Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Case for Calling Mary "Mother of God"

Modern Protestants often balk at Catholics referring to the Virgin Mary as “the Mother of God.” One Protestant apologetics website argues that “Mary most certainly isn't the mother of God,” since “God is eternal, Mary was not.”  The author concludes that calling Mary the Mother of God is thus “a serious blasphemy attacking the very nature of God” since God was NOT born of a woman.”  And another suggests that calling Mary the “Mother of God” would signal (somehow) that Mary is God:
If Mary is the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God, does it follow that Mary is the mother of God? What kind of logic is this? Seriously thinking about it, if this syllogism is theologically sound, doesn’t it also follow that since Mary is the Mother of God, Mary is also God? Or, since God is Triune, doesn’t it follow that Mary is also the mother of the Holy Spirit, or, Mary, the mother of the Father? Of course they’re not saying that but do you see how inconsistent their position is on this matter? Even though Mary to them is not the source of Jesus’ Divinity, they’re still bent on calling her the Mother of God. Why call Mary God’s mother in the first place?
Protestants are not the first to raise this objection. The Nestorian heretics in the early Church argued that Mary could be called “the Mother of Christ” (Christotokos), but not “the Mother of God” (Theotokos). 

I. The Answer from the Third Ecumenical Council

Neroccio di Bartolomeo de' Landi,
The Virgin and Child, St. Benedict
and Saint Catherine of Siena
(1490)
The Nestorian position was based on a deeper heresy: the notion that Jesus Christ consists of two Persons one human, one divine). In 431 A.D., The First Council of Ephesus, the third of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, clarified that Christ is one Person, not two, and for the first time, laid out a specifically Marian doctrine, calling Mary Theotokos, the Mother of God. 

Immediately, we can see why the Marian doctrines matter: because they protect Christological truths.  And that is still why they matter.  When Protestants claim that “God was NOT born of a woman,” that’s not just an attack on Mary (at least, not primarily). It’s an attack on the Incarnation, and on the Divinity of Jesus Christ. As I’m fond of saying, anti-Catholic Protestants aim at Mary, and hit Jesus.

Based on the reasoning of the First Council of Ephesus, most of the arguments for calling Mary the Mother of God follow this general syllogism:
  1. Jesus Christ is a single Person, fully God and fully Man.  Jesus is God, and always has been.
  2. The Virgin Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ.
  3. Therefore, the Virgin Mary is the Mother of God.
After all, it is not as though the Virgin Mary conceived and bore a mere Man who later became God.  He was God while He was in her womb.  And of course, nothing in this argument requires that Mary be eternal. Still less does it require that Mary be the Mother of the Holy Spirit, or the Mother of God the Father. That argument makes no more sense than refusing to say that Jesus is God, on the basis that He’s not the Holy Spirit. That’s not how syllogisms work.

So I think that this syllogism is sound, and easily withstands the unfounded arguments that these Protestants raise.  But there are two other ways of approaching of the issue, as well, that might help show the Catholic case to someone unconvinced by the Ephesian syllogism.

II. The Witness of the Church Fathers

Andreas Ritzos, The Mother of God of Passion (1490)
Now, I realize that many of the Protestants who raise arguments against the title “Mother of God” are also suspicious of the Church Fathers, and quite reasonably so. After all, many of these are people who are trying to “restore” Christianity to what they imagine are its pre-Catholic roots. Actually reading the writings of Christians in the primitive Church, or studying the early Christian liturgies, would demolish this worldview.

That may seem glib, but it’s true. My favorite example of an Evangelical who understands how dangerous the Church Fathers are to Evangelicalism is Dave Hunt, author of the popular anti-Catholic book A Woman Rides the Beast. In this episode of his radio show, he and co-host T.A. McMahon lament the number of Evangelicals who convert to Catholicism after reading the Church Fathers and discovering that “they believed in the Real Presence in the Eucharist and so forth.

Their response is to simultaneously claim that the Church Fathers weren't Catholic, that Evangelicals shouldn’t read the Church Fathers for themselves, and that they shouldn’t “go to history” to determine which is the true Church. Of course, if the Church Fathers really weren’t Catholic, folks like Hunt and McMahon would be eager for Evangelicals to read the Church Fathers.  All in all, they end up running from the Church Fathers, precisely because these early Christians undermine the notion that the Church that Christ built looks remotely like the Church they claim He built.

All of this is by way of preface to the main point here: that the Church Fathers, from the very earliest days of Christianity, affirmed that in the Incarnation, God had been born of Mary.  St. Ignatius of Antioch, a first-century student of the Apostle John, who was martyred for the faith in c. 110 A.D., said in his letter to (quite fittingly) the Ephesians:
There is only one physician—of flesh yet spiritual, born yet unbegotten, God incarnate, genuine life in the midst of death, sprung from Mary as well as God, first subject to suffering then beyond it—Jesus Christ our Lord.
And then:
For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary, in God's plan being sprung both from the seed of David and from the Holy Spirit.
This is an unambiguous affirmation that Mary is the Mother of God.  And again, we’re not talking about the fourth or fifth century here, where an Evangelical might argue that heresy has crept into the Church. We’re talking about one of the earliest Christian martyrs, and a man who was a disciple to one of the Twelve Apostles.  Nor was Ignatius alone, either. Irenaeus, writing in 180 A.D., compares and contrasts Eve and the Virgin Mary:
For just as the former [Eve] was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter [Mary], by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain God, being obedient to His word.
In other words, Eve is tempted by a fallen angel, disobeys the word of God, and flees from Him. The Virgin Mary encounters the Angel Gabriel, obeys the word of God, and bears God in her womb as a result.

