Since the third century, Christians referred to Mary as the “Mother of God.” The Council of Ephesus, in 431 AD, resolved the controversial title by confirming Mary to be the “Mother of God.” She was declared “theotokos”, meaning God-bearer.
Evangelicals suggested using “Mother of Jesus,” instead of “Mother of God,” but Church doctors objected to the suggestion, since that alternative title would put emphasis on Jesus as man, not as God. If Jesus was truly God, the latter argued, then Mary was the mother of God.
The Protestant suggestion was the heresy of Patriarch Nestorius that the Council of Ephesus condemned. He separated the human and divine natures of the person of Jesus Christ. He denied Mary as “theotokos,” and suggsted her to be “christotokos.”
Moreover, in the Bible itself, the sola scriptura from which the Evangelical Protestants derive their beliefs, Elizabeth addressed Mary as “mother of my Lord” (cf. Luke 1:43). Since the LORD of the Bible was God, Elizabeth referred to her as the “Mother of my God.” Instead of correcting her cousin’s address to her, Mary began to praise the Lord GOD, “My soul magnifies the Lord….” (v. 46, RSVCE).
Like other Marian doctrines that Mary acknowledged after these were confirmed by the Catholic Church, Mary acknowledged her “Mother of God” title when she appeared in Guadalupe to an uneducated Aztec native, Juan Diego. The visionary, then newly converted to Catholicism, was too poor and too uneducated to be capable of concocting the idea of a “Mother of God.” Only the theologically sophisticated could think of such concept.
Mary said to Juan Diego, “Know for sure… I am the perfect and ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God of truth…” and “Tell [the Bishop of Mexico] that I am the ever Virgin, Holy Mary, the Mother of God….”
In another Church-confirmed Marian apparition, in 1932-1933, this time in Beuraing, Belgium, Mary identified herself as “the Immaculate Virgin and Mother of God, Queen of Heaven.”
Note that motherhood is not confined to physical progenitor, but also the provision of physical relationship. An adoptive mother remains the mother of her adopted child, even if the child originated from another woman. VSS
“Do not be afraid, Mary. Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High…” (Luke 1:30-32a).
Picture credit: Top, “The Virgin and The Angels” by alamarimusicali.files.wordpress.com. Second picture, “The Visitation” painting by Edward von Steinle. Third picture, Mother and Child, from TanBooks.com. Fourth picture: Our Lady of Guadalupe, from monasteryicons.com. Bottom picture, Our Lady of Beauraing, from divinemysteries.info.