No Immaculate Conception

The Latin teaching of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (that’s Theotokos to you!! đŸ˜‰ came up in an online discussion I was just part of, and I came across this really neat explanation of why Orthodox oppose it:

…the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius’ treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a “stain” but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.

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