“God has no mother,” claims Jesus Christ
RACHEL Listeners of Emisoras Latinas, we continue our conversation with Jesus Christ about the rosary, a devotion that is very widespread in the Catholic world. You were telling us, Jesus, that your mother never asked anybody to pray the rosary. Who did, then? Perhaps you yourself, when you were walking through these lands?
JESUS No, that kind of prayer has something about it I don’t like.
RACHEL Such as?
JESUS One phrase, something like “Holy Mary”…?
RACHEL Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us…
JESUS That part about “holy” is okay, because my mother and all mothers are saints. They are blessed. They create the miracle of life, the greatest of all miracles. But that part about “Mother of God”…
RACHEL Well, it’s Mother of God because…
JESUS God doesn’t have any mother or father. If he did, he wouldn’t be God.
RACHEL But since you are the Son, consubstantial with God the Father, and Mary is your mother, then Mary is also the Mother of your Father, who is God… That is a dogma.
JESUS No, that’s a mix-up. God has no beginning and no end. If God had a mother, he would be mortal like any mother’s child. Who thought up such a thing?
RACHEL I don’t know, but I can consult… let me see … maybe the British sociologist Anne Baring. She knows a lot about your mother… Hello, Anne Baring? This is Rachel Perez. I’d like to bother you to help resolve a doubt. Where did that idea come from, that Mary is the mother of God?
ANNE From the Council of Ephesus, in the fifth century. It was a maneuver of the bishop Cyril. This bishop, an arrogant character whose fanatical zeal made him order the burning down of the library of Alexandria, was in a dispute with another bishop called Nestorius.
JESUS And what does this dispute between bishops have to do with my mother?
RACHEL Jesus Christ asks what that has to do with his mother.
ANNE In the Council, Cyril wanted to crush the ideas of Nestorius concerning Mary. And for that reason he proposed the idea of “Theotokos”.
ANNE “Theotokos”, a Greek word meaning that Mary is the mother of God. Since the rest of the bishops thought it was a heresy to state that God had a mother, Cyril bribed them with large sums of money. And he won the vote. Let’s just say that this dogma about the Mother of God was well paid for!
RACHEL Thank you, Anne. Frankly, … our audience must be totally bewildered. What about you, Jesus? What do you think of what you just heard?
JESUS I think that in order to speak highly of my mother, there’s no need to belittle God.
RACHEL If your mother were with us now…
JESUS She would be laughing, just like me. Not even Paul, who got so wound up speaking about me and about God, went so far as to say such a thing.
RACHEL But then, who is Mary?
JESUS Mary is my mother.
RACHEL And God?
JESUS God is God, Rachel. God doesn’t have a mother. And you know why? Because God is a mother.
RACHEL One minute, Jesus, a call is coming in… Yes, hello? … How can that be? … Where are they? … Thanks for telling us. … Jesus, we have to leave.
JESUS What’s happening?
RACHEL It seems that a group of Christians is incensed at the things you’re saying, and they’re coming this way. They want to stone you. They are fundamentalists from the Vatican, fanatics.
JESUS Like Cyril’s people! History repeats itself. When I spoke here in Nazareth two thousand years ago, the same thing happened. No prophet is well received in his own land … or in his own church. Let’s get out of here!
RACHEL Where to?
JESUS To Capernaum . I want to see the Sea of Galilee again! Let’s go now.
RACHEL Let’s go then. For Emisoras Latinas, this is Rachel Perez reporting from Galilee.
ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.
*More information about this polemical topic…*
Mary: encircled by four dogmas
The Catholic Church proclaims four “dogmas of faith” concerning Mary. The central dogma is that Mary is the Mother of God, and the others are: Mary is a Virgin, Mary had no original sin (Immaculate Conception), and Mary ascended bodily to heaven (Assumption). The Church also holds four other “fundamental truths” about Mary: she is the co-redemptrix, she is queen, she is the spiritual mother of all believers, and she is the mediatrix of all graces.
Devotion to Mary has increased irrepressibly in the course of the centuries. The first church dedicated to Mary did not appear until the fourth century, in Rome, and it was not until the eighth century that Mary was accorded the cult of “hyperdulia” (extreme reverence), which is below the “latria” (worship) that is due only to God and to Jesus, but way above the “dulia” (reverence) that is due the saints.