III. The Scriptural Case for Mary as the Mother of God

In addition to the declaration of the Third Ecumenical Council, and the testimony of the earliest Church Fathers, there is also clear evidence from Sacred Scripture.  In Luke 1:41-49, the Visitation, the Virgin Mary (pregnant with Jesus Christ) goes to visit her cousin, Elizabeth:
Domenico Ghirlandaio, Visitation (1491)
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? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.
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.
So Elizabeth explicitly calls Mary “the Mother of my Lord.”  The word being translated “Lord,Kyrios, is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Adonai.  Adonai is the word for God that Jews used (and use) in place of YHWH, which was considered too sacred to say, even in prayer, outside of the Temple.  So when Elizabeth calls Mary the Mother of her Kyrios, she’s calling her the Mother of YHWH, the Mother of God.

And that’s plenty clear from context: Elizabeth proceeds to praise Mary for believing “what was spoken to her from the Lord.” That’s unambiguously a reference to God. So is Mary’s declaration, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  In each of these cases, the word Kyrios is the word used for God.

And remember, it’s the Holy Spirit Who inspires Elizabeth to praise Mary as the Mother of her Lord.  So not only the Bible, but the Holy Spirit Himself, makes it clear that Mary is the Mother of God. There’s not really another way to take these Scriptures. Could we say that “Lord” refers only to Jesus’ Humanity? Of course not. It makes no sense to try to reduce Christ’s Lordship in that way, nor would that explain the other two references to the Lord in this passage.

So when modern Protestants take up the Nestorian attack on the notion of Mary as Mother of God, they’re not just going against an early Church Council, or the testimony of the earliest Christians. They’re going against the New Testament. But more than that, they’re undermining orthodox Christology, and undermining the direct testimony of the Holy Spirit. Aim at Mary, hit Jesus.

42 comments:

  1. "After all, many of these are people who are trying to “restore” Christianity to what they imagine are its pre-Catholic roots."

    Why none of them would ever bother to ask why this doesn't violate Sacred Scripture (Matt. 16:18, 1 Cor. 12:12-21 to name just two...) and why this mindset doesn't make a liar out of Jesus Christ, is beyond me...

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  2. Sometimes it's easy to ask, "Which one is your problem: that Jesus was God, or that Mary was His mother?"

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  3. They are quick to ask you : "where is it written in the Bible". And when you read the above passages, they try to wriggle out with unintelligble excuses. And yesm Taylor, I wonder what is their propbem? Because denying Mary is the Mother of God, they are denying Jesus is God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The letter of St. Ignatius says it all - from the very beginning of Christ's Holy Church. The Protestants need prayers; lots and lots of Prayers.

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  4. As you say, Joe, these claims against Mary often demonstrate an extremely faulty Christology or theology of the Trinity. A little more probing and you find that they are Nestorian or Adoptionist or even polytheist in their belief!

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    1. "He who is not Marian is Arian" is an old and not entirely accurate saying. As you observe, there are in fact several heresies you could hold instead.

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  5. I think you're mistaken about that Justin Martyr quote. Wasn't he martyred about AD 165? Is that from Irenaeus, or is the date wrong? Good quote and argument, by the way.

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    1. Gerry,

      Good catch and good guess: it should have read Irenaeus, not Justin Martyr. Fixed!

      I.X.,

      Joe

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  6. I hammered on this very point myself a while back: http://arkanabar.blogspot.com/2008/10/first-principles.html

    As a bonus, my arguments finished off all the tolerance I had for abortion.

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  7. Check out the original Greek-I think a literal translation of theotokos is "one who carries and brings forth God." This is exactly what Mary did and does now forever. And think about it, each of us can do this especially when we receive communion and then in our daily lives when we "bring forth" God to those full-of-wonder people, each unique, each made in His image, each of whom He lets us encounter and live with every day so that we can "bring forth" God for them.

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  8. So what follows from calling Mary the mother of Christ? She still is a human being like the rest of us. When the disciples became aware of Who Jesus was did they attribute to Mary all the things that the RCC does to her such as queen of heaven or that Christians should pray to her? Of course not.

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    1. Interesting. Your original question assumes that the preferred title for Mary is “Mother of Christ” (which is the very thing that I denied in the above post).

      Obviously, we Catholics also view Mary as a human being. (Of course, we also view Jesus Christ as a human being, but I take your statement to mean that Mary isn’t divine. Agreed.).

      You’re right that at the time that the Apostles were writing, during which time Mary was almost certainly alive, there’s not a reference to praying to her. Which makes sense, since she wasn’t in Heaven at that time. The number of people praying to any Saint goes up (from zero) after they die. Prior to death, people approach them in the ordinary way for intercession (cf. 1 Tim 2:1-2).

      The Marian doctrines are latent within Scripture, and have become clearer over time and reflection. In this way, they’re no different than virtually any of the other doctrines that you receive from the Catholic Church and take for granted (like the Trinity or Hypostatic Union). There’s a built-in assumption within Protestantism that we got these things right, and y’all don’t have to start over from scratch. We appreciate that assumption, because it keeps things from diverging from orthodox Christianity as radically as they could. But I think a similar concession could be given here.

      If you have a specific doctrine that you have a genuine question about, I’d be more than happy to try to explain it.

      I.X.,

      Joe

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  9. Meyu, you might find helpful this article by Dr. Mark Miravalle, professor of Theology and Mariology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Evidence in the catacombs suggests that devotion to Mary began in the very early years of Christianity.

