Magazine article The Christian Century

The Problem with Mary

Magazine article The Christian Century

The Problem with Mary

Article excerpt

THE GOSPEL OF Jesus Christ is not actually, introduced to Roman Catholic people in Latin America because only Marian doctrines are taught to them. That is the main reason that the Protestant church is so liberating to former Catholics--the gospel of Jesus Christ brings freedom from the mistaken idea that we can come to God only through "la Virgen."

Doctrinal statements in Roman Catholicism talk clearly about the veneration (doulia) of Mary, not the worship (or adoration, latreia) of Mary. In any kind of academic theological arena, Catholic theologians will emphasize the word "veneration" rather than "adoration."

Yet the practical theology in the life of Catholicism in Latin America promotes the adoration of Mary. It promotes not only adoration of her as a person but the adoration of the doctrines of Mary (for example, that of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which is enforced by devotion to la Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion in Mexico), even to the point of claiming the supremacy of Mary over Jesus Christ. For example, "la Virgen de Guadalupe" is spoken of as the Holy Mother and Patron of Mexico and Latin America.

For these reasons Methodists and other mainstream denominations in Latin America tend to restrict the veneration of Mary. We recognize her as the special instrument that God chose to bring his Son among us, we recognize her as the mother of Jesus--but not as the mother of God. We also say that she had other children besides Jesus. We acknowledge that she married Joseph and both were the parents of Jesus on this earth.

By definition a Latin American Protestant church takes its principles from the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:8-4 clearly sets up a rule of conduct regarding idolatry. It is not only icons of Mary that are not accepted. Even an icon of Jesus would look improper in the life of a Methodist church. …

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