Mary as Mother of God..... please check my chat to help me

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I understand what you’re getting at, and I agree. We need to understand the term correctly. However, there is a difference between wanting to nuance a term and denying the term altogether. In this case, the former is just theology; the latter is heresy. The gentleman with whom Perg is having this discussion seems to deny altogether that Mary is theotokos. That is heresy.
My guess is that he would prefer the term Christotokos. Which does sound better to me, too, even if Theotokos is also correct. He takes offense to being compared to Nestorious. Yet he claims that those who refer to Mary as "holy" are blasphemers. So I guess I am a blasphemer.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
In my mind, it is unfortunate that even Ligonier is having problems with this particular issue. The best treatment of the matter is in Hodge's ST. I used to be more sympathetic to the more Nestorian formulations. But when I read in Acts that God purchased the church with His own blood, and I realized that actions proper to one nature can be attributed to the person, which can then be referred to by the other nature, then the matter becomes clear. Mary absolutely is the theotokos. To be precise, she is the bearer of the God-man, and not in any way the origin of Jesus' divine nature. Historically speaking, Catholics would burn at the stake those who would not affirm that Mary is the theotokos. Therefore, from an evangelistic perspective, it actually makes perfect sense to agree with the statement, and then explain what is meant. As to whether Jesus exhausts the Godhead, all three of the persons fully exhaust the essence of God (which is personal, not impersonal). Your Baptist friend also needs to learn about perichoresis, the mutual indwelling of the person. Your friend verges on the heresy of partialism, in addition to Nestorianism.
Relatedly, I always considered the limited, physical presence of Christ the best argument against the Lutheran view of the Supper. The view outlined here seems to weaken that somewhat, to me at least.

I know Lutherans often argue that the real difference between them and us is in the christology, based on this.

Mind you, this is an area I consider myself very weak. Am I going wrong in my thinking here?
 
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Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
My guess is that he would prefer the term Christotokos. Which does sound better to me, too, even if Theotokos is also correct. He takes offense to being compared to Nestorious. Yet he claims that those who refer to Mary as "holy" are blasphemers. So I guess I am a blasphemer.
Referring to Mary as christokos is fine, but denying that she is theotokos is not. Either Mary gave birth to the One who is God and man in two distinct natures and one Person forever, or she did not. That is the issue. And what your friend needs to understand is that this isn’t about Mary, or about Rome, or about Roman Catholics in the Philippines; this is about the Christ we confess. Who is he? And (for lack of a better question) what is he? If we don’t get this right, our salvation is in jeopardy. The early church understood this. We need to, as well. (Of course, brother, I know you know this, hence your distress.)
 
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De Jager

Puritan Board Sophomore
Please inform me if I am off the rails here but the way I see it is this: Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. However when one typically thinks of a mother, one thinks of a person who existed before and is the source of, her child. For Mary, this is not the case, strictly speaking...because unlike a typical child at conception and birth, Jesus had two natures, not one. As to his divinity...he was the source of Mary and upheld her by the word of His power. As to his humanity, she was the womb in which he grew. However, you can't separate the two natures...they were united in the one person. It is truly astounding to think about...and hopefully I haven't posted anything in error, I would appreciate correction if that is the case!

I would think that language like Mary as the "mother of God" could be tricky if it was not defined properly. It seems like some explaining needs to be done to counter the Catholic views which take a phrase such as that and run with it to all manner of ridiculous conclusions. As to her being holy, she most definitely was holy (still is) in the sense that she was specifically called by God to a certain unique task in History. However again I can see how in a Catholic context this gets abused too. So I would say again, some explaining is needed if those words are to be used.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Dogmatically though I think Rome is unsurpassed in their Mary worship. I actually once saw an orthodox apologetic site accuse romanists of Mary worship if you can believe that.

More to the point I believe that Mary is most definitely Theotokos. Sadly Rome and "orthodox" use this truth to construct a completely unbiblical system of mariolatry.

A friend who left the eastern orthodox church with me, swam the Tiber instead of going to Geneva. He now insists the EO are unsurpassed in their Mary worship and are far worse than Rome on this score. I guess it all depends really, on which of the dozen+ autocephalous eastern churches one belongs to. He and I spent most of our time in the Russian church, whose Mariolatry might be far worse than other eastern churches, such as the Antiochians or Georgians. And on top of that, since there are no set standards, confessions, etc., to which any of these churches can ultimately appeal to, it becomes a free-for-all and results vary even from region-to-region, parish-to-parish within those national churches.

