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 PROTESTANT REFORM OF MARY

 HOW CAN WE GO WRONG


ABOUT IT?

 THE RELEVANCE OF THIS DOCTRINE


TO US TODAY
1.PROTESTANT REFORM OF MARY
 The word Protestant comes from the word protest.
 The Protestant church arose out of protest over
the practices of the Catholic Church in the 16th
century, in the year 1517 AD.
 Martin Luther was the main figure in the protest.
He had been a Catholic monk. He led the
Protestant Reformation which led to the Protestant
church.
 The Protestant Church includes many divisions
and denominations including Baptist, Methodist,
Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Calvinist,
• Thus, in this section, we will try to
answer the question;
• what was the notion of Mariology
according to the protestant
reformers?
• To better approach this question, the
Marian approaches of some
protestant reformers like Martin
Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin
will be examined.
LUTHER'S MARIAN THEOLOGY
Martin Luther, (10
November 1483 – 18
February 1546) was a
German professor of
theology, composer, priest,
monk, and a seminal figure
in the Protestant
Reformation. Luther was
ordained to the priesthood
in 1507.
He came to reject several teachings and
practices of the Roman Catholic Church; in
particular, he disputed the view on indulgences.
Despite Luther's polemics against his
Roman Catholic opponents over issues
concerning Mary and the saints,
theologians appear to agree that
Luther adhered to the Marian decrees
of the ecumenical council and dogmas
of the church. He held fast to the
belief that Mary was a perpetual virgin
and the Theotokos or Mother of God.
Throughout his life, Luther maintained without
change the historic Christian affirmation that
Mary was the Mother of God: “She is rightly
called not only the mother of the man Jesus,
but also the Mother of God … It is certain
that Mary is the Mother of the real and true
God.” Luther believed that the person Jesus is
God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity,
who was incarnated in the womb of his mother
Mary as a human being, and since, as a
person, he was "born of the Virgin Mary”.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, volume 24,
(LW 24) 107.
“[S]he became the Mother of God, in which work so
many and such great good things are bestowed on
her as pass man's understanding. For on this there
follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique
place in the whole of mankind, among which she has
no equal, namely, that she had a child by the
Father in heaven, and such a Child.... Hence men
have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling
her the Mother of God.... None can say of her nor
announce to her greater things, even though he had
as many tongues as the earth possesses flowers and
blades of grass: the sky, stars; and the sea, grains
of sand. It needs to be pondered in the heart what
it means to be the Mother of God."

Luther's Works, cf. 21:346.


This doctrine of Luther further influenced his
followers who in the Formula of Concord (1577)
(an authoritative Lutheran statement of faith
(called a confession, creed, or "symbol") that,
in its two parts (Epitome and Solid
Declaration), makes up the final section of the
Lutheran Corpus Doctrinae or Body of Doctrine,
known as the Book of Concord) confessed that:
“On account of this personal union and
communion of the natures, Mary, the most
blessed virgin, did not conceive a mere,
ordinary human being, but a human being who is
truly the Son of the most high God, as the
angel testifies.
ULRICH ZWINGLI’S VIEWS ON MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
Huldreich or Ulrich Zwingli
was born on January 1,
1484, in the eastern part
of modern-day
Switzerland. Ulrich Zwingli
(1484-1531) was a
contemporary of Martin
Luther and a leader in the
Swiss Reformation
movement. Zwingli
acknowledged the
fundamental title of
Theotokos.
Zwingli equally believed that: “It was given to
her what belongs to no creature, that in the
flesh she should bring forth the Son of God.” In
this light he confessed saying, "I esteem
immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste,
immaculate Virgin Mary and it was fitting that
such a holy Son should have a holy Mother." In
Zwingli’s sermon on ‘Mary, ever virgin, mother of
God’, 1524, he said, "He who was about to
remove our sins but not to make all men holy,
must be himself holy. Hence God sanctified his
mother: for it was fitting that such a holy Son
should have a likewise holy mother...."

