Last Update: Sept 8, 2019
PROTECTION OF THE THEOTOKOS
It is truly right to bless you, O God-bearing One, as the ever-blessed and immaculate Mother of our God. More honorable than the cherubim and by far more glorious than the seraphim; ever a virgin, you gave a birth to God the Word, O true Mother of God, we magnify you.
In my experience, there are many Christians who are vehemently opposed to this dogma of Mary as the Mother of God: Theotokos, the God-bearer, Mother of God. This first and greatest of all Marian titles is the source, in a sense, of all other dignities of the Blessed Mother.
I think the opposition is mainly for two reasons:
1. People say, “It’s not in the Bible.” Nowhere in the Bible is Mary called the Mother of God.
2. Many people say that it is irrational. Because if you say Mary is the Mother of God, she would have to be God. Because she would have to have the same nature as God, e.g., dogs cannot be born of cats.
Now, you have a quandary.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 495 in dealing with Mary as the Mother of God it says:
“Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus,” Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord.” (Luke 1:43) In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).
There is a false syllogism in the minds of many people that goes something like this:
The major premise: God is Trinity
Minor premise: Mary is the Mother of God
Therefore, the conclusion: Mary is the Mother of the Trinity.
What’s the problem with that syllogism? It is a logical fallacy known as undistributed middle term. Yes, God is Trinity and yes, Mary is the Mother of God. But when one says “God,” one can be referring to all three Persons of the Godhead, but not necessarily, because each distinct Person is entirely God. When I say “God,” I may be referring just to one of the Persons. That’s what I mean by an undistributed middle term. That syllogism fails to specify properly what is meant by “God,” in that minor premise. So when we say Mary is the Mother of God, are we saying that Mary is the mother of the Trinity? Absolutely not! She is not the mother of the Father or the Holy Spirit. She is the Mother of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity incarnate.
Someone may object saying, “If you say that Mary is the Mother of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He still has a Divine Nature. And so, if Mary is the Mother then she would have had to give Him his Divine Nature, hence she would have to be Divine once again.”
How do we respond to that?
When my wife gave birth to Yuriy, did Halyna and I give Yuriy his immortal human soul? The answer is no! We did not give him his immortal human soul. God directly created and immediately creates every human soul. Well then, if we did not give him his human soul, does it mean that for the rest of his life when he sees his mother, is he supposed to say, “Hello, mother of my body?” Of course not! Why? Because even though my wife did not give him his immortal soul, my wife did not give birth to a body, she gave birth to a person who is a body-soul composite. Hence, she is the mother of the whole person, even though we know she is not the source of his immortal soul.
In the same way, Mary did not give Jesus His Divine Nature. She is not the source of His Divine Nature, hence we are not saying she is God. She did not even give Him His immortal human soul.
But that doesn’t mean she is only then the Mother of His body. No, she is the mother of a Person. And that Person is the eternal Son of God. Hence Mary is, necessarily speaking, the Mother of God.
Think about it: If we say that Mary is not the Mother of God, then who did she give the birth to? If we believe Jesus was God, then was He God when he was two years old? Yes. Was He God when He was six months old in the womb of his mother? Was He God when He was coming out of the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary? If we answer “yes” to all of the above questions, well, isn’t Mary then the Mother of God?