Dwight Longenecker & David Gustafson (with forewords by Richard John Neuhaus & J.I. Packer), “Mary: A Catholic-Evangelical Debate”

This book illuminates very well the Catholic-versus-Protestant approach to Biblical interpretation — and my proclivities are indeed Protestant (my notes say there’s a good example on page 81).  I found the book very engaging — both the specific subject matter (do Catholics focus too much on Mary?) and the window it provides on the theological approaches more generally of the two faiths.

The Catholic justification for their focus on Mary sometimes amounts to a but-for argument:  That is, but for Mary’s willingness to play her role, there would have been no Jesus and thus no … well, you get the idea.  One response that occurs to me is:  If Jesus had been saved from getting run over by an ox-cart when he was young because the driver was extraordinarily careful and alert, would we have shrines to the driver?  The point is that perhaps many people played a but-for role in Jesus’ life, and none of them is Queen of Heaven.  Also, less satisfactorily and more cynically perhaps:  (a) wouldn’t God have just gone to the next woman on the list had Mary demurred; and (b) what nice Jewish girl wouldn’t have been happy to have been chosen as Mary was?