Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mary - a common objection

In some discussions I have had with non-Catholic friends, they have brought up that the Catholic Church has overemphasised the role of Mary because she is hardly mentioned in the New Testament. Unfortunately, what they don’t see is that the Church’s teaching on Mary is based on the Old Testament as well as the New. In addition, and probably more importantly, they sadly don’t realise that “what the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 487). Given that Christ is central to the Scripture, and all that Mary is is based on Christ, it shouldn’t strike us as unusual that Mary is mentioned as “infrequently” in the New Testament as she is.   
Another thing that many non-Catholics fail to recognise is the significance of the New Testament references to Mary. They may be infrequent, but upon closer study it is hard to deny that they are packed with theological significance. This is especially true when one notices that the references are in the context of a critical juncture in the life of Christ or His Church.
Another thing that non-Catholics fail to recognise (well, at least the more conservative ones) is that they hold to the doctrine of the virginal conception and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ although the New Testament references to this event are extremely scant i.e. it is not referred to in the Gospel of Mark or any of the New Testament Epistles. If frequency of reference is the test of whether a teaching is pure doctrine or a traditional perversion then logic would require that the place of Mary in the Church should take ascendency over the doctrine of the virgin birth.
Of course, I’m not advocating that this should be the case. I am simply stating the above by showing how often the teachings of the Catholic Church are wrongly attacked using arguments and methods that are weak and can often be shown to be inconsistent. The truth of the matter is that every single Christian follows a tradition which has its own foundational presuppositions. The litmus test of the validity of the tradition a Christian is following then is not whether it can be “backed by the Bible” (because it is easy to proof-text the Bible to teach anything – as showcased by the thousands upon thousands of Protestant denominations in existence). Rather, the test of truth lies in whether the particular tradition can show continuity with the Apostles.
And I suppose that is my challenge to Christians who are reading this you care enough about the truth to take the time to really dig into the roots of your own tradition? Do you know for certain that it is the tradition of the Apostles? Where did your tradition originate? When? How? Take some time to make an honest study of might be surprised with what you find. Either way, it can’t be a bad thing – at the very least you will be more firmly established in knowing why you are part of your particular Christian community.

1 comment:

  1. I received an e-mail response from someone yesterday and it occurred to me that I probably need to clarify that I am not at all questioning the veracity of the Virgin Birth. I believe it with all my heart. I believe all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because it has been revealed to her by God who cannot deceive nor be deceived.