Confused Christology: Is Jesus the Son of the Holy Spirit?

An Evangelical's Confusion Answered

by Mark Bonocore

<< I'm wondering how you might respond to the following. As an RC, you believe that Mary is (ontologically) the mother of God by virtue of her position as mother of Jesus, who is God. You also believe that Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit by virtue of the fact that the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and caused her to conceive (Joseph acting as a "protectorate" rather than as the true spouse of Mary). My question is the same one that Jesus Himself once posed: "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" In other words, if the *true* spouse of Mary is the Holy Spirit by virtue of the fact that Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit, then doesn't that make Jesus the Son of the Holy Spirit rather than the Son of the Father? >>

No, because we believe that Jesus' Divine Sonship to the Father is a different thing than His earthly sonship to Mary. In other words, just as Jesus has 2 distinct natures, He also enjoys 2 distinct sonships. Christ is both the eternal Son of God (eternally begotten of **the Father**) and the temporal Son of Man / Son of Adam (through Mary).

As for Mary being the spouse of the Holy Spirit, this is a poetic (but true) expression referring to her total self-commitment to God ("Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Your Word" -- Luke 1:38). So, this does not mean that the Holy Spirit is to be seen as Jesus' earthly or temporal "father," as if the Holy Spirit and Mary had normal marital relations, and so produced a son from them, etc. Rather, Mary acts as an image of both Creation, Israel, and the Church; and the Holy Spirit "weds" himself to her in a creative act, just as the "Spirit of God moves over the waters" of the new and unformed **earth** (Creation) in Genesis 1:2, and just as He came upon the people of Israel at the base of Sinai and upon the Church at Pentecost, thereby "creating" them into a people. In the same way, the Spirit comes upon Mary so as to form the human nature of Jesus from her. And this does not make Him (the Spirit) the "earthly father" of Jesus in the sense that Mary becomes Jesus' earthly mother for two essential reasons:

(1) The Divine PERSON of Jesus pre-existed the creation of His physical human nature; and this Divine PERSON already had a eternal relationship with the Holy Spirit, which was not a Father-Son relationship. Rather, the eternal relationship of the Son to the Spirit was part of the Father's act of eternally begetting the eternal Son, with the Holy Spirit **being** that loving eternal Act of begeting the Son -- the "Spirit of Sonship" mentioned by Paul in Romans 8. Thus, if anything, the human conception of Son via the Holy Spirit was an extension of this eternal Act, and the eternal Son-Spirit relationship; and thus the Father, as the ultimate source of both Son and Spirit remains the only Father involved -- because the human conception of Jesus via the Spirit would be part of the same loving Act by which the Father eternally begets the Son.

(2) While the PERSON of the Son possessed an eternal relationship with the Spirit prior to His human conception (which was not a Father-Son relationship), the PERSON of the Son did not possess any such pre-existing relationship with Mary, aside from being her Creator. And thus the old Italian expression, "Santa Maria, Figlia del Suo Figlio"  -- "Holy Mary, Daughter of Your Son." Yet, in obtaining a human nature through her and experiencing true human birth through her, the eternal Person of the Son established a new relationship with Mary -- a mother-son relationship.

<< This, of course, is not a problem for Evangelicals since we don't view Mary as the ontological mother of God. >>

Fine. Then you should not view the Blood of Christ as the ontological Blood of God either, because He got His Blood from Mary. :-) And if the Blood of Christ is not the Blood of the eternal Son, then you are still in your sins, since no Divine Sacrifice was made for you. If the eternal Person of the Son did not **truly** and ontologically acquire a human mother, then He was not truly and ontologically a human being. Thus, He was not truly and ontologically one of us; thus He could not truly and ontologically die; thus no Sacrifice; thus we are still in our sins. Find a way out of this if you can. :-)

<< She was the mother of Jesus, but only in a provisional and temporal sense. >>

I see. :-) Then Jesus was only a human being in a "provisional and temporal sense"; and so Jesus is no longer a man, and so there is no one-Flesh relationship between Him and His Church (per Ephesians 5:25-32). And, this being the case, you cannot claim the Blood of Christ for your salvation, and so are still in your sins.

<< The Holy Spirit was, too, the father of Jesus only in a provisional and temporal sense. >>

Wrong. See above.

Mark Bonocore

Excerpts from the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431)

1. If anyone does not confess that Emmanuel is God in truth, and therefore that the holy virgin is the mother of God (for she bore in a fleshly way the Word of God become flesh), let him be anathema.

2. If anyone does not confess that the Word from God the Father has been united by hypostasis with the flesh and is one Christ with his own flesh, and is therefore God and man together, let him be anathema.

3. If anyone divides in the one Christ the hypostases after the union, joining them only by a conjunction of dignity or authority or power, and not rather by a coming together in a union by nature, let him be anathema.

4. If anyone distributes between the two persons or hypostases the expressions used either in the gospels or in the apostolic writings, whether they are used by the holy writers of Christ or by him about himself, and ascribes some to him as to a man, thought of separately from the Word from God, and others, as befitting God, to him as to the Word from God the Father, let him be anathema.

5. If anyone dares to say that Christ was a God-bearing man and not rather God in truth, being by nature one Son, even as "the Word became flesh", and is made partaker of blood and flesh precisely like us, let him be anathema.  etc...

The Judgment Against Nestorius

The holy synod said: As, in addition to all else, the excellent Nestorius has declined to obey our summons and has not received the holy and God-fearing bishops we sent to him, we have of necessity started upon an investigation of his impieties. We have found him out thinking and speaking in an impious fashion, from his letters, from his writings that have been read out, and from the things that he has recently said in this metropolis which have been witnessed to by others; and as a result we have been compelled of necessity both by

—the canons and by

—the letter of our most Holy Father and fellow servant Celestine, Bishop of the church of the Romans, to issue this sad condemnation against him, though we do so with many tears.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been blasphemed by him, has determined through this most holy synod that the same Nestorius should be stripped of his episcopal dignity and removed from the college of priests.

See the Full Text of the Council of Ephesus

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