Starting in the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation called into question the cult of Mary, and as a result the historical Protestant churches do not profess the Marian dogmas. Unfortunately, however, the Protestant critique of Catholic Mariology did not reduce the patriarchal character of the Christianity that arose from the Reformation. Rather, it accentuated the masculine features of the religion and ended up rendering its spirituality emotionally impoverished.
Mother of God: a dogma
“Mary Mother of God” was a dogma defined by the Council of Ephesus (in 431) and later proclaimed by the Council of Chalcedon (in 451) and the Second Council of Constantinople (in 553). The formulation of the dogma was based on concepts of nature and person that were found in the Hellenist philosophy that then prevailed in Christendom. The definition of the dogma was preceded by a violent dispute between Cyril, the patriarch of Alexandria, and Nestorius, the patriarch of Constantinople. Cyril was proposing the formula of “Theotokos” (Mother of God), while Nestorius was proposing that of “Christotokos” (Mother of Christ, that is, of the human, mortal Jesus). In the end the doctrine proposed by Cyril was adopted as dogma, and Mary was given the title of Mother of God. The Nestorians were condemned as heretics.
The Alexandrians won the battle in Ephesus and Chalcedon. The Council of Ephesus formulated the dogma in this way: From the start the Church teaches that in Christ there is only one person, the second person of the Blessed Trinity. Mary is not only the mother of the nature, the body, but also the mother of the person, who is God from all eternity. When Mary gave birth to Jesus, she gave birth in time to one who from all eternity was God. Just as every human mother is the mother not only of the human body but of the person, so Mary gave birth to a person, Jesus Christ, who is both God and man. Therefore, She is the Mother of God.
Anne Baring is a British psychoanalyst who searches into people’s unconscious and also into our collective unconscious. She and Jules Cashford, a British philosopher, have investigated the ways in which “the feminine” is present throughout the history of western religions and in the psyche of all humankind. The result of their study is the extraordinary book, The Myth of the Goddess (Penguin, 1993).
In this book Baring and Cashford present, among other things, the thesis that the “divinization” of Mary in the dogmas and in the cult of the Catholic religion expresses the need felt by all human spirituality for the feminine, that desire to recover the ancestral goddess, lost more than four thousand years ago. At the same time the authors state that in making Mary a “virgin” and robbing her of her sexuality, the Catholic ecclesiastical institution has set Mary apart from that Great Primordial Mother; it has made her rather into the “Queen of Heaven” and so denied her a reign “on earth”. This cultural and religious short-circuiting centered on the figure of Mary provokes a basic contradiction in the collective psyche. This contradiction is often experienced unconsciously, but sometimes it is perceived consciously and is rejected, especially by women, to whom Mary is presented as a model impossible to imitate. We recommend the reading of this lucid and indispensable book.
How the dogma of the Theotokos came about
Baring and Cashford give the following explanation of the origin of the dogma of Mary as Mother of God:
In approximately the year 431 A.D., in a council held in Ephesus and presided over by Cyril of Alexandria, Mary was proclaimed not only “bearer of Christ”, but “bearer of God” (in Greek, Theotokos). What had happened? The position of Mary was by then, in the fourth century, a matter of great concern. Epiphanius, a Church Father, had made a precise distinction: “Mary is to be honored, but the Father, the Son and the Spirit are to be adored.” In the fourth century the first council of Constantinople had proclaimed the virginal maternity of Mary as a way of affirming the divinity of Christ: the dogma asserted that there was a suspension of natural laws at the time of his incarnation. Later on, at the beginning of the fifth century, Nestorius, the patriarch of Constantinople, stressed that Christ had two natures, one human and the other divine; this meant that Mary bore Christ in her womb, but could not have borne God. The bishops of Syria were in agreement with Nestorius, but Cyril was not. It was then decided to hold a council in Ephesus to discuss this question. Cyril, however, declared the council open before the Syrian bishops had arrived, and he immediately excommunicated Nestorius, who was not accompanied by anybody who could defend his cause. This was the dubious and very human background of a dogma that would never again be called into question.
Many authors point out an interesting “coincidence”: this dogma was proclaimed in Ephesus, a city that was the center of several important religions: the cult to the Great Mother Goddess of the ancestral religions; the cult to the Phrygian deity Cybele, goddess of the Mother Earth, who had been adored in Anatolia since Neolithic times; and the cult of Artemis, goddess of the hunt (known to the Romans as Diana), who was also a virgin and interceded for her devotees before the other gods.