W.B. Moore has responded to several writings on the doctrine of Theotokos (including mine here) by arguing that it is better to use the term Christotokos than Theotokos because “most people will miss the nuances involved in its use” (see here). While I understand his concern (like I understand that of Nestorious) it does not follow that we should abandon a pivitol doctrine because it may be misunderstood.
Moore says that most people understand Theotokos to include the following:
1) Jesus is God
2) Mary gave birth to Jesus.
3) Mary existed before time to give birth to God.
4) The divine person of God the Son was created when Mary gave birth.
5) One should pray to Mary who, being the mother of Christ, will interceed with Christ for man. After all, what son doesn’t want to do what his mother asks?
In response I think that people would reach points #3, #4 and #5 only if whoever doing the teaching is completely ignorant of what it means to call Mary the “God-bearer” or if there is intention to subvert the doctrine by claiming that it teaches that which it does not teach.
We argue for Mary as God-bearer because we believe Jesus is one person with two natures. We do not believe he is two persons (one divine, one human). To call Mary Christ-bearer is to insinuate that somehow Jesus was born human in a way that is disconnected from his deity. While it is understood Mary contributed the human nature what was born in her is no One other than God Himself.
If we begin moving down the pathway of teaching people doctrines we find easiest we will move the direction of the Jehovah’s Witnesses/Arians with the incarnation or the Oneness Pentecostals/Modalist/Sabellians with the Godhead. Yes, we need to be cautious as we teach the Christian faith but we don’t need to change it to make it sensible. Sometimes Christianity claims to be true what senses say is false.