Thursday, August 10, 2017

Let the Queen Rest: Mariology, Biblical Theology, and Leaps of Logic

I've been reading a lot of great Biblical theology over at "Apologia Pro Ortho Doxa", which is a great source that I've linked to the sidebar. It's definitely worth checking out and soaking yourself in. However, I find it interesting that there are some gaps that one is almost swept across without noticing it.

For example, on a recent post on Mariology, he goes through a list of titles. There's a lot that's solid biblical connecting that has been enlightening. He does a good job connecting numerous Scriptural passages, with their concurrent types, patterns, themes, and logic, to argue that the Bible presents a pretty developed high Mariology. On this, I think he's right. There's sufficient warrant to call Mary Queen-Mother of Heaven, the Ark, Theotokos, etc. It's even warranted to consider Mary as the Ever-Virgin. All of this reflects early piety and ought not to scandalize biblically minded Christians. On the last point, a number of Reformers maintained a belief in Mary's perpetual virginity.

However, right in the middle of the article is the question of Mary's Dormition. The Orthodox do not go as far as Rome: though Mary lived a sinless life, she still was under the curse and was in-sin and had to die. Yet, after three days of laying in uncorrupting slumber, she was raised to life and assumed into Heaven to join her Son. The author makes a weak appeal to a reference in Revelation referring to the presence of the Ark. While, yes, it may be a reference to Mary, it's much more probably a reference to Christ. While there are references to Mary as the Ark carrying God's Glory, namely Christ, it is also equally valid to see how Christ, who was the Image of the Father, was Himself the Tabernacle as well. The classic opening lines of John 1, "The Word took flesh, and tabernacled amongst us", is proof enough. Even if this is a reference to Mary, since Christ bears her humanity, her flesh, this would still only mean that Christ, in the flesh, was present in the Heavenlies, centered in the throne of God's temple.

Of course, the cash-out for our friend is that this affirms Orthodoxy and (partially) Rome's doctrine. While I'm not opposed to post-facto reasoning as a jump start to a question, there is danger in it. There are several other posts that make other hops (or leaps) from certain biblical constellations to certain doctrines. One can see this similar leap appear over other doctrines. Yes, even God commands Abimelech to ask Abraham to pray for him in order to lift impending judgement, and yes the saints replace angels in God's divine chambers in Revelation. There may even be a distinction between greater and lesser prophets. Yet, nowhere in Scripture is it clear that God's people communicate with the reposed, or should call on their name for help. Considering this was strictly prohibited in the Old Covenant, one would expect some treatment of this. The same with iconodulia of the Orthodox variety, with canonical standards and rubrics. I understand the logic, employed most powerfully by John Damascene. But considering how crucial they are to proper worship, it makes sense that the legend of St. Luke as a painter must exist if Orthodoxy wants to remain grounded in Scripture. If the New Testament Church lacked icons, then the worship was, at best, improved upon, if not, at worst, inferior. These are a few examples of the leap.

Of course, this negation does not offer a strong and grounded alternative. Many Protestants may not pray to, or invoke, Mary or the saints, but they do not offer reverence for their holy lives lived and offered to God as a sweet incense, turning to smoke and becoming that great cloud of witnesses that surrounds Christ. In other words, there needs to be a robust biblical theology, but one that remains within the logic of the text. While Scripture may draw together a picture of Mary, the humble-but-exalted Queen-Mother of the Heavenly Man, there is little warrant to beseech her throne. The pattern ends there; we are turned to Christ as our mediator, our greatest prophet.

The blog is still brilliant. It's a good place to cut your teeth on biblical patterns and canonical reasoning. However, even so, it's easy to be swept across a gap to something else. Indeed, as many Fundamentalists know, the prophets excoriate the offering of sweetcakes to the Queen of Heaven. Perhaps that's a typological warning.

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