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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why do Catholics proclaim Mary is the mother of GOD?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

Question: Why do Catholics proclaim Mary is the mother of GOD?  How in the world could GOD have a MOTHER?  Catholics must believe, then, that Mary pre-existed Jesus.
"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners!"

One thought that all Catholics ought to keep in their minds whenever they are questioned about Mary is, "We believe _____ about Mary because we believe _________ about Jesus."

In other words, any dogma/doctrine/belief about Mary somehow confirms, enhances and re-affirms a teaching on Jesus (or His Body, the Church) rather than serving to exalt Mary.

Thus, our profession that Mary is the Mother of God confirms our understanding that Jesus is God.   Otherwise, if Mary is not the Mother of God, then who do we declare Jesus to be?  A mere man?  NOT God? 

It is interesting to note that this dogma of Mary as mother of God (or theotokos, which means, literally, God-bearer) was proclaimed during the 5th century, just when a heresy was being promoted that there were 2 separate persons, conjoined in Jesus Chris; a divine person and a human person.  Mary as the theotokos (or Mother of God) was declared a dogma of the Church at the Council of Ephesus.  This proclamation served to condemn any thought which questioned the divinity of Christ.

Devotion to Mary as the Mother of God in the early Church grew as the early Christians grew to understand more fully the nature of Jesus' humanity and divinity.  The theological term "hypostatic union" was used to profess the belief "that in Christ one person subsists in two natures, the Divine and the human."  While the phrase "hypostatic union" is not found in Scripture, this understanding of the nature of Christ is accepted by all mainline Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

(This provides an interesting segue into the topic on the development of doctrine.  While, as stated in last week's post, the Christian faith was whole and complete before a single word of the New Testament was ever written down; however, it is also true that doctrine develops. Our understanding of God's revelation has progressed throughout our 2000 year history.  Thus, the 1st century understanding of the nature of Christ was elemental and fundamental, but not fully understood. It's likely that the first century bishops would have been unfamiliar with the term "hypostatic union" yet would have concurred with the concept.  Indeed, God chose to enrich and cultivate our understanding of this through His Church, not through the Scriptures.)

Contrary to what some Protestants may believe about Catholicism (see this anti-Catholic website:  http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVSermons/DeificationOfMary.htm
) we do not elevate Mary to the level of a goddess or a deity.  She is NOT divine. 
 

So, do Catholics believe Mary pre-existed Jesus, or is co-eternal with the Trinity?  The argument is presented in this way:  "Since Catholics say Mary is the "Mother of God", and Jesus is Eternal, in order to be his mother, Mary would have to be equally Eternal." However, in calling Mary "Mother of God" we do not proclaim that Mary is the source of Jesus' divine nature (just like mothers are not the source of their children's immortal souls).  We simply say that Mary gave birth to a Person, a Person with both a divine nature and a human nature--but she is not the source of His divine nature (nor is she, in fact, the source of His human nature).

Finally, the term "Mother of God" can indeed be found in Scripture, contrary to what some Fundamentalists may maintain. In
Luke 1:43, Elizabeth exults that Mary is the "Mother of my Lord!" (i.e. the Mother of God). While it is true that there are many places in Scripture in which the title "lord" does not refer to God (as in "the owner was the lord of the vineyard"), it is clear that Elizabeth is referring to Mary as the Mother of God (her LORD) because just 2 verses prior Scripture states that Elizabeth was "filled with the Holy Spirit". If Elizabeth called Jesus "Lord" under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who could doubt that this is a proclamation of Jesus' DIVINITY? 

As Pope Benedict wrote in 2007:  “All the other titles with which the Church honours Our Lady then derive from the title "Mother of God", but this one is fundamental.”
For more in-depth study visit these websites:
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

4 comments:

  1. "Finally, the term "Mother of God" can indeed be found in Scripture" In your next sentence by quoting the actual scripture, you contradict your statement: "Mary is the "Mother of my Lord!" (i.e. the Mother of God). Sorry but "i.e." does not equal "indeed be found" You my friend, are adding to the Bible, and are applying more significance to the blessed and grace filled mother of the incarnate Jesus...

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  2. Thanks for your comment.

    However, are you familiar with the Latin abbreviation: i.e.? It stands for "id est", which means, "that is".

    That is, (ha!) "is equal to".

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  3. Jesus has got a mother named mary true ..and all should respect but mother mary cann't be a mediator between god and man and the only mediator should be jesus to reach the father and even the bible says there should not be any mediator what so ever it be .Pray to god and ask for forgiveness and deliverance to him directly not through any saints ......

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    1. It's true that there is only ONE mediator between God and man. However, to the degree that we ALL participate in this mediatorship of Christ is the degree that we ALL are mediators.

      In fact, I propose that you've probably been a spiritual mediator for someone today, if you've prayed for someone at their request.

      And you are absolutely right--we Catholics pray to God and ask for forgiveness and deliverance. We do not pray to the saints for forgiveness.
      Praying to the saints is nothing more than having a Prayer Chain in heaven.

      There's nothing un-Biblical about Prayer Chains, right? :-)

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