Question to our 'seperated brethren' (protestants), who deny Mary, Theotokos

Background: I have been involved in numerous discussions with pro’s who deny, vehemently, the dogmatic titular of “Mary, Mother of God” (“Mary, Theotokos”)–as we Cat’s pray in the Hail Mary. The first few times, I was taken completely aback. (How pray tell, to you pretend to be Christian, yet you deny such an elementary principle??? Do you also deny the virgin birth? …the resurrection?..the Trinity?). Of course, as time went by, and I talked to more and more pro’s, I realized it wasn’t a rare notion, but actually fairly widely held view, amongst pros, particulary of the more fundamentalist variety…

Now, as most here surley know, the question–whether or not Mary was ‘Theotokos’ was settled by the Council of Ephesus in or around 430 AD. The rationale, was thus: Mary may rightfully be called the Mother of God, because she gave birth to Chirst–who is the second person of the Trinity, and therefore God…ergo Mary gave birth to God…ergo Mary is the Mother of God…ergo Mary Theotokos. The declaration was further buttressed by the dogmatic proclamation(s) from Necea and Constaniople, that Chirst was both fully God, and fully Man, from the moment of his conceptioin (or True God, and True man, according to the Nicene Creed).

So…here is my question:

If you deny Mary Theotokos…aren’t you implicitly, necessarily, also denying Christ’s simulteneous divinity?

IOW: If the Virgin Mary was not the Mother of God, but only the Mother of Jesus, in his humanity exclusively–doesn’t it necessarily follow that Yeshua was therefore not “God” at least up until some point after to his birth? And that therefore, at some undisclosed point after birth, he would have assumed His divinity, or otherwise become divine (assuming you confess, along with the Coucils of Niceal and Constantiople, the Trinity)?

Bonus questions:

  1. If so, at what point might Yeshua have assumed his divinity?

  2. Why didn’t God simply appear, or ‘manifest’ as a human being? What need of being born, and being an infant, and a child?

  3. Why mention Mary at all, in the Bible?

  4. Why (and upon what basis) do you believe the Church Fathers in attendance got it so wrong, at the council of Ephesus?

NOTE: this thread was inspired by another thread (Jesus not the son of Mary? Do tell…); some of these questions were posed in there…none of them were actually addressed, imo. Hopefully we’ll have better luck here, under a broader, construct, treading more familiar terrain (i.e.–Mary Mother of God, for which a famous Council was convened, resulting in a dogmatic declaration, rather than the radically novel concept of Mary not even being the Mother of Jesus).

VIVAT JESUS!

This question might be better served in the non-Catholic Religions subforum… :o

Yeah.

Although I think the question is phrased a bit too combatively, it is a good question that needs to be considered. Mary’s title of Theotokos tells us more about Jesus than it does about Mary. I think those who reject it mostly do so because it just “feels” wrong. If you think about who Jesus is (one divine person with both a human and divine nature that are distinct but united), then we have to be able to call Mary the Mother of God. Jesus is God. Mary did not give birth to a nature but to a person. And Jesus is a Divine Person.

I don’t think most Protestants would disagree with the traditional Christological definitions of who Jesus is. There is just a hang-up about giving Mary that title because they are concerned about putting Mary on too high a pedestal. It’s not bad to be concerned about worshipping other human beings, but in this case the fear is unfounded.

I assume that by “pro’s” you mean Protestants not professionals. Many (most?) well-educated Protestants will accept that Mary is the mother of God and God-bearer, realizing that to deny this is to deny the incarnation. They will likely still say they think the title is misleading, as it could imply that Mary preexisted God and is his source. Of course this is not at all what Catholics and Orthodox mean by “Theotokos” or “Mother of God.”

The rest of Protestants generally have simply never thought out their objections, and so irrationally hold simultaneously that Jesus is God, that Mary is Jesus’ mother, but that Mary is not the mother of God. As they attempt to defend this position they will inevitably be tempted towards Nestorianism, but if pressed will likely concede that Mary is in fact the mother of God before definitively endorsing Nestorianism. Or they will shut you off and refuse to think.