Undoubtedly, the reason why he and I would claim that the EO is far worse than Rome is because we both once witnessed the "Rite of the Elevation of the Panagia Bread" where the priest turns Mary into a loaf of bread. I remember him even asking our then-priest: "Wait! What? So this is Mary's body!?!" To which the priest replied, smiling matter-of-factly and with straight face: "Yes, it is!!!" And then the Russian ladies queued up to rip pieces of that bread off to take home with them to store in their freezers so they could eat the magical Mary bread for good luck throughout the year.

No way Rome tops that!!
 
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Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Please inform me if I am off the rails here but the way I see it is this: Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. However when one typically thinks of a mother, one thinks of a person who existed before and is the source of, her child. For Mary, this is not the case, strictly speaking...because unlike a typical child at conception and birth, Jesus had two natures, not one. As to his divinity...he was the source of Mary and upheld her by the word of His power. As to his humanity, she was the womb in which he grew. However, you can't separate the two natures...they were united in the one person. It is truly astounding to think about...and hopefully I haven't posted anything in error, I would appreciate correction if that is the case!

I would think that language like Mary as the "mother of God" could be tricky if it was not defined properly. It seems like some explaining needs to be done to counter the Catholic views which take a phrase such as that and run with it to all manner of ridiculous conclusions. As to her being holy, she most definitely was holy (still is) in the sense that she was specifically called by God to a certain unique task in History. However again I can see how in a Catholic context this gets abused too. So I would say again, some explaining is needed if those words are to be used.

I guess I would add the qualification to the Theotokos label: "...as spelled out by St. Cyril of Alexandria at the Council of Ephesus in the fifth century" and then drop the mic.

Rome and Constantinople should have just left it at that.... but NOOOO, they had to end up attaching all sorts of Jungian feminine-goddess archetypes to Mary over the centuries that followed.
 
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Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Please inform me if I am off the rails here but the way I see it is this: Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. However when one typically thinks of a mother, one thinks of a person who existed before and is the source of, her child. For Mary, this is not the case, strictly speaking...because unlike a typical child at conception and birth, Jesus had two natures, not one. As to his divinity...he was the source of Mary and upheld her by the word of His power. As to his humanity, she was the womb in which he grew. However, you can't separate the two natures...they were united in the one person. It is truly astounding to think about...and hopefully I haven't posted anything in error, I would appreciate correction if that is the case!
What you say sounds just like what Ephesus concluded in 431:

Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh.​
 

De Jager

Puritan Board Sophomore
What you say sounds just like what Ephesus concluded in 431:

Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh.​
Was he a heretic?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Something worth considering. I don't trust any minister who rejects our Christian foundations.

Which Theology Do We Do? Part 1

Christian, Catholic, Evangelical

John Duncan (1796–1870), the Scottish Presbyterian scholar and missionary known as “Rabbi” Duncan, both for his knowledge of Hebrew and his love for the Jewish people, once said, “I’m first a Christian, next a Catholic, then a Calvinist, fourth a Paedobaptist, and fifth a Presbyterian. I cannot reverse this order.” These categories, Duncan said, were not so much like concentric circles as like levels of a tower: “The first is the broadest, and is the foundation laid by Christ; but we are to build on that foundation, and, as we ascend, our outlook widens.”
Having discussed the what (chaps. 1–2) and the who, where, and when (chap. 3) of theology, we now ask, Which theology do we do? In a world of many religions, and in one world religion (Christianity) in which people assert many diverse and even conflicting beliefs, which theology should we seek to do as Christians? We could define our theological standpoint from the narrowest point on the top of the tower. However, in this chapter, while not avoiding specificity, we will begin to consider our theological identity starting with its broad foundations and moving upward from there.

Christian Theology

The most fundamental characteristic of our theology is that it must be Christian, that is, we do theology as disciples of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 11:26). God the Father testifies of Christ, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matt. 17:5). We must hear God’s Son, for he is the chief Prophet and Teacher of the church (Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22–23; 7:37). Christ calls us to submission and spiritual education: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me” (Matt. 11:29). His teachings are the rock on which we must build our lives (7:24). Indeed, Christ himself is the foundation of all spiritual knowledge and life. The apostle Paul writes, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11 ESV). God’s Son is the only revealer of God the Father (Matt. 11:27; John 1:18). To know Christ is to know God (John 14:7, 9). Therefore, Christ is the great Theologian, and as the eternal Word of God (John 1:1), he is theology itself.
Practically speaking, submission to Christ entails submission to the words of the prophets and apostles by whom he spoke, both before and after he came into the world. Christ was revealed to Abraham and to Moses as the great “I am” (John 8:58), the prophets of the Old Testament were directed by the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet. 1:11), and the entire Old Testament testifies to Christ (Luke 24:25–27, 44–46; John 5:39). The New Testament Scriptures were written in fulfilment of Christ’s promise, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13–14). Therefore, the aim of Christian theology is “that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour” (2 Pet. 3:2). Christian theology is theology done with faith in Christ, in submission to Christ, and in the light of the Word of Christ.