    Now,let's see, Mary was chosen by God the Father, was she not? (Yes)
    And that's scriptural, right? (Yes)
    And Mary was espoused by the Holy Spirit, and that's scriptural, too, isn't it? (Yes)
    And Mary carried the Son of God and the Son of Man in her womb for nine months,
    raised him through childhood to adulthood and followed him on his salvific mission all the way to the Cross--and that's scriptural also, isn't it? (Yes)

    Then consider this: No one in human history,
    not Abraham,
    not Moses,
    not any of the prophets,
    not John the Baptist,
    not any of the Apostles
    and not Paul
    ever had such a close, intimate relationship with all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

    In that light, anything the Catholic Church says about Mary is small potatoes.

    2. Now, Jesus was a good Jew, wasn't he? (Yes)
    So he doubtlessly followed all the Ten Commandments, didn't he? (Yes)
    Including "Honor your father and your mother"? (Yes)
    And aren't we supposed to be imitators of Christ? (Yes)
    Well, that's all we are doing--we are honoring his mother just like he did.

    (The wedding at Cana is a good example of Jesus honoring his mother, even though his hour had not yet come.)

    3. Do Protestants ever ask themselves where we would all be if Mary had said "No"?

    Hope this helps.

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    1. Azmus,
      Mary was not espoused i.e. marrired by the Holy Spirit. She did raise Christ and followed part of His ministry. However, she was ignorant of much of what was going on with Him. Cana is a case in point. She was ignorant of His time. We don't see her mentioned with the apostles in the gospels. She did not write anything nor is there any record of her teaching anyone.
      She was the mother of Jesus but she is not the mother of us. No one in the NT makes this connection that she is the mother of the church. The commandment to honor one's parents applies only to the offspring and not to those outside a family unity. No apostle in their writings speak of honoring her as their mother.
      Salvation did not depend on Mary's answer since if she had said no God would have prepared someone else.

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    2. “Salvation did not depend on Mary's answer since if she had said no God would have prepared someone else.”

      I always find this sort of objection odd. Mary's role was foreordained from before the dawn of time, and the Virgin Birth is prophesied as early as Genesis 3:15.

      We would never dream of saying, “St. Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles was irrelevant. If Paul had refused to go, God would have sent someone else.” So why is Mary treated differently?

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    3. meyu,
      "Mary was not espoused i.e. marrired (sic) by the Holy Spirit."
      Perhaps literally true but a misleading word game: Mary, in her intimate unity with the Holy Spirit, became the mystical spouse of the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation. Mary had "conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit." Mt 1: 20 From the early Church Fathers until now, Mary has been consistently referred to as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

      "She did raise Christ and followed part of His ministry. However, she was ignorant of much of what was going on with Him."
      Either utter speculation or wishful thinking on your part, meyu. You might read Luke's description of the Annunciation again, you know, when the angel explained to Mary who and what her son would be, emphatically reinforced at the Visitation when Elizabeth, filled by the Holy Spirit, exclaimed, "Why should I be honored with a visit from the Mother of my Lord?"

      "Cana is a case in point. She was ignorant of His time."
      A conclusion unsupported by any facts, and the opposite of what one should conclude from the Annunciation, the Visitation, and 30 years of living with the Son of God. Mary intervened (became an advocate) at Cana for the needs of others. Jesus honored his mother by putting his own needs aside and miraculously fixing an embarrassing situation for the married couple and their guests.

      And calling the Mother of God "ignorant"? I don't know what your bible says, but mine says that all generations shall call Mary "blessed." Lk 1:48 Are there any protestants who do that? If not, why not?

      "We don't see her mentioned with the apostles in the gospels."
      Literally true and misleading. Mary is with the apostles in the upper room after the Ascension. Acts 1:14.

      "She did not write anything."
      Neither did Jesus or many of the Apostles. So what?

      "She was the mother of Jesus but she is not the mother of us."
      Mary was given to us as our mother at the foot of the cross when Jesus gave her to "the disciple whom he loved." Do you think that was just a throw away line of no importance? "The disciple whom he loved" is an icon of every disciple whom Jesus loves. You, too.

      "No one in the NT makes this connection that she is the mother of the church."
      No one in the NT calls or identifies the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost as the "Trinity" either. Again, so what?

      "The commandment to honor one's parents applies only to the offspring and not to those outside a family unity. No apostle in their writings speak of honoring her as their mother." Wrong--John in his Gospel speaks of her as our mother whom Christ, in the mystery of the Redemption, gave to humanity in the person of the Apostle John. John could have identified himself as the one receiving Mary as his mother, but instead deliberately wrote that Jesus gave his mother to "the disciple whom he loved." Jesus loves all his disciples, then and now. Mary was given to all of us as our mother. We are all her family.

      "Salvation did not depend on Mary's answer since if she had said no God would have prepared someone else."
      And where do you find that in the Bible?

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  10. Forgot the link:
    http://www.piercedhearts.org/hearts_jesus_mary/heart_mary/mary_early_church_miravalle.htm

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  11. "Mother of Jesus"/Christotokos > "Mother of God"/Theotokos

    It is just as true to say Mary is the mother of a man as it is to say that Mary is the mother of God.
    But it more fully captures Mary's relationship to Jesus to say Mother of Jesus.

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    1. I thought that at first, too. In fact, they're each specific, but in different ways.

      “Mother of God” doesn't specify which Person of the Trinity is the Son of Mary. Of course, everyone knows this, so I find that objection a bit pedantic.

