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Immaculate Conception

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The Orthodox Church and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception
{{cleanup}} The '''Immaculate Conception''' is a [[Roman Catholic Church|Roman Catholic]] [[dogma]] which asserts that [[Theotokos|Mary, the mother of Jesus]], was preserved by [[God]] from the transmission of [[original sin]] at the time of her own conception. Specifically the doctrine says she was not afflicted by the privation of sanctifying [[grace]] which afflicts mankind, but was instead filled with grace by God, and furthermore lived a life completely free from [[sin]]. It is commonly confused with the doctrine of the [[virgin birth]]virginal conception of Christ, though the two doctrines deal with separate subjects.  ==The Orthodox Church and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception=={{stub}} Most Orthodox reject the dogma of the Immaculate Conception as unnecessary and wrong. Because Orthodoxy does not see ancestral sin as an inheritance of guilt or a stain, there is no reason for the miraculous removal of either. Nonetheless, Orthodox tradition does hold that the Theotokos remained free of personal sin, a belief shared with some reformers such as Martin Luther.  *[http://www.oca.org/QA.asp?ID=4 St. Augustine & Original Sin] - a typical Orthodox perspective, by Fr. John Matusiak*[http://www.ukrainian-orthodoxy.org/articles/catholic/holymother.htm The Immaculate Conception: The Holiness of the Mother of God in East and West] - Dr. Alexander Roman ([[Ukrainian Orthodox Church]])*[http://web.archive.org/web/20080502065005/http://www.unicorne.org/orthodoxy/articles/alex_roman/theimmaculateconception.htm The Immaculate Conception: A Question] - response by Dr. Roman*[http://web.archive.org/web/20070728015648/http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html What do the Orthodox believe about the "Immaculate Conception"?]*[http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/index.php?p=713 On the Immaculate Conception], by Patriarch [[Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople]]* [http://www.stmaryofegypt.org/library/st_john_maximovich/on_veneration_of_the_theotokos.htm#immaculate_conception Zeal Not According to Knowledge] - The view of St. [[John Maximovitch|John of Shanghai]] on the issue.*[http://djproject.livejournal.com/96024.html On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the dogma's proclamation], a general objection by Derek Power ([[User:Fedya911]]) ===From modern Orthodox theologians===*"Like other human beings, such as St John the Baptist, whose conception and birth are festivals of the Church, the Holy Virgin was born under the law of original sin, sharing with all other human beings their common responsibility for the fall." [[Vladimir Lossky]], "Panagia," in E. L. Mascall, ed., ''The Mother of God: A Symposium by Members of the [[Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius]]''. Westminster: Dacre Press, 1959. Page 31.*"The Orthodox church does not accept the Catholic dogma of 1854 -- the dogma of the immaculate conception of the Virgin, in the sense that she was exempt at birth from original sin. This would separate her from the human race, and she would then have been unable to transmit to her Son humanity. But Orthodoxy does not admit in the all-pure Virgin any individual sin, for that would be unworthy of the dignity of the Mother of God." Sergius Bulgakov, ''The Orthodox Church''. Crestwood: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997.*"I do not see any irresoluble conflict between the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the full humanity and freedom of Mary as of the same race as [[Eve]]." - alleged to [[Vladimir Lossky]] but not verified. ===Relevant quotations from the Fathers===*"...being Himself at once God and man, His flesh and soul were and are holy - and beyond holy. God is holy, just as He was and is and shall be, and the Virgin is immaculate, without spot or stain, and so, too, was that rib which was taken from Adam. However the rest of humanity, even though they are His brothers and kin according to the flesh, yet remained even as they were, of dust, and did not immediately become holy and sons of God."::- St. [[Symeon the New Theologian]], Discourse XIII in ''On the Mystical Life'', vol. 2, trans. [[Alexander Golitzin]] (SVS Press, 1996) One of the most evident Orthodox statements against the Immaculate conception was written by St. [[Ephraim the Syrian]]: "As ligh­t­ning illu­mi­na­tes what is hid­den, so also Christ puri­fies what is hid­den in the nature of things. He puri­fied the Vir­gin also and then was born, so as to show that where Christ is, there is mani­fest purity in all its power. He puri­fied the Vir­gin, having pre­pa­red Her by the Holy Spi­rit... having been born, He left Her vir­gin. I do not say that Mary became immor­tal, but that being illu­mi­na­ted by grace, She was not dis­tur­bed by sin­ful desi­res" ([http://ortodoks.dk/ortodoks-tro-og-praksis/de-hellige/the-orthodox-veneration-of-mary-the-birthgiver-of-god Homily Against Her­e­tics, 41]).
==History and background==
The Immaculate Conception was solemnly defined as a dogma by Pope Pius IX in his constitution ''Ineffabilis Deus'', published [[December 8]], 1854 (the Latins' Feast of the Immaculate Conception). From 1483, Pope Sixtus IV had left Roman Catholics free to believe that Mary was subject to original sin or not, after having introduced the celebration; this freedom had been reiterated by the [[Wikipedia:Council of Trent|Council of Trent]].
