Skip to comments.Calling Mary “Mother of God” Tells Us Who Jesus Is
Posted on 01/02/2010 4:59:08 AM PST by NYer
The mother of the messiah has been called many things in the last 2000 years — the Virgin Mary, Our Lady, the Blessed Mother. But call her “the Mother of God” and you’ll see some Christians squirm.
This is nothing new. One day in the early fifth century, a priest preached a stirring sermon in the presence of the patriarch of Constantinople. His subject was the holy mother of Jesus. The preacher continually referred to Mary as the “Theotokos” meaning “God-bearer” or mother of God. This was no innovation — Christians had invoked Mary under this title for at least two hundred years. Nevertheless, at the close of the sermon, the patriarch ascended the steps of the pulpit to correct the preacher. We should call Mary the Mother of Christ, said Patriarch Nestorius, not the Mother of God. She was the mother of his human nature, not the mother of his divinity.
His comment sparked a riot. And the dispute rocked not only the congregation, but the entire empire. Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, immediately recognized that Nestorius’ Marian theology was a symptom of a much deeper problem, a problem with the incarnation itself. For to deny Mary the title “Mother of God” makes of Jesus a dichotomy, a split personality. It would mean that God had not really embraced our humanity so as to become human. Rather, the humanity of Christ is hermetically sealed off from the divinity, as if Jesus were two persons, as if human nature was so distasteful that God, in Christ, had to keep it at arm’s distance. It is okay, according to Nestorius, to say that in Jesus, God raised Lazarus, or multiplied the loaves, or walked on water. But it is not okay to say that in Jesus God is born or that God died.
Cyril, aware that this was a challenge to the heart of our faith, demanded that an ecumenical council be called to settle the matter. So in 431, the Council of Ephesus met, under Cyril’s leadership, and solemnly proclaimed that Mary is indeed rightly to be honored as the Theotokos, the Mother of God. It proclaimed that from the moment of his conception, God truly became man. Of course Mary is a creature and could never be the origin of the eternal Trinity, God without beginning or end. But the second person of the blessed Trinity chose to truly become man. He did not just come and borrow a human body and drive it around for awhile, ascend back to heaven, and discard it like an old car. No, at the moment of his conception in the womb of Mary, an amazing thing happened. God the Son united himself with a human nature forever. Humanity and divinity were so closely bound together in Jesus, son of Mary, that they could never be separated again. Everything that would be done by the son of Mary would be the act both of God and of man. So indeed it would be right to say that a man raised Lazarus from the dead and commanded the wind and waves, that God was born that first Christmas day and that, on Good Friday, God died.
The Council of Ephesus, once confirmed by the Pope, became the third ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, and its teaching in this matter is dogma, truth revealed by God which all are bound to accept.
So why does the Roman liturgy celebrate the Octave of Christmas as the Feast of Mary the Mother of God? Because this paradoxical phrase strikes at the very heart of Christmas. The songs we sing and the cards we write extol the babe of Bethlehem as Emmanuel, God-with-us. He is so with us that after Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin of Nazareth, the Divine Word can never again be divided from our humanity. What God has joined, let no man separate.
(This article originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor and is used by permission of the author.)
Ryan O'Neal is delivering a Bible "ordered" by a recently deceased gentleman. It was "the deluxe edition with the Mother of God gold lettering."
Calling Mary Mother of God Tells Us Who Jesus Is, I guess, but it also may lend credence to the theory of evolution? ‘Cause a female gives birth to an offspring that is something other than herself?
Absolute nonsense! Confirmation by the Pope had little or nothing to do with it, at least insofar as the entire Church was concerned. The Council was convened by the Emperor, not the Pope. The Pope was invited by the Emperor, he, or rather his legates, didn't just show up. Prior to the opening of the Council, the pope had already given his opinion on the matter of Nestorius and his teachings and what should happen to him and his heretical fellow travelers. All that was "suspended" once the authority of the synod of the universal Church was evoked which clearly demonstrates that, at least in the 5th century, the pope of Rome was subject to a Great Council, not the other way around. I am surprised that a man like Dr. D'Ambrosio would attribute the dogmatic authority of the the decrees of the Councils of Ephesus to their acceptance by the pope. That's simply unnecessary papal propaganda which detracts from the central truth proclaimed by the Council which all Protestants need to understand and embrace, namely that Mary is the Most Holy Theotokos.
I don’t see how a scientific theory about the development of genes, and origin of species, is made more credible by the incarnation.
How are the dots connected again?
I understand you take issue with the authority of the Pope according to Roman Catholics, but I don't see how Dr. D’Ambrosio is creating impediments for the belief in the theology of the communication of idioms as it is applied to Mary.
Authority of councils, or the bishop of Rome or otherwise, the theology is actually extremely sound. Considering the alternatives would then lead us to assume that God did not “assume humanity,” and that our humanity cannot then be said to be sanctified by the divinity of God.
I don't like that outcome.
