Category Archives: What is the “Immaculate Conception?”

What is the “Immaculate Conception?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

There is ever so much confusion about the meaning of the term “Immaculate Conception.” According to Sacred (Roman Catholic) Tradition, the “Immaculate Conception” applies to Mary being conceived sinless in Saint Anne’s womb. According to Sacred (Roman Catholic) Scripture, the “Immaculate Conception” applies to Jesus being conceived sinless in Mary’s womb. The question is, which is correct—was Mary conceived sinless (and thus qualifying her to be the Savior), or was Jesus conceived sinless (and thus qualifying Him to be the Savior). Let us see what the Sacred Scriptures really say. Let me be very clear that I hate no one, but I am ever so passionate about teaching the Bible, and if the Bible’s teachings offend anyone, I can do nothing to change its verses.

Lest the author be accused of misrepresenting Roman Catholic theology, The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the 1899 Douay-Rheims Roman Catholic Bible will be referenced in this study. For the benefit of our Protestant readers, we will quote the King James (Protestant) Bible. We will summarize with some final comments to prayerfully consider, but our readers will be left to come to their own conclusion.


Paragraph 490: “To become the mother of the Savior, Mary ‘was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.’ The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as ‘full of grace.’ In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.” (This comment of “full of grace” will be more fully addressed later.)

Paragraph 491: “Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary [it was not originally taught as official doctrine in the early church, but a concept that evolved over the centuries—S.B.], ‘full of grace’ through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: ‘The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.’” (Bold emphasis mine.) (Notice how Mary’s Immaculate Conception—that she was conceived sinless in her mother’s womb in order to bear a sinless Christ—was not declared as official Roman Catholic doctrine until 1854, nearly eighteen centuries after she lived! What was the church’s prevalent view of Mary prior to 1854, we can only wonder?)

Paragraph 492: “The ‘splendor of an entirely unique holiness’ by which Mary is ‘enriched from the first instant of her conception’ comes wholly from Christ: she is ‘redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.’ The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person ‘in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’ and chose her ‘in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.’ (Note these verses, Ephesians 1:3 and Ephesians 1:4, are applicable to all Christians, and are not exclusive to Mary as the Catechism suggests. Father God did not bless Mary more than He did any other Christian; to say so is to pervert the verses and make the Bible say something it never said.)

Paragraph 493: “The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God ‘the All–Holy’ (Panagia) and celebrate her as ‘free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature.’ By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.” (Bold emphasis mine.) (Imagine, the Roman Church actually believes that Mary never sinned even once! Why God did not choose her to die on the cross for our sins instead of Jesus, we can only wonder? Yes, it makes Jesus’ sacrifice meaningless to even sugest someone else was sinless and could die for our sins instead of Him.)

Paragraph 494: “At the announcement that she would give birth to ‘the Son of the Most High’ without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that ‘with God nothing will be impossible’: ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.’ Thus, giving her consent to God’s word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God’s grace: “As St. Irenaeus says, ‘Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.’ Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert… : ‘The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.’ Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary ‘the Mother of the living’ and frequently claim: ‘Death through Eve, life through Mary.’” (Bold emphasis mine.) (The Catechism does not emphasize Jesus Christ as the cause of our salvation, but rather Mary as the cause of salvation. Blasphemy!)


Dear friends, in the famous “Canticle of Mary,” or “Magnificat,” the virgin Mary begins to rejoice in what God is accomplishing in and through her: she quotes almost a dozen Old Testament verses in Luke 1:46-55, magnifying not herself but glorifying the God of the Bible. After hearing that she will be the biological mother of the human body in which the eternal Son of God would dwell, and Elisabeth her cousin reminding her of it, Mary cannot help but joy in God’s Word. The very first words that Mary uttered in this passage are as follows: “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour (Luke 1:47, the Roman Catholic 1899 Douay-Rheims Bible and the Protestant King James Bible read the same in this verse).

Sacred Scripture is very clear that, contrary to what church tradition may tell us, Mary was certainly a sinner. Mary admitted that God was her “Saviour” (Luke 1:47), and only a sinner needs a Saviour. If Mary were sinless, she lied when she said she needed a Saviour. Furthermore, if Mary were sinless, then Jesus could have stayed in heaven, spared Himself pain at Calvary, and God have had Mary die on the cross for our sins instead.

