Condemning Nectorianism & defending the title Mother of God.


#1

There are Non-Catholic Christians out there who do not understand what Catholics and Orthodox as well as others who acknowledge that Mary is the Mother of God, the Son.

Yet dispite this, there are self proclaim Christians who deny it. Little do they know that the Church that to deny such title to the Blessed Virgin Mary would be guilty of a Heresy called Nestorianism.

What is Nectorianism? Let’s take a closer look.

Nestorianism is the error that Jesus is two distinct persons. The heresy is named after Nestorius, who was born in Syria and died in 451 AD, who advocated this doctrine. Nestorius was a monk who became the Patriarch of Constantinople and he repudiated the Marian title “Mother of God.” He held that Mary was the mother of Christ only in respect to His humanity.

The council of Ephesus was convened in 431 to address the issue and pronounced that Jesus was one person in two distinct and inseparable natures: divine and human.

Nestorius was deposed as Patriarch and sent to Antioch, then Arabia, and then Egypt. Nestorianism survived until around 1300.

The problem with Nestorianism is that it threatens the atonement. If Jesus is two persons, then which one died on the cross? If it was the “human person” then the atonement is not of divine quality and thereby insufficient to cleanse us of our sins.

So to those who deny the title Mother of God, it would be better for you to acknowledge the title because it support’s Jesus Christ’s divinity. The title itself pertains to Our Lord Jesus Christ more than it does Mary.


#2

One thing to keep in mind is that many Protestants reject the title “Mother of God” because they erroneously believe it teaches that Mary gave Jesus His divine nature or that Mary is somehow equal to God, but they do not deny Christ’s divinity.


#3

And there are some who acknowledge it.


#4

I made a typo error. The correct spelling is Nestorianism not Nectorianism.


#5

I think too much unnecessary emphasis has been put on Mary’s title.
Mary was greatly honoured and blessed when God chose her to be the mother of His Son.
But Jesus pointed out, in correction to those who overly dwell on Mary’s honor and blessing, that the greater blessing goes to those " that hear the word of God, and keep it." (Luke 11:28)

On the other hand, we can never put enough emphasis on the title, glory, and honor of the Gift of Salvation (Our Lord Jesus Christ) Who was and is a far greater blessing to Mary and to any of us who accept His Gift.


#6

Jesus wasn’t responding to those who “overly dwell on Mary’s honor and blessing” when He responded to the woman who said Mary was blessed for having giving birth to Christ. The woman was wrongly attributing Mary’s blessedness due to natural human relationship through childbirth. What Jesus says in response is true of Mary: blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it. That’s why Mary was chosen to be the Mother of the Savior --because she heard the word of God and obeyed it her whole life, especially the “fiat” of the Annunciation, “May it be done unto me according to your word.” Elizabeth calls Mary “Mother of my Lord,” and the word for “Lord” there refers to God, so Elizabeth recognizes Mary as Mother of God.

The title of Mary as Mother of God *does *give honor and glory to God because it says that Jesus is both God and man, not merely a man. This title was formally given to her at the Council of Ephesus in 431 in response to the Nestorian heresy, which denied that Jesus was divine at birth, but rather only a man whom God’s Spirit came upon later, which is why he was willing to give Mary the title only of “Christotokos” (Christ-bearer) instead of “Theotokos” (God-bearer). Everything about Mary is directly related to her relationship with God and His saving power in her life – to honor Mary is ultimately to honor God, who’s workmanship she is.


#7

:angel1: Beautifully post.


#8

Hi Veritas 41,

I think I understand what you are saying about honoring Mary, but there is a question that comes to me when I see Jesus apparently deflecting this honor from His mother by saying: “Behold my mother and brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and my mother.” (Mark 3:34-35)

The woman in the audience should have been directing all of her praise and honor to the One (Who is both God and Man) instead of indirectly honoring Him by praising His mother.


