Friday, May 14, 2010

Unjustified Immaculate Conception Outrage: Mary Was Saved Too

Here is another very common concern expressed by evangelicals regarding the Immaculate Conception:

If Mary had no sin, then she didn't need a Savior. Yet Mary clearly claims God as her Savior in her Magnificat recorded in Luke 1. So it seems the Immaculate Conception contradicts Scripture.

One of the great things about the Catholic Church is that her teachings can be found in depth in written form open to the public. (Unfortunately, this cannot be said of almost all evangelical churches.) Let us examine the actual teaching of the Catholic Church to see if it falls prey to this charge.

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was declared dogma in an Apostolic Constitution issued by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854 entitled Ineffabilis Deus. He defines the dogma as follows:
"the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin"

Let's unpack this a bit:
The Church teaches that Mary was conceived without Original sin by God's grace ("by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God").

And the Church teaches that this grace was based on the work of Jesus ("in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race").

The stain of Original sin is passed on to every human through their parents. So in her very conception, Mary was set to receive the stain of Original sin. But God, in view of the cross, intervened and prevented her from receiving it. From this, Pope Pius IX concludes in another part of the same writing, "hence, she was redeemed in a manner more sublime."

The charge that, in maintaining the Immaculate Conception, the Church teaches that Mary did not have a savior is simply false. Mary was redeemed by God's grace through Jesus. Mary rightly praises God as her Savior.

Mary was saved, too.


  1. Wow, this timeline's about as straightforward as the one for the Terminator movies. Personally, I'd be a little skeptical of any theology that requires me to contort time and space like that.

    Also, why do nearly all the Christian paintings I see show Jesus carrying the cross, when the Bible clearly states differently?

    Matthew 27:32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

  2. Jenna,

    The Bible also states: "So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull...There they crucified him" (John 19:17-18a RSV)

    The passages from Matthew, Mark, and Luke which mention Simon of Cyrene are also true. That is why Christian paintings depict Jesus carrying the cross, because Christians believe for a duration of time while Jesus carried his cross, Simon of Cyrene helped him do so.

    I hope this helps to clarify things.


  3. On Mary being conceived without sin I think its a pretty simple explaination. How could the vessel that would bring forth God in the person of Jesus be stained? Anything that is God is free of blemish, and sin. If Mary had orignal sin then so would Jesus.

  4. Jenna - the problem with time and space is that God is outside of both, and therefore can manipulate both as He so chooses. We as humans need to keep that in mind and accept that time/space is far more elastic than we ourselves can perceive.