18. Mary Mother of Jesus
Jesus was born of a virgin — that Jesus was miraculously conceived in Mary’s womb through the work of the Holy Spirit. We agree with the theological conclusion of the Council of Ephesus (AD 431) that Mary is the “mother of God” (theotokos). Still, Mary was “blessed” and “favored” in having the privilege of giving birth to the God-man (Jesus), the second person of the Trinity.
Following are the four main points of Protestant belief regarding Mary:
1. Perpetual Virginity
We agree that Jesus was virginally conceived in Mary’s womb, but the notion that Mary’s virginity was preserved intact during birth is heresy because Christ was also fully human. Furthermore, Matthew says that Joseph didn’t have sexual relations or know Mary “until” she had given birth.
2. The Assumption of Mary
The assumption of Mary into heaven “body and soul” should be rejected. We have no scriptural text to support such a teaching. And when we look at history, we see that the doctrine developed quite late, and wasn’t declared to be authoritative until 1950. Certainly, as a believer in Christ, Mary will be raised from the dead, but we have no basis for thinking she was raised before other believers.
3. Immaculate Conception
The notion of the immaculate conception (Mary being made sinless and perfectly clean upon conception) should be rejected. There are no Scriptures to back this theory up. Of course, Mary was a godly woman, but she was godly because God’s grace rescued her from her sins based on Christ’s atoning work. The only sinless human being was Jesus.
4. Queen of Heaven
Most problematic of all is the idea that believers should pray to Mary, and venerate her as the Queen of Heaven. No scriptural evidence supports this idea that she functions in some way as a mediator or a benefactor for the people of God. The “one mediator” is “the man Christ Jesus” and there is not even a whisper of Mary playing such a role in the New Testament.
Matthew 1:18-23; John 8:46; 1 Timothy 2:5