Evangelical Confusion about Roman Catholicism: Part 3 Should Evangelicals Rethink Their View of the Virgin Mary? -- By: Mike Stallard

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 13:2 (Fall 2009)
Article: Evangelical Confusion about Roman Catholicism: Part 3 Should Evangelicals Rethink Their View of the Virgin Mary?
Author: Mike Stallard


Evangelical Confusion about Roman Catholicism: Part 3
Should Evangelicals Rethink Their View of the Virgin Mary?

Mike Stallard

Seminary Dean

Professor of Systematic Theology

Baptist Bible Seminary

Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

One of the most strident issues dividing many modern evangelicals from Roman Catholicism is Marian devotion. It appears from the evangelical perspective that the reverence given to the Virgin Mary is so extravagant at times in Roman Catholicism that it borders on idolatry. The first time I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem1 (allegedly the site of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus) the sense of iconic overdose invaded my mind as I witnessed what seemed to be a shrine to the Virgin Mary as much as a memorial dedicated to Christ. Biblical Protestants regularly voice their disappointment with this state of affairs when they go on trips to the Holy Land.

The theological issues about Mary in contemporary discussions take on added meaning in light of the defection of major evangelical leaders such as Francis Beckwith to the Roman Catholic Church.2 Beckwith continues to claim the moniker

evangelical for his doctrinal position while being a member of the Roman Catholic Church. This raises the question as to what degree an individual can be an evangelical Catholic or a Catholic evangelical. Since evangelicals have not been known for any strong embrace of the Virgin Mary, the tension that such an attempt would surface must be explored. Consequently, several areas in the debate over Mary which have major theological significance need to be addressed. Before we begin the analysis, however, we must say something positive about Mary from an evangelical perspective. Contrary to popular opinion, evangelicals do practice a high view of Mary, even if it is not the same as the Catholic portrait of the famous woman.

Evangelical Respect For Mary

Recent works by self-professed evangelicals have attempted to invigorate the notion that the Virgin Mary should be highly respected by evangelicals.3 However, evangelicals have actually

shown great respect for the biblical version of Mary in most of their sermons and writings. What they usually reject are extra-biblical embellishments about Mary’s life, especially the ones that seem to move toward an almost superstitious worship of her. Non...

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