Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Path to Historical Shallowness

We're seeing stories like this one more and more, and it's not because there's any evidence to warrant this elevated view of Mary. We're told about James Lyon, an Episcopalian pastor, and his church:

"Lyon's church recites the rosary, a Mary-related devotional prayer, once a week, and for several years it has taken part in a group recitation of the rosary with members of St. Joseph Catholic Church on Devine Street."

And we get the usual vague, non sequitur justifications:

"'Mary is an intercessor for the people of God, a model of submission and obedience to the will of God for the whole Christian church,' Lyon said....Biega, who regularly uses the rosary as a means of devotion, thinks more Protestants are becoming interested in learning about Mary because she offers a symbol of what women can become through the love of God. 'What attracts women is the need to understand the significance of our mother Mary as the child who said yes to God.'"

Is Mary an example of some good things, including "what women can become through the love of God"? Yes, and it's true that Mary said yes to God. Do any of these things justify something like saying the Rosary, which includes praying to Mary? No.

People who are overly ecumenical and Roman Catholics looking for converts will commend what these Episcopalians are doing. But we're never given a justification for it. The Episcopalians who do this sort of thing aren't getting deeper into history. They're getting shallower. The earliest church fathers knew nothing of the Roman Catholic Mary. They denied that Mary was sinless, repeatedly discussed the subject of bodily assumptions (Enoch, Elijah, etc.) without mentioning Mary, identified the woman of Revelation 12 as an entity other than Mary, condemned prayers to the deceased, which would include Mary, condemned the veneration of images, which would include images of Mary, etc. If Episcopalians want to get even more historically shallow, one of the quickest ways they can do it is to follow Roman Catholicism's lead on Marian doctrine.