Skip to comments.Mary, the Mother of God (a defense)
Posted on 01/02/2010 3:07:57 PM PST by NYer
For this reason, sometime in the early history of the Church, our Blessed Mother was given the title "Mother of God." St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), for example, composed in his Eucharistic Prayer for the Mass an anthem in honor of her: "It is truly just to proclaim you blessed, O Mother of God, who are most blessed, all pure and Mother of our God. We magnify you who are more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim. You who, without losing your virginity, gave birth to the Word of God. You who are truly the Mother of God. "
However, objection to the title "Mother of God" arose in the fifth century due to confusion concerning the mystery of the incarnation. Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople (428-431), incited a major controversy. He stated that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, a regular human person, period. To this human person was united the person of the Word of God (the divine Jesus). This union of two persons the human Christ and the divine Word was "sublime and unique" but merely accidental. The divine person dwelt in the human person "as in a temple. " Following his own reasoning, Nestorious asserted that the human Jesus died on the cross, not the divine Jesus. As such, Mary is not "Mother of God," but simply "Mother of Christ" the human Jesus. Sound confusing? It is, but the result is the splitting of Christ into two persons and the denial of the incarnation.
St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria (d. 440) refuted Nestorius, asserting, ''It was not that an ordinary man was born first of the Holy Virgin, on whom afterwards the Word descended; what we say is that being united with the flesh from the womb, [the Word] has undergone birth in the flesh, making the birth in the flesh His own..." This statement affirms the belief asserted in the first paragraph.
On June 22, 431, the Council of Ephesus convened to settle this argument. The Council declared, "If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel is truly God and therefore that the holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Theotokos) (since she begot according to the flesh the Word of God made flesh), anathema sit." Therefore, the Council officially recognized that Jesus is one person, with two natures human and divine united in a true union. Second, Ephesus affirmed that our Blessed Mother can rightfully be called the Mother of God: Mary is not Mother of God, the Father, or Mother of God, the Holy Spirit; rather, she is Mother of God, the Son Jesus Christ. The Council of Ephesus declared Nestorius a heretic, and the Emperor Theodosius ordered him deposed and exiled. (Interestingly, a small Nestorian Church still exists in Iraq, Iran and Syria.)
The incarnation is indeed a profound mystery. The Church uses very precise albeit philosophical language to prevent confusion and error. Nevertheless, as we celebrate Christmas, we must ponder this great mystery of how our divine Savior entered this world, taking on our human flesh, to free us from sin. We must also ponder and emulate the great example of our Blessed Mother, who said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word." May we turn to her always as our own Mother, pleading, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."
Is it proper to call Mary’s father the grandfather of God?
We have these arguments over and over but the facts don't change. Scripture does not support the Catholic's dogma about this. Why must Mary be exalted this false way?
Finding and prosecuting the idiot who defaced the church would be a start. Writing a detailed theological response to the statement is useless... the perp isn't listening and doesn't care.
You apparently missed another thread posted earlier today.
in 431, the Council of Ephesus met, under Cyrils 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.
Calling Mary Mother of God Tells Us Who Jesus Is
She is therefore his human mother.
By this statement, you, like freeper flowerplough, have fallen prey to one of the oldest christian heresies - Nestorianism.
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.
I have no objection to mary being called the mother of god, if i did they would not count for anything anyway.
Discusing religion always comes to a dead end unless the discusion directly comes from the Bible.
But i think it is wrong to worship mary.
God told her that she was blessed, but she was not blessed because she was the mother of Christ, but being the mother of the saviour was her blessing, she was already blessed, thats what her blessing was.
Blessed be the mother of God so many times in order is just mans religion.
So Im a Nestorian heretic, then, in your eyes? Brand me twice, I guess...
As a revert to Catholicism I had the opportunity to work in the spiritual guidance department of the Billy Graham Association both as a Protestant and then as a Catholic. Many many Protestants do not understand the name Theotokos, Mother of God. They could if they wanted to but alas many are content to be spoonfed their beliefs about Church and History by those believing that Real Church History begins with the Reformation. all the rest is to them error that began at the end of the Canon of Scripture (for those who don't know - That is what they called it when the Catholics compiled the books of the Bible).
So any theological jargon that was not picked up by the "reformers" is therefore ignored and called false. Little do they know that Theotokos fought off the heresy that Jesus was not both human AND divine. Or that most of what they believe as tenents of the faith was determined by the Catholics they consider heathen.
Scriptures and Catholic dogma are remarkably in agreement on Mary.
So I suppose “God’s baby momma” is out too, huh?
>>>Is it proper to call Marys father the grandfather of God?
At the end of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Mary’s parents (Joachim and Anna) are referred to as the “Holy Ancestors of God.”
