Mary, Mother of God (All Christians invited to this discussion, Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants)


#1

The discussion of Mary being the Mother of God has cropped up again in varies thread in this forum. So I have decided to make this thread to further explain what the Mother of God means, and what it doesn’t mean.

To My Fellow Catholics and Orthodox Christians

I welcome you to enter into this discussion, and if some of you are new in this forum, you may learn something new if you do not know about this doctrine.

To My separated brothers and sisters in Christ; the Protestants,

I do not expect you to change your mind, but however, I like would you to look at the historic background why the two Major Christian groups (Catholic Christianity and Eastern Christian Orthodoxy).

I know that some of the Protestants do accept the belief that Mary is the Mother of God.

I. Background: Mary, the Mother of God. Scriptural Support.

Introduction: Let me beginning by quoting the first Chapter of John.

Gospel of John,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God, all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and darkness has not overcome it.
Let me skept a few verses to verse 14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, full of grace, and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten Son from the Father.

We see that in the verses I provided the Word is God and on the verse 14, this word became flesh. We know him to be Jesus Christ, God incarnate. How did the Word became flesh? The Nicene Creed states, “He was conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit, and Born of the Virgin Mary.”

This echoes word of Angel Gabriel to Mary,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the Power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called Holy, the Son of God.” Luke 1:35-36.

We see that Word became flesh once Mary accepted the will of the Father by becoming the Mother of His Only begotten Son.

Since Jesus is both True God and True, Man. Mary is indeed the Mother of God. In the Eastern Christian, Theotokos is properly used. Theotokos means God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God.

This is even more clear in the Words of Elizabeth.

Luke 1:42-44

“and she exclaimed with a loud cry, blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me, that the Mother of My Lord should come to me?”

Elizabeth address Mary as the Mother of My Lord. In Hebrew, the word G-d is never use. They revere the Word of God so much and instead of using God. Lord is used properly.

Simeon also addressed Jesus as Lord. He said,

“Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all people.”

This is more clearly stated Thomas own words.

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and My God.”

Jesus himself said. "The Father and I are One. He also said, “Before Abraham was, I AM!”

Time and time again, Jesus acknowledge that he is God. He could not have manifested as flesh without the consent of Mary’s own free will.

((continue))


#2

II. Heresy; Bishop Nestorius denies that Mary is the Mother of God and so begins the Nestorianism Heresy.

According to Wikipedia, here is how Nestorianism developed.

Nestorianism is the doctrine that Jesus exists as two persons, the man Jesus and the divine Son of God, or Logos, rather than as a unified person. This doctrine is identified with Nestorius (c. 386–c. 451), Patriarch of Constantinople. This view of Christ was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and the conflict over this view led to the Nestorian schism, separating the Assyrian Church of the East from the Byzantine Church.

The Assyrian Church of the East refused to drop support for Nestorius and denounce him as a heretic, and it has continued to be called “Nestorian” in the West, to distinguish it from other ancient Eastern churches. However, the Church of the East does not regard its doctrine as truly Nestorian, but rather teaches the view of Babai the Great, that Christ has two qnome (essences) which are unmingled and eternally united in one parsopa (personality). According to some interpretations, the origin of this belief is mostly historical and linguistic: for example, the Greeks had two words for ‘person’, which translated poorly into Syriac, and the meanings of these terms were not even quite settled during Nestorius’s lifetime.

Nestorianism originated in the Church in the 5th century out of an attempt to rationally explain and understand the incarnation of the divine Logos, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity as the man Jesus Christ. Nestorianism taught that the human and divine essences of Christ are separate and that there are two persons, the man Jesus Christ and the divine Logos, which dwelt in the man. In consequence, Nestorians rejected such terminology as “God suffered” or “God was crucified”, because the humanity of Jesus Christ which suffered is separate from his divinity. Likewise, they rejected the term Theotokos (Giver of birth to God/Mother of God) as a title of the Virgin Mary, suggesting instead the title Christotokos (Giver of birth to Christ/Mother of Christ), because in their view Mary gave birth to only the human person of Jesus and not the divine.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestorianism

IIIThe Doctrine of Theotokos/ Mother of God. Council of Ephesus 431 AD.