      On the other hand, “Mother of Jesus” doesn't specify about whether Mary is the Mother of the Second Person of the Trinity or just the Mother of the human Christ. It leaves an open door for all sorts of bad Christology, including Nestorianism.

      And while it is implausible that someone would mistakenly think that Mary is the Mother of God the Father, it is an all-too-common occurrence that the opponents of the title “Mother of God” suffer from heretical Christology. Just look at the objections I quoted at the outset of the post:

      - “Mary most certainly isn't the mother of God,” since “God is eternal, Mary was not.”
      - Calling Mary the Mother of God is “a serious blasphemy attacking the very nature of God”
      - “God was NOT born of a woman.”

      These objections don't make sense, unless one's Christology is severely deficient. So “Mother of God” puts the spotlight on Jesus and orthodox Christology.

      I.X.,

      Joe

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    2. So “Mother of God” puts the spotlight on Jesus and orthodox Christology.

      Not really; as I pointed out, it puts the spotlight on only one part of orthodox Christology. If you want to get it better, you'd have to say "Mother of God and mother of man".


      It leaves an open door for all sorts of bad Christology, including Nestorianism.

      The solution to that is better Christology, not exaltation of Mary.


      “Mother of Jesus” doesn't specify about whether Mary is the Mother of the Second Person of the Trinity or just the Mother of the human Christ

      It only requires a further question or two to clarify, if one is inclined to wonder.


      And while it is implausible that someone would mistakenly think that Mary is the Mother of God the Father

      Well, if naked assertions are OK, then it's also implausible that someone would think that Mary is only the mother of the human Jesus.
      Short labels are just that - short labels. Let's get them as correct as possible and save our longer explanations for when they're needed. "Mother of Jesus", therefore.
      I think you're letting your previously-existing allegiance to Roman tradition stand in the way of accepting the obvious here. Prove me wrong.


      - “Mary most certainly isn't the mother of God,” since “God is eternal, Mary was not.”

      Easily answered - "God took on human flesh in the incarnation."


      - Calling Mary the Mother of God is “a serious blasphemy attacking the very nature of God”

      Easily answered by asking how.


      - “God was NOT born of a woman.”

      Easily answered by pointing out that this is merely a naked assertion.

      Peace,
      Rhology

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    3. Rhology,

      When you say that it’s “also implausible that someone would think that Mary is only the mother of the human Jesus,” are you denying that Nestorian existed, and that there are people claiming just this? Or are you just trying to articulate a “naked assertion” that you know is false, in order to prove some kind of point?

      I.X.,

      Joe

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    4. Rhology,

      "I think you're letting your previously-existing allegiance to Roman tradition stand in the way of accepting the obvious here. Prove me wrong."

      Do you reject the First Council of Ephesus?

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    5. Joe H,

      No, of course I don't deny Nestorius existed. There are some today who say he got a bad rap, and not just Protestants.


      Or are you just trying to articulate a “naked assertion” that you know is false, in order to prove some kind of point?

      I don't understand what you're getting at. Just b/c you repeat my own comment doesn't make your repetition valid.


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    6. Do you reject the First Council of Ephesus?

      Precisely! I offer reasoned, logical arguments for why Christotokos is better, and Taylor replies with an argument from authority.

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    7. The arrogance. Joe gave reasoned, logical arguments why Theotokos is better. So in that case, yes, I do reply with an argument from authority. Obedience is an important virtue.

      Furthermore, the Christian framework upon which you stand--the shoulders of giants--come from the Fathers at the Councils, such as the Council of Ephesus.

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    8. Not really. It came from Scripture.

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  12. "Not really; as I pointed out, it puts the spotlight on only one part of orthodox Christology. If you want to get it better, you'd have to say 'Mother of God and mother of man.'"

    Rhology's objection--I'm trying not to laugh--is not that Catholics are formally wrong in calling Mary the Mother of God, or that such an honor is too much for the mere mortal Mary, but that it doesn't go far enough.

    Coming to a Protestant church near you in the year...never.

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    1. Doesn't go far enough? I'm afraid you misunderstand.
      I'm interested in TRUTH and PRECISION. "Mother of Jesus" is straight better.

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    2. RhologyFebruary 11, 2013 at 9:41 AM
      Doesn't go far enough? I'm afraid you misunderstand.
      I'm interested in TRUTH and PRECISION. "Mother of Jesus" is straight better.


      Not the point. The reason that Mary bears the title, "Mother of God" is not to give a more precise title for Mary's motherhood. It is to combat the heresy of Nestor.

      Whether Mother of Christ is better than Mother of Jesus or Mother of God is not the point being made at the Council which gave Mary the title, "Mother of God".

      If there is a heresy which claims that Mary is not the Mother of Jesus, then the title, Mother of Jesus would emphasize and more emphatically combat that heresy and teach the doctrine that Mary is the Mother of Jesus.

      If there is a heresy which claims that Mary is not the Mother of Christ, then the title, Mother of Christ, would emphasize and more emphatically combat that heresy and teach the doctrine that Mary is the Mother of Christ.

      Because there is a heresy which taught that Mary was not the Mother of God, the title Mother of God was deliberately assigned to Mary to emphasize that truth. She is the Mother of Jesus, the Christ and God the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

      So your point is moot. There is no greater precision in any of the titles. They are each true and capture one aspect of Jesus' nature perfectly. But the title, Mother of God emphatically combats and contradicts the heresy of Nestor.

