In the 4th century, when Constantine the Great appointed himself Pontifex Maximus – supreme head – of the Christian Church, pagans and their pagan beliefs began infiltrating Christendom. Among the most influential of the new “converts” were those from the Mediterranean and Middle East areas where worship of the “Great Mother Goddess” and the “Divine Virgin” had existed since Babylon. According to Britannica, these groups:
“….found within the Christian Church a new possibility of expression in the worship of Mary as the virgin mother of God, in whom was achieved the mysterious union of the divine Logos with human nature.” (Britannica, Christianity: The doctrine of the Virgin Mary and holy Wisdom.)
By the end of the 4th century, Mary the mother of Jesus, known prior to the advent of Constantine as the Christ-bearer, (Greek Christotokos,) was being referred to as the God-bearer, (theotokos.) Thus was born the doctrine of Mary, mother of God, a title foreign to Scripture where she is called only the mother of Jesus. At first, this matter drew little attention, but in AD 428, Anastasius, a presbyter in the church at Constantinople, raised objections to the theotokos appellation, and thereby originated a controversy that continues to exist here in the 21st century.
Anastasius was immediately supported in his position by Nestorius, bishop of the Constantinople church, who believed that the theotokos title adversely affected the fact of our Lord’s full humanity. Cyril, powerful bishop of Alexandria, motivated as much by envy of Constantinople’s standing among the eastern churches as he was by the theological aspects of the controversy, joined battle over the issue with Nestorius, outflanked him at the AD 431 First Council of Ephesus, and succeeded in confirming Mary as the mother of God. Nestorius, falsely accused of separating Christ’s two natures – human and divine – subsequently was excommunicated, then sacked as bishop of Constantinople by the emperor, Theodosius II, who had appointed him in the first place. He died in exile, but the controversy lives on. Is Mary the mother or Jesus? Or is she, a created being, the mother of eternal God?
The Roman Catholic Church and certain mainline churches that split from Rome during or following the Reformation, declare unequivocally that Mary is, in fact, the mother of God. Those historically and currently who oppose this teaching are accused, as was Nestorius, of “dividing Christ” into an “earthly Jesus” and a “heavenly Jesus,” thereby denying the essential unity of our Lord’s two natures. But that is merely an unproved and unprovable accusation. Christ, in fact, had two distinct natures fused into a single human body, a mystery quite as hidden to man as three distinct persons comprising a single Godhead. To say that Mary was the mother of Jesus only is no more a division of Christ’s two natures than acknowledging Christ as the only begotten Son of the Father is a division of the Godhead. Both are mysteries akin to that of a virgin being with child allegedly conceived by that same unborn child because He is a member of the Godhead. Shades, in other words, of the Babylonian “Mystery” religion.
In a document entitled, The Mother of Jesus, published by the Catholic Information Service of the Knights of Columbus, justification for calling Mary the mother of God is capsulized in the following two paragraphs:
In the natural and normal process of human reproduction, when both maternal and paternal functions unite, God simultaneously creates the human soul which enlivens the fecundated ovum in the woman’s womb, and thus a human person is conceived. It is always an individual’s human nature – a person who possesses human nature. (Emphasis added.)
It matters not that the woman has no part in the production of the spiritual element (directly created by God) in the human nature of the person she conceives. It suffices that she has supplied the bodily substance which goes into the constitution of human nature possessed by the person, that she rightly acquires the title of mother. (Emphasis added.)
No one disputes the fact that Mary is the mother of the human Jesus even though she was not the “supplier” of His human soul. Nor is there any question that the man Christ Jesus was created human in body, soul and spirit. What is disputed is the extension of the title “mother” to a divine nature that eternally existed and was not created in the womb of the virgin. A mother is only the mother of what originates within her womb. The second person of the blessed trinity did not originate in Mary’s body. He is without beginning – has always existed – and has no mother.
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.) (Psalm 90:2) “Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.” (Psalm 93:2) “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,” (Psalm 103:17) “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 106:48)
That Jesus had two natures – one created and one eternal – united in a single human body is beyond question. That only one of those two natures originated in Mary’s womb also is beyond question. And why she cannot then be called the mother of God finds an exact parallel in Christ’s relationship to King David.
“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:” (Luke 1:32) “And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?” (Matt 12:23) “And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” (Matt 15:22) “And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.” (Matt 20:30) “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” (Matt 21:9)
In these Scriptures it is clearly established that the nation of Israel expected their Messiah to derive – as prophesied – from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, thereby attributing fatherhood of the Messiah to David in accordance with their method of reckoning descent. But David cannot be called the father of God because of his relationship to the man Christ Jesus. Our Lord Himself preempted any possibility of that erroneous belief.
“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” (Matt 22:42-46) Parallel accounts of this episode are found in Mark 12: 35-37, and Luke 20:41-44.
In these Scriptures, our Lord has done what Roman Catholic apologists say may not be done. He has clearly drawn a line between the human nature and the eternal nature of Christ. He has clearly established the fact that David is NOT the father of God, because he is NOT the father of the second person of the blessed trinity. He has clearly shown this distinction of natures to be a mystery – one the Jews of His day could not comprehend any better than the Roman Catholics or Christians of the 21st century. This mystery of the two fused but separate natures manifest in Christ finds another reference in the following excerpt from the Gospel of John. When confronted by the Jews and constrained to identify himself, John the Baptist’s response included this interesting disclosure: “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” (John 3:34) Certainly the Holy Spirit could not have been given to the Second Person of the trinity for He is part of that trinity. So the Holy Spirit that was given without measure was given only to the man Christ Jesus.
It stands to reason, then, that like King David – to whom fatherhood ONLY of the man Christ Jesus is attributed – Mary is the Mother ONLY of the man Christ Jesus. To prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt, let us insert Mary’s name in place of King David’s in the previously cited Scriptures:
“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of MARY. He saith unto them, How then doth MARY call him Lord, saying, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. (Luke 1:46, 47) If MARY then call him Lord, how is he her son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.”
To insist that Mary is Christotokos only and not theotokos is not to separate Jesus into a “heavenly Jesus” and an “earthly Jesus” as Roman Catholicism contends. It is merely recognizing what Jesus Himself made clear, that David was not the father of God, and by parallel reasoning, Mary was His earthly mother only, and not a Goddess or Queen of Heaven worthy of the title mother of God.
Because the Second Person of the blessed trinity is an eternal being having neither a beginning nor an ending, it was the man Christ Jesus who suffered as the second Adam on Calvary and died for the sins of the world. The Second Person of the trinity did not die, cannot die or be put to death. And it’s the man Christ Jesus – not the Second Person of the trinity – who is said Scripturally to be the one mediator between God and man. (1 Tim 2:5) He who is eternal, who could not and cannot die, could not be, and was not, born of the virgin.
Conclusion: Jesus Christ the man is the son of Mary. The Second Person of the Trinity is her God, not her son, for He did not originate in her womb.