#9

Remember, we can’t take a verse and interpret it in isolation from other passages of Scripture. If we look at Luke 1:47-49, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on, *all generations will call me blessed, *for the Holy One has done great things for me.” Why do we call Mary “blessed”? Because of what God has done for her --made her the Mother of the Savior. Mary spoke these words under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so Mary isn’t exalting herself over Christ, she’s simply stating a spiritual reality. So if the woman in Mark’s verse was wrong in calling Mary “blessed” because it was wrong to give honor to Mary instead of exclusively to Christ, then that would contradict what Mary is saying in this passage in Luke. However, if the woman was wrong in her reason for calling Mary blessed, then it doesn’t contradict the passage in Luke, and Jesus’ response affirms what Mary says in Luke – we are blessed in hearing and obeying the will of God, something which Mary did perfectly, which God rewarded/blessed her by choosing her to become the Mother of His Son.

“We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be *glorified in you, *and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thess. 1:12

“On the day he comes to *be glorified in his holy people *and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.” 2 Thess. 1:10

“My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26

It isn’t wrong to honor those whom God honors, because we’re recognizing God’s grace and saving power in their lives, and God is glorified *in us *when we obey Him because we become a reflection of His goodness and holiness to others.

An analogy that comes to mind is an artist and his work. When we go to a museum and see a beautiful painting, sculpture or other piece of art, we will praise and admire it for its beauty, and in doing so we’re really praising the artist because he’s the one responsible for making the piece of art beautiful. He created it – it didn’t pop out of thin air. Just like if we visit a friend’s home that is beautifully decorated and we praise how beautiful it looks, the friend isn’t insulted as if we were somehow ignoring her but rather she is pleased because she knows that when we praise the beauty of her home we’re praising her talent and ability that made the home beautiful.


#10

Except it turns out that giving Mary the honor that is her due as the masterpiece of God’s creation (a) really gives glory to the God Who made her who she is, and (b) protects essential truths about Jesus and about the Incarnation.

Put it another way: you can’t get it right about Jesus if you haven’t got it right about Mary. This is clearly demonstrated those in this very forum who, rejecting Mary as the Mother of God, end up lapsing into heresies that were refuted more than a millenium and a half ago. It’s why Satan so forcefully attacks Marian devotion.

Also: dittos to Veritas41’s post.


#11

I know and believe that Jesus Christ is a single divine person of the Trinity.
Jesus was born into this world throught the Holy Spirit as Mary’s Son.

One of the reasons that I can not accept the use of the term “Mother of God” is that it incorrectly implies that Jesus did not already exist as God before He was even conceived. As much as you may try to say otherwise, the implication is there.

“Mother of God” has further implications about the Godhead possibly having a mother, which is nonsense.

The terms: “Mother of Jesus” or “Mother of our Lord” are more accurate and less prone to a wrong interpretation.


#12

No it is not non-sense. In the writings of the ECF (who were taught by the Apostles), defend the title Mother of God. How many times must we tell you, that the title Mother of God has been a common belief amongst Christians.

“After this, we receive the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the first-fruits; Who bore a Body, in truth, not in semblance, derived from Mary the mother of God in the fullness of time sojourning among the race, for the remission of sins: who was crucified and died, yet for all this suffered no diminution of His Godhead.” Alexander of Alexandria, Epistle to Alexander, 12 (A.D. 324).

“Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven of His Son: the Holy Ghost bears witness, descending bodily in likeness of a dove: the Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing good tidings to Mary: the Virgin Mother of God bears witness: the blessed place of the manger bears witness.” Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, X:19 (c. A.D. 350).

“And the Angel on his appearance, himself confesses that he has been sent by his Lord; as Gabriel confessed in the case of Zacharias, and also in the case of Mary, bearer of God.” Athanasius, Orations III, 14(A.D. 362).

“Just as, in the age of Mary the mother of God, he who had reigned from Adam to her time found, when he came to her and dashed his forces against the fruit of her virginity as against a rock, that he was shattered to pieces upon her, so in every soul which passes through this life in the flesh under the protection of virginity, the strength of death is in a manner broken and annulled, for he does not find the places upon which he may fix his sting.” Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, 14 (A.D. 370).

“He reshaped man to perfection in Himself, from Mary the Mother of God through the Holy Spirit.” Epiphanius, The man well-anchored, 75 (A.D. 374)

The terms: “Mother of Jesus” or “Mother of our Lord” are more accurate and less prone to a wrong interpretation.

