MARY: MOTHER OF JESUS
Answer to letter received from the author of the "NO MOTHER" tract, circulated by the Outdoor Gospel Workers, that was dealt with in this column, in the June 17 issue of THE PILOT.
Dear Sir: I am in receipt of your letter, and the additional tract in which insult is added to insult, by an Ingersoll-like dealing with the claim that Mary is the Mother of God. This Christian teaching cannot be laughed down by claiming that if Mary is the Mother of God, Adam is "God's seventy-third grandfather."
To understand properly the teachings of the Catholic Church, which I merely endeavor as a layman to echo, it is necessary to reason rightly. This calls for the use of Catholic terms in the Catholic Church sense, which you fail to do. For instance, your "73rd Grandfather" tract begins with quoting the "Roman Catholic church" as saying what she does not say, that "Jesus was God" instead of Jesus IS God. This is of vital import, as the Catholic Church teaches that in God there is no succession, no yesterday, no tomorrow, that in Him all is now. Having this ever in mind when Catholics declare that Mary is the Mother of God, they do not mean that Mary is the Mother of the Divine nature of Jesus, which existed before creation.
Jesus, says the Catholic Church, is a Person with two natures, one Divine that existed from all eternity, or more exactly before time, and will exist when time is no more. The other nature of Jesus, His human nature, came into existence in time, when "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," as St. John says in the first chapter of his Gospel. The Divine nature of the Son of God is not assumed by the Catholic Church to have been generated in the womb of Mary; nor that your soul, or mine, were generated in our mothers. In other words, a man's mother is the mother of a person, his soul and body, two in one. So is Mary the Mother of a Person with two natures, human and Divine, two in one Person. It is necessary to keep this in mind to get a proper understanding of what Catholics mean when they hail Mary as the Mother of God.
If you agree, as stated in your letter, that "a man's mother" is not "merely the mother of his flesh, but of the whole man," then is she the mother of his soul, as the "whole man" is not the body alone. Yet the soul of the man did not come from his mother, as did his "flesh." The soul was infused into the ... mother by God. Is not this somewhat analogous to Mary being the Mother of God? The late John L. Stoddard, noted lecturer, convert to the Catholic Church, answered the query---"Why do Catholics go so far as to apply to the Blessed Virgin the title 'Mother of God'?" with the query---"Does not the title correspond with the fact?" Proceeding, he says that "Used by Catholics, Mother of God refers, of course, to Mary as Mother of Christ on earth.
Catholic doctrine does not state that Mary was the Mother of the Godhead, the Divine Nature, self-existent from eternity; but that she was the Mother of Christ, Who though a single personality, has two natures, Divine and human, being "God as well as man" (Rebuilding A Lost Faith). The above knowledge is necessary to appreciate that the footnote in your tract, which you called to my attention, does not refute Catholic teaching regarding Mary. When St. Augustine says---"IN RESPECT TO CHRIST BEING GOD, THERE IS NO MOTHER OF HIM," he said 1500 years ago what the Catholic Church says today, that Mary is not the Mother of God in the sense of having generated the Divine nature of her Son. Yet she is the Mother of the God-Man, Jesus, Who remains God in His humanity.
The expression "Mother of God" is not in the Bible, as you say; neither is the expression Incarnation therein. Would you therefore deny the Incarnation? Yet they are both in the Bible, though not expressed in those terms. One must believe in the Incarnation to be a Christian in the proper sense of the term, even though the word Incarnation is not in the Bible. Of course, you know that the Incarnation means the union of the Divine nature of the Son of God with a human nature, IN MARY. But you fail to appreciate properly the import of the fact that Mary's Child remained God after His birth, thus causing Mary who brought Him into the world, to be the Mother of God, that is of the God-Man. Through the Incarnation, the Blessed Virgin Mary became more truly the Mother of God in His humanity than you became the son of your mother, as Mary gave her Son His entire flesh, Jesus having had no earthly father, as did you.
Considering that you object to Mary being called the Mother of God, because the designation is not in the Bible, how can you, Director of the Cocksure Salvation Society, logically suggest that Mary be called "the Mother of the Jesus-man, as distinguished from Jesus-God"? Where in the Bible are those terms recorded?
An intelligent person, whose mind is not beclouded by hostility toward the Catholic Church, will find texts sufficient in the Bible to warrant Mary being called the Mother of God. The length of this letter prompts reference to but two. Isaiah foretold that "a virgin (Mary) would conceive and bring forth a child" (Jesus), Who "shall be called the Emmanuel, God with us ... God the Mighty" (Dan. 7:14; 9-6). Mary fulfilled this prediction. She brought "God the Mighty" to us, that is in His humanity, which is warrant for calling her the Mother of God. St. Luke (Ch. 1) records that God, through the Angel Gabriel, told Mary that she was to "bring forth a Son, and thou shall call His name Jesus. He shall be called the Son of the Most High ... the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God." This evidences the fact that the "Son of God," the "Son of the Most High," Who existed before creation, became Jesus through Mary, who gave the "Son of God" His humanity. Thus Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God. Your basic error lies in failure to realize that Jesus as Man cannot be separated from Jesus as God, save in considering His acts.
You are not the originator of the objection to Mary being called the Mother of God. It was made by Julian the Apostate, who wrote in accusation of Christians thus---"You never cease to call Mary the Mother of God (Theotokos)." The heresy you echo was formally condemned by the Christian Bishops of the world, assembled in the Council of Ephesus, 1519 years ago. That was over ten centuries before Protestantism afflicted the religious world with private, contradicting interpreters of the Bible, to the undoing of Christian unity.
If ever the time comes, and I prayerfully hope it will soon come, when you get a proper understanding of Christian history, you will realize how assumptive it is to set up your concept of Christian teachings in opposition to the Catholic Church, the one and the only Christian Spiritual Society established by Christ the Lord; the Church that is protected from error in matters of faith and morals by the Holy Ghost indwelling.
May the Mother of God intercede with her Son for your enlightenment.