Devotion to Mary in the Early Church
In this brief clip from his teaching series A Survey of Church History, W. Robert Godfrey explains how devotion to Mary developed in the early church. Watch this entire message for free today.
I suspect for many of us as Protestants the Roman Catholic devotion to the Virgin Mary is one of the mysteries of why Roman Catholicism has developed the way it is. And in a sense, what we can say is, Mary is simply a special case of the saints. If there is a hierarchy in heaven, then surely if there are saints up here, Mary is even a little further up. Mary is the one who surely will have influence over her Son, and not only that, Mary’s a mother. Mothers are always more sympathetic. Well, maybe not always. But in this case, Mary as the mother is going to be more sympathetic to us than Juesus will be.
Now see again, just seemed to make sense to people, the sympathy of a mother. There came to be a story in the middle ages, after our time, but illustrative of this point, and the story was told in the middle ages that when Mary came into heaven Juesus greeted her and said, “Oh Mother, I’m so glad you’re here. I will divide my kingdom with you, and I will be the King of Righteousness, and you will be the Queen of Mercy.”
And that expressed the attitude, you see, somehow Jesus was holy, Jesus was exalted, Jesus was unapproachable, but Mary, she understands. She’s sympathetic. She’s approachable. She’ll carry our burdens to the Son. And some of the theologians have said a part of this reflects a failure to understand the real character of Jesus. Because part of this said, “You know, Jesus can’t fully understand us because He’s divine. Jesus may be true man, but he’s not purely human, he’s not simply human. And Mary is purely human.” Now to make that distinction is to misunderstand the nature of Jesus’ incarnation, it’s to misunderstand that He really was a human being, and He understands us from His humanity as well as any human being could conceivably understand us. But that’s what creeps in I think, that somehow Jesus divinity has contaminated His humanity so He can’t really understand us, and we need Mary, because she really understands.