Eastern Orthodox/Immaculate Conception
QUESTION: Why does the Orthodox church reject the doctrine from the Roman Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception when the Mary herself claims this title in her Lourdes apparition?
ANSWER: First of all, the Orthodox Church does not recognize the authenticity of the Lourdes apparition, so that does not work as any sort of "proof" for the Orthodox.
We reject the idea because it is bad theology. As St. Gregory Nazianzen wrote: “What has not been assumed has not been healed”. And also St Irenćus of Lyons said: “For that which He [i.e. Christ] has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved. If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of his nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole”
The problem that the Immaculate Conception poses is that, if it were true, Christ our Lord did NOT assume our fallen nature from His Holy mother, who would be different from us. If she did not also have our fallen nature then our fallen nature is not saved!
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not a High Priest who is unable to feel for us in our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in every respect just as we are tempted, and yet did not sin.
Another factor here is that the "IC" comes from a serious misconception about the nature of man and sin. Orthodoxy does NOT buy into the Catholic concept of "original sin". We do not inherit a stain (macula) as the Catholics claim, so there is no "stain" for the Theotokos to be "born without" since NONE of us have this "stain" to begin with. We are born with a propensity towards sin, like a baby born to a drug addict is born with an addiction, but the child is not guilty of the mother's crime. Which brings me to another difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Orthodoxy sees sin, NOT as a crime to be punished, but as a sickness to be healed.
Therefore, for all these reasons, Orthodoxy does NOT accept the "immaculate conception".
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for that thorough answer. If the Orthodox church does not recognize the authenticity of Lourdes, then that means it does not believe that the Theotokos appeared to the young girl named Bernadette. If that is the case, then in their opinion who was it that appeared to Bernadette?
Since this "apparition" happened outside the context of the Orthodox Church, the position of the Church is that it is not Orthodox. Did the angel Gabriel appear to Mohammad? Or Moroni to Brigham Young? We don't know what appeared to Bernadette, if anything, so the Church cannot say it was the Theotokos, especially if heresy was proclaimed. Heresy is heresy, even from"visions". "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:8)
As Holy Scripture admonishes us; "test all things, keep what is good". (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
The vision of Lourdes, whatever it was, does not pass the Orthodox test.