Mary, the Mother of God

Tomorrow is the day that the western church honors Mary, the Mother (or bearer) of God (theotokos). I know that many are not comfortable with the title theotokos for the same reason many did not affirm it in the third and fourth centuries. It was argued that the title christotokos was more fitting since technically the deity of Christ was not “born” at the incarnation, only the humanity. Therefore, it would be better to call Mary the one who bore “Christ”.

The title theotokos won the day because christotokos seemed to miss the point. Yes, God was born though God did not come into being–this is two different assumptions. It is similar to the statement in Acts 20.28 that the church was purchased through the blood of God. The incarnation must be taken seriously as God being fully in Christ.

Yet there is a reason that I am not Roman Catholic (OK, a few). While I am more than willing to honor Mary as the theotokos it seems to me that her devotion has gone too far in much of the western church. For instance, I cannot understand why the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is of any value (i.e. Why does Mary, born of a sinful man and woman, need to be somehow born “sinless”? Why can’t this sinless birth begin with Christ who was born of a sinful woman, but not a sinful father, because the Holy Spirit did a direct work?). While I am not against people praying to her, per se, it does confuse me when she is given such a prominent place in penance. What atoning work has Mary done?

How much devotion do you give to Mary and why? What are your reasons for standing alongside the developed tradition of the church or your reasons for not doing so?