Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Real Mary | Summer Reading 2

I worked for Scot McKnight as a teacher's/research assistant during and after my time studying at North Park University, and I am ashamed to say until last week I had yet to read one of his newer, more popular books. I decided to add The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus to my 2007 Summer Reading Program so that I could show my face again in his presence without reprimand.

Talk about a good read. I couldn't put it down! McKnight writes, "It is important for all of us to learn to be fair in our descriptions of what others believe," and I think he pulled it off marvelously. The first parts of the book seek to portray the Mary of the Bible as she more realistically was, rather than the simple stereotype of passivity many Protestants have projected upon her. Through study of the gospel books as well as the historical context in which she lived, McKnight uncovers a Mary who was a woman of great faith, justice, danger, witness, and influence.

The later parts of the book help to clarify some of the theological issues where Protestants and Roman Catholics disagree. McKnight expounds on the Roman Catholic belief of Mary's sinlessness, perpetual virginity, Mary's immaculate conception and her glorious assumption. In his presentation of the Catholic belief in Mary's mediation to God on behalf those who pray as well as the belief in devotion and respect for Mary rather than worship of, he debunks several myths many have developed regarding Roman Catholic beliefs relating to the mother of Christ.

After reading this book, it becomes obvious that Mary has been silenced by the majority of Protestants and that many assumptions about her are unbiblical as well as unhistorical. We would do well to look to her more often as a model of faith who continually pointed to her son and the kingdom work he was doing on earth. McKnight is correct in his accusations that Protestant Evangelicals have cornered the mother of Jesus into our Christmas manger scenes and that this central character of the Bible should no longer be overlooked and ignored.

Three cheers for a well-written, timely book. Read an interview about The Real Mary here.


melissa said...

hooray for a new post - and a thought-provoking one at that! it's now going on my nightstand (the book, that is, not the post)......

Amy and Andrew Daigle said...

It's always refreshing and encouraging when different "versions" of the Christian faith can learn from and respect each other. We need each other's perspectives.