The Roman Catholic Church believes the dogma is supported by scripture and by the writings of many of the [[Church Fathers]], either directly or indirectly. Roman Catholic theology maintains that since Jesus became [[incarnation|incarnate]] of the Virgin Mary, she needed to be completely free of sin to bear the Son of God, and that Mary is "redeemed 'by the grace of [[Jesus Christ|Christ]]' but in a more perfect manner than other human beings" (Ott, ''Fund.'', Bk 3, Pt. 3, Ch. 2, §3.1.e).
The doctrine is generally not shared by either Eastern Orthodoxy or by [[Protestantism]]. Protestantism rejects the doctrine because it is not explicitly spelled out in the [[Bible]]. Protestants and Eastern Orthodox often say that the immaculate conception of the [[Theotokos]] would contradict the doctrine of the [[salvation|redemption]] of humanity, as the Virgin Mary would have been cleansed before Christ's own incarnation, making his function superfluous. Orthodox Christians say that St. [[Augustine of Hippo|Augustine]] (d. 430), whose works were not well known in Eastern Christianity until perhaps the [[17th century|17th]] and [[18th century|18th]] centuries, has influenced the theology of sin that has generally taken root in the West. Many Orthodox consider unnecessary the doctrine that Mary would require purification prior to the Incarnation. Eastern Orthodox theologians [[theologian]]s believe that the references among the Greek and Syrian Fathers to Mary's purity and sinlessness may refer not to an ''a priori'' state but to her conduct after birth.
Roman Catholics counter with Scripture (e.g., [[Book of Romans|Romans]] 5, [[Wisdom of Solomon]] 2:24, [[I Corinthians]] 15:21, the experience of St. [[John the Forerunner|John the Baptizer]] in his mother's womb, etc.) and the writings of Church Fathers prior to St. [[Augustine of Hippo|Augustine]].
==History of the doctrine==
The contemporary statement of the teaching can be found [http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p122a3p2.htm#490 here] in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The actual text of the doctrinal declaration is: ''"We declare . . . that the most Blessed Virgin Mary in the first moment of her conception was, by the unique grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Saviour of the human race, preserved intact from all stain of original sin."''
==The Orthodox Church and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception=={{stub}}*[http://www.oca.org/pages/orth_chri/Q-and-A_OLD/St-Augustine-and-Original-Sin.html St. Augustine & Original Sin] - a typical Orthodox perspective, by Fr. John Matusiak*[http://www.unicorne.org/orthodoxy/automne2004/conception.htm The Immaculate Conception: The Holiness of the Mother of God in East and West] - Dr. Alexander Roman ([[Ukrainian Orthodox Church]])*[http://www.unicorne.org/orthodoxy/articles/alex_roman/theimmaculateconception.htm The Immaculate Conception: A Question] - response by Dr. Roman*[http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html What do the Orthodox believe about the "Immaculate Conception"?] ===From modern Orthodox theologians===*"I do not see any irresoluble conflict between the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the full humanity and freedom of Mary as of the same race as Eve." - [[Vladimir Lossky]] (citation?) ===Relevant quotations from the Fathers===*"...being Himself at once God and man, His flesh and soul were and are holy - and beyond holy. God is holy, just as He was and is and shall be, and the Virgin is immaculate, without spot or stain, and so, too, was that rib which was taken from Adam. However the rest of humanity, even though they are His brothers and kin according to the flesh, yet remained even as they were, of dust, and did not immediately become hold and sons of God."::- St. [[Symeon the New Theologian]], Discourse XIII in ''On the Mystical Life'', vol. 2, trans. [[Alexander Golitzin]] ([[SVS Press]], 1996) ==For Further BackgroundCatholic statements==
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the Immaculate Conception]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Original Sin]
* [http://www.kensmenfisheaters.com/catholic/mary.html Summary of Roman Catholic doctrines about Mary]* [http://wwwweb.netaccarchive.netorg/web/20070206171111/~mafg.home.isp-direct.com/mary03.htm The Immaculate Conception ] - A [[Lutheran]] Perspective ==Roman Catholic Polemical Articles==*[http://home.earthlink.net/~mysticalrose/barton1.html My Belief in the Immaculate Conception Doctrine] - by Daniel Joseph Barton ([[Byzantine Catholic]]--non-Orthodox)*[http://www.cin.org/imconcep.html Orthodoxy and the the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Theotokos - Unique to the modern Roman Church or ancient Eastern tradition?] - by Dave Brown (Catholic Information Network--non-Orthodox)*[http://maryimmaculate.tripod.com/marian4.html Immaculate Conception] - background, explanation, and answers to 25 objections (non-Orthodox)
==Polemical Articles==
*[http://home.nyc.rr.com/mysticalrose/barton1.html My Belief in the Immaculate Conception Doctrine] - by Daniel Joseph Barton ([[Byzantine Catholic]])
*[http://www.cin.org/imconcep.html Orthodoxy and the the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Theotokos - Unique to the modern Roman Church or ancient Eastern tradition?] - by Dave Brown (Catholic Information Network)
==See also==
* [[Original Sin]]
[[Category:Heresies]]
[[Category:Non-Orthodox]]
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