A 5th Century Patristic Debate Sheds Unusual Light on the Controversial Ascription ‘Mary, Mother of God’

The article “Is Mary the Mother of God” by Hunter Hindsman on The Gospel Coalition website, see https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/unity-christ-cyril/, begins with the statement, “Mary is the mother of God.” This phrase has been enshrined in the Hail Mary, a common Roman Catholic prayer, and may evoke the chagrin in former Catholics who’ve converted to Protestantism: Isn’t this a primary heresy of Catholicism we have rejected when we embraced the Gospel for salvation? But this article reveals another side of this phrase from the pages of church history that deserves a hearing by evangelicals. The author continues, “This statement might ruffle evangelicals’ feathers. For some, it suggests idolatry. Yet affirming Mary as the mother of God has nothing to do with Mary. It has everything to do with the nature of her son, Jesus. This ancient way of referring to Mary recognized Jesus truly was God in the flesh.”

The article highlights the theological debate in the 5th century AD between the patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, and the patriarch of Alexandria, Cyril. Cyril defended the reference to Mary as the Theotokos (Gr. for “God bearer/mother of God”) in writing On the Unity of Christ, that became a classic treatment of othodox Christology and defense of the hypostatic union of Christ. This book by Cyril is recommended to the reader in the article.

Published by Noble Berean II

Raised a Catholic but became born again in young adulthood principally through reading Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell (I highly recommend it). I prefer the Reformed faith and subscribe to the Five Solas, but hold to baptism by immersion. I also hold to a continuationist view of the doctrine of Spiritual gifts. To me, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, with a Christocentric theme in its entirety. I hold to an orthodox preterist hermeneutic and prefer the Postmillenial eschatology as the most biblical doctrine of God’s plan for His kingdom in Christ.

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