Monday, August 9, 2010

Preping for Mary, Mother of our Lord

August 15th is the Feast of Mary, Mother of our Lord. August 15th depresses me. Why? Because these Marian days remind me just how off course American Lutheranism has gotten. I hope to vent her a little bit, so my sermon doesn't become a giant venting.

Lutherans are to be reformers of Rome, not reactionaries against. Our approach is to take and hold on to the things that Rome has, cleanse them of their false doctrine, and present these wonders in a clean and pristine manner. To be a reformer means that you have to love what you are reforming. This means we correct - we cling to the truth and reject that which has built up and is erroneous.

Sadly, too many Lutherans have become mere reactionaries - thinking that to turn ones back upon anything Roman is what it means to be Lutheran. Nothing shows this more than things concerning Mary. Rome overhypes Mary (in ways that would make the blessed Virgin weep sorrowfully - imagine humble Mary being used as the excuse to blaspheme her Son!), and they fall into error. As a reforming Lutheran, we ought to cherish the things that may be rightly said about Mary - that she is the Mother of God, that all nations indeed call her blessed. If one wishes as Luther did, even hold to her perpetual virginity (although I do not). But we should rejoice and delight in this wondrous saint of God who gave birth to our Lord.

But many will want, in the name of their reactionary Lutheranism, to have nothing to do with Mary. Any mention of her in Scripture (except for the Wedding at Cana or where Jesus says, "These are my mother and my brothers and my sisters") tends to be hurried by. They will say nothing at best - or at worst they will mock and malign Mary, as though 2 wrongs would make a right.

Go read the Magnificat - and what do you see? Sometime all of us should hope to be - a humble sinner who glorifies God for all that He has done for us. Mary is quite the theologian -- it's just such a shame that so much bad theology, Papish and Reactionary, centers upon her.


Chad Myers said...

I liked this post. I too feel that if Protestantism, especially Lutheranism, is to be intellectually honest with itself, it needs to focus on promoting the truth it claims to hold apart from the Catholic Church instead of being the "We're definitely not Catholic(tm)" church.

As an aside, I would like you to clarify more about your allegations that the Catholic Church blasphemes Jesus and have fallen into error vis a vis Mary. Perhaps in another post.

Back to the topic of Mary, I'm curious what your thoughts are about the typology of Mary being the new eve, the ark of the new covenant, etc. This interpretation doesn't seem particularly at odds with Lutheranism. For example, David leaped and danced before the Ark when it was going to Jerusalem and John the Baptist leaped in Elizabeth's womb when she heard Mary's voice. David said "How is it that the Ark of my Lord should come to me?" and Elizabeth said "How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" The Ark contained the Law (Word of God), the Manna (food from God), and the Rod of Aaron (sign of the priestly authority of God). Mary contained, in her womb, the Word of God, the food of God (Eucharist), and the power of God (his high priest), etc. Maybe that's another blog post, too?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...


To answer your second part briefly - with the new Eve and the New Ark (of the Covenant) - I suppose I can see the connections. Generally, if I tend to think of Mary I tend to think of her as the exemplar of the Church - the one who is humble and lowly yet exalted by God.

Thinking more about it - I don't like the Ark one that much, because the Ark was used to contain a remembrance. Mary isn't merely a container. Those are quick thoughts for now.