Yes, “pro” =Protestant.

I don’t beleive the distinction is a matter of level of education, as much as it is a matter of ‘fundamentalism’ That is, the more a particular denomination has taken sola scriptura to it’s natural end, and the more inclined they have striven to reduce the Faith to the four cournes of the Bible…the more likely they are to reject Mary, Theotokos, and the more they feel compelled to distance themselves from all things Mary.

E.g. --Lutherans (I’m pretty sure) subscribe to Mary, Theotokos; Reformed, Calvinist Presbytarians…not so much.

VIVAT JESUS!

@ Marco:

My apologies…probably would be a better place for it.

I’m still learning my way around here–as teh meager 40 some posts may have tipped (don’t be deceived by teh 2010 sign up date—that was rather short lived, and I hardly posted at all).

VIVAT JESUS!

‘Mother’ implies that the ‘child’ is formed in the womb since neither Catholics nor Protestants believe in pre-existence.

Since the second person of the Trinity was not formed in the womb, but pre-existed, the term Mother of God does not fit the theology for those who do not call her Theotokos.

The claim that denying that Mary is the Mother of God implies that Jesus is not God is considered a straw man argument since the divinity of Christ is not denied, nor is it seen to be contradictory to the incarnation at all.

It might be said that claiming that Mary is the Mother of God implies that she pre-existed the second person of the Trinity. This is an unacceptable position since it makes her equal to or part of the Trinity and superior to the Second person.

The Second person of the Trinity pre-existed Mary, and at the moment of the miraculous conception indwelt the flesh within the womb. This is the doctrine held by those who do not name Mary as Theotokos. The Word, which was with God and which was God, became flesh in the womb of Mary.

I think this is the first time I’ve heard a Protestant argue that Mary isn’t Jesus’ mother because of Jesus’ preexistence. Jesus preexisted in spirit as the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, but he became man at the moment of conception which at that moment made him Mary’s real baby which made Mary Jesus’ real mother. Since Jesus didn’t lose his divinity by becoming man we can say in truth that Mary gave birth to Jesus the God-man or she gave birth to God.

Fundamentalist Protestants think that when we say Mary gave birth to God that we mean that Mary preexisted before God. But we don’t mean that at all. We are saying is that Mary is God’s creation, and God was able to choose his mother when he humbled himself to become a man in order to die for our sins. God can do this because he is God. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the most beautiful of all of God’s creation. She is Christ’s mother and our mother because Jesus is our brother.

Again such a nonsensical strawman argument. Never did I say that Mary wasn’t Jesus’s mother. We agree on the details of Jesus’s birth, you simply choose to use different semantics and condemn anyone who verbalizes it differently.

I have entered the dialog to answer the OP, not to banter with those who would twist what I have said in order to produce an argument.

The OP :

If you deny Mary Theotokos…aren’t you implicitly, necessarily, also denying Christ’s simulteneous divinity?

No, do not imply doctrine, ask about it. My example of implying that Mary must pre-exist the Second Person of the Trinity was used as a reverse example of what you do when you imply that those not calling her Theotokos imply that Jesus is not God. Nothing more.

And to claim that I said that Mary wasn’t Jesus’s mother is a complete fabrication (lie). You don’t teach truth by lying.

I believe we agree that Christ’s human/physical body did indeed form in Mary’s womb, no?

Since the second person of the Trinity was not formed in the womb, but pre-existed, the term Mother of God does not fit the theology for those who do not call her Theotokos.

Do we not agree that Christ’s physical human body formed in Mary’s womb? Are you possibly suggesting that Christ’s human flesh was not part of His Divine Person?

The claim that denying that Mary is the Mother of God implies that Jesus is not God is considered a straw man argument since the divinity of Christ is not denied, nor is it seen to be contradictory to the incarnation at all.

I believe it is a contradiction. Christ is God. Christ was born, in the flesh, and still remained God even in that flesh-form. So, Mary did indeed give birth to God…unless you believe that Christ was not God when He took on flesh? (Please clarify.)