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  13. I'd like to ask this question to the Protestants who have been participating in this discussion.

    Did God die on the Cross? What is your view?

    Here's my view and here is my view confirms that Mary is the Mother of God.

    Jesus is God.
    Jesus died on the Cross.
    Therefore God died on the Cross.

    Many Protestants will object, because they will say, "God can't die." But everything is possible for God. Death is a human condition, not a divine condition. Death is the cessation of life in the mortal body.

    God the Father does not possess a mortal body.
    God the Holy Spirit does not possess a mortal body.

    God the Son, does possess a mortal body. And at a certain moment, on the cross, that mortal body ceased to function. At that point in time, God the Second Person of the Holy Trinity experienced death in His human body.

    That is also exactly true of God being born of Mary.

    Jesus is God.
    Jesus was conceived in and born of Mary.
    God was conceived in and born of Mary.

    Many Protestants will object, because they will say, "God can't be conceived and born. He is eternal." But everything is possible for God. Conception and birth is a human condition, not a divine condition. Conception is the beginning of life in the mortal body in the womb of the mother. Birth is the exiting of the womb of one's mother.

    God the Father did not take on flesh and possess a mortal body.
    God the Holy Spirit did not take on flesh and possess a mortal body.

    God the Son, did take on flesh and does possess a mortal body. And at a certain moment, in Mary's womb, that mortal body came into existence in the normal course of human growth . At that point in time, God the Second Person of the Holy Trinity experienced conception of His human body and began His human life in Mary's womb. Then after the regular 9 month term, He experienced birth.

    Mary gave birth to God in the flesh. Mary is, therefore, the Mother of God. The same God who died on the Cross.

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    1. De Maria,

      Combating heresy by embracing a less-than-precise theology is the wrong way to go. We must combat heresy with truth, not non-truth.
      Just b/c someone doesn't think that Jesus is one person with two natures doesn't give us cause to make faulty theological statements about someone who is not herself Jesus. Let's just make statements that express the truth about Jesus Himself.

      You're making poor arguments in order to bolster your traditions. This is not commendable.

      You said:
      There is no greater precision in any of the titles.

      But this is merely an assertion. You haven't demonstrated why it's true or, more importantly, why what I said is wrong.

      It is not very good theology to say God died on the cross, no. Death = separation of the spirit from the body. It's unhelpful to say "God has a body" or "God doesn't have a body" - we must specify to which person of the Trinity we are referring.
      So, it is far better to say *Jesus*, the God-man, died on the cross.
      It just as true to say that God died on the cross as to say that man died on the cross. It just doesn't tell us a whole lot.


      Many Protestants will object, because they will say, "God can't die." But everything is possible for God. Death is a human condition, not a divine condition. Death is the cessation of life in the mortal body.

      Um wut? I'd like to see you run that by the RC Inquisition.
      You're conflating terms again, namely Jesus and God. By this logic, I might as well say that the Son proceeds from the Son and the Son.


      God was conceived in and born of Mary.

      That's true, as I said above. What you keep neglecting to account for is that it is just as true to asy that a man was conceived in and born of Mary. And so, if we want to take ALL the relevant facts into account, it's better to say Jesus, the God-man, was conceived in and born of Mary. Christotokos.

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    2. Rhology,

      you said,

      Combating heresy by embracing a less-than-precise theology is the wrong way to go.


      By what criteria is it less than precise theology? You admitted that it is a true doctrine above, in your response to

      The title, "Mother of God" is quite precise.

      We must combat heresy with truth, not non-truth.

      Didn't you say? (RhologyFebruary 4, 2013 at 8:10 AM)
      It is just as true to say Mary is the mother of a man as it is to say that Mary is the mother of God.

      So.....?

      Do you consider the Doctrine of Mary, the Mother of God to be true or not?


      Just b/c someone doesn't think that Jesus is one person with two natures doesn't give us cause to make faulty theological statements about someone who is not herself Jesus. Let's just make statements that express the truth about Jesus Himself.


      The statement that Mary is the Mother of God is true according to Scripture and according to logic. Do you have another criteria by which you are judging this to be faulty?

      I hope you aren't asserting some sort of authority over Catholics or over the Church?


      You're making poor arguments in order to bolster your traditions. This is not commendable.

      The poor arguments are coming from you. As I have shown, you are contradicting yourself.

      You said:
      There is no greater precision in any of the titles.


      Yes, I did.


      But this is merely an assertion. You haven't demonstrated why it's true or, more importantly, why what I said is wrong.

      Unless I don't understand the language which I speak, I don't remember saying that you were wrong.

      I said that your point is moot. At the time, I thought you agreed that Mary is the Mother of God.

      Why is your point moot? Because you can't combat the heresy of Nestor by emphasizing that part of his statement which is true. Mary is the mother of Jesus. You combat his heresy by addressing and combatting that part of his statement which is heretical. His denial that Jesus is God AND man.

      The title, Mary, Mother of God addresses that heresy as no other Christocentric Doctrine can do.


      Delete
    3. Rhology you also said:
      It is not very good theology to say God died on the cross, no.

      Says you. I believe it emphasizes the dual nature of Jesus Christ, man and God. God, the man, died on the Cross.

      Death = separation of the spirit from the body.

      Agreed.

      It's unhelpful to say "God has a body" or "God doesn't have a body" - we must specify to which person of the Trinity we are referring.

      I did. Didn't you read the entire comment?

      So, it is far better to say *Jesus*, the God-man, died on the cross.

      Far better than what?

      You are doing precisely what you accused others of doing. Arguing from authority.

