Saturday, January 01, 2011

Mary, Mother of God, a Common Protestant/Catholic Confession

As our Catholic readers know, this is the Solemnity (Holy Day) of Mary, Mother of God, one of the more significant liturgical celebrations in the Catholic calendar

The confession of Mary as “Mother of God” presents a stumbling block for some non-Catholic Christians, but curiously it never did for me.

I think it was back in the Fall of 1992 when I was sitting in a course in Ancient Church History at one of the best Calvinist seminaries in America. Our professor, a devout Dutch Calvinist (like most of us students), was lecturing on the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus AD 431, the council that recognized Mary as “Theotokos,” “Mother of God” (or more literally, “Bearer of God”). He began to address the question, Can Calvinists confess Mary as “Mother of God”? He answered in the affirmative, granted that one understood this not as a claim for Mary’s motherhood of divinity itself, but in the sense that Mary was mother of Jesus, who is truly God. And that, of course, is precisely how the Catholic Church understands the term.

So far from being a cause of division, the common confession of Mary as “Mother of God” should unite all Christians, and distinguish Christian orthodoxy from various confusions of it, such as Arianism (the denial that Jesus was God) or Nestorianism (in which Mary mothers only the human nature of Jesus but not his whole person).

Happy feast day to all!

On a side note, I’ll be gone starting Monday on a retreat and won’t be blogging again until January 10 at the earliest.

Notre Dame beat Miami in the Sun Bowl yesterday, no doubt aided by the fact that there was snow in El Paso overnight and the temperature at kick-off was 37 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s balmy for South Bend but not for South Florida. Despite my conviction that college sports is overhyped and frequently a disordered waste of time, my alma mater’s win made me happy. Go Irish!


Anonymous said...

Who could create the Divinity anyway.

jayeverett said...

A most important part of the Catholic belief is "Mary mother of God". She did bear a child which was God comming into the world the only way possible as a human being. Called Jesus he was the Christ and called the "Son of God". The Divinity was not created. It is God (3 as 1). "I am that I am". All is God.....

Brad said...

If by "all is God" you mean the heresy of pantheism, that is incorrect. Pantheism is an ancient heresy that has been made vogue thanks to liberalism's new-age thought and flirtation with eastern mysticism (sadly, within the Church). The Creator is not his creation any more than I am the apple pie I just made. My desire to make the pie, my love for it, and my skill are evident in the pie, but I am not the pie.

Peter said...

Martin Luther's commentary on the Magnificat opens and closes asking Mary to pray that his work is up to the task. Luther had great reverence for Our Lady and would, I think, be horrified with the way she is treated by modern Lutheran theologians.

kentuckyliz said...

Pardon my ignorance, but when you say "Dutch Calvinist," is this a particular ecclesial communion, or school of thought, or body of scholars, or ethnically inculturated form of Jean Cauvin's doctrines just for the Dutch, or just referring to the teacher's ethnicity? I really don't know what that term means. Thanks.