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Theotokos #54718
Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:05 AM
Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:05 AM
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Theotokos: “God bearer” or sometimes “Mother of God”
Recently I came upon quite a heated debate among Calvinists on the term theotokos. Some on both sides declared each other to be heretics.
My understand is that when the term was originally used, all it really was saying is that seeing Jesus has two natures human and God; it is wrong to say that Mary just gave birth to the human nature. Yet some are saying that if Mary is theotokos, it makes her on equal footing as God.
I decided to find out from other Calvinists of note what they believed about the topic. I was rather surprised to learn that even among Calvinists I am quite familiar with; there is disagreement on the subject.
For example A.A. Hodge appears not believe in theotokos.
A.A. Hodge explains in his Outlines of Theology:
Quote
The Nestorian heresy charged upon Nestorius, a Syrian by birth, and bishop of Constantinople, during the fifth century, by his enemy, Cyril, the arrogant bishop of Alexandria. Cyril obtained a judgment against Nestorius in the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431, to the effect that he separated the two natures of Christ so far as to teach the coexistence in him of two distinct persons, a God and a man, intimately united. But it is now, however, judged most probable by Protestant historians that Nestorius was personally a brave defender of the true faith, and that the misrepresentations of his enemies were founded only upon his uncompromising opposition to the dangerous habit then prominently introduced of calling the Virgin Mary the mother of God because she was the mother of the human nature of Christ


James White does not believe in theotokos; in fact he has stated that there is evidence that Nestorius who was declared to be a heretic, was probably justified in his concerns about theotokos.
http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/2009/01/25/response-to-jay-dyer-on-calvinism-part-2-of-13/

RC Sproul however did believe in theotokos. https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/messiahs-mother/

John Owen believed in the term theotokos.
https://calvinistinternational.com/2017/06/16/john-owen-mary-mother-god/

Augustine did not believe in theotokos.
Quote
Augustine (354-430): And this passage Jesus Himself brought forward to the Jews, and refuted them from it. How then was He both David’s son and David’s Lord? David’s son according to the flesh, David’s Lord according to His divinity; so also Mary’s son after the flesh, and Mary’s Lord after His majesty. Now as she was not the mother of His divine nature, whilst it was by His divinity the miracle she asked for would be wrought, therefore He answered her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee ?” NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate VIII, §9, John 2:1-4.

Augustine (354-430): At that time, therefore, when about to engage in divine acts, He repelled, as one unknown, her who was the mother, not of His divinity, but of His [human] infirmity. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate CXIX, §1, John 19:24-30.


It appears that the main problems seems to be what the term theotokos has come to mean in Roman Catholic circles. Many say that Mary was only the mother of human nature of God; like A.A. Hodge and Augustine said. Others while agreeing that you cannot separate the human and divine side of Jesus; never the less they reject the term theotokos because of its connotations.

Any thoughts?
Tom

Re: Theotokos [Re: Tom] #54719
Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:30 AM
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Yeh, the debate over 'theotokos' is ageless. rolleyes2 It has been mentioned here on the board, even back 16 years ago. I tend to reject the language/phraseology of "mother of God" since it can easily be understood that Mary gave birth to God Himself, i.e., God didn't exist before Mary gave birth to Him. Yes, yes...... to most of us that sounds utterly ridiculous and even irrational, which it surely is. Was that which was in the womb of Mary both God and man? Absolutely. Was the child which came from Mary both God and man? But the divinity of the Lord Christ did not ORIGINATE from Mary. God the Father had prepared the human body using Mary as a vessel and the Son took that body as His own becoming Jesus the Messiah, the incarnate Son of God. (cf. Heb 10:5; Heb 10:1-39; 2:14; 8:3; Gen 3:15; Isa 7:14; Jer 31:22; Mt 1:20-23; Lk 1:35; Joh 1:14; Ga 4:4; 1Tim 3:16; 1Joh 4:2-3; 2Joh 1:7)


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Re: Theotokos [Re: Tom] #54720
Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:46 PM
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My understanding is the same as yours. Yet, I do not have a problem with the term itself if it is qualified.
It was pretty shocking to see just how much animosity there is even among Calvinists on the issue.
It is lucky I wasn't a new believer who happened upon the issue. Sigh...
Tom

Re: Theotokos [Re: Tom] #54721
Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:53 PM
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I too have always been amazed at the rancour that has been held and expressed among those of the Reformed Faith. None of them, that I know of, even entertains the view that Mary gave birth to God, Who beforehand didn't exist. drop So why all the friction? shrug Mary did give birth to God incarnate, which is exactly what Isaiah wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit, Isaiah 9:6-7 (ASV) "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this."

1. A child would be born, implying by a human woman in history.
2. A son would be given, implying this child would be more than just a human male, but rather the Son of God; the second person of the Trinity, which is clearly spelled out in what follows.

So again, what is the issue which is at variance and which is so fundamentally important?


