I recently had an on-line battle with a Protestant (he never told me what flavor he was). He tried to tell me that Marian dogma is not apostolic, and tried to take away all the mention of where we get our Marian dogma.
Today, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, I recall this debate and want to assert the origins. While it was formally declared dogma in 1854 by Pius IX, it was always held, from apostolic times. The early church knew that nothing tainted by sin could be in God’s presence. Since Mary contained God in her womb, Mary must be sinless from her own conception. We know that Mary was the type of the ark of the covenant, which God commissioned men to build to contain the word of God, the staff of Aaron’s priesthood, and manna from heaven. The gospels tell us that Jesus is the Word made flesh, that he is the high priest, and that he is the bread of life. He was contained in Mary’s womb. Therefore, Mary is, was, and always will be, sinless.
The gospel of Luke also speaks to this. When the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary, he greeted her Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. The gramatical construction used here is a perfect passive participle, which tells us that she always was, and always would be, full of God’s saving grace. If you’re full, you can contain no more. Some translations say “Hail, highly favored daughter..” but this is a modern translation of an ancient Greek word kecharitomene. The Greek entails much more than “highly favored daughter”. The grace given to Mary was permanent and unique.
Another point of the ‘biblical-ness’ of the Immaculate conception-Eve’s name before she sinned before God was…woman. It was only after she sinned that she was named Eve. Jesus calls his mother ‘woman’ several times in the scriptures, which denotes her sinless nature. He does this at the wedding feast at Cana, also at Calvary, and a couple of other places.
Then we have the writings of the Early Church, such as the Protoevangelium of St. James. While not declared scriptural, it has always been held in high esteem, and it’s main focus is the life of our Mother.
At any rate, many people do not understand that the Church does not define things unless the particular question comes up. The doctrine of the Trinity is a good example. Another is the question of whether Jesus was truly God, truly man, 50/50 or 100/100. The Church defines its belief by examining the early church and discernment.