      It is not always better to phrase that truth in the way you phrased it. I believe that it is better to phrase it the way I stated it when arguing with those who deny that Mary is the Mother of God. That is why I phrased it that way.

      Are you going to tell me that your opinion is better than mine?


      It just as true to say that God died on the cross as to say that man died on the cross. It just doesn't tell us a whole lot.

      I like it. I have used it as a teaching tool in the past. Some people have agreed that it was useful to them since they thought that to say, "God died on the Cross" meant that God had ceased to exist.


      Many Protestants will object, because they will say, "God can't die." But everything is possible for God. Death is a human condition, not a divine condition. Death is the cessation of life in the mortal body.

      Um wut? I'd like to see you run that by the RC Inquisition.


      It is completely in line with Catholic Teaching. If it weren't, I think my Catholic brethren would have pointed out my error by now. And I don't just mean the ones on this site. I've explained this logic in many places.

      You're conflating terms again, namely Jesus and God. By this logic, I might as well say that the Son proceeds from the Son and the Son.

      Are you denying that Jesus is God?


      God was conceived in and born of Mary.

      That's true, as I said above. What you keep neglecting to account for is that it is just as true to asy that a man was conceived in and born of Mary. And so, if we want to take ALL the relevant facts into account, it's better to say Jesus, the God-man, was conceived in and born of Mary. Christotokos.


      1. There is nothing wrong with saying that. But it is not better. That is simply your opinion. And you are simply arguing by repetition to continue saying that it is better. You have nothing to support your claim but your opinion.

      2. You have changed your statement. You previously said:
      But it more fully captures Mary's relationship to Jesus to say Mother of Jesus.

      That statement does not emphasize that Mary is the Mother of God.

      3. And finally, whereas, the Doctrine of Mary, Mother of God was designed to combat a particular heresy which denied the Divinity of Christ. That Doctrine better addresses that heresy than the Doctrine that Mary is the Mother of Jesus the God man, because it emphasizes precisely the point which is being heretically denied.

      That is the opinion of the Church which is described in the Bible as:
      Ephesians 3:10
      King James Version (KJV)
      10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

      So, your point remains moot.

      Delete
    4. De Maria,

      By what criteria is it less than precise theology? You admitted that it is a true doctrine above

      Yep, I sure did say it is true. Now read the rest of what I've been saying. It's explained there.



      Do you consider the Doctrine of Mary, the Mother of God to be true or not?

      Do I consider that it is true that Mary is the mother of God? Yes.
      Is it equally true that she is the mother of a man? Yes.
      Why won't you deal with the real issue at hand?



      As I have shown, you are contradicting yourself.

      You have shown nothing of the kind.
      "Less than precise" is not the antonym of "true".



      I believe (God died on the cross) emphasizes the dual nature of Jesus Christ, man and God. God, the man, died on the Cross.

      Since saying "God" doesn't say anything about Jesus' human nature, this is a ridiculous statement.



      I did. Didn't you read the entire comment?

      Of course, but "God died on the cross" doesn't mention what person of the Trinity.
      If we were to specify which person, that would be what *I'VE* been saying we should do - say Jesus died on the cross.



      Far better than what?

      Than saying God died on the cross. Didn't you read the entire comment?



      You are doing precisely what you accused others of doing. Arguing from authority.

      Nonsense. I've offered reasoned arguments.



      Are you denying that Jesus is God?

      That question doesn't remotely address what I said.



      There is nothing wrong with saying that. But it is not better. That is simply your opinion.

      Nonsense. I've offered reasoned arguments.



      You previously said:
      But it more fully captures Mary's relationship to Jesus to say Mother of Jesus.

      That statement does not emphasize that Mary is the Mother of God.


      LOL um Jesus is God incarnate. That's just foolishness, my friend.


      Peace,
      Rhology

      Delete
    5. RhologyFebruary 12, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      I asked,
      By what criteria is it less than precise theology? You admitted that it is a true doctrine above

      To which you responded:
      Yep, I sure did say it is true. Now read the rest of what I've been saying. It's explained there.

      I did. I thought I addressed your opinion directly. It is your opinion that the Title, "Mary, Mother of Jesus" is more precise than "Mary, Mother of God." But it is merely your opinion, carrying neither the weight of logic nor Scripture nor anything but your personal preference.

      Do I consider that it is true that Mary is the mother of God? Yes.
      Is it equally true that she is the mother of a man? Yes.


      Very good.

      Why won't you deal with the real issue at hand?

      What is that, in your opinion?

      Joe's point is that the Mother of God doctrine addresses the heresy which denies Jesus' divinity. I agree.

      Your point seems to be totally different. You are comparing doctrines and claiming one carries more truth and precision than the others. To what end? It is true that Mary is the Mother of God as you said. It is also true she is the mother of Man. For Jesus is perfect man and God.

      So, what point are you making which trumps mine? It doesn't appear to be the subject of Joe's original post. It sounds to me as though you are merely angry having to admit that Mary is the Mother of God. That is why you said to me, "Just b/c someone doesn't think that Jesus is one person with two natures doesn't give us cause to make faulty theological statements about someone who is not herself Jesus....

      Sort of like sour grapes.

      You have shown nothing of the kind.
      "Less than precise" is not the antonym of "true".


      But non-truth is the antonym of truth. With respect to the Doctrine of Mary the Mother of God, you said:
      We must combat heresy with truth, not non-truth.

      So, I insist that you are contradicting yourself. On the one hand admitting that the Doctrine of Mary the Mother of God is true. On the other calling it "faulty theology and non-truth".