Saint John says if we say we have no sin, we call God a liar, the truth is not in us, and God’s Word is not in us (1 John 1:8,10)—to say that Mary is without sin is to not only lie about Mary, but to lie about God, and we thus claim that Mary lied when she needed a Saviour (thus condemning both Mary and ourselves as sinners). To say that Mary, who had a sinful biological father, lived her whole life without sinning is undoubtedly one of the most ridiculous ideas ever said. Dear friends, no wonder people are so critical of Christians—look at what some of them claim to believe!

Saint Luke was correct in quoting Mary as being in need of a “Saviour,” for Saint Luke understood that even Mary knew in her heart she needed Jesus to die for her sins. We either believe Sacred Scripture, or we believe church tradition—we cannot be inherent of both because they are mutually exclusive.

Let us see what else Sacred Scripture says about the “Immaculate Conception:”

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14, 1899 Douay-Rheims). “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (King James). Never once in Sacred Scripture is the virgin’s mother mentioned, never once is the virgin’s conception in her mother’s womb mentioned; the issue is the conception of the Messiah in the virgin’s womb. No one reading the Bible would ever conclude that Mary’s conception in her mother’s womb was anything abnormal or supernatural—unless of course, they had a denominational agenda to advance and God’s Word to ignore.

Matthew 1:20: “But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost” (1899 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible). Matthew 1:20 in the King James Bible: “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”

Luke 1:35 in the 1899 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible: “ And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35 is the King James Bible: “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Saint Matthew testifies with Saint Luke that the Holy Ghost worked in Mary to bring about a sinless human body for Jesus’ Spirit to reside. Sinlessness in Mary was unnecessary, or Mary should have died on the cross for our sins, and Jesus should have stayed in heaven and spared Himself 30 years of misery and rejection, and six hours of humiliation and asphyxiation. According to Saints Matthew and Luke, the reason why Jesus could be sinless was, not because Mary was sinless, but because the sinless Holy Ghost worked in Mary’s womb to conceive a body that was untainted by Mary’s sinful blood. Because Jesus had God as His Father, He had no need for a human biological father; the sin nature is passed from Adam to each succeeding father, and because Jesus had no sinful biological father, He was thus spared a sin nature. Again, it is all about what God can do, not what sinners can do. Mary is constantly emphasized in religion, but, in the Bible, it is about what the God of the Bible can do for sinners and in and through sinners (Mary’s own words in Luke 1:46-55).

The Holy Ghost can even work in sinners; Mary did not have to be sinless to bear God’s Son. It is often believed that Mary had to be sinless for her to be used of God. Was King David (an adulterer and a murderer) used of God? Was Aaron (an idolater) used of God? Was Saint Paul (a murderer and blasphemer) used of God? Was Saint Peter (Christ-denier) used of God? Was Moses (murderer) used of God? Was Solomon (idolater) used of God? On and on and on we could go. God can use sinners, and Mary did not have to be sinless to be used of God. If sinlessness were necessary to be used of God, every church in the world would be destitute of God’s working. Even the Roman Catholic Church would lack even a single clergy or layman if God needed sinless people if they were be used of Him.

Even the shallowest Bible reader is aware of Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God” (1899 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible) and “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (King James Bible). This would include Mary the mother of Jesus—when discussing soul salvation throughout the book of Romans, Saint Paul never once mentioned Mary as sinless. Someone would argue that this is not a blanket verse, since Jesus Christ was sinless (and it is assumed, because Jesus Christ is an exception to Romans 3:23, Mary could be another exception to the verse). This argument is utterly ridiculous, since Jesus Christ is God (as the Catholic would defend using the statement, “Mary is God’s mother, for Jesus is God”). Since Jesus Christ is God, Jesus Christ would be the exception to Romans 3:23, for God cannot fall short of His own glory! The only way Romans 3:23 could be non-applicable to Mary is if Mary were God, and no Roman Catholic I know of would ever say Mary was God. Romans 3:23 applies to Mary as well, and we cannot change what Sacred Scripture says.

