Mother of God or Mother Goddess?

The Catholic religion’s exaltation of Mary can be seen in the “Mother of God” title attributed to her. Most Catholics when questioned about this often reply: “We believe in the Trinity. Jesus is God, so, Mary too is the mother of God.”

But if this Catholic hobbyhorse is pursued to a logical end, it leads to a warped theology.

One, since God is Triune, then Mary would also have to be the mother of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Two, if we replace the word Jesus with “God” in the following Bible verses, they will read as:

Now when GOD was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod…” (Matt.2:1)

And GOD increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)

And [GOD] was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow...” (Mark4: 38)

And GOD cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.” (Mark 15:37)

These passages sound absurd. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the God-Man. He is both human and deity; both natures are presented in Scripture. To deny either nature is rank heresy. Mary is only the mother of Jesus as Man, not as God.

The “mother” familial title applies only to His humanity. So to take a title that applies to Jesus’ humanity and transfer it to His Deity is heretical. That is outside the realm of Biblical orthodoxy.

Since Roman Catholicism has no qualms giving Mary this unbiblical position, it wasn’t strange to them to also call her “the Spouse of the Holy Spirit” as well. But if the Holy Spirit is Mary’s husband (and Jesus’ “father”), and Jesus is God, that would mean the Holy Spirit is the “father” of God!

The Catholic Information Service of the Knights of Columbus explains that Mary is the mother of God because:

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 … She rightly acquires the title of mother.”

Of course, no one denies that Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ. The real issue is whether her motherhood extends to His divine nature that has eternally existed and was not created in the womb of the virgin.

A mother is only the mother of what originates within her womb, and since Jesus, as the Second Person of the Trinity, didn’t originate within Mary’s womb, she can only be the mother of His humanity, not divinity.

I. Jesus is co-eternal with God (Ps. 90:2, 93:2). He had no beginning and has no mother. But as He took on flesh, He was born by Mary.

Mary had a beginning; she’s not eternal and therefore cannot be the mother of Christ’s eternal nature. Since Jesus’ existence didn’t begin in Mary’s womb, she can only be the mother of the Man Christ.

II. As Man, Jesus was the son of David (Lk. 1:32) but as Deity, He is David’s Lord (Ps. 110:1). Quoting this, Jesus asked “If David call him Lord, how is he his son?” to show the distinction between His Deity and His humanity (see Matt. 22:45). In other words, as Man, Jesus is Mary’s son but as Deity, He is her Lord.

III. When John describes Jesus as being given the Holy Spirit without measure (Jn. 3:34), he was referring to His humanity. As the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus didn’t need to be given the Spirit. This clear distinction proves Mary is not the mother of God.

In response, Catholics usually quote Luke 1:43, “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” But this statement acknowledges the Lordship of Christ rather than the “divine maternity” of Mary.

There is not a single verse in the Bible that describes Mary as the “Mother of God.” No inspired writer of the Old or New Testament gave a hint that she should be addressed so.

Mary considered herself as a “maidservant of the Lord” (Lk. 1:47) and “lowly state of her maidservant” (v. 48). These titles would have been inappropriate if she believed herself to be the “Mother of God.” The Bible repeatedly calls her the mother of Jesus and not “Mother of God” (Mk. 3:31, Lk. 8:19, Acts 1:14).

The “Mother of God” title was developed centuries after the Bible was completed in an attempt to elevate Mary to a divine plane.

Even when the “Bearer of God” (Theotokos) title was first applied to Mary, some theologians like Athanasius, raised objections to it in 428 A.D., pointing out that it affected the fact of Jesus’ humanity.

Cyril of Alexandria engaged in a battle with Athanasius over this matter to make this heresy a dogma, and it finally became one in 431 at the Council of Ephesus. Cyril’s main argument was that those who denied the “Mother of God” title were denying the deity of Christ.

But the Lord Jesus directly addressed Mary as “woman” not “mother.” On one occasion “He stretched out His hand towards His disciples and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers!” to show that anyone who believed in Him and obeyed the will of the Father is on the same level as Mary (Jn. 2:4; Mt. 12:49).

Even Augustine of Hippo wrote:

“When the Lord said, ‘Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come’ (John 2:4). He rather admonishes us to understand that, in respect of His being God, there was no mother for Him” (Treatise on Faith and Creed, Ch. IV., 9).

History shows that before some theologians in Alexandria in the third century used the “Mother of God” title for Mary, it had been a title of Isis, the Egyptian goddess of fertility.

The city of Ephesus where it finally became a dogma in the 5th century, had long been devoted to the pagan goddess Diana. Apparently, the people were more influenced by the surrounding pagan culture than Scripture.

“The Council of Ephesus assembled in the basilica of the Theotokos in 431. There, if anywhere, in the city so notorious for its devotion to Artemis, or Diana as the Romans called her, where her image was said to have fallen from heaven, under the shadow of the great temple dedicated to the Magna Mater since 330 BC, and containing; according to tradition, a temporary residence of Mary, the title ‘God bearer’ hardly could fail to be upheld” (E. O. James, The Cult of the Mother Goddess, New York, 1959, 207).

“Veneration of the mother of God received its impetus when … the pagan masses streamed into the church … Their piety and religious consciousness had been formed for millennia through the cult of the ‘great mother’ goddess and the ‘divine virgin'” (The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 16: 326-327).

The whole complex of Marian dogmas was a simply a transition from the old pagan mother goddess to a “new Christian” mother goddess under the guise of “Mary.”

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