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We must always say as well that God was born of Mary. From this accepted answer.

God is spirit and invisible and his face cannot be seen lest we die. Yet apparently it's OK for God to dwell within Mary for 9 months and then pass from her body without Mary disintegrating.

So do creedal followers have to redesign God so Mary doesn't spontaneously combust when God is within her? Or is the idea that 'God was born' of Mary without merit?

Did Mary birth God or is there another way to explain it?


This seemed relevant though quite confused. (same question, different answer)

The human nature (body, soul) of Jesus is not God, Jesus, the Person (the Son, intrinsic to the Divine Nature), to Whom that human nature belongs, is God. Not His human nature: else He would not be human; human natures are not divine. Jesus Christ is truly a "man" (1 Tim 2:5) as well as He is God.

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  • If this were the case then I think any miracle would be a world ending catastrophe. God doesn't simply step in like the Avengers, mess with the flow of time, and then put things back the way they were; He's much cooler and less haphazard.
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 24, 2023 at 18:49
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    The question requires significant addition of detail and clarity, The question clearly misunderstands the doctrine regarding incarnation as expressed by Trinitarianism. As often is the case with such questions, the doctrine that is being attacked has not been sufficiently researched for there to be a sensible way of answering the question.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 24, 2023 at 19:39
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    This is an academic site which examines and reports on comparative Christianity. Questions about identified groups of Christians should be researched accurately.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 25, 2023 at 7:18
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    This question misunderstands the concept of the incarnation. God lowered Himself and became a man (read Phillipians 2:8). Christ has two natures (this is a different point to that of the trinity). So we have the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) AND we have Christ (both God and Man). The unique thing about the incarnation, Christ will retain his scars from the crucifixion and the same man ("this same Jesus") that we saw go up into heaven will return in exactly that same manner he left.
    – Adam
    Feb 25, 2023 at 22:33
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    @Adam 'God lowered Himself and became a man' / incarnation, is an opinion of the church fathers and has no biblical basis except inference and eisegesis. There is zero biblical requirement for God to die for his creation, and zero definitive scripture showing Jesus is God, but volumes showing he isn't. We all need to pick a side, bible or cf's. Most seem to think the cf's got their stuff from the bible which is mistaken. A query I have substantiated several times only to be deleted. So be it.
    – steveowen
    Feb 26, 2023 at 5:40

4 Answers 4

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As a preliminary, historical, answer, I attach this link to an article about Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestorius

This is a controversy which has a history behind it. Nestorius made himself notorious by challenging the label THEOTOKOS ("God-bearer") as a title for Mary, mainly on the grounds of your second quotation (which is an accurate summary of traditional doctrine).

Nevertheless, he was condemned for heresy at the Council of Ephesus in 431. In fact I had better quote the wording of the "First Anathema" pronounced by the Council; "1. If anyone does not confess that Emmanuel is God in truth, and therefore that the holy virgin is the mother of God (for she bore in a fleshly way the Word of God become flesh), let him be anathema."

I have my own problem with the popular slogan "Jesus is God", which encourages sceptics to try to "debunk" the Christian faith by pointing to the signs of his humanity. That is why I prefer to say that Christ is BOTH God AND man (which also provides a rationale for the THEOTOKOS label).

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  • appreciate your contribution +1
    – steveowen
    Feb 25, 2023 at 5:49
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God was born of Mary - really?

Yes, really

Mary gave birth to the physical body of the Divine Infant known the world over as Jesus Christ.

Jesus, known as the Christ was born of a woman and was both God and man united by the Hypostatic Union (Jesus Christ being both fully God and fully man. He is both perfectly divine and perfectly human and has two complete and distinct natures at once.)

Mary gave birth to physical person of Jesus who is the second person of the Trinity: body, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, united in His human body within the womb of Mary, the Mother of God and Jesus Christ at the same and unique moment of the incarnation.

Jesus Christ's origins are both divine and human. The miraculous conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary was the moment when the immortal, eternal God took on a mortal body and entered our history. From the moment of his conception, Jesus was both God and human, and from that moment Mary has been Mother of God.

Therefore, belief in Mary as Mother of God is linked to belief in the reality of the Incarnation. This is a mystery which is beyond our understanding and must be accepted in faith. Some have refused to believe. Even in New Testament times there were those who denied that Jesus could be identified with God. (John 8:12-59) Others denied that Jesus was truly human, and they would not "acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh." (2 John 7) Those who refused to accept either the divinity or the humanity of Christ also denied that Mary is Mother of God.

Early Church councils affirmed that Jesus is truly God and truly human.

Further clarification came in the fifth century when Nestorius, the bishop of Constantinople, wrongly stated that there were two persons in Jesus Christ and that the Son of Mary could not be identified with the Son of God. A general council of bishops at Ephesus in 431 condemned the teaching of Nestorius and deposed him. It affirmed that Mary is truly Mother of God because "according to the flesh" she gave birth to Jesus, who was truly God from the first moment of his conception. The expression, "according to the flesh," made it clear that Mary is not the source of Jesus' divinity. She did not give birth to God from all eternity. But since Jesus is truly God and truly human, Mary is really the Mother of God. In 451 another council at Chalcedon stated these truths as dogma (official doctrine).

