Mary: A Catholic-Evangelical Debate Paperback – 1 Aug 2003
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About the Author
DWIGHT LONGENECKER is the author of More Christianity, St. Benedict & St. Therese, and Challenging Catholics. He is a freelance writer and broadcaster in Chippenham, England, where he lives with his wife and children. DAVID GUSTAFSON is an assistant chief in the United States Department of Justice, Tax Division. He and his family live in Washington, D.C.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Though the role of the Virgin Mary is an interesting question, prior to coming across this book, I had been unable to find a resource that engaged the issue in what I considered to be a balanced, critical and comprehensive manner; much of the Protestant material in this area being either superficial or overly polemical (e.g. Rhodes, White, McCarthy etc.), whereas Catholic material was either extremely terse (e.g. Catholic Encyclopedia) or devotional.
While this book has too much strength three aspects that I found particularly helpful were its respectful tone, its explanation of Catholic terminology and the discussion of recent Marian dogmas within the Catholic Church. First, with respect to tone, discussion of the Virgin Mary can be a sensitive issue and if one is not careful such discussions can rapidly escalate into shrill emotionally charged exchanges. Hence, I was impressed by the authors' tone. While arguing forcefully and disagreeing in several areas they maintained a civil and respectful dialogue, engaging with each other rather than just talking past each other in an attempt to score debating points.
Second, with respect to terminology, often misunderstanding or assumptions regarding language contribute to disagreement. Such terminological misunderstanding is especially acute in theological discourse, in the present case Catholic terminology surrounding Mary sounds foreign, and excessive, to many modern Protestant readers. While not removing all disagreement in this area Longenecker's explication of terms like mediatrix and co-redeemer are helpful in reducing some extreme interpretations and misunderstandings.
Finally, the dialogue highlighted the connections or potential connections between The Catholic Church's understanding of alleged Marian apparitions and recent Marian dogmas. It had always struck me as odd why now, after all these centuries the Catholic Church decided to formalize the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. After reading this discussion it strikes me that there is significant connection between these dogmas and beliefs concerning Marian apparitions. It is a subject I would be interested in pursuing further.
Overall this is an excellent book that I highly recommend for anyone interested in the subject of the Virgin Mary. I am hopeful that similar books on issues such as papal infallibility are either available or forthcoming..
Authors Dwight Longnecker and David Gustafson go head to head on Mary on these pages. Longnecker, a convert to Catholicism, defends Catholic doctrine articulately in the face of a very competent challenge from Gustafson. This book, which comes out of ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) is a clear example of the search for truth via serious dialog and debate. While I felt Longnecker was a little too gentle in places, and gave some unnecessary ground, in general I thought it was a "gloves off" but deeply civil discussion between two christians.
I must admit that this book surprised me. As an orthodox Catholic I find the thought of the Catholic church being "together" with evangelicals problematic. We are dealing with a group of people who count bigots like Dave Hunt and Tim LaHaye as part of their membership. It can be argued that they butcher the gospel by dividing it up and placing an unhealthy and ahistorical emphasis on the book of revelation, placing it ahead of the gospels and the ministry of Jesus Christ. We are talking about people who vehemently opposed having a Catholic priest chaplain of the House of Representatives. Catholics need to always remember that Norman Vincent Peale told evangelicals that they could not vote for JFK because he was Catholic. They are now doing the same thing to a mormon presidential candidate I won't mention by name. It is clear therefore that these people's theology makes learning from their past mistakes difficult. Evangelicals deny the sacraments Christ himself founded. They rip people away from historic christianity without even a pause or a semblance of humility in the name of evangelization, even though they have no claim to apostolic authority. The list of abuses goes on and on.
But I note that evangelicals who are as conservatively protestant as I am Catholic list the same set of concerns about Evangelicals and Catholics Together, albeit filtered through the lens of their own ideology. When I see this, I remind myself of the call to unity in the gospels. It is a struggle, but I remind myself that many evangelicals are honest and sincere Christians who believe what it is that they say: Hunt, Chick, and others notwithstanding. While the Catholic church must continue to proclaim the truth, we must not forget the emphasis that Jesus places on love for our brethren.
A good challenging book. Highly recommended.