Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Babe, the Son of Mary

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping,
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

This Advent season, the last words of this hymn — specifically the last lines: “Haste, haste to bring him laud, / The babe, the son of Mary” — have been making me think quite a bit about American evangelicalism’s relationship with Mary. Wikipedia, I think, puts it best: “Marian devotions are important to the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican traditions, but most Protestants do not accept them as proper.”

Now, I can’t speak to the anti-Marian motives of other cultures’ Protestants, but I’d hazard a guess as to why American Protestants pay Mary no regard (except, it seems, when singing Christmas songs): first, our forebears had a deep mistrust of anything Catholic; second, our forebears passed on to us their traditions — including practices that had their beginning in anti-Catholicism; third, modern Americans do not typically have a deep respect for authority (if Presidential approval ratings are any indicator). In light of these three things, it might do us some good to think about who Mary was and what she experienced in conceiving and giving birth to Jesus. Continue reading


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The Infinite Grace of God

“It is an evil custom to treat the gospels and epistles as books of law, from which we should teach what men ought to do and present the works of Christ as nothing more than examples or illustrations. … Beware of turning Christ into a Moses, as if He had nothing more for us than precept and example, like the other saints. … You must rise much higher than that, although this best sort of preaching has been practiced but little these many years. The chief and fundamental thing in the Gospel is this, that before you take Christ as your example, you recognize and accept him as God’s gift to you; so that when you see or hear Him in any of His work or suffering, you do not doubt but believe that He, Christ Himself, with such work or suffering of His, is most truly your very own, whereon you may rely as confidently as if you had done that work. … See, this is to understand aright the Gospel, that is, the infinite grace of God. … This is the mighty fire of God’s love toward us whereby He makes the conscience confident, joyful, and content. This is to preach the Christian faith. This is it that makes our preaching a Gospel, viz., glad, good, comfortable tidings.”

Martin Luther, Church Postil to Duke Albrecht

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