When we honor Mary as Mother of God, we are actually professing our belief that Jesus is truly God. We are not saying that Mary came before God. Rather, the Second Person of the Trinity, who existed from all eternity, "became flesh and made his dwelling among us." (John 1:14). The child foretold by Old Testament prophets, the child whom Elizabeth recognized as Lord, is Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God (John 20:28), and Mary is his Mother. - Why do Catholics call Mary Mother of God?

Thus Mary gave birth to the God-Man Jesus Christ in his humanity which is forever linked forever to His divine nature and essence.

The first usage of the term "God-man" as a theological concept appears in the writing of the 3rd-century Church Father Origen.

This substance of a soul, then, being intermediate between God and the flesh – it being impossible for the nature of God to intermingle with a body without an intermediate instrument – the God-man is born.

The Council of Chalcedon, meeting in 451 AD, affirmed that Christ had two natures – human and divine – in hypostatic union.

Much is also written of the God-man by the medieval philosopher and theologian Anselm of Canterbury (11th century) in his treatise on the atonement, Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man):

If it be necessary, therefore, as it appears, that the heavenly kingdom be made up of men, and this cannot be effected unless the aforesaid satisfaction be made, which none but God can make and none but man ought to make, it is necessary for the God-man to make it.

Therefore the God-man, whom we require to be of a nature both human and Divine, cannot be produced by a change from one into the other, nor by an imperfect commingling of both in a third; since these things cannot be, or, if they could be, would avail nothing to our purpose. Moreover, if these two complete natures are said to be joined somehow, in such a way that one may be Divine while the other is human, and yet that which is God not be the same with that which is man, it is impossible for both to do the work necessary to be accomplished. For God will not do it, because he has no debt to pay; and man will not do it, because he cannot. Therefore, in order that the God-man may perform this, it is necessary that the same being should perfect God and perfect man, in order to make this atonement. For he cannot and ought not to do it, unless he be very God and very man. Since, then, it is necessary that the God-man preserve the completeness of each nature, it is no less necessary that these two natures be united entire in one person, just as a body and a reasonable soul exist together in every human being; for otherwise it is impossible that the same being should be very God and very man.

Since God decided to become man, there I would be no reason for Mary to spontaneously combust. But rather she became "blessed" for ages to came.

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:39-45

Each year, on January the 1st, the Catholic Church celebrates the the octave day of Christ's Birth with the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God!

Sometimes in the early history of the Church, our Blessed Mother was given the title “Mother of God.” St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), for example, composed in his Eucharistic Prayer for the Mass an anthem in honor of her: “It is truly just to proclaim you blessed, O Mother of God, who are most blessed, all pure and Mother of our God. We magnify you who are more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim. You who, without losing your virginity, gave birth to the Word of God. You who are truly the Mother of God.”

However, objection to the title “Mother of God” arose in the fifth century due to confusion concerning the mystery of the incarnation. Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople (428-431), incited a major controversy. He stated that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, a regular human person period. To this human person was united the person of the Word of God (the divine Jesus). This union of two persons– the human Christ and the divine Word– was “sublime and unique” but merely accidental. The divine person dwelt in the human person “as in a temple.” Following his own reasoning, Nestorius asserted that the human Jesus died on the cross, not the divine Jesus. As such, Mary is not “Mother of God,” but simply “Mother of Christ”– the human Jesus. Sound confusing? It is, but the result is the splitting of Christ into two persons and the denial of the incarnation.

St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria (d. 440) refuted Nestorius, asserting, “It was not that an ordinary man was born first of the Holy Virgin, on whom afterwards the Word descended; what we say is that, being united with the flesh from the womb, [the Word] has undergone birth in the flesh, making the birth in the flesh His own…” (Against Those Who do not Wish to Confess that the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God). This statement affirms the belief asserted in the first paragraph.

On June 22, 431, the Council of Ephesus convened to settle this argument. The Council declared, “If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel is truly God and therefore that the holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Theotokos) (since she begot according to the flesh the Word of God made flesh), anathema sit.” Therefore, the Council officially recognized that Jesus is one person, with two natures– human and divine– united in a true union. Second, Ephesus affirmed that our Blessed Mother can rightfully be called the Mother of God: Mary is not Mother of God, the Father, or Mother of God, the Holy Spirit; rather, she is Mother of God, the Son– Jesus Christ. The Council of Ephesus declared Nestorius a heretic, and the Emperor Theodosius ordered him deposed and exiled. (Interestingly, a small Nestorian Church still exists in Iraq, Iran, and Syria.)

The incarnation is indeed a profound mystery. The Church uses very precise– albeit philosophical– language to prevent confusion and error. Nevertheless, we must ponder this great mystery of how our divine Savior entered this world, taking on our human flesh, to free us from sin. We must also ponder and emulate the great example of our Blessed Mother, who said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word.” May we turn to her always as our own Mother, pleading, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” - Why do we call Mary “Mother of God”?