As an aside, given the argument that the Emperor convened the council, you wouldn't say that is an argument here nor there for Cesaro Papism either. So the argument as to “who convened the council” deciding its authority is a straw-man.
The difference is that Papal representatives were present, despite Nestorianism being a purely eastern heresy. I mean, why would there be representatives from Rome if there were no Nestorians in Italy?
Its really quite simple. As we have seen with what appears to be increasing frequency even here on FR, the expansion of ancient Christological and Trinitarian heresies among Protestant ecclesial groups is cause for great alarm. Ascribing the validity of any Trinitarian or Christological dogma to the fantasy of Papal approbation as opposed to the work of the Holy Spirit among the Council Fathers and the living out of the dogma among the Laos tou Theou, the People of God, all but assures the rejection of those dogmas by groups which often identify themselves by rejecting anything out of Rome. To say that the dogmas of the 7 Ecumenical Councils of the One Church are dogma because the bishop of Rome said so is ahistorical nonsense and positively destructive to the inculcation of the Faith among the heterodox.
" Authority of councils, or the bishop of Rome or otherwise, the theology is actually extremely sound. Considering the alternatives would then lead us to assume that God did not assume humanity, and that our humanity cannot then be said to be sanctified by the divinity of God.
I don't like that outcome."
I agree. However, I also have problems with another Latin dogma which makes the Theotokos something other than a human woman, a goddess of sorts. If the IC is not a Christological heresy, I don't know what is!
"The difference is that Papal representatives were present, despite Nestorianism being a purely eastern heresy. I mean, why would there be representatives from Rome if there were no Nestorians in Italy?"
You do understand what an Ecumenical Council is, don't you? Its a council of the whole Church. That's why Rome was there. Heresy in any part of the Church is a danger to the whole.
Thanks. It is about who Jesus is. If you believe Jesus is the 2nd Person of the Trinity, then Mary is the mother of God made flesh. No Christian should be puzzled. It is what it is.
We know who Jesus is, what we need to know is who is Obama?
Christ was fully man and fully God. Even the Scriptures tell us that.
Are you doubting the power of the Holy Spirit?
“Christ was fully man and fully God. Even the Scriptures tell us that.
Are you doubting the power of the Holy Spirit?”
Guess what I’m doubting is the Biblicity of little mother Mary’s upgrade in status. Where I come from, she warn’t much more than a nice girl who was in the right place at the right time.
A woman is a mans mother either if she carried him in her womb or if she was the woman contributing half of his genetic matter or both. Mary was the mother of Jesus in both of these senses; because she not only carried Jesus in her womb but also supplied all of the genetic matter for his human body, since it was through hernot Josephthat Jesus "was descended from David according to the flesh" (Rom. 1:3).
Since Mary is Jesus mother, it must be concluded that she is also the Mother of God: If Mary is the mother of Jesus, and if Jesus is God, then Mary is the Mother of God. There is no way out of this logical syllogism, the valid form of which has been recognized by classical logicians since before the time of Christ.
Although Mary is the Mother of God, she is not his mother in the sense that she is older than God or the source of her Sons divinity, for she is neither. Rather, we say that she is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine personJesus Christ, God "in the flesh" (2 John 7, cf. John 1:14)and in the sense that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ.
Where I come from, she warnt much more than a nice girl who was in the right place at the right time.
According to Luke 1:28 - "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you." These are the words spoken by God and delivered to us by the angel Gabriel (who is a messenger of God). Thus, when Catholics recite this verse while praying the Rosary, they are uttering the words of God.
Also, the phrase "full of grace" is translated from the Greek word kecharitomene. This is a unique title given to Mary, and suggests a perfection of grace from a past event. Mary is not just "highly favored." She has been perfected in grace by God. "Full of grace" is only used to describe one other person - Jesus Christ in John 1:14.
In Luke 1:43, Elizabeth's use of "Mother of my Lord" (in Hebrew, Elizabeth used "Adonai" which means Lord God) is the equivalent of "Holy Mary, Mother of God" which Catholics pray in the Rosary. The formula is simple: Jesus is a divine person, and this person is God. Mary is Jesus' Mother, so Mary is the mother of God (Mary is not just the Mother of Jesus' human nature - mothers are mothers of persons, not natures).
As you can see, Scripture clearly indicates that Mary was chosen to be the Mother of God. She was not just any girl, picked at random.
When Catholics recite “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you” while praying the Rosary, they are uttering the words of God. Would that they’d stop there. Mary’s nice-ness, Mary’s grace-ness, Mary’s chosen-ness, all granted. But she’s teh mother of God’s son, Jesus. She’s not the Mother of God, nor is she Queen of Heaven.
14  Even before his birth, Jesus is identified in Luke as the Lord.
15  Blessed are you who believed: Luke portrays Mary as a believer whose faith stands in contrast to the disbelief of Zechariah (Luke 1:20). Mary's role as believer in the infancy narrative should be seen in connection with the explicit mention of her presence among "those who believed" after the resurrection at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:14).
