|Mary, Mother of God. Ed. by Carl E. Braaten & Robert W. Jenson. Eerdmans,
These essays were first presented at the "Mary, Mother of God" conference, sponsored by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology, at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, June, 2002. Recently, references to the Virgin Mary in Protestant churches are not unusual, especially during the Christmas season. These essays, however, go beyond a passing reference and ask how the Virgin Mary is related to the life of the church at this time.
Beverly Gaventa in "Nothing Will Be Impossible to God: Mary as the Mother of Believers," relates that Luke-Acts appears to create a "house-hold of believers." She asks whether Protestants can advance beyond Mary as a moral exemplar of faith to accepting her as "Mother of Believers." Mary embodies the qualities associated with "maternal thinking," that is, caring for the life, growth and strengthening of her children. Can Mary serve as "mother of believers" within the "household of believers"?
In "A Space for God," Robert W. Jensen deals with classical Protestantism's stricture against the invocation of the saints. He refers to covenanted Israel as the space inhabited by God. As the created space for God, Mary is Israel-concentrated. To invoke Mary is to take claim of, to address from within the space, God's presence within space - Israel.
David S. Yeago in "the Presence of Mary in the Mystery of the Church," with the help of John Paul II's Redemptoris Mater, proposes the formation of a "Marian consciousness" for the Church. As Mary was an "active agent" in the formation of Church at Calvary and Pentecost, so she continues as an "active agent" in the faith development of Christians. He concludes with specific suggestions - promotion of Marian feasts, and proclamation of Mary's Magnificat with "unadultered enthusiasm."
In "The Blessed Virgin Mary in Evangelical Perspective," Timothy George asks how contemporary Evangelism - heir of the Reformation, the Great Awakening, and Fundamentalism - can include a place for Mary. Biblically-based Evangelicals could agree with the Virgin-Birth, with Mary as Servant of the Lord, and with the biblically founded title of Mary as Daughter of Zion; Evangelicals who ascribe to some doctrinal development can accept Mary as Theotokos. Sadly, the essay concludes, the reason for the hesitation on the part of many Protestant churches is an "ecclesiological hardening of arteries" - developed as a response to Catholicism's Marian excesses.
Statements on Mary from Catholics, Orthodox, and Anglicans are not unusual. This collection enlarges the circle to include Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Evangelical voices illustrating George Tavard's words that Mary can be "a unifying figure who brings often discordant voices into harmony."