Christianity is a diverse religion with over 45,000 denominations worldwide. This diversity is reflected in the wide range of beliefs about the Virgin Mary, a central figure in Christian faith. Some denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodox Churches, venerate Mary as the Mother of God and give her a special place in their worship and theology. Other denominations, such as most Protestant denominations, have a more nuanced view of Mary and do not venerate her in the same way.
The Virgin Mary is mentioned in the New Testament as the mother of Jesus Christ. According to Christian doctrine, Mary conceived Jesus miraculously through the power of the Holy Spirit, while remaining a virgin. This event, known as the Annunciation, is a central tenet of Christian faith and is celebrated by Christians around the world.
In this article, we shall discuss on the various Christians that Believe in The Virgin Mary denominations and their views about the Virgin Mary.
Battle Over the Divinity of the Virgin Mary
Despite her importance in Christianity, the Virgin Mary’s divinity has been debated for centuries. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians revere Mary as the Mother of God in their liturgy and theology. Most Protestant denominations revere Mary differently.
The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century started the Virgin Mary debate. Protestant reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin opposed Catholic beliefs like saint devotion. Many Protestant denominations viewed Mary more critically.
The subject of Mary’s sinlessness is central to the divinity debate. Catholics believe in Mary’s Immaculate Conception and sinlessness throughout her life. Many Protestants deny the Immaculate Conception because the Bible doesn’t support it.
Mary’s role in salvation is another crucial topic. A co-redemptrix, Catholics believe Mary helped save humanity with Jesus Christ. Protestants disagree, believing Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and humans.
The debate regarding Mary’s divinity is nuanced and multifaceted. However, Mary is fundamental to Christianity, and all Christians value her role in redemption history.
We will compare Christian faiths’ views on Mary’s divinity in the following parts. The historical and theological backdrop of Mary’s divinity debate will also be examined.
Christians that Believe in The Virgin Mary
Different denominations of Christians have different Virgin Mary beliefs. Roman Catholics and certain Orthodox Christians worship the Virgin Mary and pray to her for help, while most Protestants have a different theological stance. These denominations venerate Mary less and do not need her intercession to reach God. They emphasize on worshiping God through Jesus Christ and see Mary as a faithful servant and mother, not a mediator between God and humans.
1. Roman Catholics Views About Mary
Roman Catholics hold a deep belief in the Virgin Mary, which is central to their faith. This devotion is rooted in both historical tradition and biblical references. Catholics believe that Mary was born without sin, remained a virgin throughout her life, and was assumed into heaven after her death. They venerate her for her unique role in salvation history as the Mother of Jesus Christ, who is considered both fully human and fully divine.
While some Christian denominations share aspects of Marian devotion, the depth and extent of veneration, as well as the specific dogmas, are distinctively Roman Catholic. Protestant denominations often oppose Marian doctrines, arguing that they lack explicit biblical support and may detract from the central focus on Christ’s redemptive work.
Roman Catholics believe in the Virgin Mary because of her special role in the Incarnation and salvation history. Some biblical scriptures and historical traditions support this belief. Certain Protestant denominations, which emphasise a closer link between believers and Jesus Christ, oppose these views.
2. Eastern Orthodox About Mary
The Eastern Orthodox Churches venerate the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos, or “Mother of God.” This belief is deeply rooted in Orthodox history and theology. The Orthodox Church emphasizes Mary’s role in the Incarnation, believing that she bore and gave birth to Jesus Christ, who is both fully God and fully human. This belief is supported by early Christian writings and Orthodox liturgical texts and hymns.
While the Orthodox Church’s devotion to Mary is profound, it differs from Roman Catholicism in some respects. For example, the Orthodox Church does not accept the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.
Opposition to the veneration of Mary is relatively rare within Orthodoxy. However, some non-Orthodox Christian groups, such as certain Protestant denominations, may criticize the Orthodox emphasis on Mary, arguing that it diverges from a more scripture-centered faith. Despite this, the reverence for Mary is a fundamental aspect of Eastern Orthodox spirituality, grounded in the Orthodox understanding of her essential role in the mystery of the Incarnation.