Jesus is God, 2nd person of the Trinity Mary is His mother, hence, Mary is the mother of God. To claim otherwise, as we have read above, is heresy.
To claim otherwise, as we have read above, is heresy? I’m a heretic, then. Brand me.
OK; you are, at best, a Nestorian heretic. Do you claim to be a Christian?
” According to Luke 1:28 - “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” These are the words spoken by God and delivered to us by the angel Gabriel (who is a messenger of God). Thus, when Catholics recite this verse while praying the Rosary, they are uttering the words of God. / Also, the phrase “full of grace” is translated from the Greek word kecharitomene. This is a unique title given to Mary, and suggests a perfection of grace from a past event. Mary is not just “highly favored.” She has been perfected in grace by God. “Full of grace” is only used to describe one other person - Jesus Christ in John 1:14.”
Hmmm...” 28And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” - NASB
Guess there is some debate on how best to translate the verse. Here is an explanation that seem reasonable, although I don’t know Greek so it could be a bunch of baloney...
Mind you - this is not an insult to Mary, or an attempt to overturn early councils. I honestly don’t care what Mary is called, as long as it isn’t God. And I find the Immaculate Conception kind of strange, but I’m not smart enough to figure out the implications. And of course, that probably displays my amazing lack of curiosity...
So do we Orthodox; so did +Thomas Aquinas. Given the West's concept of Original Sin, however, an argument can be made for it. The problem is that it makes the Theotokos something other than a human mother and thus deprives Christ of His human nature, a Christoloical heresy of ever there was one.
"And I find the Immaculate Conception kind of strange....""
So do we Orthodox; so did +Thomas Aquinas. Given the West's concept of Original Sin, however, an argument can be made for it. The problem is that it makes the Theotokos something other than a human mother and thus deprives Christ of His human nature, a Christological heresy if ever there was one.
Oy! Just oy! I don't know whether to laugh or curse!
If "the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom," I'll wager that the denial of Mary is the beginning of ignorance.
I pity, oh do I pity, the miniscule myopic mind that can't accept the most beautiful human being ever to walk this most unworthy soil.
It's the most audacious, beautiful, heart-stopping, mind-boggling, mouth-shutting event in history. A God that does such a thing is the only being worthy of the term and truly "beyond anything you could ask or imagine."
The Immaculate Conception, the Incarnation, these stop cold all other god-stories. Period.
How do you tell the difference between a "nestorian heretic" and a regular imbecil?
“OK; you are, at best, a Nestorian heretic.
How do you tell the difference between a ‘nestorian heretic’ and a regular imbecil?”
I think perhaps one or the other does not understand that “Mother of my Lord” as Elizabeth exclaimed in Luke 1 is not the same as Mother of the Triune God, which is what is implied by “Mother of God.”
I could be wrong, though. There might be more diagnostics available.
Yeah, diagnostics. That's it. That'll get you wherever you wanna go.
A bit of unscriptural nonsense, and illogic.
The Logos was God from all time, and his human body, born through Mary was not what made him God, nor has it anything to do with why he is God. Mary was not Mother of any part of his 'Godness,' nor did she ever claim to be.
You've never read the Creed, have you?
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No great conundrum there: the NASB got it wrong.
Upon what do you base the notion that +Elizabeth was not recognizing Mary as the Theotokos, aside from the ancient heretical teachings of Arius and/or Nestorius come to life in modern American Protestantism?
"I could be wrong, though."
Indeed you could be.
The Immaculate Conception????????????????
This painting is “Our Lady of Perpetual Help.”
Creeds are the work of sinful men, not the Word of God.
If you should ever become a member of the Body of Christ, you will see how feckless and irrelevant the classifications you live by are.
How deliciously judgmental. Or is it just mental you were going for?
Either way, bravo!
Ah, so am I safe in concluding that you reject Nicea? That would explain your less than orthodox Christian position and apparent lack of understanding of the Trinitarian theology of The Church, a theology, btw, shared by all the Reformers of the Protestant Revolutionso as far as I know.
Did someone tell you this or did you come to this conclusion all by yourself? If the latter, what did you base this conclusion on...the Scriptures The Church canonized and gave you? If the former, please, do tell us who this person was and what his/her qualifications were to make such a sweeping, and rather presumptuous, statement. Did he bring his own snake along when he preached this?
Written by Nicolaitans for their pleasure, and power.
I accept the Word of God; need little else.
I think Petronski is afraid of snakes.
The Creed? Do you know who the Nicolaitans were?
I sincerely doubt that. In context they are an object of derision, not fear.
I’m afraid of you. Are you a snake?
Yes, those that created a false humanist hierarchy to rule over the Lord's church. He said that he hated them. All men that call themselves "priests" are the Nicolaitans. There is no one between the saints and the Lord; he is our only priest. Each of us answers to him only.
You’re afraid of all of us that read the word, and know the truth. You didn’t need to tell me that.
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.