My book study at a Christian Book Club is mostly Baptist; I am the only Roman Catholic -- they do not believe in the Immaculate Conception and questioned the fact that Mary was born without sin --- they said the Bible said that there was only one person who walked on the earth without sin and that was Jesus.....what can I say to them.....how can I explain the Immaculate Conception in words that they can understand. Thank you.
"Bible only" people at least hesitate about the Immaculate Conception since the bible contains no explicit mention of the phrase. However, Catholics, as you know, also find divine revelation in Sacred Tradition.
Nevertheless, bible interpreters from the second century AD onward have found a reference to the Mother of God in Gen 3:15, the woman's seed who will overcome the evil one. We know that ultimate and definite conqueror is the Savior. However, the human most closely united with Him is His mother. Interpreters have referred to Mary as the "new Eve." The "Eva" (Latin for Eve)was reversed by the "Ave" [Latin for "hail"]spoken to Mary at the annunciation of the conception of the Savior in Lk 1:28. There, Mary is addressed as "full of grace." That fullness refers to absence of sin, which can also be understood as including original sin. Interpreters from the ninth century onward have made the connection of preservation from personal and original sin. The feast of the Immaculate Conception dates from the eighth century.
So, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception does not contradict the bible but can be inferred from it. The Catholic belief is well described in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 31ff; available online at www.usccb.org/catechism/text/index.htm
Catholics especially honor motherhood and most especially that of the mother who bore the Savior.
I hope these thoughts, Patty, are helpful. If you desire more, please feel free to write again.
Best wishes for a blessed Christmas and a new year filled with God's choices graces.