I will again use Wikipedia Inc,

At the urging of its president, Cyril of Alexandria, the Council denounced Nestorius’ teaching as erroneous and decreed that Jesus was one person, not two separate people: complete God and complete man, with a rational soul and body. The Virgin Mary was to be called Theotokos because she bore and gave birth to God as a man. This did not resolve the debate over the union of the two natures of Christ, and related issues were debated at the Council of Chalcedon.

The Council of Ephesus also declared the text of the Nicene Creed of 381 to be complete and forbade any additional change (addition or deletion) to it. In addition, it condemned Pelagianism.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Ephesus

So as we can see, the Ancient Christian Church condemned the heresy of Nestorianism, and affirm that Mary is the Theotokos or Mother of God.

The center of the having Mary granted this title “Mother of God” is to acknowledge that Her Son, Jesus Christ, is indeed God.

IV. What the Mother of God does not imply:

The Mother of God does not imply that Mary came before God. Nor does it claim that she is of a divine nature. She is a creature, a created being. Nor does the title Mother God say that she is the Mother of the Father, or the Holy Spirit. She is the Only Mother of the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ.

That is what the doctrine of Mary the Mother of God means or Theotokos.

In closing, I shall use Mary’s own words. “My soul magnify the greatness of the Lord.”

Please respond in a charitable posts.


#3

I believe I have said this before but I will repeat it in this thread. I can accept Theotokos as God-bearer but have difficulty with the term Mother of God. This is partly because of the meanings that come with the word mother. You found it necessary to say what Mother of God does not mean. That is part of the problem. It is not desirable that it be necessary to tell people what something does mean. Yet you must do it because the word mother carries those connotations. Another question that would arise is “Who is the father of God?” since being a mother implies there is a father.

I do believe that Cyril of Alexandria went to the other extreme, essentially saying that Jesus had only one nature which is the basis of the Monophytist churches that develop after the Council of Chalcedon. These is the Coptic Church in Eygpt. and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.


#4

If you accept the theology of Theotokos (God-bearer), then you understand that Mary was the mother of God, for another definition of mother is “child-bearer”.
It is understood that Jesus was begotten, not made, so has no earthly father. But He was concieved by the Holy Spirit with Mary and became man.
Because of Elizabeth’s words in the Gospel of Luke, we know that Mary was the Mother of Jesus, the second person of the trinity.


#5

Perhaps you missed parts of the writings I have provided you above, my friend. If you read it carefully.

You say who is the Father of God? Well, if you are asking who is the Father of God, the Son? I would answer clearly. God, the Father is the Father.

I have said. Mary is the Mother of God, the Son, Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Trinity. I also stated that the title Mother of God, does not imply, Mother of Father or the Holy Spirit. The woman who gave birth to Jesus is Mary. Jesus is God and he is also man. To deny such would be close to heresy like Nestorianism.

I do believe that Cyril of Alexandria went to the other extreme, essentially saying that Jesus had only one nature which is the basis of the Monophytist churches that develop after the Council of Chalcedon. These is the Coptic Church in Eygpt. and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

I look into these claims, which you write concerning Cyril of Alexandria. I don’t think he went the other extreme. The person who professed Monophysites is Eutyches.

Wikipedia states the fact:

Eutyches’ energy and imprudence with which he asserted his opinions led to his being misunderstood, accused of heresy in 448 AD, leading to a temporary excommunication. In 449 AD, however, at the Second Council of Ephesus, not only was Eutyches reinstated to his office, but Eusebius, Domnus and Flavian, his chief opponents, were deposed, and the Alexandrine doctrine of the “one nature” (monophysitism) received the sanction of the church. In the end, such infighting was settled at the cost of schism when Monophysitism was again rejected at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. Monophysitism is also rejected by the Oriental Orthodox Churches, but was widely accepted in Syria, the Levant, and Egypt leading to many tensions in the early days of the Byzantine empire.

Cite the source if you doubt me. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monophysitism


#6

It must be a big problem then that Elizabeth exclaimed to Mary, “Why should this be, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” That is already Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaiming Mary as such. The Church only echoes what Elizabeth said, and gives the title due to Mary because of Christ.


#7

Mother of God indicates GOD was born!