3. Protestant Views on the Virgin Mary
Protestant denominations vary widely in their beliefs about the Virgin Mary. While most Protestants recognize Mary as the mother of Jesus and respect her role in the nativity story, they generally hold a more subdued view of her than Roman Catholics. This difference stems from the Protestant emphasis on the Bible as the primary source of authority and a reluctance to accept certain Marian doctrines, such as the Immaculate Conception and her perpetual virginity, due to perceived lack of explicit biblical evidence. Nevertheless, some Protestant denominations, such as Anglicans and Lutherans, maintain a moderate degree of Marian devotion and continue to include references to Mary in their liturgy and prayer.
Opposition to extensive Marian veneration within Protestantism is rooted in concerns that such practices may detract from the central focus on Jesus Christ as the sole mediator between humanity and God. Protestant reformers in the 16th century sought to simplify Christian worship and doctrine, emphasizing salvation through faith in Christ alone. As a result, the level of devotion to Mary and the specific beliefs about her can vary greatly among Protestant denominations, reflecting the broad spectrum of theological perspectives within Protestantism.
4. Oriental Orthodox Views about Mary
Oriental Orthodox Churches, such as the Coptic Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches, share a deep belief in the Virgin Mary’s significance to their faith. They venerate Mary as the Mother of Jesus Christ and accord her a central role in salvation history, similar to the Roman Catholic Church. Their belief in Mary’s importance is rooted in their historical tradition, theological doctrines, and ancient texts and manuscripts.
Liturgical practices also emphasize Mary’s role in the Incarnation and her intercessory role. However, while sharing some similarities with Roman Catholicism regarding Mary’s veneration, Oriental Orthodox Churches have historical and theological differences, particularly in Christology, which has led to historical oppositions and schisms between these Christian traditions.
5. Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, an ancient Christian denomination, believes in the Virgin Mary, but with some differences from Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox doctrines. While they venerate Mary, they do not believe in the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption, which are central to Roman Catholic teachings. Instead, the Assyrian Church of the East emphasizes Mary’s role as the Mother of Jesus and views her as a holy and respected figure.
Historical evidence suggests that Marian devotion in the Assyrian Church of the East can be traced back to early Christian communities in the East. However, opposition and theological differences stem primarily from the varying views on Mary’s role, nature, and the extent of her veneration when compared to other Christian traditions like Catholicism and Orthodoxy
6. Anglicanism Views on the Virgin Mary
Anglican beliefs about the Virgin Mary vary depending on the branch of Anglicanism and the individual. While all Anglicans generally recognize Mary as an important figure in Christian history, the level of veneration and specific doctrines held about her can differ significantly.
High Church or Anglo-Catholic Anglicans tend to have beliefs about Mary that are more similar to those of the Roman Catholic Church. For example, they may believe in her perpetual virginity and her role as the Mother of God. They may also celebrate Marian feast days and recite prayers like the Hail Mary.
Other Anglicans, particularly those in the Low Church tradition, may have a more reserved approach. They may emphasize a less prominent role for Mary in their faith, focusing instead on the centrality of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture.
Thus, Anglican beliefs about the Virgin Mary can be diverse, reflecting the broader spectrum of Christian traditions within the Anglican Communion.
7. Latter-day Saints Views About Mary
Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe in the Virgin Mary, but their views differ significantly from traditional Christian beliefs. Mormons believe that Mary was the mother of Jesus Christ, but they do not believe in her immaculate conception or perpetual virginity. Instead, they believe that Mary was a mortal woman who was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus.
There are references to Mary in the Book of Mormon and other Latter-day Saint scriptures, but these texts provide a unique perspective that differs from traditional Christian beliefs about her. Mainstream Christian denominations often oppose Latter-day Saint views on Mary, as they maintain more traditional interpretations of her role and attributes.
8. Jehovah’s Witnesses Views About Mary
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not worship the Virgin Mary as many other Christian denominations do. This is because they interpret the Bible differently and do not believe that Mary can mediate between God and people. Jehovah’s Witnesses focus on Jehovah God and believe that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and people, as stated in 1 Timothy 2:5.
