My reply to the original reader’s comments:
It’s true that you can assume [bad word choice? maybe means “plausibly conclude”] the Immaculate Conception from certain readings of the gospel…
Yes. The Bible is certainly compatible with the Immaculate Conception, with the concept of Original Sin, with the Trinity, with the notion that the inspiration of Scripture necessarily implies that it is inerrant, and with the notion that there should be 27 books in the New Testament canon and that Esther should be part of the Old Testament canon. The Bible is compatible with these notions; it does not contradict them and they fit in quite well. But these notions are nowhere explicitly and unambiguously stated.
...but the fact is, it is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible and for that reason it shouldn’t be made into dogma.
What a strange way to end the sentence! That ending does not at all follow from the way the sentence began (namely, with the observation that the Immaculate Conception, along with a lot of other core Christian doctrines, can plausibly be concluded from Scripture but can’t possibly be proven unambiguously).
It makes more sense that Mary was chosen because she herself, without any divine aid, was a very good and pure woman.
This requires believing in the Pelagian heresy: That man can, through his own efforts and apart from the prompting and assistance of the Holy Spirit, please God. If one is not a heretic, then one believes it is impossible without divine aid even to exist and to have free will, let alone to resist for a microsecond the tempestuous influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil which would shipwreck one’s faith and cause one’s steps to falter.
“Without divine aid” means nonexistent. Hitler had divine aid, merely to keep on living and moving and having being. And anyone who pleases God has more than just the aid of continued existence; they also have the grace of the Holy Spirit leading them to the good works for which they were created. Mary is certainly one such. She could not possibly be “a good and pure woman” in a fashion that was relevant to God without the assistance of the Holy Spirit in doing so; neither could her cousin Elizabeth.
But that’s all irrelevant as to whether the particular form of grace given to Mary was a preservation from the concupiscence that plagues the rest of us because of original sin. Once the reader has realized his error with respect to the phrase “without any divine aid,” he can begin to comment about the form that aid took in Mary’s special case. But until then? There’s no point talking to a Pelagian about “preservation from the stain of Original Sin”; you might as well talk to a 3rd grader who’s slow learning his multiplication tables about differential calculus!
We can’t just assume that she was born without original sin or that she hadn’t sin because there’s nothing in the text that says or alludes to that.
Not in a way that’s obvious after being translated into English and read by 21st-century post-Christian Westerners, unfamiliar with the Old Testament, with the liturgy of the Jerusalem temple and of the early Christians, and patristic-era theology in general. To such a person, it’s not obvious at all.
And even to those who know a bit about such things? To those folks, it seems likely and fitting, but not a sure thing. Either way, the reader is right, we can’t just “assume” it. But who said anything about assuming? This is an early tradition which was the most popular of only two or three views about Mary with respect to sin. Some vague notion of it comes to us from the apostolic era; but it is sufficiently vague that people in the later patristic error would sometimes speculate, “Oh, well, when we say Mary is without sin, we don’t mean it literally but only comparatively” and this led to some variation in the early sources.
Only later contemplation of Scriptural typology showed that Mary could not possibly have been blessed less than Eve…but Eve, of course, was created without the stain Original Sin. The conclusion is straightforward: So was Mary, and while Eve, created without the stain of Original Sin, fell into sin through abuse of her own Free Will, Mary is greater than Eve because she DIDN’T. Thus is the New Covenant shown once again to be a fulfillment and an improvement on the Old.
And this later contemplation wasn’t done by just anybody, but by the saints and doctors and Magisterium of Jesus’ Church…the Church to whom He promised the Holy Spirit to lead them into “all truth.” Either this conclusion is correct, or Jesus’ promise has failed…in which case Jesus is not God. Which option would the reader prefer?
Another problem I have with the Immaculate conception is that it makes Mary something of a robot.
A sad misunderstanding of many things. To reiterate: Eve, created without the stain of Original Sin, fell into sin through abuse of her own Free Will. Mary could have done likewise. But she didn’t; and God foresaw that she wouldn’t, and thus used her to grant Our Lord His humanity. How does this make her a robot? She had every bit as much freedom in the matter as Eve!
[It means that she] didn’t sin because God made her that way, not on her own merits.
She was not an automaton. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t merits which accrue to her in the matter! Her fiat (“May it be unto me…”) is meritorious. And she had God’s help to say it. And that help took a special, and nearly unique (don’t forget Adam & Eve), form.
I also think there’s a misunderstanding here about free will. The divine help of God does not TAKE OVER a person like a demonic possession. It is not invasion of the body snatchers. God’s help is that, against the headwinds of the world, the flesh, and the devil, He enables our free will to function. He props us up against those winds, enabling us both to will and to do what is His will. His indwelling is not mutually exclusive with free will; on the contrary, His indwelling helps make it possible.
Wouldn’t it exalt Mary EVEN more that she was a good and pious woman by herself alone?
Nope; it would be impossible. Saying otherwise is Pelagianism, and heretical.