Ulrich Zwingli, In Evang. Luc., Opera Completa [Zurich, 1828-42], Volume 6,


I, 639
"I have never thought, still less taught, or declared
publicly, anything concerning the subject of the ever
Virgin Mary, Mother of our salvation, which could
be considered dishonorable, impious, unworthy, or
evil...I hope this is sufficient to have made plain to
pious and simple Christians my clear conviction on
the matter of the Mother of God: 'I believe with all
my heart according to the word of holy gospel that
this pure virgin bore for us the Son of God and that
she remained, in the birth and after it, a pure and
unsullied virgin, for eternity."

sermon on "Mary, ever virgin, Mother of God" in 1524, cited in Thurian, page 23, 76)
JOHN CALVIN'S VIEWS ON MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
John Calvin (1509–1564) was
a French Protestant
theologian during the
Protestant Reformation, and
one of the most influential
reformers. He was a central
figure for the Reformed
churches, whose theological
system is sometimes called
Calvinism. Calvin had a
positive view of Mary, but
rejected the Roman Catholic
veneration of her.
Nonetheless, according to John Calvin, Mary could
be properly called the Mother of God, many say,
basing their arguments on Calvin's commentary on
Luke 1:43. In this verse, in which Elizabeth greeted
Mary as "mother of my Lord”, Calvin takes note of
the divinity often associated with the title Lord,
saying: "[Elizabeth] calls Mary the mother of her
Lord. He equally held that: “It cannot be denied
that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the
Mother of His Son, granted her the highest honor….
Elizabeth calls Mary Mother of the Lord, because
the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ
was such that she could have said that the mortal
man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the
same time the eternal God.”

Calvin, ”Commentary on Luke 1:43”.


 The protestant reformers above, all believed, accepted
and taught the doctrine of Mariology. In fact they
plunged in the Mary figure as Mother of God with so
much enthusiasm and awe.

 Unfortunately the Marian teachings and


preachings of the Reformers have been "covered
up" by their most zealous followers - with
damaging theological and practical consequences.
Due this shift, we realize that even some
Roman Catholic Christians do go wrong on issues
of Mariology. In this light, we shall further
examine how we can go wrong about the doctrine
of Theotokos.
2. HOW CAN WE GO WRONG ABOUT IT?

Historically, there have been three errors concerning Mary’s


divine maternity.
 First, some have held that Christ was true God, but not true
man.
 The second error, much more prevalent today, is that Christ
is truly a man, but not God. Therefore, Mary is truly the
mother of Christ, but in no sense the mother of God.
 The third error, called Nestorianism, is what occasioned the
Church’s definition at the Council of Ephesus. According to
this view, there were two persons in Christ, one divine and
one human, and Mary gave birth only to the human person.
She could rightly be called the Mother of Christ
(Christotokos) but not the Mother of God (Theotokos).
 CHRIST IS TRUE GOD BUT NOT TRUE MAN

This error originates from the heresy of Docetism.


Docetism, (from Greek dokein, “to seem”), says that
Christ was not a real human being and did not have a
real human body.  He only seemed to be human to us. 
In a nutshell, He was true God and not true Man.
Docetism was attacked by all opponents of
Gnosticism, especially by Bishop Ignatius of Antioch.
As a matter of fact, Docetism was unequivocally
rejected at the First Council of Nicaea in 325.
Nevertheless, In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is
spoken of as God and he is expressly called God. He is
likewise spoken of as a real man and called man. The
obvious meaning is that he was a divine person who
possessed the nature of God and the nature of man. Not
that the nature of God became human or that the nature
of man became divine.
Referring to Jesus Christ, Saint Paul spoke of him as
one “who though he was by nature God, did not
consider being equal to God a thing to be clung to, but
emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave and being
made like unto man. And appearing in the form of man,
 CHRIST IS FULLY MAN, BUT NOT GOD
This error dates back to the period of the heresy of
Adoptionism. Adoptionism is a non-Trinitarian
theological doctrine which holds that Jesus was adopted
as the Son of God at his baptism, his resurrection or
his ascension. In other words, Adoptionism asserts that
Jesus is fully Man and not God.