Catholic Theology

The word catholic does not necessarily refer to the church ruled by the bishop of Rome, but comes from a Greek term (katholikos) meaning “general, universal,” and so “catholic church” means the church in all places and times as opposed to a single congregation. Ignatius (c. 35–c. 107), writing around the end of the first century, said of the visible church gathered with its officers, “Wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” As the church faced various heresies, catholic came to stand alongside orthodox, denoting fidelity to the teaching of Christ’s apostles. The orthodox, catholic church defined its doctrine with fundamental creedal statements.


Beeke, J. R., & Smalley, P. M. (2019). Reformed Systematic Theology: Revelation and God (Vol. 1). Crossway.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 8:07 AM December 28, 2021.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Relatedly, I always considered the limited, physical presence of Christ the best argument against the Lutheran view of the Supper. The view outlined here seems to weaken that somewhat, to me at least.

I know Lutherans often argue that the real difference between them and us is in the christology, based on this.

Mind you, this is an area I consider myself very weak. Am I going wrong in my thinking here?
It is not a logical end-point for the view expressed. Calvinists and Lutherans agree on Mary as Theotokos. The difference between the positions is this: Calvinists believe that the communication of attributes happens between either nature to the person and vice versa, but NOT either nature to each other. Lutherans believe in a communication of attributes both between the person and the natures (and vice versa) and ALSO between the natures. Lutherans always accused the Calvinists of being Nestorians, and Calvinists accused the Lutherans of being Eutychians. Lutherans would respond by saying a communication of attributes does not entail mixing the two natures together. But it is difficult to know how else to take the Lutheran communication of attributes than as a confusion of the natures, thus contrary to Chalcedon.

The other main thing guarding against the Lutheran view is the extra Calvinisticum. This teaching of Calvin says that Christ is located in heaven and is limited there, in terms of his human nature. His divine nature, however, extends beyond ("extra") the human nature to the point of omnipresence. We are not Nestorian, because we believe Christ's divine nature is never separated from His human nature or vice versa. Calvinists are truly Chalcedonian on this: we acknowledge two natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably.

So Calvin's real view of the Lord's Supper is that, during the sursum corda ("life up your hearts"), we are invited by faith into heaven itself, which is where the real sacrament takes place. Christ feeds His sheep with His body and blood, which we receive with the mouth of faith (not our physical mouth), the Holy Spirit bridging the distance between heaven and earth (read Keith Mathison's outstanding book Given For You for a thorough examination and defense of Calvin's real view).
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
It is not a logical end-point for the view expressed. Calvinists and Lutherans agree on Mary as Theotokos. The difference between the positions is this: Calvinists believe that the communication of attributes happens between either nature to the person and vice versa, but NOT either nature to each other. Lutherans believe in a communication of attributes both between the person and the natures (and vice versa) and ALSO between the natures. Lutherans always accused the Calvinists of being Nestorians, and Calvinists accused the Lutherans of being Eutychians. Lutherans would respond by saying a communication of attributes does not entail mixing the two natures together. But it is difficult to know how else to take the Lutheran communication of attributes than as a confusion of the natures, thus contrary to Chalcedon.

The other main thing guarding against the Lutheran view is the extra Calvinisticum. This teaching of Calvin says that Christ is located in heaven and is limited there, in terms of his human nature. His divine nature, however, extends beyond ("extra") the human nature to the point of omnipresence. We are not Nestorian, because we believe Christ's divine nature is never separated from His human nature or vice versa. Calvinists are truly Chalcedonian on this: we acknowledge two natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably.

So Calvin's real view of the Lord's Supper is that, during the sursum corda ("life up your hearts"), we are invited by faith into heaven itself, which is where the real sacrament takes place. Christ feeds His sheep with His body and blood, which we receive with the mouth of faith (not our physical mouth), the Holy Spirit bridging the distance between heaven and earth (read Keith Mathison's outstanding book Given For You for a thorough examination and defense of Calvin's real view).
Thanks! Very helpful. I'll check out the Mathison book as well.
 
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