Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Advent of Mary

Lutherans are often guilty of under-emphasizing what Roman Catholics overdo, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Marian devotion. There are dangers that attend Marian devotions of which Lutherans are rightfully wary. Lutherans desire, above everything else, to keep a focus on Christ and his benefits, and worry that attention to the saints and their intercessions may detract from Christ’s centrality and a right understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith.
However, most people, even if they are unfamiliar with the particulars of Marian devotion in Roman Catholic contexts, such as the pattern for praying the Rosary, or the meaning and nature of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, will nevertheless have read about the validation of Marian sightings by the Roman Catholic Church. In response, one historic Lutheran practice has been to shun any form of prayers or contemplation that in any way name or celebrate Mary. For proof of this point, ask yourself: “How many St. Mary Lutheran Churches are there?”
However, Martin Luther himself offered a middle way between the extremes of either idolizing Mary or denigrating her through inattention. The Lutheran confessional documents also offer this middle way, especially in the Formula of Concord, which declares, “On account of this personal union and communion of the natures, Mary, the most blessed virgin, did not conceive a mere, ordinary human being, but a human being who is truly the Son of the most high God, as the angel testifies. He demonstrated his divine majesty even in his mother’s womb in that he was born of a virgin without violating her virginity. Therefore she is truly the mother of God and yet remained a virgin” (Solid Declaration, article VIII.24). 


  1. Kathy Suarez12:16 PM

    Pastor Clint:

    Thank you, again, for bringing up this subject. I think your comments, both here and on Living Lutheran, help clear up the misunderstanding between Catholics and Lutherans.

    This is what I would add: Remember that Lutherans and Catholics are both "outsiders" looking into the other's religion. When you see a Catholic praying "to" Mary, how can you know what is in his heart?

    There is a German song: "O, Christmas Tree." -- "... how lovely are your branches." How does this look to a Spanish-speaking Catholic? Is the Lutheran who is singing that song worshiping a tree -- like a Pagan worshiping an oak tree, or a New Ager?

    It could look that way from the outside. Notice that in Catholic countries people do not use Christmas trees.

    What is important to understand is that the Catholic Church does not teach that we worship Mary; Mary is not a goddess. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear on this. What is extraordinarily ironic to me is that the ELCA has a church (Megan Rohrer) that actually practices a form of goddess worship.

    Could you please explain this here on your blog? I really want to know what is going on.

  2. I don't have any comments on a church I have never visited and don't know personally. Sorry.

  3. Kathy Suarez6:00 PM

    But there is the internet! You can go there! It is an ELCA church!!!

  4. Kathy Suarez8:54 AM

    OK, assume that I am a devout Lutheran, a mother with 3 small children. My husband and I decide to take the kids to San Francisco for a week. Sunday comes, and, of course I want to go to church with my family.

    I look for the nearest ELCA church -- Ebenezer Lutheran.

    I'm in for a big surprise.

    In the Catholic Church I can go to church ("attend mass") in any church in the world. I may not like the music, I may not like the architecture, but the Mass is the Mass.

    Without Central Authority there is chaos.

  5. religion is so boring.

  6. And Mainline Protestantism is shrinking away faster than the polar ice caps.
    Middle-class, middle-aged and middle-brow, with all the "vibrant diversity" of skim milk.