Why can Catholics call Mary the 'Mother of God' but not say that 'God died on the cross'

Jesus is only one person therefore the Divine person did die. We can add that there was no harm done to his divine nature. Your multiple page resources do not refute that

though it betruethatChrist did not die according to His Divinenature, we cannot say, “Christ did not die”,*

Hi. E.C.
I was not intending to imply that you are nestorian. Sorry for the confusion

Yes, there is plenty of confusion… We can say that Christ died (as I noted previously), or even that the Person of the Son died (which my earlier post did not deny, as there was a qualifier attached), but the latter requires caution, as the communicatio idiomatum is a delicate thing and easy to misunderstand as describing Divinity in itself, as considered distinct from the human nature which is united to it - and the more directly a phrase refers to Divinity “in se” the more dangerous it becomes. For example, it would not be right to say “God is essentially a body,” even though Christ is essentially is a body and Christ is God.

That’s why when even though certain statements are theologically orthodox according to the communication of idioms, where they can be twisted by heretics, it is best to reduplicate, e.g. Christ, as man, is a creature. The Second Person of the Trinity, died in his human nature.

Hi E.C.,

I apologize for characterizing your comments as wrong. I think we are saying the same thing with different words, although you seem to disagree with that.

Another way of defending your language, which I choose not to use, is that death has more than one meaning in the Bible.

John 11:24-26
“Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”

If we consider the world after Lucifer’s fall but before the creation of man, and bodies and such, and if we consider death as the antithesis of Life, then we are left with a definition of death in the spiritual sense. And of course, in that sense, Jesus never dies as He only died in the natural sense, of His Body being separated from His Soul.

Originally Posted by e_c file:///C:\Users\John7\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1%between%1\clip_image001.gif
Living things die. The body and soul of Christ, which were split at His death, are distinguished from His Person.

Yet, we worship the Body, and Soul, the Blood and the Divinity of Jesus Christ at adoration.

If I am vague and someone misunderstands me I do not think he will conclude that he himself should become a person who believes that the Divine Nature of God died, which we both agree is the wrong thing to believe. However, if you are not careful it would seem to me that someone could fall into Nestorianism or something along those lines the way Protestants do who will not call Mary the Mother of God. To which we can clarify that Mary is not the source of the divinity, and of course not the equal.

Yes, just as there are two definitions for death, there are two different definitions for life.

We both agree that God does not die in His Divine Essence, and it would be a contradiction to speak of Him dying in that sense.

However, I take the unusual, and perhaps unique position that it is an insult to God to phrase a statement

God cannot ****______ . ( Fill in the blank)

Since God is all powerful, He chooses not to do things.
Read more at.

Can God Lie ? God’s Omnipotence

God bless,

The Death of Christ is real, but at the same time unique.

Although in Christ’s death, His soul was separated from the flesh, in the SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: The Death of Christ (Tertia Pars, Q.50) , St. Thomas Aquinas says that

“Christ’s Godhead was not separated from the flesh when He died . . .the union of the Godhead with the flesh remains”

In Article 3 of the The Question , St. Thomas confirms similarly, that the Godhead and Christ’s soul also remain unseparated at Christ’s death :

" Damascene says(De Fide Orth. iii): ‘Although Christ died as man, and His holy soul was separated from His spotless body, nevertheless His Godhead remained unseparated from both–from the soul, I mean, and from the body.’

. . . As Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii): ‘In Christ’s death the soul was separated from the flesh: not one hypostasis divided into two: because both soul and body in the same respect had their existence from the beginning in the hypostasis of the Word; and in death, though severed from one another, each one continued to have the one same hypostasis of the Word. Wherefore the one hypostasis of the Word was the hypostasis of the Word, of the soul, and of the body. For neither soul nor body ever had an hypostasis of its own, besides the hypostasis of the Word: for there was always one hypostasis of the Word, and never two.’ "

In reference to the OP’s original question/thread topic, there is a fairly comprehensive piece in a National Catholic Register (2014) article entitled Did God Die on Good Friday - And What Does Controversy Over the Virgin Mary Have to do With This Question ?

While the author, Steven G. Greydanus , confirms how this subject can leave one prone to tying oneself in “exegetical knots”, he concurs , as most have on this thread-

Still, if we’re willing to follow the implications of the language, it’s pretty clear that it’s correct to say that Jesus is God. And it’s equally clear that the death of Jesus is the death of God in the flesh.

One can try to dance around it — but only at the cost of dancing around the deity of Christ itself, by resorting to the same sorts of exegetical dodges that Arian-type sects utilize to deny Jesus’ divinity.

He brings the article to conclusion with a very handy bit of Theo-Logic:


In addition to the textual evidence from the Bible, there’s the simple logic that follows from acknowledging two simple truths:

  1. Jesus is both God and man.
  2. Jesus died on the cross.

From these two premises, without adding anything, we can say:

  1. The one who died on the cross is both God and man.
  2. One who is both God and man died on the cross.

If this makes some uncomfortable, we can further clarify thus:

  1. The one who died on the cross [in his incarnate humanity] is both God and man.
  2. One who is both God and man died on the cross [in his incarnate humanity].