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How interesting that you accuse Nestorianism of threatening the act of atonement. When scripture says in Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
If Christ lived a sinless life wholly by the power of being God, what was the point of temptation? Jesus was able to die in our place because he was fully human and that fully human nature lived his life free of all sin. We learn in Philippians 2:5-8
In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross!
Do you actually believe Almighty God was/is ever subject to death? Jesus Christ, when we say he was fully man and fully God, emptied himself and took upon himself the nature of man. God cannot die, he always was and always will be, in order for him to die in our place and to make propitiation for all sin, he became a man and lived a sinless life and gave this life for the sins of all mankind. Still the triune God never stopped existing.
We know from Scripture as well, that Jesus will forever exist in a glorified bodily form complete with the nail scars on his hands and feet. They will forever be a reminder of the sacrifice he made for us and the grace he lavished upon us so that we will dwell with him for all eternity.
This is what's known as the Hypostatic Union. It is the perfect union of the Divine and human natures in the one Person of Jesus Christ. This, and ONLY this, is what is meant by the phrase "true God and true man," or as you said, "fully God and fully man."
If the Divine and human natures were not so completely unified in the Person of Christ, He would either be a half God/half man, or at least not fully God.
If you've ever read Shakespeare, and run across the phrase "Odds Bodkins," here is a recognition of the Hypostatic Union, which means literally "God's Body."
But this is Biblical:
 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
 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 me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Luke 1:41-43 RSV
 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
When the Apostle Thomas exclaimed, "My Lord and my God," did the "my Lord" part only address the human "side" of Jesus, and the "my God" part only address the Divine "side?"
Mary, the Blessed Virgin, derives her identity as the Mother of God by virtue of the Hypostatic Union. This High Priest we have is truly like us in all things except sin. He isn't just God in a human body, or any variation thereof that would make Him less than Who He is.
My immediate reaction to hearing Mary called "Mother of God" is hold on there, God always was, how could he have been preceeded by a mother? If you look at this objectively, you may see why people object. They aren't hearing all the further explanations and are taking the title at face value.
My point is, why cause the confusion in the first place? Why seem to exalt Mary above Jesus Christ, because that is what our human experience interprets this as saying? A mother comes before a child.
BTW...I like your postname. :o)
Acts of vandalism are not "objections". Respond with pity.
Of course I understand the reaction. It sounds so foreign to the faith as some have learned it, and seems to make Jesus' Divinity have "less status."
However, that's how great a Lord and King Jesus is, that He Himself, in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit, elevates His Mother to such a high degree:
 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord,
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
Luke 1:46-49 RSV
I think that some people are afraid that honoring and loving Mary takes away from loving, honoring, and worshipping Jesus, but such is not the case. The more one honors her, the more one honors Christ. Solomon had his own mother sit at his right hand - can Jesus be any less loving and gracious to *His* mother? It is His Holy Will that we revere His mother, as the above scripture illustrates.
She always points the way to Him saying, "Do whatever He tells you," just as she said at Cana. The closer we let ourselves come to her, the closer we become with Christ, just as Christ draws us to the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. She is the easy way to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
This is not a name taken from Scripture but arrived at in the fourth century by some teachers within the Catholic Church in Rome.
By the way, this was not just any gathering, but rather an Ecumenical Council (the world-wide Church), which was guided by the Holy Spirit. Councils do not come up with new doctrine, but rather define, i.e., come to understand more fully, Divine Revelation.
I wonder why some people have a problem with this Council, it having occurred so much earlier than the Reformation.
Incarnation os one of the two foundational miracles of the Catholic Faith (Resurrection is the other). It is in the nature of miracles to be confusing to the unbeliever. If we are to evanglelize the Protestants, and they are in dire need of evangelizaton, some confusion of their minds is unavoidable and further, it is salutary.
I’m going to try to handle this even though I’m only an catechumen in the Orthodox Church.
>>>>>>>>>My immediate reaction to hearing Mary called “Mother of God” is hold on there, God always was, how could he have been preceeded by a mother?
When God decided to condescend to his creation and take flesh, he subjected himself to the experiences of his creation, including, like every human being on earth, having a human mother. It’s takes quite a leap of logic to think that by God having a human mother implies that he is not eternal.
>>>>This is not a name taken from Scripture but arrived at in the fourth century by some teachers within the Catholic Church in Rome.
No it’s not spelled out in black and white, but it is certainly inferred.
As for this: “but arrived at in the fourth century by some teachers within the Catholic Church in Rome.”
Well, this is really a mess. It wasn’t “arrived at” but rather reiterated (they “arrived at” the conclusion that Nestorius, the Archbishop of Constantinople, was a heretic).
