Protestant views on Mary include the theological positions of major Protestant representatives such as Martin Luther and John Calvin as well as some modern representatives. While it is difficult to generalize about the place of Mary in Protestantismgiven the great diversity of Protestant beliefs, some summary statements are attempted.
While reformers such as Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin at different points in their writings had expressed what seem to be examples of a residual Marian piety, the Protestant emphasis on sola scriptura, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria, among others kept the honoring of Mary to a minimum, and Protestant teaching about Mary co-terminous with her short part in scripture and creeds.
Nevertheless, a uniquely “Protestant” view of Mary can be said to exist, inasmuch as details of the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, are revealed in scripture and explored in exegesis; a typical Protestant view of Mary may be said to focus on her humility before God, her obedience and her openness to the Word made flesh. A newer, controversial, Protestant view of Mary emerging out of the Evangelical movement sees Mary as a feisty, assertive, and radically Christian woman.
What do other Christians believe about Mary?
BY GINNY KUBITZ MOYER AUGUST 15, 2012
What do other Christians believe about Mary (Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc.)?
Christians believe that Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Christ. In general, however, Mary plays a much less significant role in Protestant faiths than in Catholicism. In post-Reformation Europe, Protestants viewed Catholic devotion to Mary as excessive and non-Biblical. For many, that feeling has persisted over the centuries.
Though it’s hard to generalize, certain Catholic beliefs about Mary are rejected by most Protestants. These teachings include the Immaculate Conception (the belief that Mary was conceived without original sin), the Assumption, Mary’s perpetual virginity, and the role of Mary as intercessor.
In recent years, however, many religious writers have noted increased Protestant interest in Mary. This is attributed to several factors, including renewed efforts at ecumenism, the movement of many Hispanic Catholics to Protestant churches, and the impact of films such as The Passion of the Christ and The Nativity Story. Certainly, any discussion of Mary should build upon the beliefs that are common to all Christians. As the National Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in their pastoral letter Behold Your Mother: Woman of Faith:
“We are convinced that all Christians share a basic reverence for the Mother of Jesus, a veneration deeper than doctrinal differences and theological disputes … Together we accept the Gospel respect for the Mother of Jesus, Handmaid of the Lord, woman of faith, model of prayer, servant of the Spirit.
But also many doubt her perpetual virginity, and in more recent times, hold the belief that what Catholics DO in regard to Mary is clearly Idolatry.
We have been looking at the subject of the idolatry of Mary worship in what is really a study of false religion, Roman Catholicism, and its worship of Mary. Interestingly enough I, this past week, had the opportunity to be on the Larry King Show, some of you probably saw it, with a whole group of Roman Catholics and several priests. And in the green room there were some Catholic apologists, and Catholic media people, and Roman Catholic publicity people, and there were some young men from the Vatican Seminary and the usual Father Manning. I was checking on my facts, as I had the opportunity to do that in talking to them about things, and it was affirmed to me that the very things that we are talking about in this study of Mary are the things to which they are truly and genuinely devoted. We’ve spent three weeks discussing what the Catholic Church essentially says about Mary. We’ve talked about their devotion to Mary. We’ve talked about their doctrine regarding Mary. In the end, when all is said and done, the very obvious dominant perception is that they worship Mary. In fact, on a pragmatic basis they worship Mary far more than they worship even the Lord Jesus Christ, and far more than they worship the true and living God.
It is idolatry in the clearest form. And to deal with this we need only really to do two things, biblically. One is to see what the Bible says about idolatry, and the other is to see what the Bible actually says about Mary. And then, we will clearly understand that they have invented a goddess to worship who has no relationship to the true Mary, the mother of Jesus revealed in Scripture, the historical Mary. END QUOTES
Why ProtestantsDon’t Pray toMary
(A Brief History of Prayer to Mary)
“Song of the Angels” by Adolphe-William Bouguereau (1881).
“Blessed art thou among women…” -Luke 1:28
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;” -I Timothy 2:5
Note: The purpose of this webpage is not to present information “against” any Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox who are fellow believers in Christ, but rather to inform those who are Protestants of their heritage, their distinctive beliefs, and why these are held. If you are Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox and are offended by hearing about beliefs differing from your own, you are welcome to skip this page.
Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and even Protestant visitors to this Website sometimes have all exactly the same question: “Why don’t Protestants pray to the Virgin Mary? (or even seek Mary’s intercession on one’s behalf?)
The easy, short answer is that it would not usually even occur to Protestants to do this, they not being taught to do so either in the New Testament or in their Churches (and in the back of their minds they may well be hearing the scripture verse: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;” -I Timothy 2:5).
The question then turns around and presents itself as: “Why do the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches offer such prayer?” …and perhaps even more to the point, if such prayer is mentioned neither in the Gospels, nor in the Letters of the Apostles, when and how did this type of prayer enter into the history and practice of the Church?
MORE on their web-site
What do Presbyterians believe about Mary?
A new look at Mary
BY CYNTHIA L. RIGBY
Reprinted from the April 2004 issue of Presbyterians Today
Presbyterian author Kathleen Norris makes the wry observation that Protestants have a limited attention span for Mary, the mother of Jesus. We unpack her from the box at Christmastime, she says, and then pack her back up again, with our other decorations, after the holidays are over.*
One reason we Protestants hold Mary at arm’s length is because we associate her with our own vague discomfort about the role of saints in Christian spirituality. As Protestants we remember that Luther and Calvin criticized the Roman church of the 16th century for compromising, in their understandings of Mary, on the basic Christian conviction that Jesus Christ is the one Mediator between God and humanity. Not wanting to make the same mistake, however, we inadvertently make another: We relegate Mary to the sideline End Quotes more on their web-site
7 Key Differences Between Protestant and Catholic Doctrine
- Veneration of the Saints and the Virgin Mary
Roman Catholics see veneration, not as praying to the Saints and the Virgin Mary, but as praying through them. This is seen as similar to asking a brother or sister in Christ to pray for you. Dr. Svigel adds that departed saints are also “able to spill over their overabundance of grace to us.”
Furthermore, Dr. Horrell notes that the Virgin Mary is seen as “the mother of our Lord, and therefore she is the mother of his body, and his body is the church, so she is the mother of the church. He is the creator of all things. So she is the mother of angels. She is the mother of humanity, as is sometimes said.”
Moreover, the Catholic Church has also called her the Queen of Heaven. Historically, Mary was given a less prominent position in Protestantism as a reaction to this emphasis in the Catholic Church. There is no equivalent to this kind of veneration in Protestantism, as Protestants emphasize direct access to God.
While both Protestants and Catholics agree on many essentials of the historic Christian faith, there are key issues which continue to distinguish their beliefs and practices. Get the full conversation by listening to the Table Podcast series: Comparing Protestantism with Catholicism