      Since saying "God" doesn't say anything about Jesus' human nature, this is a ridiculous statement.

      I don't agree. I assume that I'm speaking to knowledgeable people who are aware of the Doctrines being discussed. And I believe it directly contradicts the heresy being addressed.

      Of course, but "God died on the cross" doesn't mention what person of the Trinity.


      But the rest of the comment does.

      If we were to specify which person, that would be what *I'VE* been saying we should do - say Jesus died on the cross.

      In addressing this objection to Catholic Doctrine, I prefer to emphasize that when Jesus died on the Cross, God died on the Cross.

      Than saying God died on the cross. Didn't you read the entire comment?

      Yeah, but I've already addressed that opinion. I'm of a different opinion.

      Delete
    6. Rhology, you also said:
      Nonsense. I've offered reasoned arguments.

      And you assume that your reason is superior to ours. Otherwise, why insist that you are right and we are wrong?

      That question doesn't remotely address what I said.

      You said that i was conflating (i.e. confusing) Jesus and God. Therefore, I think the question adequately addresses your accusation.

      Nonsense. I've offered reasoned arguments.

      Whats the difference between reasoned arguments and opinions? Reasoned arguments are not "facts". They are simply justifications for your opinion. We have superior justifications for ours, in my opinion.

      LOL um Jesus is God incarnate.

      Nestor believed that as well. That did not stop him from denying that God was conceived in Mary's womb. Therefore, the Doctrine of Mary, the Mother of God better addresses that heresy.

      That's just foolishness, my friend.

      In your unsupported opinion. But I believe the Church was right on the money when they so addressed Nestor's heresy.

      Peace,
      Rhology


      And to you,

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

      Delete
    7. De Maria,

      You're acting like you don't care about truth.
      So, there's only a little here worth replying to.


      And you assume that your reason is superior to ours

      Nonsense. I've offered reasoned arguments.
      I await your reasoned reply to them.


      Whats the difference between reasoned arguments and opinions?

      I suggest you check the dictionary, for one.


      We have superior justifications for ours, in my opinion.

      But your opinion has no weight behind it, for you've offered only faulty reasons to substantiate it.


      Nestor believed that as well.

      It's Nestorius, BTW.
      And he probably believed water was wet. Maybe I shouldn't believe water is wet because an ecumenical council condemned someone as a heretic who thought water is wet.


      That did not stop him from denying that God was conceived in Mary's womb. Therefore, the Doctrine of Mary, the Mother of God better addresses that heresy.

      Combating heresy by embracing a less-than-precise theology is the wrong way to go. We must combat heresy with truth, not non-truth.
      Just b/c someone doesn't think that Jesus is one person with two natures doesn't give us cause to make faulty theological statements about someone who is not herself Jesus. Let's just make statements that express the truth about Jesus Himself.

      Now, you're going to tell me why I'm wrong and not merely assert it, or you can talk to someone else. I'm not going to reply to empty comments from you again.

      Delete
    8. Rhology, you said,


      You're acting like you don't care about truth.


      I care about the truth. I merely disagree with your opinions.


      So, there's only a little here worth replying to.

      Ok.

      Nonsense. I've offered reasoned arguments.
      I await your reasoned reply to them.


      I don't know why you're still waiting. I provided my reasons.

      I suggest you check the dictionary, for one.

      o·pin·ion
      /əˈpinyən/
      Noun
      A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
      The beliefs or views of a large number or majority of people about a particular thing.

      rea·son
      /ˈrēzən/
      Noun
      A cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event.
      Verb
      Think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic: "humans do not reason entirely from facts"; "the reasoning behind the review".
      Synonyms
      noun. cause - motive - occasion - ground - mind - intellect
      verb. argue - think

      It sounds to me as though I have understood those words correctly. Reasons are not necessarily facts. Nor are opinions.

      You have merely justified your opinions with many reasons.

      But your opinion has no weight behind it, for you've offered only faulty reasons to substantiate it.

      1. There you go. You have just proven that you consider your reasons and opinions superior to ours.
      2. I happen to believe that my opinion has the weight of the Catholic Church behind it.
      3. I happen to believe that my reasons are logical and that yours are faulty.


      It's Nestorius, BTW.

      I've heard it both ways and I generally prefer the shorter versions of names.

      And he probably believed water was wet. Maybe I shouldn't believe water is wet because an ecumenical council condemned someone as a heretic who thought water is wet.

      The metaphor is misapplied.

      Water is wet.

      And Mary did conceive God in her womb as you agreed. The Council emphasized and drove home the point which you again seem to be denying, but which you have explicitly agreed is true.

      Combating heresy by embracing a less-than-precise theology is the wrong way to go.

      You have not proved that the Doctrine of Mary the Mother of God is less than precise theology. You simply keep repeating your opinion as though you believe the more often you repeat it, we will suddenly believe it.

      That is a propaganda technique.

      We must combat heresy with truth, not non-truth.

      That is true. And you have admitted that the Doctrine of Mary the Mother of God is true.

      Just b/c someone doesn't think that Jesus is one person with two natures doesn't give us cause to make faulty theological statements about someone who is not herself Jesus.

      Again, you are contradicting yourself. You have admitted that the Doctrine of Mary the Mother of God is true. Not faulty. But now you say it is faulty.


      Let's just make statements that express the truth about Jesus Himself.

      We have. The Doctrine of Mary the Mother of God emphasizes that Jesus is God even in Mary's womb.

