Evangelical Is Not Enough 5

Posted: February 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Evangelical Is Not Enough | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Evangelical Is Not Enough 5

Thomas Howard’s fifth chapter is titled: Hail, Blessed Virgin Mary: What Did the Angel Mean? Oddly, to my mind, he uses that introduction to explore how marriage is both a spiritual and physical union in a way that is intertwined and inseparable. He then builds on that to show how the foundation of Christian faith, flowing from the material and earthy sacrifices of Torah, did not become something ethereal and spiritual. No, the origin of our faith lies in a messy gynecological reality of real child-bearing, wombs, and physical birth. The root of our particular faith begins in the mystery of the Incarnation.

I agree with pretty much everything Howard writes as he explores the above in length. But then I’ve never had any bias against honor or reverence toward Mary or, indeed, any of the saints. If what Christianity (and Christ) says about the nature of reality is true, then all of that naturally flows along with it. But I was not shaped as an evangelical. I gather Howard felt it necessary to approach Mary somewhat obliquely, disarming mental traps, rather than tackling the matter directly.

The Christian piety that has been afraid almost to name, much less to hail, the Virgin and to join the the angel Gabriel and Elisabeth in according blessing and exaltation to her is a piety that has impoverished itself. Stalwart for the glory of God alone, it has been afraid to see the amplitude of that glory, which brims and overflows and splashes outward in a surging golden tide, gilding everything that it touches. … A Christian devotion afraid to join the angel of God in hailing the Virgin as highly exalted is a devotion cramped either by ignorance or fear.

I do find that I prefer to emphasize the particular nature of what Mary accomplished through her ‘Yes‘ to God flowing from the ancient title Theotokos (God-Bearer) more than emphasizing her state as Virgin. But neither do I reject or find either one troublesome. I suppose, even after a decade and a half, I still don’t understand that visceral negative reaction by evangelicals.


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