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Re: Theotokos [Re: Pilgrim] #54725
Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:08 AM
Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:08 AM
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Personally, I really have no problem with saying "mother of God"; as long as like you put it
Quote
But the divinity of the Lord Christ did not ORIGINATE from Mary. God the Father had prepared the human body using Mary as a vessel and the Son took that body as His own becoming Jesus the Messiah, the incarnate Son of God
is understood.
Yet, if people cannot get past a possible connotation of the language/phraseology of "mother of God" since it can easily be understood that Mary gave birth to God Himself, i.e., God didn't exist before Mary gave birth to Him. Then, I believe it might be better not to use it; because it is not helpful. I care more about communicating truth in a way that is understood. More than I do about using language/phraseology that is not clear or helpful.

It might be silly in saying this; but is it too much to ask for people who claim to be reformed, to actually listen to what the other side is saying. If they did, most would probably agree on more than they disagree on.

Tom

Re: Theotokos [Re: Tom] #54726
Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:21 PM
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Pilgrim
You and I are in agreement on this matter. However, I thought I would ask something to flesh this out a little more. By using an argument by people who are bent on using the term.
The term theotocos does not in any way mean that God did not exist before Mary gave birth to Him. People can protest against this all they want; yet it doesn't change facts. Anyone who has a problem with the term theotocos is guilty of the Nestorian heresy. It is as simple as that!
Tom

Re: Theotokos [Re: Tom] #54727
Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:30 PM
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Here is a link to an excellent article that goes through the history and essence of Nestorianism as well as its opposite heresy of Eutyches. Some may complain of the article's length, although it certainly isn't technically "long". I highly recommend one read it through as it sheds light on this whole matter of the perennial debate over the term Theotokos (Mother of God).

Here is the link to the article: The Great Heresies: Nestorius and Eutyches


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Re: Theotokos [Re: Pilgrim] #54728
Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:14 PM
Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:14 PM
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That is a very interesting article; do you have any other articles etc... that would confirm this?

Tom

Re: Theotokos [Re: Tom] #54729
Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom
Pilgrim
That is a very interesting article; do you have any other articles etc... that would confirm this?

Tom

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Re: Theotokos [Re: Tom] #54730
Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:26 AM
Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:26 AM
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I have been using Google and found a little bit; including something that James White said.
http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/2009/01/25/response-to-jay-dyer-on-calvinism-part-2-of-13/
James White quotes A.A. Hodge
Quote
The Nestorian heresy charged upon Nestorius, a Syrian by birth, and bishop of Constantinople, during the fifth century, by his enemy, Cyril, the arrogant bishop of Alexandria. Cyril obtained a judgment against Nestorius in the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431, to the effect that he separated the two natures of Christ so far as to teach the coexistence in him of two distinct persons, a God and a man, intimately united. But it is now, however, judged most probable by Protestant historians that Nestorius was personally a brave defender of the true faith, and that the misrepresentations of his enemies were founded only upon his uncompromising opposition to the dangerous habit then prominently introduced of calling the Virgin Mary the mother of God because she was the mother of the human nature of Christ.

I was wondering if you could read this; and pay close attention to the last sentence. For some reason, I am tripping over the language in that sentence.
If I am understanding him, he is basically saying
Quote
calling the Virgin Mary the mother of God because she was the mother of the human nature of Christ.
is a dangerous habit.
Sorry, if the answer seems obvious to you; but I would not want to accidently misrepresent anyone.
Hope you understand.
Tom

Last edited by Tom; Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:27 AM.
Re: Theotokos [Re: Tom] #54731
Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:46 AM
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In that phrase by A.A. Hodge, he is saying that Nestorius rejected the title, "mother of god" because in fact, according to Nestorius' belief, Mary gave birth to the human nature of Christ, i.e., the human nature of Christ originated from her own flesh albeit the egg that was fertilized was by the Holy Spirit and not any human male. Put another way, Nestorius rejected any idea that God originated from Mary and came into being when Jesus was born.

Interestingly enough many today are confused in understanding John 1:1, in particular, the identity of the "logos" (Word) who John says:

Quote
John 1:1-3 (ASV) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made."

Again, many believe that the "Word" was Jesus, which is impossible, for Jesus of Nazareth was BORN of Mary in Nazareth, which John writes in v. 10 "And the "Logos" (Word) became flesh and dwelt among us..." The "Logos" (Word) in John 1:1 is GOD the Son the second person of the Trinity Who was joined with a human nature (incarnation) and was born of Mary. Not only is it illogical to say that the "Logos" (Word) was Jesus, making the incarnate Son of God eternal and divine, i.e., the Son of God always existed as the God-man having a human body, etc., but grammatically it is totally impossible. This can easily be seen by substituting the word "Jesus" for "the Word" in John 1:1 and also in John 1:10 and then it would read, "and Jesus became Jesus (flesh)" rolleyes2 In short, this view denies the historical Jesus who was born of Mary and who until that time didn't exist (cf. Gal 4:4).


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