Mary is the Mother of Jesus and Jesus is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity in his Sacred Humanity. Ergo Mary is the Mother of God in Christ’s human nature. Jesus is both God and man; yet his two natures can not be separated.

Although Mary gave birth to Christ’s humanity, the Divine Trinity dwelt in her womb for nine months as Jesus being the second person of the Trinity can not be separated for the Most Holy Trinity when in his Sacred human nature!

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Not even the Catholic church claims that the virgin Mary was "the mother of God". A lot of Catholics might be surprised to read that, but they ought to consult official Catholic doctrine on this one.

The clergy applied the word 'theotokos' (God bearer) to Mary because God the Word (Logos) was 'made flesh' and 'became man', as the Bible states. The problem was that the old Arian heresy, that the Logos (Christ) was a creature, could be encouraged by emphasising this. Around 428 a controversy arose when this problem was objected to by those who saw the need to keep the balance - Christ had added human nature to his divine nature, which in no way meant he had been created. At the Council of Chalcedon, 451, Leo, Bishop of Rome, ratified the one personality of Christ and the authenticity and perfection of both his natures - human and divine. The statements ratified clearly showed that Mary was theotokos only as to the manhood of Christ.

The populace, however, took this word theotokos as an uplifting of Mary's status and venerated her. This quickly turned into Mariolatry. Clergy like Nestorius objected, pointing out that the Bible never says that God was born of the Virgin. It only speaks of the incarnation of the Logos, not of his birth. He said that although such fathers as Origen and Athanasius had used the term theotokos, it had not been incorporated into either the Nicene Creed of 321 or the Constantinopolitan Creed of 381. (And it isn't used either in the Anglican Articles or in the Westminster Confession.)

The term tends to obscure the humanity of Christ and lent itself to the misunderstanding that Mary was the mother of the Godhead (or even the mother of the Trinity). This, in turn, led to the idea that Mary should be worshipped and adored. The Chalcedonian definition added the words "as to the manhood" immediately after 'theotokos', which should have put paid to erroneous thinking, but it didn't work out like that amongst the Catholic populace.

It's unfortunate that the original attempt by the Catholic church to defend the deity of Jesus backfired so spectacularly that the less educated masses ended up thinking Mary was the mother of God. The Marian dogmas - the perpetual virginity, the immaculate conception and the assumption of the Virgin - are all derived from a non-kergymatic understanding of theotokos. The Person of Christ, Donald Macleod, chap.7 (IVP 1998)

"Really not" is the conclusion of this answer.

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  • This seems to assume that birth has something to do with a "coming into being", but I reject that premise as Jesus was fully God and fully man from the moment of his conception, not his birth. And since to give birth to someone is to be their mother, Mary is the mother of God. You cannot separate the natures of Christ.
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 31, 2023 at 17:21
  • @Luke Hill; we are agreed on Jesus being fully God and fully man from the moment of his conception: that is orthodox Christian teaching. All humans and animals come into being from conception, being born later, but the unique, only-begotten Son of God was begotten, not created. He had no starting-point in time. Mary absolutely was the theotokos as to the human nature of Jesus. She bore Jesus, not the Father, nor the Holy Spirit. That word was intended to protect the full deity of the Son of God, I trust you will agree.
    – Anne
    Oct 31, 2023 at 17:42
  • again there seems to be the indication that when we say “mother of God” we mean “generator of God”, but this is obviously false as it is definitionally impossible. Mary bore Christs divine and human nature, this is inescapable if you grant that he was fully God and man from the moment of his conception. If the incarnate God-man was born from a womb, then whoever bore him is his mother, and his mother bore all of his essence.
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 31, 2023 at 23:30
  • @Luke Hill Of course Mary did not "generate God" No orthodoxly Christian group believes that! Certainly the baby Jesus was carried in the womb of the virgin Mary, but that was not the start of his "generation". John 1:1 - he was with God in the beginning, and is without beginning, as is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Mainstream Christianity is adamant about that. "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman" Gal.4:4 whereas John the Baptist was "born of women" and none was greater than he, yet Jesus was born after him! Jesus came of a woman but no woman generated him! Elizabeth generated J the B
    – Anne
    Nov 1, 2023 at 10:56
  • I fully agree, and so I fail to understand why you would reject mother of God as a title of Mary except on the basis of its abuse, which I do not find to be compelling.
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 1, 2023 at 11:59
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A human mother certainly carries the body of her child within her. But would we say that she carries the soul of her baby within her? Is the mind, or will, or heart of the child inside the mother's uterus?

If the nature of a human is complicated enough that we can talk about non-physical souls without coming to a definitive definition of them, then it would be even more of a mistake to think of the divine essence in physical terms.

There are many different views of what Jesus's nature was. Most of them agree that his physical body was carried by Mary and then born by her. But if Jesus was a human then just like the rest of us his soul was not carried in Mary's uterus. And if Jesus was also divine then whatever our view of the divine essence, it would not make much sense to say that the divine essence was inside Mary threatening to combust her.

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