Sunday, 4 October 2015

Why Mary Matters, by Kristofer Carlson

Kristofer Carlson, Why Mary Matters: Protestants and the Virgin Mary, 2014 Dormition Press, Virginia

This is written by a convert to Orthodoxy. Having come from a fundamentalist Protestant background, Carlson struggled with the whole subject of mariology. He argues that for many Protestants, fear of Catholicism is a stumbling block for accepting Orthodox teaching about the blessed Theotokos. Nevertheless, he attempts to show in this book the Biblical foundations of Orthodox mariology. He spends much time on the subject of typology, showing, for instance, why Orthodox Christians compare Mary to the burning bush of Exodus.

One of the things I appreciated about this book is that it avoids taking the harsh anti-Catholic stance that some Orthodox publications take. While the author expresses disagreement with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, he otherwise shows respect towards Catholicism.

This is a very fine work of Orthodox apologetics, though Catholic readers will also find it useful and edifying. One issue I would have liked the author to touch on would have been the apocryphal Gospel of James. While Orthodox Christians do not regard the Protoevangelium of James as Scripture, they do seem to make use of it in their mariology. I would have liked Carlson to make some comments as to the exact value and status of that book.

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