Is it proper to call Mary the "God-bearer?"

Were the Nestorians correct in rejecting the orthodox view that Mary is the "God bearer"  (theotokos )?  Via Latin, this also comes into English as "Mother of God."

Although what Nestoius believed and what later Nestorians believed is a matter of debate, we are limiting our discussion to this part of the Nestorian "heresy."

But was Nestorius correct on this point?

The Nestorians argued that such a title (God-bearer) failed to distinguish His humanity from His deity.

What think you?

Referring to Mary as the "God bearer" or "Mother of God" is inappropriate.
32% (7 votes)
It is okay to refer to Mary as theotokos, the God-bearer, but not the Latin version, "Mother of God."
18% (4 votes)
Although I do not use these terms because they are misunderstood, I believe they are all theologically correct.
23% (5 votes)
I am undecided.
23% (5 votes)
5% (1 vote)
Total votes: 22
1070 reads

There are 4 Comments

ScottS's picture

I voted "Although I do not use these terms because they are misunderstood, I believe they are all theologically correct." Here is my reasoning:

  1. Jesus Christ, the Person of the Son of the Godhead, is God.
  2. By the incarnation, through the hypostatic union, Jesus Christ became fully Man and remained fully God.
  3. Mary was "bearing" (for approximately 9 months) in her body the incarnated Person of God, Jesus Christ, so she is theologically the one and only "God bearer" in humanity (no matter one's view of how the incarnation itself takes place).
  4. I believe Christ came via either (1) a union of the woman's seed (Mary's egg and genetic information) and a Holy Spirit created seed (sperm with new, 2nd Adam [i.e. created, not generated] genetic information) that therefore did not have a sinful nature attached to it, avoiding the sinfulness typically passed by the father's flesh into his offspring. Optionally, (2) the Holy Spirit might have fashioned Mary's egg alone to create the genetic makeup of Christ, which would have required some miracle of taking the X chromosomes and forming a Y chromosome to unite with it to make the male human Person of Christ; but I prefer the first view. What I do not believe is accurate is (3) that the humanity of Christ was fully created, without genetic connection to Mary; I believe this view does not faithfully follow the promises of the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15; Isa 7:14; Gal 4:4) and the seed of David (2 Sm 7:12; Ps 132:11; Jn 7:42, Rom 1:3, 2 Tim 2:9). So with a genetic connection to Mary to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ being fully God yet totally united to humanity through the hypostatic union, then Mary is theologically fine to be refered to as the "Mother of God," for she is the human mother of Jesus Christ whose Person is fully God as well as fully man.
  5. Yet I choose not to use these phrases because I think they can cause serious confusion to people that do not grasp the nature of the Son's eternality, the nature of the Trinity, nor the nature of the hypostatic union.

Scott Smith, Ph.D.

The goal now, the destiny to come, holiness like God—
Gen 1:27, Lev 19:2, 1 Pet 1:15-16

TylerR's picture


Nestorius is dead, yet speaketh ... If properly understood, it might not be a problem. It depends what he meant by the term. The ancient equivalent of the Twitter wars was freighted with the same problems we see today - people sometimes don't listen to each other.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Aaron Blumer's picture


I went with "theologically correct," as closest thing to "linguistically correct." Short version of the reasoning:

  • Mary was the mother of Jesus
  • Jesus is God in the flesh
  • Mary was the mother of God

As with all theology, it's necessary to explain what we mean. But to even the most Marist Roman Catholics believe Mary pre-existed God the Son and generated the 2nd person of the Trinity? I don't think so. But there is error in the "so what?" part of things: Mary is the mother of God the Son, therefore... what? This is where RCC mostly errs, and where "mother of God" is bad theology.


Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Ed Vasicek's picture

My logic is simple,too:

A mother, by definition, must exist before a child.

God (Father Son and Spirit) has no mother, for no one or nothing existed before God. Therefore God the Son had no mother.

Jesus the man had a mother.

Jesus is God incarnate, which complicates everything.

While God incarnate resided within the womb of Mary, she neither contributed genes nor sustenance to God the Son.  Therefore, she is mother of Jesus the Man only, Who is hypo-statically joined to the God the Son. She is the mother of one nature only, as well as the physical aspects of Jesus. Jesus' human nature was miraculously conceived without the taint of sin, but somehow tied with Mary (and Scott has shared ideas about how this could be)..

To me, "God bearer" is better than "mother."  But "host of God and bearer of Jesus" might be a better term.

"The Midrash Detective"