      Now, you're going to tell me why I'm wrong and not merely assert it, or you can talk to someone else.

      1. I said your point is moot in this discussion. I don't remember saying you were wrong. (In fact, I have now used the find app on my browser and you have accused me of being wrong several times. But I have not once said that you were wrong.)
      2. I did say that your opinions are not weightier than ours, nor the Church's
      3. I don't understand why you're offended. You have opinions and so do I. Do I always have to agree with you?

      I'm not going to reply to empty comments from you again.

      Ok. God's peace be with you,

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

      Delete
    9. Let's just make statements that express the truth about Jesus Himself.

      We have. The Doctrine of Mary the Mother of God emphasizes that Jesus is God even in Mary's womb.


      But it is silent about the fact that He is also 100% man.
      This is really kind of funny now, watching you flail about, totally missing the point.


      I don't remember saying you were wrong.

      LOL @ your sophistry.
      I'm not offended. It's just that you're wasting everyone's time.

      Delete
  14. Rhology

    But it is silent about the fact that He is also 100% man.


    The Church teaches that Doctrine as well and Nestor(ius) did not object to that Doctrine.

    This is really kind of funny now, watching you flail about, totally missing the point.

    I get the point. But your point is not relevant to this discussion. You mentioned the metaphor that "water is wet".

    Your argument is something like this. YES, water is wet, but we should also mention that water freezes into ice and is therefore cold. Therefore water is not only wet and liquid but also solid and cold. Unless you mention this, then your doctrine that water is wet is imprecise and wrong.

    Whereas, as you agreed, water is wet. And there is nothing wrong or imprecise about that statement.

    And there is nothing wrong or imprecise about the statement that Mary is the Mother of God.

    LOL @ your sophistry.
    I'm not offended. It's just that you're wasting everyone's time.


    You're the only one complaining.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Church teaches that Doctrine as well and Nestor(ius) did not object to that Doctrine.

      And if Nestorianism were the only Christological heresy that ever arose, that would be a valid objection.


      And there is nothing wrong or imprecise about the statement that Mary is the Mother of God.

      Nothing wrong, no. But it is imprecise, as I explained above and which you have merely dismissed by waving your hands.

      Delete
  15. Rhology

    And if Nestorianism were the only Christological heresy that ever arose, that would be a valid objection.


    When and if anyone denies that Mary is the mother of Jesus, then we will assert that Mary is the Mother of Jesus. That is a valid Doctrine and one which we already believe.

    You act as though the Church does not already teach that Mary is Jesus' mother. Nor that the Church already teaches that Jesus is God and man. All these Doctrines the Church already teaches. So why do you want the Church to stop teaching that Mary is the Mother of God?

    It seems that, even though you claim that you believe it is a true Doctrine.you just have a problem with one Doctrine. The Doctrine of Mary the Mother of God.

    Nothing wrong, no. But it is imprecise, as I explained above and which you have merely dismissed by waving your hands.

    I have dismissed your opinion that it is imprecise. But it was hardly with a wave of my hands. I've explained it thoroughly.

    However, you have decided that the Doctrine is "imprecise".

    pre·cise
    /priˈsīs/
    Adjective
    Marked by exactness and accuracy of expression or detail.
    (of a person) Exact, accurate, and careful about details.
    Synonyms
    exact - accurate - strict - punctual - definite - correct

    Now, the Church already teaches that Jesus is God and man. Nestorius denied that Mary is the Mother of God. This is a truth which you agree is true. But Nestorius denied that truth.

    In response, the Church re-affirmed that Mary is the Mother of God. Thereby exactly, accurately and directly contradicting Nestorius's objection.

    In fact, Nestor used your argument. In denying that Mary is the Mother of God, he used your argument saying Mary is the Mother of Jesus. And he didn't view it as more accurately teaching that God was conceived in Mary's womb. He denied that truth. A truth you claim to believe.

    Another thing, you seem to think that the Doctrine of Mary the Mother of God was invented to contradict Nestorius. You said:
    "Just b/c someone doesn't think that Jesus is one person with two natures doesn't give us cause to make faulty theological statements about someone who is not herself Jesus....

    But Nestorius' heresy was not the cause of that Doctrine. The theology underlying the Doctrine known as Mary the Mother of God existed centuries before Nestor was born:

    Prior to Ephesus, however, the Church Fathers wrote of Mary's relationship to Jesus, the Word Incarnate. St. Irenaeus (202 A.D.), bishop of Lyons and pupil of Polycarp, St. John's disciple, declared, "The Virgin Mary . . . being obedient to His Word, received from the angel the glad tidings that she would bear God." St. Ephraem of Syria (373 A.D.) noted, "The handmaid work of His Wisdom became the Mother of God." St. Alexander (328 A.D.), bishop of Alexandria and a key figure at the Council of Nicaea, wrote that "Jesus Christ . . . bore a body not in appearance but in truth, derived from the Mother of God." St. Athanasius (373 A.D.), secretary and successor to Alexander, reflected upon "the Word begotten of the Father on high" who "inexpressibly, inexplicably, incomprehensibly and eternally, is he that is born in time here below, of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God."

    ReplyDelete
  16. GOD is her creator...not vice versa. No one can study and understand the magnanimity of GOD. HE is the one and only the SUPREME one..... yes SUPREME one. Nobody else. Just obey him. What is necessary for us is given through the 10 commandments and Jesus' teachings.

    Mother Mary is an instrument in the hands of God. She is one of the hands of god. God worked and still works through her soul now.

    ReplyDelete