It wasn’t a “bunch of teachers” but Bishops within the catholic church, both east and west(it wasn’t just Rome), undertaking something called an ecumenical council, which is what is supposed to be done when there is an issue that commands significant enough attention and challenges the dogma of the faith. (And yes! It’s in the Bible. Reread the Acts of the Apostles.)
>>>>>My point is, why cause the confusion in the first place? Why seem to exalt Mary above Jesus Christ, because that is what our human experience interprets this as saying? A mother comes before a child.
Since I’m Orthodox, I do disagree with the Romans on their view of Mary (Immaculate Conception). But you’ve misstated what their view is. They do not exalt Mary over Jesus, but they do come dangerously close to putting her on equal footing with him.
Where did this nonsense come from? The term Theotokos is Greek, not Latin. Its first known use was probably by Origen in the early 3rd century....He wasn't a Roman. A 3rd century Father who used the term was +Dionysius of Alexandria....Obviously not a Roman. Then in the 4th century we have +Athanasius the Great, +Gregory Nazianzus +John Chrysostomos and Blessed Augustine of Hippo....None of them from Rome. Just who were theses "teachers within the Catholic Church in Rome" who were teaching this?
You know, bb, your Protestantism isn't advanced one bit by unthinking anti-papalism.
Look to your holy icons and see the reverence with which the Orthodox hold Mary so dear. We differ concerning the Immaculate Conception, but otherwise, no.
You know, Kolo...wait, you don't know anything about how I arrived at my thinking, do you? It is hardly "anti-papalism" - how odd a description. I was responding to the OP about the council regarding Nestorian. You may want to go back and follow the thread.
I am sorry you missed my point, but it has nothing to do with being against Roman Catholism. My point is, if you find yourself having to backtrack to try to explain to the "unenlightened" that although Mary is referred to as Mother of God, you don't mean it to imply she is to be worshipped alongside the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, that she did not preceed the Son nor is she sitting on her own special throne right next to them, then why come up with the unscriptural title in the first place?
Finally, I am not trying to "advance my Protestantism". How utterly silly. What I care about the most is the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Yes, sola fide. When a religion that calls itself Christian messes up that simple doctrine, just about everything else they profess should be examined as well. That's how I see it. I am still allowed, right?
A fitting one, if your posts are any guide.
An easier way than our mediator himself, Christ Jesus, who IS the way, truth and life? Why would we need any other? Why should we need another?
Honestly, I don’t understand the problem with the explanation that Mary is mother of God.
Scripture seems to support Jesus being son of Mary, I believe he was specifically described as being born of a virgin somewhere in the Bible.
If one is having trouble grasping that God became man, and was born, it seems just as likely they should have just as much, even more troubles, understanding that God died on the cross for our sins.
Both are only possible if God assumes the full nature of Man.
Can one get to heaven without believing this? Sure. But this is part of the Christian faith in its fullness.
Btw, Theotokos is summed up in the communication of idioms. Which is about translation of one aspect of Jesus to the whole of Jesus.
When I say that I think like a human I say that it is because I am a human. When I say that I eat, and drink it is because I am creature that has those bodily needs. When I suffered and felt pain, it is because I have a body feels these things.
If God felt physical pain on the Cross it is because he has assumed these things as well. If God can be said to have felt pain, because of his humanity, other statements of his humanity can be said of God.
God ate food, God woke up in the morning, and slept in the evening. God is Historical, in that there are witnesses to his life. God had a mother, and a nation of people he was born associated too. Why? Because he assumed his humanity from humans, and thus shared in their nature, even though he is the source of that.
What exactly in your mind makes "us" Protestants (I prefer Christian, if you need a label, but for argument sake...) need evangelizing about? What is our "dire" need? I believe it is Catholics, or any other works-based religion, that need to hear the clear Gospel. That going to heaven when we die is not based upon how good we are but soley by the unmerited grace and favor of a loving God who asks us to accept by faith the free gift of eternal life he offers to us. Is getting us back to Mass more important than this???
Pretty nasty statement, especially when it's a matter of Biblical interpretation. I could throw "faith without works is dead," and all that back at you, but I will not question your Christianity in like manner.
...just about everything else they profess should be examined as well.
Please do examine anything and everything to your hearts content. :-)
If you had ever understood the true nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, you would never even think of asking this question.
Beautiful post. Very touching. :-)
Was not spoken to be “nasty”, sorry you took it personally. There are many religions that are under the umbrella of “Christian” that are not preaching the truth of the gospel. And it is not faith AND works.
But i think it is wrong to worship mary.With charity, help FRiend ravenwolf understand what Scripture says about Mary.
