DOES TRUE ORTHODOXY BELIEVE GOD CAN HAVE A MOTHER?
MEANS GOD BEARER
Can God have a Mother?
AUTHOR: Bishop Brian J. Kennedy, O.S.B.
It is permitted to call Mary the Mother of God with the understanding
that we mean Mother of the Immanuel or “God with us” per the prophecy
of the Holy Prophet Isaiah.
St. Gregory Nazianzus
“He is born, but he has already been generated; he is born of a woman, but also from a Virgin. The former is human, the latter divine. In his human nature, he has no father; in his divine nature, he has no mother.”
…..IN HIS HUMANITY, HE HAD NO FATHER AND IN
HIS DIVINITY HE HAD NO MOTHER…..
St. Gregory Nazianzus
A woman is mother only of what originates within her womb. The second person of the Blessed Trinity did not originate in the womb of the Virgin Mother. He is without beginning – has always existed – and has no mother. The Virgin Mary gave birth to the Christ and so we rightly call Mary Christotokos (birth giver of the Christ). In the person of the Christ, God is present to us in His Incarnate Word as spoken from all eternity so we rightly call Mary the first Tabernacle. The Christ present in the womb of the Virgin Mary was the only begotten of the Father, the Pre-existent Logos but the womb of the Virgin did not nourish or ‘mother’ the divinity of the Christ but only His humanity. Christ is true God and true man but Mary is Mother only to the humanity of the Christ, not His divinity. The humanity of the Christ originated in the womb of the Virgin Mary but His divinity did not have its origin in the womb of Mary nor was it developed in the womb of Mary. The Christ child in the womb of Mary grew in age, stature and grace before God and man (Luke 5:52) so obviously that was not the divinity of Christ but the humanity of Christ. Christ had emptied Himself of His divine prerogatives (Phil 2: 6-7) and became a man like us in all ways but sin. (Hebrew 2:17)
“As for Mary, she fulfilled the Father's will; in this way, while PHYSICALLY SHE WAS
ONLY THE MOTHER OF THE CHRIST, spiritually she was both sister and Mother to him.”
That Jesus had two natures – one created and one eternal - united in a single Person, is beyond question. That only one of those two natures originated in Mary’s womb also is beyond doubt. While Jesus is clearly one Person with two natures we know that Jesus in His humanity is the Son of Mary and in His Divinity is the Son of His Heavenly Father. It is the man Jesus the Christ (Anointed one) that is born of woman.
Isaiah 7:14 clearly affirms it will be a child that is born of the woman and he will learn good from evil. God does not need to learn good from evil. On the Feast of the Nativity of the Christ we celebrate the birth of the child that rested on Mary’s lap. It is called the Nativity of the baby Jesus, the Christ, (anointed one of God) not the nativity of God, because it is in fact the birth of the baby Jesus who is the Christ.
In Acts 10:38 we are told “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power…” 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 was given only to the man Christ Jesus.
“If we admit his generation from the Father, then let us also admit his birth from Mary, so that our faith might be complete. What was the reason for the Incarnation? It has to be this: the flesh that had sinned had to be redeemed by the same flesh.”
In order for Mary to be the Mother of His Divinity,
she would have had to also be divine.
Because the Second Person of the Trinity is an eternal and holy Being having neither a beginning nor an ending, (Alpha and Omega) it was the man Christ Jesus who suffered and died on the Cross as the second Adam for the sins of the world. The Second Person of the Trinity did not die, cannot die or be put to death. It is the man Jesus – not the Second Person of the Trinity - who is said according to 1 Timothy 2: 5-6 to be the one mediator between God and man. He who is eternal, who could not and cannot die; God could not be, and was not, born of the virgin.
MARY IS THE GOD-BEARER SO IN THAT SENSE ONLY IS MARY RIGHTLY CALLED THE THEOTOKOS.
WE RIGHTLY HAIL MARY AS THE HOLY CHRISTOTOKOS
MEANING MARY IS THE ACTUAL BIOLOGICAL MOTHER OF THE CHRIST, THE INCARNATE WORD OF GOD, TRUE GOD AND TRUE MAN
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.
This became an issue in the life of the Church in the Council at Ephesus, which Council was a political demonstration of power by Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria over his competitor Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople. The matter was settled and the choice of Theotokos (God bearer) was affirmed but the secondary meaning of Mother of God was decided on before the Council even opened up. It is important to remember it was Emperor Theodosius II that installed the Patriarch of Constantinople and if Theodosius II had stayed on the side of Patriarch Nestorius instead of going over to the side of Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria, the Council would have had an entirely different outcome. It was all about politics and ego and self-aggrandizement on the part of Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria. The Government, then as now, must approve the man to become Patriarch of Constantinople. The Patriarch then as now is essentially a government appointee.
Patriarch Nestorius was falsely accused of denying that Christ was one person with two natures. The Council was not about the purity of the faith but the ego and political ambitions of Patriarch Cyril who wanted to become Patriarch of Constantinople as well as the Patriarch of Alexandria. Rome and Alexandria cooperated in this unholy mission and the unholy union between Rome and Alexandria developed even more over the next generations. The Patriarch of Constantinople objected to the use of the term Theotokos when the Apostles
and the Apostolic Church had always used the term Christotokos.
Celtic Orthodoxy seldom uses the term Mother of God, preferring to say
Mother of our God and Lord. The term Mother of God with us is not uncommon.