An example of what I mean

Here’s an example of the odd fury that anything Marian seems to provoke in the breast of some Protestants (who often seem to speak as though they were thereby anointed the oracle of all Protestants):

locdog writes:

protestants go to the mat over perpetual virginity because like 99% of marian dogma it’s extra-Biblical in nature.

Well, some Protestants anyway. Luther, Calvin and Wesley had no trouble with it. And I know Protestants today who don’t have much problem with it either. Opposition to the PV of Mary is not really a sine qua non of Protestantism. But some Protestant are so Mariophobic that all mentions of her seem to set off these sorts of reactions and prompt the saying of numerous silly things.

One of the silly things said is “Extra-biblical equals anti-biblical”. But, of course, as I point out in By What Authority? Protestants treat all sorts of extra-biblical tradition as revelation. It’s only when the extra-biblical tradition is about something to which they have a phobic response that some Protestants suddenly talk as though it’s sinister.

i’m sure that tortured exegesis and fanciful myth passed of as Gospel Truth aren’t anything to concern one’s self over, but there yet remains a handful of deranged crackpots like myself who just can’t help it.

Hyperbole is always an attractive alternative to reasoned argument. But the point still remains that there is no particular reason we can’t say that Jesus “brothers” were half-brothers by a previous marriage. Since the whole early Church remembers Mary to have been a virgin, and since there’s nothing particulary contrary to Scripture in that, I think the burden of proof is on the person who charges the early Church with “tortured” exegesis.

maybe it’s the perception that there’s a not-so-subtle effort to promote mary, sinner and mother of *several* children, to the Fourth Member of the Trinity.

Um, there have, I confess, been efforts to deify Mary. One notable one occurred in the 5th Century, among a sect called Collyridians. But, shazam!, they were condemned as heretics by the Catholic Church.

This condemnation of adoring Mary as a God remains. Only God is to be given latria (i.e. the honor which is due God alone). It is true that Mary is honored as the highest creature, but this is not to mistake her for God, any more than the honor we give our parents or the President is somehow a subtraction from the honor we give God. In short, there is nothing in Catholic teaching to justify the charge that the Church, in defining the PV of Mary is, part of an effort to promote Mary to a fourth member of the Trinity. Indeed, if locdog could stop hyperventilating for a moment, it would be worth asking himself how on earth virginity makes one a God? The dogma of the PV of Mary was formulated in the mid-6th century. If it is part of a plot to deify Mary, it certainly doesn’t seem to be catching on very quickly. And the repeated teaching of the Catholic Church that Mary is only a creature and is not to be worshipped as a God are not a very good strategy for implementing the sinister plan.

maybe we all feel bad for joseph who, let’s face it, must have been a rather frustrated chap

I wonder if this is really where the heart of the objection lies. Is virginity threatening perhaps?

or maybe we just find unnecessary, completely non-falsifiable legends which always seem to spring up custom-tailored to fit whatever political crisis rome happened to be experiencing at the moment rather annoying.

I think the only rational response to this last remark is “huh?” followed by the happy sound of rejoicing over the reunion of the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church since their faith in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary can only, by your lights, mean that they are eager to leap to the aid of Rome. Just how the PV of Mary helps in some “political crisis” remains to be seen. But I’m glad we’ve clariifed that the Schism is over.

This is a little sample of the sort of odd over-the-top reaction almost any mention of Mary will get from a certain stripe of Protestants. Note that I specify a “certain stripe”. Unlike locdog, I don’t believe that such reactions are oracular revelations of what “Protestants” think. Some Protestants don’t have a problem with the PV of Mary. Some, as Luther, Calvin, and Wesley demonstrate, believe in it and think it quite biblical (as I do). But for those suffering from Mariophobic Response Syndrome, the mere mention of Mary always seems to elicit these sorts of shrill abrasive reactions.

T’wasn’t always thus. Many early Protestants had little trouble with Mary. The big break with Marian piety came a century or two after the Reformation began. For an interesting chronicle of the “development” (so-called) of Mariophobic Response Syndrome in the various species of Protestantism (but particularly in Fundamentalism), see Fr. Peter Stravinskas’ invaluable book Mary and the Fundamentalist Challenge. Protestants don’t have to have this histrionic reaction to all things Marian. Luther didn’t. Calvin didn’t. Wesley didn’t. One nice way to recover your roots, locdog, would be to recover their ability to honor her. It is biblical after all: “From now on all generations will call me blessed.” Ask yourself: when was the last time we, or I, called her blessed?


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