Someone may argue, “Mary prophesied that ‘henceforth all generations will call me blessed.’ Therefore, it is not right to ignore Mary.” We agree we should not ignore Mary, but again, we should not emphasize something that God does not or overly honor someone God does not. Sacred Scripture does not place as much emphasis on Mary the mother of Jesus as religion does. In fact, after Acts 1:14, no one mentions Mary the mother of Jesus. Can we honestly say she is to be venerated, when none of the saints such as Paul, James, Peter, and John ever did it in their New Testament writings? Again, we remind you of her Canticle—Mary never exalted herself, but all she did was praise God and quote Old Testament Scriptures in Luke 1:46-55. She did not brag about her sinlessness, her goodness, she mentioned her lowliness and meekness as a servant girl, handmaiden (Luke 1:48)—the Mary of the Bible is hardly the goody-goody, sinless Mary of religious tradition. We should give just as much honor to Mary as the New Testament does—she was a human vessel of God, and God who used her is the issue not the vessel He uses (Saint Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:5). Of all the Jewish women living at the time, Father God chose Mary to be the human mother of His Son. That was an honor, but again, Mary rejoiced in God, not in herself (Luke 1:46-55). Mary was not the issue, what God did in and through her was the issue. Mary did not become a Saviour, she merely became the vessel that God used to bring about the Saviour. It is ever so critical, dear friends, that we get it straight.

Beloved, let us see how Jesus Christ Himself viewed Mary, how the wise men viewed Mary, how the shepherds viewed Mary, and how an angel viewed Mary. This will give us a correct view of how much emphasis we should place on Mary.


Jesus actually never called Mary “Blessed Mother,” “Ever Virgin,” “Queen of Heaven,” “My Lady of Mercy,” or any of those other titles we hear in religion today. In the Bible, He addressed her as “Woman” (John 2:4; John 19:26), for Mary represented the nation Israel, the “woman” of the Bible (see Jeremiah 6:2; cf. Revelation 12:1,4,6,13-17). Jesus did not praise Mary, never indicated that she was sinless, and never indicated at all that she was any different from any other human God used in history. The Lord Jesus Himself knew of the prevalent pre-Christian virgin goddesses of paganism, the virgin deities of antiquity, and He was ever so careful to make sure people did not misunderstand Mary His mother. If they did, He quickly corrected their thinking.

In Luke 11:27, we read a very interesting account: “And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck” (1899 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible). “And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked” (Luke 11:27 King James Version).

Religion encourages us to direct “special devotion” to Mary, Jesus’ mother, but slyly reassures us that Marian devotion is not equivalent to worshipping God. Is this true? What does our Lord Jesus Christ think of any Marian devotion? In the context of Luke 11:27 (verses 1-26), Jesus is teaching. One woman is so amazed at the Lord Jesus’ doctrine that she begins to praise Mary, Jesus’ mother, not Jesus! Notice that this lady exalted Mary, giving her the “special devotion” that religion gives Mary today: “blessed is the womb and blessed are the breasts of Mary!” Such a statement originates from pagan goddess worship (and accompanying fornication) of ancient Egyptian and Babylonian religions.

Notice how Jesus responds: “But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (verse 28, King James and Douay-Rheims). Recognize that Jesus immediately rebuked her: He corrected her, He did not agree with her, He did not say “Amen” to the woman’s comments. Our Lord Jesus knew that Mary was being exalted to a goddess’ position, and He clearly refused it with “Yea rather….” In other words, Jesus said, “Rather than singling out Mary for special attention, recognize that all who trust in God are blessed.” Notice Jesus never designated Mary to any special position whatsoever (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21). Sacred Scripture is never wrong (paragraph 136 of the Roman Catechism); therefore the Scriptures are right in not exalting Mary in these passages.

Our dear religious family members and friends need to realize that Mary is no superhuman or goddess. Although God used her body to generate the human body of Jesus Christ, the Bible never presents Mary as an object of worship. No believer in the Bible ever prayed to Mary, no believer in the Bible ever asked Mary to pray for them either. According to the Bible, God clearly hates all Marian devotion, because it usually leads to focusing on Mary instead of on Jesus Christ. People are quick to defend Mary in religion, but very rarely will they defend Jesus Christ (I know from personal experience).