They acknowledge Mary as Jesus’ earthly mother, but they do not raise her to the status of a goddess or intercessor. Therefore, there is no evidence in Jehovah’s Witness teachings to support the veneration of Mary, and their opposition to this practice is consistent with their theological understanding of the Bible.
9. Seventh-day Adventist Beliefs
The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes in the Virgin Mary, but their view of her differs from the Roman Catholic Church’s. Adventists do not venerate Mary as much as Catholics do, because they focus on worshiping God and Jesus Christ. While they recognize Mary’s role as Jesus’ mother, they do not follow certain Marian dogmas, such as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.
Adventists base their beliefs primarily on the Bible and focus on the New Testament teachings about salvation through Christ. They respect Mary’s place in history, but they do not emphasize her role as an intercessor or elevate her to the same level as Catholicism does. This perspective is more in line with Protestant traditions that emphasize Christ’s sufficiency for salvation.
10. Quakers (Religious Society of Friends)
Quakers do not generally share the Roman Catholic Church’s beliefs about the Virgin Mary. Quaker theology is based on simplicity, direct personal experience with God, and the inner light of Christ within each individual. Quakers do not venerate saints, including Mary, in the same way that Catholics do. Their worship and spiritual practice prioritize silent waiting on the Holy Spirit and communal discernment rather than formalized rituals or the veneration of saints. Quakers tend to avoid the intercession of saints, including Mary, and emphasize the direct relationship between the individual and God.
The battle over the divinity of the Virgin Mary is a long-standing debate within Christianity. Some denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodox Churches, venerate Mary as the Mother of God and give her a special place in their worship and theology. Other denominations, such as most Protestant denominations, have a more nuanced view of Mary and do not venerate her in the same way.
The debate over Mary’s divinity dates back to the early days of the Christian church. In the 5th century, the Council of Ephesus declared that Mary was the Theotokos, or “Birth-giver of God.” This title affirmed Mary’s unique role in salvation history as the mother of Jesus Christ, who is considered both fully human and fully divine.
However, some Christians have rejected the title Theotokos and the idea that Mary is divine. They argue that the Bible does not teach that Mary should be venerated or worshipped. They also point out that the Bible does not explicitly call Mary the Mother of God.
The battle over the divinity of the Virgin Mary is a complex one, with strong arguments on both sides. It is a debate that is likely to continue for many years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following frequently asked questions explore the different perspectives on the Virgin Mary held by different Christian denominations. They also examine the biblical and historical context of the debate over Mary’s role and significance.
Do all Christians believe in the Virgin Mary?
No, not all Christians believe in the Virgin Mary. While she is a revered figure in the Catholic and Orthodox churches, many Protestant denominations do not venerate her in the same way. In fact, some Protestant denominations have a more critical view of Mary and her role in the Christian faith.
Which Christian denominations believe in the Virgin Mary?
The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodox Churches all venerate the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God and give her a special place in their worship and theology. Some Protestant denominations, such as the Lutherans and Anglicans, have a positive view of Mary and respect her role in salvation history. However, they do not venerate Mary in the same way as the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Why do some Christian denominations not believe in the Virgin Mary?
Many Protestant denominations do not venerate the Virgin Mary because they believe that the Bible does not teach that she should be venerated or prayed to. They also argue that the veneration of Mary detracts from the central focus of the Christian faith, which is Jesus Christ.
What is the Immaculate Conception?
The Immaculate Conception is a Catholic doctrine that states that Mary was conceived without sin. This doctrine is based on the belief that Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus Christ and that she needed to be sinless in order to carry out this role.
What is the Assumption of Mary?
The Assumption of Mary is a Catholic doctrine that states that Mary was assumed into heaven after her death. This doctrine is based on the belief that Mary was sinless and that she deserved to be with her son, Jesus Christ, in heaven.
What is Mary’s role in salvation history?
Catholics believe that Mary played a unique role in salvation history as the mother of Jesus Christ. They believe that she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah and that she played a vital role in his plan of salvation.
Protestants generally have a more nuanced view of Mary’s role in salvation history. Some Protestants believe that Mary played an important role in the life of Jesus Christ, while others believe that her role was not as significant.