begin with:

    Fides et ratio (1998)
    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html

    Aeterni Patris (1879)
    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_04081879_aeterni-patris_en.html

    God bless.

    * Patrick, a stunning piece. Solid yet utterly readable. Profound yet totally “graspable”. May God continue to power your pen.

  3. BARANABAS says:

    Too jim.mcnamara:
    In the one divine Nature, there are three Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So to speak of Jesus is also to speak of the trinity.Jesus being the second person of the trinity has a divine nature.Jesus recieves his human nature from Mary.Jesus,One person two natures,one divine one human,since JESUS is GOD he cannot sin or be in a state of sin.Therefore Jesus to assume Marys nature mary must be in a state of grace,and free of original sin, not only then but from conception.GOD CANNOT BE BORN OF A PERSON OF A SINFULL NATURE. GOD BLESS YOU JIM.

  4. Brian Ingram says:

    Just a thought when I read the pastors comment “Mary couldn’t have been sinless, only God is sinless.” What about the angles who remained faithful to God, are they not also sinless?

  5. John says:

    Jim,
    As a convert to Catholicism I wrestled with your very point, until I decided to put my bias behind me and focus on the theology. Mary did need a Savior, Christ was that Savior. He is also her “Way” to Salvation, but in a different way from us. The Blessed Virgin Mary cannot stand before God on her own merit, she was only saved by the actions of her Son.

    And I’m not sure I understand your point on Mary as Co-redeemer. Mary’s role as co-redeemer does not elevate her to the same stature as her Son, it means that she was co-operative in our redemption with her Son in way that none of us were. Look at it this way, the first Eve co-operated with Satan in our downfall, it was her sin that led the way. The Second Eve, by her sinlessness, co-operated with Christ in our Salvation. Eve said no to God. The second Eve, when asked by the angel, said, Yes! “Let it done unto me according to thy word.”

    • Thank you Jim,
      I also am a convert. I did not struggle like you did with Mary’s role but your explanation and bible verse was excellent. I converted when I was 45 years old and my conversion was very bumpy. I had been told so many things about the Roman church by friends and relatives that were not true. Their words were concern for me but from ignorance. God bless people like yourself who are bible knowledgeable.
      Your friend in Christ,
      Gary

  6. Sue from Buffalo says:

    Patrick, I have a question concerning the angels and whether or not they were sinless. My brother asserts that angels were not sinless as Satan sinned the greatest and brought down other angels with him. If he was without sin, how did he fall so badly?

    This is a stumbling block for me when I’m talking with my brother. He’s not an Evangelical Christian. I’m not even sure if he’s sure what he is. He made the critical mistake of taking philosophy classes online through a major university. I’ve heard that philosophy classes can mess you up as they are mostly taught by atheists.

    Can you help me with this? Thanks.

    • Larry Coryell says:

      It’s my opinion that Lucifer (Satan) was sinless, UNTIL he decided to disobey God and brought other angels with him, just as Adam and Eve were sinless UNTIL they ate from the tree of life. The fact that a person is sinless, doesn’t negate that they could to choose to sin in the future as did Lucifer (Satan), Adam and Eve.

    • JP says:

      Sue,

      “My brother asserts that angels were not sinless as Satan sinned the greatest and brought down other angels with him. If he was without sin, how did he fall so badly?”

      Well does sinless mean you cannot sin? Or does it mean you are in a state of having not sinned?

      I believe it means you are in a state of not having sinned and a state of being able to not sin.

      Think of those words as applying to angels. They are sinless because they never sinned. They remain sinless because they choose not to sin. But they still have a choice.

      Pretty challenging topic. I hope what I said makes sense.

      JP

    • Sue from Buffalo says:

      Thank you to all who responded to my post. There is quite a lot for me to learn and a lot to grasp. Thanks for the links. Wow.

      Please pray for me and my brother.

      Sue

  7. GADEL says:

    Thanks Mr. Madrid! Sharing this on Facebook.

  8. dear patrick, i just sent a response on face book to your topic Mary, Ark of the New Covenant but i forgot to include your website before it was submitted. hope you receive it and GOD bless you.

  9. timothy novak says:

    Dear Patrick, recently while pondering the many attacks on Mother Mary’s perpetual virginity, it hit me that as She is often considered the Ark of the New Covenant, GOD would never allow a man to “touch” Her. I Chronicles 13 verses 9 & 10 “…the Lord became angry with Uzzah and struck him; he died there in GOD’s presence, because he had laid his hand on the Ark.

  10. ProtestantToCatholic says:

    I’m having the same issue as dragonknight, and the link you posted also doesn’t seem to work… you mentioned this at the RMCMC and I think this would certainly be worth the read, I just can’t get to it!

  11. jim.mcnamara says:

    Having downloaded and read your defense of the Immaculate Conception of Mary I cannot support your arguments as sufficient evidence. You do present some interesting arguments that I had not previously seen including the comparisons between the Ark of the Covenant and Mary. Yet I remain unconvinced of her sinlessness.

    The reason Chirst is 'the way' and 'apart from me their are is no other' (my paraphrase) is that Christ being the only sinless human is the ONLY ONE who can stand before a righteaous God to claim the inheritance of everlasting life that was lost by Adam. If Mary was also sinless she too could stand before God and make the same claim thus nullifying Christ's singularity.

    This is the essence of the issue. One not lost on 4 million Catholics who claiming Mary's sinfullness also seek to have her declared co-redeemer by the Pope.

    Was she sanctified by God – yes! Is she to be honored as the Mother of Christ – absolutely! Without sin? – NO.

  12. Patrick Madrid says:

    Hi, Dragonkight. I just checked it, and everything seems to be working correctly. Here is the direct link to the PDF: http://patrickmadrid.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Madrid_ark_newcov.pdf. Depending on your connection speed, you might have to wait a few moments for it to load.

  13. dragonknight6912 says:

    hello patrick i would like to read the hole thing but nothing happens when i click on continue or when i press on the link. What can i do?

  14. dragonknight6912 says:

    Hey there Patrick i to can not see a thing on. i tried the link and nothing happened.

  15. Steven says:

    Patrick, I am the "Steve" that called in today. Thank you for this! I can't wait to start this discussion and will keep you abreast of any developments. Please pray for us!

  16. Richard A says:

    I’m guessing that when Mary said, “All generations will call me ‘blessed'”, she wasn’t prophesying the Protestant Reformation.

    • Larry Coryell says:

      Mary was prophesying that all generations of people in her Son’s Church (The Catholic Church) would call her blessed, i.e. the Blessed Virgin Mary.
      God Bless You My Friend!

  17. DomJP says:

    This is brilliant, thank you Patrick! My parish is The Parish of The Immaculate Conception in Rotherham, UK.

  18. Matt K says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Patrick.

  19. Patrick Madrid says:

    I checked the links, and everything seems to be working fine. Try clicking on the image of Our Lady in this post. That should work. If not, you can always directly access this article here:

    http://patrickmadrid.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Madrid_ark_newcov.pdf

  20. angelfangomer says:

    Patrick-I’m having trouble reading the rest of the article. I tried clicking on “continue reading”, but nothing came up. Any suggestions?

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