Dear friends, my precious readers, Marian devotion is blasphemous because it robs Jesus Christ of devotion. It was what God did through Mary that matters. Mary did nothing for our salvation; she was submissive to God’s working, but she did no work to bring about our salvation. She is not our mediatrix, savior, or mother, so why does she deserve devotion? According to God’s Word, she does not deserve veneration.


We read in the 1899 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible in Matthew 2:11: “And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” It reads this way in the Protestant (King James) Bible: “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Did the wise men bring Mary gifts? Did they praise Mary? Did they fall down before Mary? No! They praised Jesus, they presented Jesus with gifts, and they worshipped Jesus.


When the angel appeared to the shepherds in the field watching their flocks, the angel never bothered to mention anything about Mary—her goodness, her motherhood of God, her sinlessness, and so on (Luke 2:8-14). In fact, the shepherds come to Jesus just shortly after His birth, and when they leave the manger, they glorify and praise God (verse 20). Never once did they praise Mary or pay her homage.


Paragraph 495 of the Roman Catholic Catechism: “Called in the Gospels ‘the mother of Jesus,’ Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord.’ In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos).”

If Mary was God’s Mother, that would mean she existed before God, and who would then be God’s Father if God had a Mother? Dear friends, it makes no sense, but then again, religion never does. I remember one atheist having such trouble with “Christianity” because certain Christians told him that Mary was “the Mother of God.” Frankly, it is no wonder people want nothing to do with Christianity—they are being told that something nonsensical is “Christian” when it is certainly not Christian. To say that God would have a mother is absurd; God the Son existed long before Mary did, but He existed as a Spirit. Jesus did not lose His deity but He gained humanity when He was conceived in Mary’s womb. Jesus did not need Mary to gain or retain deity, He needed her body to gain humanity. Jesus could still live as God without Mary, thus God not needing a mother. There, that makes more sense than the concept religion offers us.

Furthermore, Saint John never called Mary “the Mother of God” but in the Catholic Bible she is called “the mother of Jesus” (John 2:1,3). Saint Luke also called her “the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14). If people who deny Mary as “God’s Mother” are “rejecters of the divinity of Christ,” Saint John must also be declared as a heretic, for he believed Mary was nothing more than “the mother of Jesus” and not the “Mother of God.” The Catechism says the Bible is without error (paragraph 136), so Saint John and Saint Luke were totally correct in calling her “the Mother of Jesus” and not “the Mother of God.” Furthermore, Elisabeth never called her “mother of God,” but “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43).


Someone may argue that Mary should be honored as sinless in light of Luke 1:28: “And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Roman Catholic 1899 Douay-Rheims Bible) and “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Protestant King James Bible). It is said that such language is only reserved for someone who is sinless, someone who is already in heaven. It is argued that “any sinner would have some grace lacking, and thus could not be called ‘full of grace.’”

To exalt Mary and give her undue veneration on the basis of Luke 1:28, we would find ourselves ignorant of the Roman Catholic Bible as well as the New Testament Greek word translated “full of grace” (Catholic) and “highly favoured” (Protestant) in Luke 1:28. Keep in mind that the Greek word is kecharitomene.

Look at what Saint Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:6: “Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced us in his beloved son” (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition Catholic Bible). In the New American Catholic Bible, it reads, “for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.” The King James Bible says, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Do you know what Greek word is translated “his grace that he granted us” (NAB), “he hath graced us” (DR), and “made us accepted” (KJB)? It is the word echaritosen, and you know what it means? “Full of grace,” “make accepted,” to “be highly favored.” It shares the same root as the word in Luke 1:28.

Saint Paul believed there were people in Ephesus, Christians not in heaven and not sinless, but Christians on earth, who were just as favored of God as Mary was! What dear Roman Catholic soul praises the Ephesians as much as it does Mary? According to Sacred Scripture, they are on the same plane—Mary and the Ephesians are equal before God. That is what the Catholic Bible says in Ephesians 1:6, that is what the Protestant Bible says in Ephesians 1:6, and Sacred Scripture is never wrong (paragraph 136 of the Roman Catechism). All Christians are “full of grace!” Friend, if you must argue, you will have to argue with the Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible, but you cannot change what they say.

