If you talk to enough Catholics who converted to the faith from Protestantism, you’ll begin to notice some similarities in their stories. Sure, every convert’s path is unique, but there are a few things almost all of them struggle with in their journey to Catholicism. And one of those things is devotion to Mary. It’s so utterly foreign to the vast majority of Protestant theology and spirituality that it’s a big stumbling block for a lot of potential converts, and many still struggle with it even after they enter the Church (although those troubles usually fade away after they get used to being Catholic). In particular, they’re often uncomfortable with the exalted titles and the vast amounts of praise we heap on Mary, and in this post, I want to look at one of those titles: Mother of God.
For many of us Catholics, this seems like the most natural thing in the world to call her, and for good reason. Mary is the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God, so Mary is the mother of God. The logic is simple enough, but a lot of Protestants still aren’t entirely comfortable with the title. It just feels wrong to them, so I’d like to look at how Scripture can help. Granted, the Bible doesn’t apply the exact phrase “Mother of God” to Mary, but there are two passages that show us just how appropriate it really is.
Let’s start with a little-known text from the Acts of the Apostles:
But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. (Acts 3:14-15)
In context, St. Peter has just healed a crippled beggar in Jerusalem, and a large crowd is gathering to see the man. Peter takes the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them, and in these two verses, he’s telling them about Jesus’ death and resurrection. But interestingly, when he talks about Jesus’ death, he refers to Jesus in a very unusual way. Peter calls him “the Author of life,” and that’s significant. Since Jesus is both God and man, this title has to refer to his divinity. Jesus isn’t the author of life as a mere human being. No, he holds this title because he’s God, so Peter is essentially telling the people around him that they killed God.
And why can he say that? Well, it’s the exact same reason why we Catholics can call Mary the Mother of God. These people killed Jesus, and Jesus is God, so we can say that they killed God. And if that logic is valid for St. Peter, it’s valid for modern-day Catholics as well. If Peter can say that human beings killed God, we can say that Mary is the Mother of God.
Mother of My Lord
That should be enough to prove the point, but there’s one more passage I want to look at, and this one really seals the deal for us:
And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (Luke 1:43)
These words come from the famous Gospel story in which Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth shortly after finding out that she’s going to be the mother of the Messiah. Elizabeth is elated and a bit surprised that “the mother of my Lord” came to visit her, and that peculiar phrase is our smoking gun.
Jesus is Elizabeth’s “Lord” because he’s God, so again, this is a divine title. It’s a synonym for the word “God,” so Elizabeth is essentially calling Mary “the mother of my God.” And with that, our case becomes airtight. Not only is there a New Testament passage that uses the same exact logic that we Catholics use when we call Mary the Mother of God, but there’s also one that uses an equivalent title, so there’s no way that any Christian, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox, can deny its legitimacy. “Mother of God” is a biblically sanctioned title for Mary, so we should have no qualms about using it.