The status of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Christendom is a controversial one. Some believe she is the mother of God by virtue of her giving birth to Jesus Christ.
However, others wonder how a woman can be the mother of a supernatural being who existed before people were created. BRIGHT MHANGO presents the debate.
Listening to the Catholic radio, Radio Maria, one quickly notices that the radio mentions Mary more than it does God the father or Jesus Christ. Many Catholic institutions have got statues of Mary imposingly placed…why is Mary such a huge name in Catholicism? Is she a God? Is she a virgin? Is she a saint?
“Holy Mary pray for us…Holy Mary mother of God,” booms Radio Maria.
Mary, variously called Saint Mary, Mother Mary, the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos (God bearer), the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary, Mother of God, and, in Islam, as Maryam, mother of Isa’, was an Israelite Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee who lived in the late 1st century BC and early 1st century AD.
Sheik Dinala Chabulika, national coordinator of the Islamic Information Bureau, says as much as Islam respects and recognises Mary as a righteous woman, she is not the mother of God.
But the Catholic Church is steadfast and insists that its doctrine is very logical. The church, through its informative website www.catholic.com gives her such a status.
“Since Mary is Jesus’ mother, it must be concluded that she is also the Mother of God: If Mary is the mother of Jesus, and if Jesus is God, then Mary is the Mother of God. There is no way out of this logical syllogism, the valid form of which has been recognised by classical logicians since before the time of Christ,” writes the church.
One would argue that if Mary carried God in her womb, she must be bigger than God. Then, how does a creature carry its creator? Nestorius, an ancient theologian, asked similar questions.
The church insists that Mary is not his mother in the sense that she is older than God or the source of her son’s divinity, for she is neither.
“Rather, we say that she is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine person—Jesus Christ, God “in the flesh” (2 John 7, cf. John 1:14)—and in the sense that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ,” reads a statement on the church website.
The church goes on to say denying that Mary is God’s mother implies doubt about Jesus’ divinity. This is why, says the church, Christians (until recent times) have been unanimous in proclaiming Mary as Mother of God.
Many church fathers have agreed with the current Catholic theology that Mary is the mother of God and have come down heavy on Nestorian doubts.
Gregory of Nazianz, in his Letter to Cledonius the Priest, says: “If anyone does not agree that holy Mary is Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead.”
Dan Corner, in his article, Is Mary the Mother of God?, on www.evangelicaloutreach.org, smashes the Catholic doctrine of Mary as mother of God, saying that would mean Mary existed before God.
“… such a mother would have to be in existence before God, which is impossible. The Bible states that God is eternal and had no beginning. God can have no mother and still be God. Also, there can be no person who existed before God. Therefore, there is no Mother of God,” writes Corner.
“John 8:58 quotes Jesus attesting to Corner’s assertion: “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!,” argues Corner.
To Corner, Jesus only got his humanity from Mary and, therefore, she can’t be correctly labelled Mother of God.
But true Catholics, such as Booney, still cannot buy Corner’s counter-attacks.
“Many Protestants are quite prepared to say “Mary, Mother of Jesus,” but balk at saying “Mary, Mother of God.” Why? … To call Mary the “Mother of Jesus” and yet refuse to call her “Mother of God” is to diminish Jesus as well as Mary, for it is a denial that Jesus is truly or fully God,” writes Booney on www.ourladyweb.com
Booney rubbishes the accusations that the Catholic obsession with Mary might take away people’s focus from God. She says admiring Mary is like admiring people like St Francis, Mother Theresa, or other Christians who have given up their lives to serve God.
“Does (admiration of the saints) that make you turn away from God – or is it more likely to make you think of the greatness of the God who inspired such people? So it is also with Mary,” argues Booney.
Some call her Virgin Mary; this despite the fact that she gave birth and went on to marry Joseph. And whether Mary has the power to pray for people, despite the fact that she is a dead mortal, is a story for another day.