Protestants are, on the whole, extremely reluctant to talk about Mary. If a Protestant theologian should dare to suggest that Mary’s role in the history of salvation is an important theological issue, he would be informed that the matter is of concern to Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox but scarcely to Protestants—as if, a concern to two-thirds of Christendom could be of no significance to the remaining one-third! Even the early fundamentalists who insisted on the Virgin Birth as one of the key fundamentals of the faith were less interested in Mary than in her virginity.

One can argue, of course, that the Protestant reluctance to talk about Mary reflects the New Testament’s reluctance to offer much information about her. The Bible has really very little to say about Mary, and much of what it does say is not highly complimentary to her. She cannot seem to comprehend what her son is about and tries to interfere. Indeed, the blood relationship between Jesus and Mary appears to stand in the way of her faith relationship. When a woman says to Jesus (Luke 11:27), “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked,” he responds, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” And when Jesus is notified (Mark 3:32) that “your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you,” he replies, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.” According to the witness of the New Testament, there is a distance between Jesus and his mother, that can be bridged only by faith.

Luke’s portrayal of Mary as humbly obedient when she learns she is to be the mother of the Messiah and John’s picture of her role ...

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