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“Doesn’t it make logical sense!” So said a couple of young men who were trying to convince me of a doctrine that is far removed from the Christian Truth that has been handed down through the centuries. Logic, in fact, has played a huge role in the presentation of many heresies through the centuries. These usually center on the very question of “Who is Jesus?”

One such “logical” conclusion was actually put forth by an Archbishop of Constantinople back in the early 5th century named Nestorius. He taught that Mary could not have possibly given birth to God come in the flesh, but only to a man. In other words, no womb could possibly contain God. In fact, the woman would be burned up immediately. He described Mary with the word: Christotokos, the Bearer (Birthgiver) of the Messiah (Christ). By this title he meant that Mary had only given birth to a man.

This teaching resulted in the Third Ecumenical Council to again state what had always been believed from Christ through His Apostles through their disciples and so on to the 5th century. 

If someone challenged you today, how would you answer such a claim that no womb could contain God and therefore Mary only gave birth to a man? Let’s simplify that question to: From the Holy Scriptures, are there examples of the God of this whole universe being contained in something? Today we will only deal with one example.

In Exodus 3, Moses encounters a wonder that would forever change his life and the course of history. He sees a bush that is burning, yet it is not being consumed by the fire. When he goes to investigate, he finds God is in the bush and speaks to him from the bush. This of course makes absolutely no logical sense. The bush should have burned up immediately. But God is God and He is not required by us to make logical sense! God explains this to the Holy Prophet Isaiah with these words for all of us: 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 58:8-9)

If God could be contained in a bush and not burn it up, then He could also be in the womb of Mary and not burn her up. So it was that the logic of Nestorius was condemned and Mary was given the title (not Christotokos) but Theotokos, the Bearer (Birthgiver) of God come in the flesh. Mary is called the Mother of God because she gave birth to God the Son come in the flesh for our salvation.  

Along these same lines is the totally illogical truth that God lives in us. How could that be? Yet, Holy Scripture states: “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them” (1 John 4:15; see also John chapters 14 & 15). Since our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6), we should treat them properly…both in life and in death. 

As “bearers of God”, may we reflect His Light and Love in our daily lives, loving Him and loving those we come in contact with throughout each day. “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

P.S. The question of why we would call Mary “holy” is answered well by St. John of Damascus as he discusses the story of the burning bush in Exodus 3 when God tells Moses to take off his sandals for the ground he was standing on was holy:  “If, therefore, the ground where the image of the Theotokos was seen by Moses is holy ground, how much more holy is the image itself.” So it is that Orthodox refer to Mary as the Holy Theotokos.