Mother of God in the Month of May

Having a sandwich with my buddy–a former Baptist–when we were discussing the Mother of God. “Mary is the defender of Christian orthodoxy” I explained. “If you have the wrong view of Mary you will almost certainly have the wrong view of Christ. If you have the right view of Mary you will almost certainly have the right view of Christ.” He asked what I meant.

I went on, “I was at the pool the other summer when a local Presbyterian lady asked me why Catholics worship Mary.” I explained that Mary was unique because Jesus took his  human flesh from her. “Jesus would have looked like Mary.” She was shocked. “No, that’s not true!” she said. “Jesus just came through Mary into the world.”

“Well then, if you believe that you’re a heretic.” I said it with a smile. I also went on to explain the importance of Mary the Mother of God as the defender of orthodoxy. Read more.

Also check out: Do Catholics Worship Mary? and Jesus and Mary-Mary and Jesus

  • Bryan

    These have been very excellent posts, Father. And I’m happy to see you comment on the title she holds, Mother of God. My untrained thinking has always returned to this title with this idea: if we are going to call Mary the Mother of God and mean it, do we think we can use the title as some sort of accidental appellation? Like “Congressman”?

    Second, nobody views their own mother as holding the sort of role that some other woman might just as well held. It’s a very particular relationship and we would never allow the sort of dismissal of our own mothers that I hear Evangelicals use toward Christ’s.

  • Everett

    The last we read about Mary in the New Testament is Acts 1:14; this is after the resurrection and right before Pentecost. It’s the only time we find Mary with the disciples of Christ. God had used her body to give flesh to his Word, and her work was done. As far as we know, Mary had nothing to do with the building of the church. Catholic writers have a propensity to say the woman in Revelation 12 is Mary ( The gloss of that chapter in the “New American Bible” is a notable and surprising exception. ), but that is a palpably tendentious interpretation. Christ is surely the child of v. 5, but the description of the woman and the events described cannt honestly be connected to Mary. Neither the apostles nor the apostolic fathers say anything about Mary. She’s rarely mentioned in the patristic writings Augustine left a rather large corpus of homilies. There are homilies about Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalin, but not one about the mother of the Lord. At the Council of Ephesus in 431, Mary was given the title of “Mother of God”, but that exceeds was is written and is not a part of the faith once for all delivered to the saints for which we are to contend. It wasn’t until sometime after the fifth century that the cult of Mary really started to grow. That is, the further we get from the time and the teaching of the apostles, the more Mary is venerated. Venerating Mary is not apostolic.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      This is simply untrue. I suggest you read Gambero’s Mary and the Fathers of the Church. From the early second century onward Mary is spoken of highly in much of the early church literature and her perpetual virginity is upheld.

      • Everett

        Neither the apostles nor the apostolic fathers said a word about Mary. The earliest mention I’ve found, apart from Scripture, is Justin Martyr (d.c. 165) and Irenaeus (d.c.202). Mary’s perpetual virginity is first asserted tn the apocraphal Book of James in the middle of the second century. And that’s it,as far as I know, for the entire second century. If you know of others, please tell me. I’ve ordered “Mary and the Fathers”. If the author has no more integrity than Warren Carroll, then the book is Catholic propagands, not Church history.

        I’m quite aware that Luther et al believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity. That’s one of their many errors; I’m not Protestant.

        The Marian doctrine is not revealed truth; it’s a doctrine that took centuries to evolve. It’s theoogical speculation; it’s a very dogmatic guess without the slightest bit of support from Scripture.

        The further we get away from the time and teaching of the apostles, the more we hear about Mary. Does it concern you that you believe and teach things the apostles never even heard of?

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          No. I believe the Lord when he said the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth, and believe the Marian dogmas conform to the criteria for the proper development of doctrine. The Apostles never mentioned the Holy Trinity either, but we accept it as the church defined it.

  • Everett

    The Holy Spirit did, indeed, guide the apostles to all truth, but since they didn’t teach the Marian doctrines or the Trinity, either they are not part of ” all truth ,” or Christ was wrong. You appear to be using the Spirit leading in all truth as subjectively as the charismatics did back in the 70′s and 80′s: “The Spirit lead me to say this….The Spirit lead me to do that.” In the context of John 16: 13,14 and the entire New Testament, actually, I really don’t see how the Spirit’s leading, in this sense, can be applied beyond the apostles.

    We are admonished not to exceed what is written (I Corinthians 4:6) and to contend for the faith which was ONCE FOR ALL delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Both the Marian doctrines and the Trinity exceed what is written, and neither is part of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. In fact, neither doctrine was taught in the church for the first 170 years of our history.

    You mentioned “the criteria for the proper development of doctrine. I know it’s not found in Scripture, but where is it found? I’ve studied church history for forty years, and I’ve never heard of it. Would you please explain this to me?


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