Saturday, September 12, 2009

Old Heresy Alive Today

Mary is the Theotokos or the "God Bearer."  We call her the Mother of God in English.
I have talked to many Evangelicals who take issue with the fact that Catholics believe Mary is the "Mother of God."   Sometimes they go so far as to tell me they feel it implies she was present long before the Great I Am.  Or, that she is somehow a symbol of the pagan /new age "Mother Earth"

Clarification: What is a "Protestant Evangelical"?
Evangelicals accept the Bible as reliable and the ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice. The doctrines of sola scriptura and sola fide are usually primary.
The term (especially in the United States ) usually describes conservative, often, born-again, Protestants.

Why do Catholics call Mary, The Mother of God? To me, it is a simple thing to understand.  Mary carried Jesus in her womb - she was pregnant with Jesus who is God and Man.
Little could those Evangelicals imagine that in their quest to keep Mary unrelated to Jesus' Divinity, they were really repeating upon an old heresy dating back to the Early Church.

Clarification: What is heresy? A belief that denies a teaching of our Catholic Faith.
Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt a divine truth of our Catholic faith.


The heresy begins with the Patriarch of Constantinople by the name of Nestorius in the year 428.

  • Nestorius rejected the Arian Heresy and actively fought against the Arians, who were pretty entrenched within the Church.
  • The Arians said that Christ's Divinity took over his soul (essentially rejecting Christ's humanity).
  • In his zeal, Nestorius believed that Mary was NOT the Mother of the Second Person in the Trinity for how could she be a mother of someone older than herself? That was the argument and it seems as though the argument has not changed all that much over the centuries.
Clarification: Let's recap:
Arian heresy (Arianism) claims that the Son is not truly God.
Arianism was taught by a theologian named Arius (c. AD 250-336). Arius believed that Jesus was an inspired prophet, but not with divine nature.* Arius taught that God the Father and the Son did not exist together eternally. (WRONG!).

OK, so this guy, Nestorius was right when he rejected the Arian heresy, right?
Right! But in being so zealous in trying to explain Jesus' divinity he ended up downplaying Mary to such an extreme that he referred to her not as "Mother of God" but "Mother of Christ."
This evolved into "Nestorianism" which actually denied the reality of the Incarnation, by making Jesus Christ into two different persons, one human and one divine, in one body. (WRONG!)
Nestorius ended up being declared a heretic.

The Church immediately knew the danger behind this kind of thought. Because if Mary was NOT the Mother of the Divine Jesus, then Jesus was merely a human mortal, not divine. In 431 the Church convened a Council in the City of Ephesus "defining that Mary can be properly referred to as the Mother of God, not in the sense that she is older than God or the source of God, but in the sense that the person she carried in her womb was, in fact, God incarnate ("in the flesh")."

As always, if we really want to know Jesus fully, His Mother points the way. Wherever Mary is, Jesus is Present. Ironically in their zeal to adore Jesus properly, today's Evangelical community embraces ancient heresy and rejects Christ's Divinity by nature of rejecting his Mother.


sources:
This is a post from Radical Catholic Mom. An excellent, clear, historical and educational look at Mary, Mother of God. This is her post but it is most  gently edited by me. I have added some interjections of vocabulary definition and changed formatting for my Jr. High School students.
ALSO these sources:
*Markale, Jean, 1988
wikipedia
First Things
Radical Catholic Mom

2 comments:

Tracy said...

Fantastic post!! I have had many discussions with non Catholics who really don't understand our love for Mother Mary.. the nice thing is.. when you are able to give them the facts and explain that by no means do we "worship" Mary.. many of them are able to see Mary in a totally new light!!

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

How ironic! I was at a Chaldean/Assyrian festival yesterday and this very topic came up (Nestorius) for it has had a major impact on the Chaldean community, splitting the church into Eastern Catholic and Chaldean Catholic. What a coincidence that you posted on it!

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