It might be said that claiming that Mary is the Mother of God implies that she pre-existed the second person of the Trinity. This is an unacceptable position since it makes her equal to or part of the Trinity and superior to the Second person.

No, claiming Mary is the mother of God is a simple and natural conclusion to the fact that she gave birth to Jesus…and Jesus is God. Mary does not have to predate Christ to give birth to Him…as evidenced by the fact that Mary does not predate God, yet gave physical and natural birth to Jesus.

The Second person of the Trinity pre-existed Mary, and at the moment of the miraculous conception indwelt the flesh within the womb. This is the doctrine held by those who do not name Mary as Theotokos. The Word, which was with God and which was God, became flesh in the womb of Mary.

Yes…He became flesh in her womb…and formed therein…thus meeting your description of what motherhood is. Was Jesus’ flesh not a part of Him? Was Jesus only God prior to taking on flesh?

Listen… I got it.

Jesus is God.
He was born of Mary.
Therefore Mary is the mother of God.

Let me make it just as clear:
The Father was not born of Mary
The Father is God.
Therefore Mary is not the Mother of God.

I do not deny that Jesus is God. Any attempt by anyone to say otherwise is pure fabrication no matter what sophistry you put to it.
I choose not to call Mary Theotokos because she is not the Mother of the Father, nor of the Holy Ghost. Period. End of Story.

You think it is a contradiction? Live with it.
Jesus is the incarnation of the Unbegotten Only Son and he is the Only Begotten Son. Sound like a contradiction? Live with it.

The question was do I deny that Jesus is God by refusing to call Mary Theotokos. No I do not. Can it be said any more clearly? Or are you simply looking for an argument? Find it elsewhere. Thanks.

Luther, Calvin and other founding Protestant reformers all declared Mary was indeed the Mother of God.

Which Protestant communities are you saying do not believe this?

Live with it? :slight_smile:

I’m quite fine, because I side with the Church Fathers, and their conclusion per the Coucil of Ephesus.

You neglected to mention how and why you believe they erred, that you ‘chose not to’ recognize the dogmatic titular of Theotokos.

To my knowledge, the original reformers didn’t deny Mary, Theotokos–nor did they deny many of the early councils (nor for that matter, do most of the mainline pro. denoms).

But they set a ball in motion–a natural consequence of sola scriptura–that opened the door to a biblical basis for literally thousands of churches, and doctrines, many of which, deny Mary Theotokos. Among such, are the neo-Reformed Calvinists–which may be found within various presbytarian, or baptist, or fundamentalist ecclesiatical communities.

This ‘ball’ b/t/w, seems to roll ever further from its Cat. origins, and part of that distancing, entails (what I have perceived anyway), as an evolution from simply down playing marian emphasis, to what almost amounts to anti-marian sentiment. Although, it is almost always couched in, or preceded by, “…look, Mary was a good person, but…”, or “…Mary was Jesus’s mother, but …”, or ‘’…Mary was special, and a virgin, and all, but…", and the usuall “…y’all worship Mary…” allegation, that prompts a defensive recoil of sorts, against all things Mary.

Apparently there aren’t a whole lot of these types lurking around this particular sub-forum; but I’ve encountered plenty, in multiple protestant, reformed, and/or secular forums (as well as in the real world), over the past several years.

(…some of them even attend my family functions–oh we have us some fun, now!).

VIVAT JESUS!

I have neglected nothing. Are we forming a new Inquisition? I am amazed at how readily you all are to presume my beliefs, and accuse me of some heresy by your presumption.

I have come to where I am, not by rejecting anything, but by accepting Christ and the scriptures. I am not and never have been Catholic. I did not reject Catholicism, though I must say that the accusative attitudes demonstrated here are quickly becoming a barrier to ever accepting it. I will not be bullied into a church. If it is true, such attitudes betray it.

The judgements of the council of Ephesus have no more meaning to me than the Quorum meetings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There was no Catholic present when God changed my life, so there was nothing to accept or reject of Catholicism.

The question for me is not if Sola Scriptura is true, but whether or not there is any merit to the claims of the Catholic church in a sea of church offerings, or if it is just another man-made institution.