#8

Indeed, God the Son was born; would that be a problem then?


#9

The error of Nestorius was chiefly that he confused person and nature, although he denied that this was what he was doing: he saw Christ as the Second Person joined with a human person rather than as one divine Person who took on a human nature.

Nestorius, thus, had to deny the communication of idioms, by which an act facilitated by one nature of Christ is rightly said to belong to the one divine subject, that is, to the Person.

The communication of idioms allows us to say, for example:

  1. God died on the cross. (This is true, not because the divine nature is mortal but because God the Son, in his human nature, did die on the cross.)

  2. God loves men with a human heart.

  3. Mary is the mother of God.

To deny that Mary is the mother of God is primarily a christological heresy.


#10

Repeat that without quantifying which part of the Godhead your speaking of!
There is your issue.


#11

Galatians 4:4-5

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption.

If God the Son has not been “begotten of the Father before all ages according to his divinity and begotten in time of Mary according to his humanity,” then he is not Emmanuel at all since he could neither be “God” nor “with us.”


#12

God has no parts.


#13

But God isn’t a Part, Simon.

Three Divine Persons in ONE God.
The Hypostatic Union IS a mystery. . .but to me, that is yet another reason to believe in its TRUTH.

God, being ‘all in all’ is certainly far more ‘complex’ than I am. If there were an explanation that COMPLETELY EXPLAINED GOD. . .well you know what? That would pretty much mean God is not God. . . because He (infinite) would be understood by us (finite).

It’s like asking a point to understand a line. A point might (assuming we endow it with the capacity to ‘think’) be able to consider another point (because the other point would be on the same ‘dimension’ and would bear the same characteristics. But it wouldn’t really be able to envision a LINE, still less a PLANE, or TIME, or beyond.

So whenever I think, “How could (Father, Son and Spirit), who are all One, eternal, be ‘equally’ Father AND Son who HAPPENS to be fully God/fully man, named Jesus, AND born of a woman named Mary, AND also the Spirit, BE ONE?” I think, "It doesn’t matter ‘how’, it matters that it IS’.


#14

4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

Your point? Again I repeat Mother of God indicates God was Born and not eternal.


#15

Then why when I say “God wasn’t born” you say "God the Son was"
your partializing


#16

So what exactly was Mary Mother of? A ‘part’ of God? A human who happened to ‘be’ God so really the “God” part triumphs and so he wasn’t really ‘born’ at all? The ‘human part’ of a part of God?


#17

To attach that label to her pushes her into a deistic identity.


Spouse of the Holy Spirit!
#18

Martin,

I have given an introduction which explains how the Mother of God came into being. It was affirm in the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD in order to defend the divinity and nature of Jesus Christ against the heresy of Nestorianism, which states that Jesus exists as two persons, the man Jesus and the divine Son of God, or Logos, rather than as a unified person.

The Mother of God affirms the divinity of Jesus Christ. I have said, the title Mother of God, indicts, Mary, the Mother of God, the Son!
The Second Person of the Trinity.

Why do you repeat erroneous misconception of the title Mother of God?


#19

I have no problem with Lord refering to the incarnation of God. I guess I feel the way a number of the Church Fathers did.

He was in an extraordinary manner begotten of the Father without a mother, born of a mother without a father;** without a mother He was God, without a father He was man**; without a mother before all time, without a father in the end of times…9. Why, then, said the Son to the mother, “Woman, what have I to do with you? mine hour is not yet come?” Our Lord Jesus Christ was both God and man. According as He was God, He had not a mother; according as He was man, He had. She was the mother, then, of His flesh, of His humanity, of the weakness which for our sakes He took upon Him.-Augustine (Tractates on John, Number 8, Paragraphs 8-9)

newadvent.org/fathers/1701008.htm

He it is **Who is without mother according to His Godhead,**for He was begotten of God the Father, of one substance with the Father; without a father according to His Incarnation, for He was born of a Virgin; having neither beginning nor end, for He is the beginning and end of all things, the first and the last.-Ambrose (On The Mysteries, 8:46)

newadvent.org/fathers/3405.htm

(emphasis added)


#20

I repeat, Simon. . .just who is Mary Mother of?
If you say, Jesus, then. . .just who is Jesus? What is He?


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