Someone once wrote to me, “[Mary] is the greatest of all creatures, but she is still a creature. She deserves honor, but never worship.” Again, calling Mary “the greatest of all creatures” is to praise her way too much, and it would be erroneous to ignore the Ephesians if we praise Mary as “full of grace” (remember Ephesians 1:6?). Religionists exalt Mary and not Jesus; they defend Mary and not Jesus. Their statements and their writings reflect the fact that they seem more interested in exalting Mary and defending Mary and praising Mary instead of worshipping Jesus Christ (the inherent danger of Romanism). Jesus Christ alone is preeminent in all things Saint Paul said (Colossians 1:18), and His Word is without error. On the Day of Judgment, He will hold you accountable to His words (John 12:48). Friend, I would believe the Words of God long before I would believe the words of men.


Why is there so much confusion about the meaning of the “Immaculate Conception?” It is quite simple. Satan never wants God’s Word to be clear (1 Corinthians 14:33). Some Roman Catholics believe “Sacred Tradition” while others believe Sacred Scripture; usually, Protestants just believe the Sacred Scriptures. Hence, there are varying beliefs about what the “Immaculate Conception” means.

Tradition changes over time, as the Immaculate Conception concerning Mary was not adopted as official Roman Catholic teaching until 1854. Jewish tradition was prevalent in Jesus’ day; that was why He was so anti-tradition in Mark chapter 7 and Matthew chapter 15. Considering all the corruption in the Jewish religious traditions, God would not use tradition to preserve the New Testament any more than He used tradition to preserve the Old Testament. That is why tradition is not reliable, and not a valid method of preserving history or doctrine. A written record from God is always more authoritative than church tradition passed down through history.

In order to be the Savior of man from his sins, the Savior must be sinless, not guilty of the same sins; one cannot be a Savior and also be in need of the same salvation. The doctrine of substitutionary atonement is one dying for someone else’s sins because one is not in spiritual debt himself or herself. If Mary were sinless, as the 1854 dogma was officially accepted as true (1800 years after Mary was even conceived—I wonder what the official Catholic position was prior to pope Pius IX?), spared from all original sin, then she did not need salvation from sins, for she was as Adam was before the fall, and Adam did not need a Savior before the fall. If Mary were like Adam before the fall, then she could be the Savior, and Jesus had no reason to die. Why pay the bill when someone else is able? Why did sinless Jesus have to die when sinless Mary could have died instead? What prevented Mary from being the Savior, since she was sinless (or so people claim)?

And, I might add, no one has yet to answer this—if Mary needed to be conceived sinless to bear sinless Christ, Saint Anne (her mother) would have to be conceived sinless in her mother’s womb to bear a sinless Mary, but then Saint Anne’s mother would need to be sinless to bear sinless Saint Anne in her womb, and on and on, an unending cycle. Why does Immaculate Conception stop with Mary in Saint Anne’s womb when sinless conception, according to Catholic reasoning, would have to go back all the way to Eve, so as not to have one sinful conception to spoil the whole lineage?

To make Jesus’ sinlessness dependent on Mary’s sinlessness is to divert attention from Jesus’ sinlessness (who alone was sinless). Mary and Jesus, in religion, are on the same plane, the same level, since they were both spared sin nature (“original sin”). This is blasphemous, beloved, for one of the attributes of God is His sinlessness. To say that Mary is sinless is to make her equal with God, and that, dear friends, is idolatry.

What it comes down to is to (1) believe Babylonian pagan mythology about a sinless virgin goddess named Semiramis (whose attributes Rome applied to Mary of the Bible, her being born sinless), or (2) believe the Sacred Scriptures that Mary was a sinner who needed a Saviour, and the Catechism affirms the Bible is without error (paragraph 136 of the Roman Catechism). The way I see it is, if we are Christian, we are not going to believe non-Christian theology, but we are going to believe the error-free Sacred Scriptures. May we rejoice in God’s truth, His written Word!

Also see:
» Was Jesus born on the 25th of December? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Were there really three wise men? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» What was the Star of Bethlehem? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)