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).