Adoptionism was declared a heresy at the end of the 2nd


century and was rejected by the Synod of Antioch and the
First Council of Nicaea, which defined the doctrine of the
Trinity and identified the man Jesus with the eternally
begotten Son or Word of God in the Nicene Creed.
 NESTORIANISM
Nestorius (c. 386 – 450) was Archbishop of
Constantinople from 10 April 428 to August 431, when
Emperor Theodosius II confirmed his condemnation by
the Council of Ephesus on 22 June.
Nestorianism is a Christian theological doctrine that
upholds several distinctive teachings in the fields of
Christology and Mariology. It opposes the concept of
hypostatic union and emphasizes that the two natures
(human and divine) of Jesus Christ were joined by will
rather than personhood. Therefore, he had come to
believe that there were two separate and distinct persons
in Christ: one human, the other Divine.
Coming back to us in contemporary times, Is there
any indication in all this that the Scriptures speaks
of a Jesus-God who was distinct from a Jesus-man,
or that Mary was the mother of one Jesus and that
we were redeemed by another? When we answer
the question “Who was Mary’s Son?” and base our
response on what the Scriptures tell us, there is only
one answer possible. He was a divine person
possessing the nature of God and the nature of man.
3. THE RELEVANCE OF THIS DOCTRINE TO US TODAY

Has Mary the Mother of God, therefore, any


relation to us? Yes, she surely has — is the answer
of the Catholic Church. And it is the same today
as it was in the fourth-fifth century. In reality it
is from Mary that Life was truly born to the world
- so that by giving birth to the Living One, Mary
became the mother of all living.
As a matter of fact, a healthy relationship can be
established with Mary by addressing her with the
title “Our Mother”, drawing from the fact that
she is the Mother of God. This, of course, does
not denote motherhood in the natural sense of the
term, but a real spiritual relationship.
 Just as truly as Saint Paul, speaking to the
Corinthians, could say: “In Christ Jesus,
through the Gospel, I have begotten you” (1
Corinthians 4:15), Mary can say to all: “In
Christ Jesus, through my consent to your
redemption, I have begotten you.”
 Furthermore, the dogma of Mary, Mother of
God helps to bring us to the light of the
Incarnation. In Christian theology,
the incarnation is the belief that Jesus Christ,
the second person of the Trinity, also known
as God the Son or the Logos ("Word"), was
made flesh by being conceived in the womb of a
woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as
the Theotokos (Greek for "God-bearer").
 More so, Mary’s motherhood and her title “Mother
of God” or “Theotokos,” implies theologically that
Jesus came to life in Mary’s womb and that Jesus’
birth—or his “emptying himself, taking the form of a
servant” (Philippians 2:7)—is the central figure and
symbol of the new community that experiences a new
reality of salvation-“all humanity shall see the
salvation of our God” (Luke 3:6).

 Also, all the titles and honors attributed to Mary


are connected to and stem from the reality that she
is the Mother of God. "Mary's role in the Church is
inseparable from her union with Christ and flows
directly from it." What the Catholic faith believes
about Mary is based on what it believes about
Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in
turn its faith in Christ. (CCC 964)
 Furthermore, as Piarist, we have a special devotion
to Mary firstly because our Order is placed under
the protection of Mary, Mother of God. When St.
Joseph Calasanz fought for the divorce between the
Pious Schools and the Congregation of the Mother of
God (The Luccans) of St. John Leonardi, he
succeeded on the 06th of March, 1617 to found his
own Congregation (Pauline Congregation of the Poor of
the Mother of God of the Pious Schools). His special
devotion to Mary and also his experience with the
Congregation of the Mother of God inspired him to
place the Congregation under the patronage of Mary,
Mother of God.
 Secondly, our holy founder, Saint Joseph Calasanz
equally personalized the relationship with Mary
through his religious name; …of the Mother of God,
when he made his vows on the 20th of April, 1622,
into the hands of Cardinal Tonti.
Conclusively, the first and foremost revealed truth
about our Blessed Mother, from which all her other
roles and honors flow, is that she is the Mother of
God. Marian devotion is part of Catholic identity and
spirituality, and Catholics are called to respect and
honor Mary not only as the Mother of Christ and
the Mother of God (Theotokos), but as our mother
as well. Therefore, when we honor Mary, we honor
her son, Jesus, and in honoring Mary we are
brought closer to her Son.