Sunday, 16 November 2014

Mary: personal Monday iii

I have so much to blog about at the moment it is difficult to keep up!

I really want to share some thoughts about John 1:1 soon and comment an article on the apparent seven direct Jesus-God passages, that is taken directly from a book I have already ordered edited by Wallace (it is anti-Ehrman by the way for those of you who are worrying about my influences!), and of course I want to do a follow-up on my 9-character post from a couple of days ago: "did God die?"

But today, let me share a little about Mary, whose head has to crop up in these discussions, and since it is personal Monday, ask ourselves a couple of questions. As I have already mentioned in a previous post, we in the evangelical and protestant churches have shown more of a pick n' mix approach to the creeds we find authoritative than we realise (Patrick Johnstone in that instance demonstrated this nicely), accepting even just a part of the Chalcedon creed while leaving Mother of God/God-bearer status of Mary for a rainy day. As protestants, we trace our spiritual lineage back to Luther and Calvin - I have also just learned that Lutheranism itself places the Scriptures on a higher plane than than of any creed, in line with what we stereotypically imagine by sola scriptura.  I am happy with that position.

But back to Mary - Check out this quote of Luther, that should surprise us if we assume that protestantism is fundamentally opposed to placing followers of Christ in any position of risk of confusion about Mary:

If our Lady were to enter Jerusalem today in a golden coach drawn by 4,000 horses it would not be an honour ... great enough for she who bore in her womb our Saviour

John Calvin also is reported as saying that he regarded Mary as a spiritual mother (reference needed) and:

"To this day we cannot enjoy the blessing brought to us in Christ without thinking at the same time of that which God gave as adornment and honour to Mary, in willing her to be the mother of his only-begotten Son"


So what is so personal or exhortative about this post?! I am getting there! I have been exposed to a lot of anti-catholic rhetoric, and it was for me a breath of fresh air to read this catholic blogger's defence, which, interestingly enough, also taught me the origin of the "hail-Mary". Part of this strangeness we experience when we hear this expression is actually a question of translation. The word used by the angel, sent by God, is translated in our modern translations as "GREETINGS" from Χαῖρε (chairo). Later Χαῖρε is used in Matthew 27:29 as the soldiers mock Jesus with fake "Hail", which you could hardly translate "greetings". Its root verb is also apparently very positive, to do with rejoicing (Strong's 5463) - I wish I knew Greek better to understand why the 5 exact forms of this verb are always rendered something akin to "hail". Is it something like "I rejoice in seeing you"?

Anyway - I want to challenge myself and you to re-assess what are the unhelpful messages that we have heard regarding both Mary and Catholics. Let us ask ourselves, do we care what we think about Mary? As Protestants, we remain in the minority of the Christian faith. If there are distortions to catholicism, what might a pure catholicism look like? What might be a better approach for us toward Mary? How might you greet her after the resurrection?!

Let us remember: the same creed that asserts that our Lord became fully man and God in one hypostatic indivisible union, fully affirms that Mary is the mother of that indivisible person, and that she is therefore not just the mother of the human Messiah, for in order to claim this (Nestorius?), you are splitting the person of Christ into two.

OK, one more question we can ask ourselves, as it is at the HEART of maryology: how are you doing with the fully-man-and-fully-God balance? If you pray to Jesus only as God and not relate to him as a human, are you able to maintain this vision in your heart and mind?


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