Monday, August 15, 2011

A Good Word Remembered...

A year ago Pr Eric Brown vented and I remembered his vent and reproduce it here:

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. 

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For  behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
for He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name.
And His mercy is on  those who fear Him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel,
in remembrance of His mercy,
as He spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his children forever.

Until we are willing to sing with Mary, have not pondered sufficiently upon Him who is delivered of her womb, the Son of God in human flesh and blood.  

Luther:  She should be, and herself gladly would be, the foremost example of the grace of God, to incite all the world to trust in this  grace and to love and praise it, so that through her the hearts of all men  should be filled with such knowledge of God that they might confidently say: 'O  Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, what great comfort God has shown us in you, by so graciously regarding your unworthiness and low estate. This encourages us to believe that henceforth He will not despise us poor and lowly ones, but  graciously regard us also, according to your example.' [Luther's Commentary on the Magnificat]


Anonymous said...

OK, lifelong Lutherans; speak up!

The lack of comments shows just how controversial an issue that should not be so has become.dykxzat

Anonymous said...

Any mention of her in Scripture (except for the Wedding at Cana)

Where she utters pure wisdom: "Do whatever he tells you/"

or where Jesus says, "These are my mother and my brothers and my sisters")

Where Jesus praises Mary not so much for her biological maternity but because she heard the Word of God and kept it, responding in faith to her call to be the mother of the long-expected Messiah.

Her prayers joined to those of the disciples at Pentecost, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit.

And of course her deep faith, love and courage at the foot of the cross -- what a noble example for all of us.

Isn't it amazing that with all these clear passages that Rome could have so missed the point and using its usual philosophical sophistry gone way beyond what Scripture tells us?

And yes, we Lutherans have exaggerated in the opposite direction.