However, the statements remain equally correct with or without the bracketed clarifying phrases. And these statements remain true even if we highlight only one of Jesus’ natures, instead of both:

  1. The one who died on the cross [in his humanity] is man [and God].
  2. The one who died on the cross [in his humanity] is God [and man].
  3. One who is man [and God] died on the cross [in his humanity].
  4. One who is God [and man] died on the cross [in his humanity].

Drop the bracketed clarifiers, and you have these statements, equally true when properly understood:

  1. The one who died on the cross is man.
  2. The one who died on the cross is God.
  3. One who is man died on the cross.
  4. One who is God died on the cross.

Mary is the Mother of God because she was the instrument who brought the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, Who assumed human nature, into our world.

When one believes in the Most Holy Trinity, it would not be proper to say that the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity died on the Cross. That would turn the Trinity into a type of dualism.

Personally, I consider paragraph 470,* Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition* as an answer to your concern. However, one should start reading at paragraph 461 and continue reading until your eyes hurt.

Paragraph 470 insists that Christ’s human nature was assumed, not absorbed.

When I learned Catholic teachings back in the days when I had a pet dinosaur, there was this amazing true statement. “God is Three Persons in one nature. Jesus Christ is One Person with two natures.”

This syllogism is wrong because it totally ignores the above truths.

P1 Jesus died on the cross
P2 Jesus was God
C God died on the cross

I had trouble quoting from the link above.

In modern discussion, there can be a serious misunderstanding of how the union of two natures is accomplished in One Divine Person.

Paragraph 470, universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, strongly declares that Jesus’ human nature “was assumed, not absorbed.” This can be complicated; thus, my suggestion is to go to the “In Brief” section, CCC 479-483, and then back to paragraphs 464, “True God and True Man”, and following. In addition, there is information about the Incarnation, CCC 461and following.

Or you could start with CCC 456 and keep reading. :smiley:

When we keep in mind the key words “assumed, not absorbed” it becomes easier to understand why God, Himself, did not die on the cross.

Last thought question for today.

Did Jesus Christ absorb human nature so that as a human person, He could die in the Living Trinity? On the other hand, when one says that God died on the cross, would that mean all Three Persons in One Divine Nature died?

No. Only one person died.


Remember the formula.
Jesus is one Person, with two natures.

Therefore, He is a Divine Person (who upon the incarnation was also fully human since He assumed a human nature.)

So, He was never a human person.


In the God-head there are three Person. The Father and the Holy Spirit did not die.
Jesus, who is God, did die.

So, Your conclusion is wrong.
See above ….

  1. One who is God died on the cross.

i hope this helps.


It is True that Mother Mary was the mother of
the human Jesus, but not mother of His God-
hood. So, too, Jesus’ death was the death to
the Man, Jesus, not the Father and the Holy
Spirit. It is said “in His Spirit, Jesus went to
visit the spirits in prison who perished in the
Flood” 1 Pet. 3:19, so His soul didn’t die.
But OUR souls will be destroyed in hell.
Matt. 10:28

If God didn’t die on the cross, there is no salvation for man.

Is that because the Most Holy Trinity (God) decided to go on vacation…

Or does anyone know why Adam could not repair the relationship he broke?

Does anyone remember Adam?

It is true that God designed a special friendship relationship with a first human person, Adam. God not only designed the special relationship, He directly established it. Genesis 1: 27.

Adam, being human, could not design or establish a special relationship with his Divine Creator. Adam could destroy, by disobedience, the amazing relationship between Divinity and humanity. The difference between Divinity and humanity is why only God could repair His special relationship with humanity.

The Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity Who is God freely chose to repair Adam’s damage. Adam is human so the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity stepped into Adam’s sandals. Sandals do not have the power to kill the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity Who is God.

Hmm…the points’s probably obvious to anyone else. Only God can save man; man, as a creature, is lost once separated from his Creator, wholly incapable of navigating his way back home.

Christ’s human nature died on the Cross. God can’t die.

Jesus has two natures, but he is only one person, and that person is God. Persons die, not natures. God died on the cross through the human nature He had assumed.

By the logic of your post, Mary could not be called theotokos or Mother of God. She may be called this title because she is the mother of a person, not the mother of a nature.

She is called the mother of God in reference to the fact that Christ as a “human being” also has a Divine nature which is not to be confused with his human nature. Yes he is both a human being and God. Yes Mary gave birth to Christ, but obviously she gave birth to his human nature and not his divine nature. God as a divine being has no mother. These two are distinct natures and as such there is a kind of dualism involved obviously since the two natures cannot be identical.

His human nature died, not his divine nature.

When we die and our souls are no-longer composite with our body, what is left is an incomplete substance - the soul without the body. When Jesus died, what was left behind was the word of God which in itself is a complete and actual essence encompassing the entirety of God’s nature.

Thank you.

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