Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Is Your Grace familiar with Duns Scotus' explanation of the Immaculate Conception?

During the middle Ages, many theologians opposed the belief of the Immaculate Conception, that the Virgin Mary was born free of the original sin. The Franciscan theologian, John Duns Scotus' explanation of the Immaculate Conception attempts to resolve the objections against this unorthodox belief. All those who oppose the Immaculate Conception (including us the Orthodox) believe that the Redemption accomplished by our Lord Christ would not be universal if the condition of sin were not common to all human beings. So, if St. Mary had not contracted original sin, she could have not been redeemed. Redemption in fact consists in freeing those who are in the state of sin. St. Mary herself says, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior" (Luke 1:46).

John Duns Scotus, made a significant advance in the development of the theology of the Immaculate Conception by explaining that Christ can save and redeem in two ways: He can rescue from sin those already fallen; or He can preserve one from being touched by sin even for an instant. He held that Christ, the perfect mediator, exercised the highest act of mediation precisely in St. Mary, by preserving her from original sin. Thus, he introduced into theology the concept of Redemption by preservation, according to which St. Mary was redeemed in an even more wonderful way: not by being freed from sin, but by being preserved from sin. In other words, the remarkable grace of the Immaculate Conception was accorded to the Virgin Mary in view of the redemption that Christ was to effect for the human race. Our Lady therefore was "pre-redeemed" by the anticipatory merits that Christ would win through the Cross. Christ, the most perfect mediator, preserved St. Mary from original sin by an equally perfect act of healing and the Immaculate Conception came through God's application of the grace of Christ beforehand. This dimension of preservation, which in St. Mary is total, is present in the redemptive intervention by which Christ, in freeing man from sin, also gives him the grace and strength to conquer its influence in his life.

In our Orthodox view, this whole issue of defending or re-explaining the Immaculate Conception again diminishes the importance of the Cross. For if the Lord redeemed or pre-redeemed our Lady, or by His grace preserved her from sin, without or before actually dying on the Cross, then this whole salvation process might be considered as an act before man!
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