The term Mother of Jesus is fine and also the title Mother of Our Lord, or as Elizabeth called, “Mother of My Lord.”

Catholics and Orthodox profess and acknowledge the title Mother of God, because it explains, that Mary in the Mother of God, the Son.

This does not make her Mother of God two other Persons of the Trinity (Father and Holy Spirit). Jesus is both God and Man, and therefore the title Mother of God is very Biblical and common.

The title Mother of God does not put the focus of Jesus away from him. The title itself supports the divinity of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity.


#13

It implies nothing of the sort – it simply says that Jesus isn’t only a man, but also God. God is uncreated, so He can’t possibly have a mother, but as a Man He does need a mother. Did you know that the Protestant Reformers accepted this title for Mary because they understood it for what it truly means?


#14

Mary and Jesus’ brethren were not showing proper respect towards Jesus while He was “still talking to the multitudes”.(Mark 3:31)
They tried to interrupt Jesus while He was about His “Father’s business”. (Luke 2:49)
The rebuke was not only against the woman in the audience, but also against “his mother and brethren”.
Jesus said, in effect, that the physical relationship that He had with His immediate relatives was not anywhere near as important as the believers’ relationship to Him, when they did the “will of God”. (Mark 3:34-35)

I have no problem with any title for Mary that is definite about her being the mother of our Lord Jesus, Who is both fully God and fully man in one person.
The problem I have with the “Mother of God” is that Mary is not the mother of the “God part” of Jesus.
God is a Spirit and no creature can be correctly titled as having been the mother of any part of the spiritual origin of another human being.
This is especially the case with Jesus, Who never had a spiritual origin.

“Mother of God” is not a biblical term.


#15

::raises hand::


#16

Was not “let it be done according thy word” or “do whatever He tells you” Mary a believer as well?

What did St. Elizabeth, mother of St. John the Baptist call her? St. Elizabeth, filled with the HS, called Mary, “mother of my Lord.” Whom is the Lord? (See Psalm 100:3 if it’s not self-evident.) Whom is His mother?

I have highlighted in bold what I believe to be a contradiction. Yes, Mary did give Jesus’ divinity but it does not follow she cannot be a mother of a “part” of Jesus. Mary did not give birth a nature, but a Person. Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, became man i.e. fully God and fully man. If Mary had given birth a nature, then that would’ve been a monster and certainly not a Savior! A human nature didn’t die for me, but a Person did!

Maybe this real life example will help. A man is a union of body and soul. Your mother and father gave you your body while God did what they could not: created an immortal soul. Would it be correct to call your mother the mother of your nature or the mother of brkn1?


#17

#18

How can you embrace this hoary heresy that was laid to rest more than a millenium and a half ago? Nestorius articulated precisely this formulation that you have set forth; and the early Church Fathers blew it out of the water. I understand that you reject the teaching authority of the Church, but why do the opinions of men who lived far closer to Jesus’ time than we, and whose wisdom, knowledge and understanding far exceed yours and mine, and who thought deeply about these matters, carry no weight?


#19

Several of you are correct in pointing out the contradictory error in my statement about Mary not being the mother of the “God-part” of Jesus. Please disregard that poorly thought out and incorrect statement.

I reject Nestorianism and I agree with the Catholic Church about Mary having carried in her womb " a divine person — Jesus Christ".

The use of the term “Mother of God” as a primary description of Mary does seem (to me) to ignore the “Human-part” of Jesus. I understand why the term is used though to prevent heresy.
The “Mother of Our Lord” or “Mother of Jesus” or even “Mother of the Son of God” would be more complete descriptions of Mary as I see it.

I think I’ve said enough (too much actually) on this subject.
God Bless.


#20

These titles are true, as far as they go. But the Council of Ephesus came to a different conclusion about which title was the most complete and true description of Mary. As a matter of fact, Nestorius favored the formulation “Mother of Christ.” This is true as far as it goes, but it only tells part of the story – and that was Nestorius’ whole purpose.


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