The Protestant's most immediate need is to honestly study the Holy Scripture, since this is something they correctly profess to be very important. If they read the Gospel with their heart, they will understand that the belief system imposed on them by Luther, Calvin and their semi-educated pastor, is a lie.
Then they will be better mentally equipped to touch the difficult subjects such as the mystery of the Incarnation, and generally the teachings of the Catholic Church.
I'm afraid, my friend, it is you who needs to grasp the meaning of having the same sacrifice repeated over and over again millions of times without ever realizing that Christ suffered for our sins "once for all" and that there is no more need of a sacrifice. Christ told us to take the bread and wine "as often as you do it in remembrance of me."
Of course I took it personally - you would too if I had said something similar about Protestantism in one of my posts.
I’ve learned many Biblical Principles and how to apply them to my daily life, thanks to Protestantism.
But, doctrinally speaking, it IS faith + works. From just a logical perspective, Eternal Security is a nice thought, but if one does a lot of really bad things, and dies in such a state of soul, and Protestants don’t believe in Purgatory, well, what can I say?
I just don’t see how believing that Mary is the Mother of God demands more faith than believing in Eternal Security.
As long as we’re letting our hair down, I would never be other than a Catholic (or Orthodox Christian) because I am certain regarding the True Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. But, as I’ve said, I’ve learned a lot from the Protestants.
As a Catholic, I do not believe that Christians of other denominations need evangilization for they are already saved (just like us). Maybe a little education is needed though because contrary to what many “protestants” are being told, Catholicism does not teach works to get into heaven, not any more. We are taught Grace from a loving God as well.
Also, a key point on this thread has not been made. We do not worship Mary. We pray to her for intercession for us before the Lord. And though we pray through other saints for their special intercessions, Mary holds a special place in our hearts for what she did for us in that she put her own interests aside, believed in what God wanted and brought our Savior into the world. This gives her that unique relationship to our God our Savior.
Once I heard a Priest say, "Imagine a husband saying 'I love you,' only once to his wife on their wedding day. Wouldn't she want that renewed often?" He made a good point. The mystery of the Mass is like that, in a way.
Christ told us to take the bread and wine "as often as you do it in remembrance of me."
That's a big difference - with the Mass, during the consecration, It is no longer bread and wine.
Read about the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano. I think you'd find it interesting reading, if nothing else - especially the scientific test results.
This is not entirely accurate. The Church teaches we are saved by grace alone, and that faith and works are necessary for salvation.
I was trying to find the actual articles in the Catholic Catechism, but it's getting late, and I have to go to bed.
However, it does not say anywhere in the Bible that we are saved by faith alone, but it *does* say that faith without works is dead.
“We know from Scripture as well, that Jesus will forever exist in a glorified bodily form complete with the nail scars on his hands and feet.”
We know from Scripture that He appeared to the Apostles after rising from the dead and had the holes in his hands. He told Thomas to feel them. But where in Scripture does it tell you that Christ will forever exist with the nail scars, even in his glorified body?
Agreed. I don’t see why it is so confusing to people. Jesus was God. Mary was His mother. Therefore, Mary is the mother of God.
What some people don’t seem to get is that God decided to do this in this way. He could have just appeared in adult form and been the Messiah. But He came and sanctified the womb, the unborn, infancy, childhood, manhood. He sanctified the family by having a real mother. He wanted the whole of our existence to be blessed and holy. He made Mary a miraculous part of His story for a reason.
She is unique. And she was uniquely part of His plan for us. She enjoys a unique role to this day.
Of course she is the mother of God.
That doesn’t mean we are to worship her.
“Of course she is the mother of God. That doesnt mean we are to worship her.”
In all of history, there was only one Messiah. Only one God made Man. And only one human who gave life’s blood to that God made Man. Only one human who had the intense relationship with God that only a mother can. Surely you can agree that we are to do something different with Mary? She is like no other human ever and God Himself chose to use her as an integral part of His plan. Why?
Catholics just think these things through logically to the end. For thousands of years we’ve been pondering Mary’s role with the Holy Spirit as our guide to understanding.
>>>>Look to your holy icons and see the reverence with which the Orthodox hold Mary so dear. We differ concerning the Immaculate Conception, but otherwise, no.
Icons of Mary always include Jesus (unlike Roman statuary where Mary is sometimes by herself), but you’re right, Orthodox do “hold Mary so dear.”
This thread has been really interesting. I have a question though. After Jesus rose from the dead, appeared to the disciples, and then ascended into Heaven, how come the disciples did not instantly begin worshipping Mary? She was still among them was she not? If they believed that she was the “easy way” to the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jesus), then why did they preach only about Jesus. Or did I miss Peter’s words about Mary’s “holiness” and her being our intercessor on Pentecost?
With charity, help FRiend ravenwolf understand what Scripture says about Mary.