Thanks for joining us today as we continue to examine and respond to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). This week, Broussard begins a new chapter in which he defends the notion of Mary as the “Mother of God” using Luke 1:43 as his proof-text:
“And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Roman Catholics unreservedly identify Mary as the “Mother of God” in their veneration (aka worship) of her as the semi-divine Advocate, Mediatrix of all graces, and Co-Redemptrix. Evangelicals object to Mary being venerated/worshiped as the “Mother of God.” Mary was certainly the earthly mother of Jesus, but Jesus existed as the divine Son of God prior to His incarnation. To grant Mary the title, “Mother of God,” accords to her a heretical status that is not warranted by Scripture. We’ll touch upon the historical development of this “Mother of God” title farther below.
Protestant response #46: “Elizabeth simply uses the title lord in the sense of an earthly ruler. She’s referring to the fruit of Mary’s womb, Jesus, as her messianic king, not the divine messianic king.”
Broussard writes, “Protestant Bible scholar Walter L. Leifeld argues that we shouldn’t interpret (Luke 1:43) as a reference to Mary, “mother of God.” His alternative interpretation is that Elizabeth was referring to Jesus as the Messiah. He writes: ‘Nowhere in the [New Testament] is Mary called ‘mother of God.’ Deity is not confined to the person of Jesus (we may say, “Jesus is God,’ but not all of ‘God is Jesus’). She was, however, the mother of Jesus the Messiah and Lord.’ The evidence he gives is the fact that Luke frequently uses ‘Lord’ as a title, 95 out of 166 occurrences in the synoptics. And not every (occurrence) is charged with a divine meaning. Moreover, so Leifeld argues, Jesus is called ‘Lord’ elsewhere in the Lukan birth narrative in a non-divine way (‘For to you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord’ – Luke 2:11).”
Broussard concedes that Luke often uses kurios “Lord” in a non-divine way ( e.g., Luke 12:36, 37, 42, etc.). However, Broussard argues that in Luke 1:43, the writer is “drawing a parallel between Mary and the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant.” Broussard cites three OT passages as proof-texts for his assertion:
- “And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” – 2 Samuel 6:9
- “And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.” – 2 Samuel 6:5. Broussard’s suggests that David makes merry before the Ark of the Covenant just as Elizabeth celebrated the arrival of Mary.
- “And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.” – 2 Samuel 6:11. Broussard’s argument is that the Ark of the Covenant was in the house of Obed-edom for three months, the same amount of time Mary resided with Elizabeth.
Concludes Broussard, “Since Luke is paralleling Elizabeth’s ‘mother of my Lord’ with David’s ‘the ark of the Lord,’ it stands to reason that Luke intends for us to take Elizabeth’s cry as a reference to almighty God.”
Roman Catholics attempt to legitimize their Mariolatry by claiming Eve and the Ark of the Covenant as Old Testament prophetic types of Mary, but these are baseless claims using eisegetical sophistry. The Ark of the Covenant was in its entirety a prophetic type/symbol of Jesus Christ. The box or chest of the Ark contained the the jar of manna, Aaron’s staff, and the Ten Commandments inscribed on the two stone tablets. All of these items pointed to Jesus Christ. He is the Bread of Life and the Good Shepherd, and He kept the Law perfectly. However, on the exterior top of the Ark, between the two decorative cherubim, was the most important component of the Ark, the Mercy Seat. Once each year, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies (the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle, and later, the Temple) where the Ark was kept and he atoned for his sins and the sins of the Israelites. The High Priest sprinkled the blood of a sacrificed animal onto the Mercy Seat to appease the judgement of God for past sins committed. The Mercy Seat was the only place in the entire world where this atonement could take place. This was a prophetic foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice – the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for the remission of sins. The Ark was entirely about Jesus Christ. There isn’t one iota of prophetic foreshadowing of Mary connected to the Ark. It was all about Jesus Christ.
As for the history of this “Mother of God” title, there were those in the early church, the Nestorians, who claimed Jesus’ divine and human natures are completely distinct and separate. The Council of Ephesus in AD 431 affirmed the Scriptural view that Jesus is fully God and fully man in one indivisible Person. The council emphasized this doctrine by declaring that Mary was Theotókos (“God-bearer”), maintaining that she physically gave birth to Jesus, the indivisible God-Man. Over time, Mariolaters twisted this Theotókos into the “Mother of God” title, which places Mary in preeminence over Jesus Christ in accordance with Mariolatrous beliefs and practices. Yet the divine Son of God existed eternally before Mary was conceived. Mary was only a humble vessel used by God. She is not an exalted deity that the title “Mother of God” unsubtly infers. It’s regrettable that the members of the Council of Ephesus chose to use Mary and Theotókos as the basis for countering the Nestorian heresy. They did not foresee the widespread Mariolatry that would eventually flourish.
As for Elizabeth’s statement, “mother of my Lord,” in Luke 1:43, “this expression is not in praise of Mary, but in praise of the child whom she bore. It was a profound expression of Elizabeth’s confidence that Mary’s child would be the long-hoped-for Messiah” (Leifeld’s point – Tom).*
*The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 2005, p. 1274.
See the excellent article below for more information.
Got Questions – Is Mary the mother of God (Theotokos)?
Next week, Protestant response #47: “If you take some parallels with the ark, then you need to take all of them.”