Monday, May 29, 2017

Answering a Common Argument Against "Theotokos"

Theotokos of Vladimir Icon
The assertion of the Marian title "Theotokos" or "Mother of God" is established on the following grounds:
  1. Jesus Christ is God
  2. Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ
  3. Ergo, Mary is the Mother of God
This is the historic understanding of the Christian faith; it is inferred from the teaching of Scripture (cf. Is 7:14; Lk. 1:43), and the title's usage is well-established in the Church Fathers (Athanasius, Ephraim, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen, Ambrose, Jerome, Epiphanius)

There are some who nevertheless oppose this assertion, even should they acknowledge its truth, replying that it the assertion is, at least, misleading, if not actually erroneous. They demonstrate the basis for their rejection of the term by offering the following syllogism which intends to employ the reductio ad absurdum, the syllogism being so obviously false in its conclusion that it demonstrates the beginning premise must be false.
  1. Mary is the Mother of God
  2. God is a Trinity
  3. Therefore, Mary is Mother of the Trinity
The argument based upon this syllogism is itself fallacious, on account of its presuppositions being removed from the context of the Christian Faith. It makes an erroneous assessment of the word "God", one that is too limited and too narrow.

It is important to remember what exactly the doctrine of the MOST HOLY TRINITY is. Each person of the MOST HOLY TRINITY are fully God. The Three Persons do not each constitute 1/3 of God -- rather, each Person is wholly, 100% God. (To believe otherwise is to adhere to the heresy of Partialism.) The title "God" can refer not only to the Godhead in its Three Persons, but can apply to any of Its individual Persons as well. The Father is Divinity in its fullness; the Son is Divinity in its fullness; the Spirit is Divinity in its fullness.

The Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth only one of the Divine Persons, yet that Person was and is "the fullness of deity dwelling in bodily form." (cf. Colossians 2:9) The Person whom Mary birthed was not merely partly God, or part of God, but was wholly God. The error in this counter-syllogism is its presupposition that the term "God" is exclusively applied to the Triune Godhead, and not also to any of the individual Persons which compose it.

Neither can, if one holds to proper Trinitarian theology, this doctrine be misunderstood as Jesus also being the other members of the Holy Trinity as well (for this is the heresy of Modalism.) Mary was but the human mother to the Second Person of the Trinity made Incarnate, the Word made flesh, as it was only this Person of the Godhead who became man. The same cannot be said for God the Father or God the Holy Spirit. The term "Mother of God" is but reference to the Incarnate Christ, and neither of the other two Members of the MOST HOLY TRINITY.

All in all, in order for any objection to the Marian title "Mother of God" to be a valid criticism, it must either assume or prove that he who uses the title and professes it to be true has a heretical understanding of the person of Christ or of the Holy Trimity. Ergo, let no Christian be criticized for using the title, because if they understand it in a way which contradicts proper Christology or Trinitarian theology, they don't qualify as an orthodox Christian to begin with. Far from being unorthodox or heretical, the validity of this title, Theotokos, is actually demanded on the grounds of proper Christology.