Yesterday was Christmas. Christmas is, of course, the Christian religious holiday that commemorates the birth of Christ, which may have to do with why this particular religious misunderstanding just happened to pop into my mind. I think it was while watching a recent holiday episode of Family Guy. I have found that this particular little factoid comes as news to a fairly substantial number of people including believing Christians.
What is the distinction between the virgin birth and the Immaculate Conception?
Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary » The Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary Mother of Jesus by two mortal parents through sexual intercourse. Immaculate refers to the view that she was born without the stain of Original Sin. It is further believed that, because of this, she lived a life without sin. In other words: Immaculate Conception refers to the circumstances of Mary's birth, not Jesus' Jesus' birth was the Incarnation, and while His conception was certainly immaculate which means "without stain or flaw" , it's not the Immaculate Conception with capital letters. The Virgin Birth refers to the Incarnation - the conception and birth of Our Lord through the intervention of the Holy Spirit and not through normal sexual relations with a human father.
What exactly do we mean by the Virgin Birth of Christ? By the Virgin Birth we understand that Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother Mary by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit without a human father. Many Christians incorrectly believe that the Immaculate Conception has reference to Christ. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary was not only free from inherited sin by the Immaculate Conception, but neither did she commit any personal sins in her lifetime.