Early this morning I saw an article on First Things magazine written by Professor Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School: Evangelicals and the Mother of God. The article begins by telling us,
It is time for evangelicals to recover a fully biblical appreciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her role in the history of salvation-and to do so precisely as evangelicals. The question, of course, is how to do that. Can the evangelical reengagement with the wider Christian tradition include a place for Mary?
The article is well-written and researched, and I found it useful as an explanation of the overall Evangelical (and Reformed) position on Mary, the questions we must face, and the opportunities and difficulties it presents for the current Evangelical-Roman Catholic debate/dialogue.
However, I must point out a problem with George’s otherwise excellent survey: Professor George unfortunately leaves the global picture out. The article is a great description of the state of the question on countries of the non-Romanic European tradition. However, when you cross the invisible border of the Alps, Rhine, Pyrenees –or the Rio Grande– the state of things is not as idyllic as Professor George would have us believe. (I am not implying that George is being idealistic, or that he has overlooked or is unaware of the serious issues surrounding the “Mary question” in Evangelical-Roman Catholic dialogue, by no means. I am certain that had he been aware of conditions in Latin countries, he would have written in a very different tone and outlook.)
As a former Roman Catholic –and former numerary member of the Opus Dei to boot– Reformed Christian; as the husband of a devout Roman Catholic wife; and as the resident of a strong, traditional Roman Catholic country of Latin America, let me tell you that there are issues more serious than a mere disagreement over dogma.
All over Latin America, the Roman Catholic hierarchy is thoroughly imbibed with the Marxist poison of the so-called “Liberation” theology, and have adopted a postmodernist-deconstructionistic approach to liturgy and popular belief. If you question most priests, they will come to you as standard Second Enlightenment types, with all the philosophical flaws common to that movement, and privately they find easy to deny many sacred tenets of Catholicism.
But they aid, abet, and promote Maryan idolatry. Yes, I said idolatry. They promote massive pilgrimages to Maryan “sanctuaries” to worship certain images of Mary, and the practice of promesas, i.e., vows made to obtain a special favor from the Blessed Virgin. People not only kneel openly in front of images of Mary; they come walking in their kneels (!) to obtain a special favor. The hierarchy benefits from that condition: although its members are largely unbelievers, the Maryan practices allow for a way to have the control of the people’s mind and souls. The priests are the ones who have the keys of those Maryan “sanctuaries”, and they have the opportunity to preach their Marxism in the sermons of the solemn Masses celebrated there.
I cannot blame Professor George for the small degree of naïveté that pervades his assessment. In fact, I do not hesitate to recommend George’s evaluation gladly as an excellent piece on the question. However, please take it with the required grain of salt.