But since you all feel free to invent what I believe rather than politely ask, just talk among yourselves. Ciao.

I don’t think you need to give such defensive answers rcjones. Rosinate DID ask you to mention how and why you believe the Council of Ephesus erred.

Possibly your answer was to that was: “The judgments of the council of Ephesus have no more meaning to me than the Quorum meetings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” but at least Rosinate DID ask.

If you reject the Council of Ephesus out of hand, do you also reject the councils of Hippo and Carthage? If so, HOW do you define which books belong in Scripture since there is no list within Scripture. If not, WHY accept Hippo and Carthage and reject Ephesus?

If the Blessed Virgin Mary is the “Mother of my Lord” as explicitly Elizabeth said (Luke 1:43) as she was “filled with Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41), would you conclude since God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are Elizabeth’s Lord (three persons one God) that Elizabeth was wrong in referring to Mary as “the mother of my Lord”. Or if Elizabeth was correct (and she was), why cannot you apply the same principle to Mary as “Mother of God” (especially since Mary as “God-bearer” or Theotokos is historic Christianity)?

Have you stopped beating your parents?
Don’t get defensive…I did ask.

When you understand why your statement is like my statement PM with an apology and I will join a polite conversation, otherwise keep your accusations to yourself please.

I’m more of an apostate than a “separated brother”, but I can answer these questions for myself.

[quote=Rosinante ] If you deny Mary Theotokos…aren’t you implicitly, necessarily, also denying Christ’s simulteneous divinity?
[/quote]

No. I think the Angel Gabriel said it best in Luke – “That Holy Child will be called the Son of God”. I have no problem calling Mary the mother of the Son of God (as only the Son was incarnate), but the term Theotokos was meant to identify Jesus as being fully God and Fully man, not as a title of honor for Mary.

  1. If so, at what point might Yeshua have assumed his divinity?

Bad question. Jesus has always been God. He became man at a point in time, but has always been God.

  1. Why didn’t God simply appear, or ‘manifest’ as a human being? What need of being born, and being an infant, and a child?

Heb 4:15 says, “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (RSV) How could He have been “tempted as we are” without being born and growing up like us?

  1. Why mention Mary at all, in the Bible?

She is the mother of the Son of God, most blessed among women, and a model of virtue, humility, patience and faith. What I don’t understand is why the church has gone beyond what the Scriptures say, but that isn’t the topic here, so I won’t pursue it.

  1. Why (and upon what basis) do you believe the Church Fathers in attendance got it so wrong, at the council of Ephesus?

You are assuming that I believe they were wrong. Keep in mind what the purpose of the Council was – to answer (and end) the Nestorian heresy. Of the 12 anathemas approved by the Council, only the first mentions Mary (“1. If anyone does not confess that Emmanuel is God in truth, and therefore that the holy virgin is the mother of God (for she bore in a fleshly way the Word of God become flesh, let him be anathema.” from the Faith Database, currently available in the CA Shop). I believe they erred in that they didn’t use the words of Gabriel as found in Luke 1, otherwise I don’t find much that I would disagree with from the Council. I do find it curious that they do not mention Mary by name (for me, further evidence they did not intend this as a title of honor for her).

Rcjones. I assume you are alluding to me in your post #17 from when I said “I don’t think you need to give such defensive answers rcjones”.

OK agreed. I’ll “keep your (my) accusations to yourself (myself)”. And I’ll go better than a PM apology, I now give you a public apology.

Now let us get on to the issue at hand and the questions I raised concerning this issue (of Theotokos and sola Scriptura and acceptance or rejection of ancient Church Councils) as the dialogue may benefit both of us, and it may benefit other readers as well.

Thank you.

The problem is that “Mother of God” is not a confession about Mary at all. It is a confession about Christ. Remember this was not a 19th Century Vatican I invention, this was the Council of Chaceldon in the 5th Century. This confession simply means that which Mary bore in her was God and man from the moment of conception and at no point became God and at no point was anything less than human.

I think you are being very combative about this and unnecessarily so. No one here is starting a new Inquisition they are merely disagreeing with you.

God Bless

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