Martin Luther’s belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary

Here are some surprising words. It seems that Martin Luther, that once Augustinian priest turned Revolutionary, upheld belief in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (even before it was declared a dogmatic doctrine in 1854 by Pope Pius IX). The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception holds that Mary was preserved from original sin at her conception and from all sin during her life – that she was conceived, lived, and died without any taint of sin.

The eminent Lutheran scholar Arthur Carl Piepkorn (1907-73) has also confirmed that Luther believed in the Immaculate Conception even as a Protestant. Here is Martin Luther in his own words:

“It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin” 

- Martin Luther’s Sermon “On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God,” 1527.

“She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. 

- Martin Luther’s Little Prayer Book, 1522.

Both quotations derive from Luther’s writings after his break from Rome.

Far be it from me to approve of Luther. I only list these quotes to show how far Protestantism has come from it’s quasi-Catholic origin. If only Lutherans would return to this single doctrine of their founder; how quickly our Lady would turn them into true Catholics!

Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us!

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  • The Reverend Doctor Victoria Allen Howard, Pastor

    I, too, have broken with the Catholic Church like Martin Luther because of the cruelty and negligence on the part of the Catholics around me.   I also left because I was tired of vain repetition in prayer.  The Psalter became a bore, the rosary a bore as well, the liturgical year the same weary thing after another.  I keep rosaries, though, to protect against demons, like any other blessed object.  I continue to believe in Mary’s sinlessness, because the angel declared her full of grace.

    I founded a new church yesterday, called the Beloved or Christ Church:

    http://belovedofchirst.com

    It just started but it has hope.

  • johnnie

    But Victoria, Jesus already built a Church, why are you founding another one?

  • Peter

    I left the protestant churches to escape the rote practice of endlessly trying to find the church that has fixed what went wrong with all the other churches.  The vain and repetitious prospect of creating new and better churches that always turn out to be more flawed and imperfect as the old one.

     “Keep yourselves from those evil plants which Jesus Christ does not tend, because they are not the planting of the Father. Not that I have found any division among you, but exceeding purity. For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of repentance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the passion.” (Ignatius of Antioch – A.D. 110)   

  • Felix

    Luther wrote these statements in 1522 and 1527.  That’s comparatively early and I wonder if he changed his views later on.  Presumably he didn’t express this view in his two Catechisms. 

    To Victoria:  It can be boring to pray the psalms or to meditate on the mysteries of salvation in the Rosary.  Because our fallen human nature is apt to experience boredom.  And is apt to be pained by fellow humans, Catholic or otherwise.  But this isn’t a basis for deserting Christ’s church.  Rember Naaman – he was critical of the means of salvation, but he eventually realized that this is what God intended and offered. 

  • TimL

    Victoria,
    I find your reasons very unconvincing.
    Everytime someone criticizes Catholicism for “vain repetition of prayer” I counter, “exactly…. it’s not the fact that the prayer is repetitive…. it’s that little adjective before it.  Whether it be mindless or vain”.

    We were never told to not repeat prayers over and over.  We were told to be cautious of our attitude towards them and while doing them.

    Victoria, have you ever said “I love you” to someone?  Have you ever thought “gosh, I say this so much…. it’s effectively meaningless”?
    No, because you (should) understand that it’s the intention behind the uttering of the phrase and not that phrase itself that would cause it to spoil.

    Funny also that you’re talking about the cruelty of Catholics and THEN you go on to say how things near and dear to Catholics are “a bore” to you.
    Victoria, that’s cherry picking things that suit you.  You love God on your terms.  And I hope you can see the flaw in that approach.

  • Kaisar

    Victoria??? Another new church?? sighhhhhh
    There are about 33,000 churches, all of which at one point were “new” and had “hope.” All they do now is argue and bicker over which one is right and which is wrong.

    Repetition is not “vain.” Our Lord prayed in repetition, read Mark 14:39 “Once more he went away and prayed the same thing.”

  • kerath25

    Victoria, may I suggest reading Revelation 4:8-11.  And may the grace and peace of Christ be yours in abundance.

  • tfaile

    χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη (Greetings, O favored one) could be translated in various ways:  “Greetings, highly favored one”; “Greetings, one filled with grace.”  I understand how Luther can speak highly of one (i.e., the Blessed Virgin Mary) whom Scripture praises in this way.  I also understand Luther’s purported intention to say nothing that will lower Christ’s merits in the minds of his catholic parishioners, since for Luther, if the merits of Christ are in question, then the sure foundation of our comfort in the Gospel would be overthrown.  But does this biblical phraseology (χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη) NECESSITATE such a view that Mary is not herself inflicted with Original Sin?  It doesn’t seem to demand such a reading, although I do concede that it may have been Luther’s view.  Where the Scripture is silent, however, must the Church attempt to fill the vacuum with doctrines that are not clearly taught there?  Wouldn’t it make better sense to ask the following question:  Why did the church authorities in Luther’s day want so desperately to sideline/dismiss/condemn one of their own priests, who had such a pious devotion to the BVM, when he wasn’t trying to change EVERYTHING about the church or wholesome Christian piety, but only rectify those areas where church dogma had begun to cloud out the testimony of Scripture?

    Protestants since Luther’s day have felt warm and cold toward the various statements of Luther himself (who was a fallible man), but they virtually all agree that Luther’s concern for a return to the biblical teaching that God saves people of His own grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (i.e., by faith), and through no merit in themselves is the biblical and thus the clearly apostolic teaching.

    And yes, the idea that Luther’s translation of Rom. 3:28 has misled millions into heresy is easily answered from the three words which Marshall’s book ad video omits in its quotation of the text in Romans:  χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου (apart from works of the law).  If “faith alone” is not the idea in Paul’s text, then what does that phrase (χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου) mean?  I know that some will quickly point away from Paul to James at his juncture, but the point of Marshall’s book seems to be (although I haven’t read the book yet) that Paul disagrees with Luther, not with James.  As of yet, that point (at least in the video) is not at all established, and so the ad is entirely misleading itself.  And by the way, in the end, I do of course agree that Paul and James do NOT disagree.

  • Rev. Michael B. Boyd

    Well if the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther upheld the belief in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, then that Augustinian old bag of worms is wrong isn’t he?! God’s Holy and inerrant Word in no place warrants the Roman Catholic interpretation of the Blessed Virgin’s escape from original sin.
    Rev. Michael B. Boyd
    1 Timothy 2:5

  • Dave Armstrong

    Quite the contrary; I think a surprisingly strong biblical case can be made (esp. for Mary’s sinlessness), and I have attempted it myself:

    A Straightforward Biblical Argument For the Sinlessness of Mary

     
    Biblical Argument (From Analogy and Plausibility) For the Immaculate Conception of Mary

  • Taylor Marshall

    Gen 3:15 says that God placed enmity between the Devil and the Woman who
    would birth the Messiah. Mary is that Woman promised by God. If she sinned,
    then she would not be a enmity with Satan, but serving him.
    Moreover, the Greek of Luke 1:28 (kecharitomene) denotes that she is “full
    of grace.” One full of grace is without sin.
    Hence, Mary is without all sin, original and actual.
    Godspeed,
    Taylor Marshall