Book Review: A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary

De Chirico, Leonardo. A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary: Mother of God

Point: The Roman Catholic teaching about Mary ultimately leads one’s attention and heart away from Jesus and the Gospel.

Path: De Chirico, in this concise work, walks the reader through the Biblical teaching of Mary, the Early Church’s teaching about Mary, a historical theology of the Catholic belief of Mary, and the current developments in Mariology. He then highlights the crucial problems and points us back to a biblical view of Mary.

Sources: The author cites numerous councils, sermons, commentaries, and prayers within the Catholic faith.

Agreement: This was a very helpful resource to see the basic view of what Catholicism teaches, not necessary what every Catholic believes. I think the two essential components for me were: 1) What we pray we eventually believe. And 2) the summary of the principles of singularity, fittingness, eminence, and analogy or likeness to Christ. Those two concepts were worth the read.

Personal App: I must recognize how liturgy fashions belief, in my friends who are Catholics, and in my own.

Favorite Quote: “Is there a way to bring all these Mariological strands together? Condensing entire libraries of books, and distilling centuries of reflection and observation, here is a list of principles that need to be taken into account if one is to understand the logic of Mariological development. They are provided by Gabriel Maria Roschini (1900–1977), a Roman Catholic professor of Mariology, author of a four volume standard Mariology in Latin, and a twentieth century leading authority in this field of study. Here they are: Being the Holy Virgin an altogether singular creature, belonging to a specific order in herself, she rightly claims altogether singular privileges that are precluded to any other creature (principle of singularity). All those perfections which are fitting to the dignity of the Mother of God need to be attributed to the Holy Virgin provided that they can be somehow traced from revelation and are not contrary to faith nor reason (principle of fittingness). All the privileges of nature, grace and glory given by God to the other saints must have been given also to the Holy Virgin, being her the Queen of the saints (principle of eminence). Privileges analogous to the various privileges of the humanity of Christ are possessed correspondingly by the most blessed Virgin and according to the condition of the one and the other (principle of analogy or likeness to Christ).21 Singularity, fittingness, eminence and analogy to Christ. Each on its own terms, and interwoven together, they form the Mariological quadrilateral that moved the development of the combination between devotion and doctrine.”

Stars: 4 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

has come out of Catholicism

Is interested in what Catholicism teaches

I had never thought of this…

Here is a quote from the excellent book, “Gentle and Lowly” by Ortlund.

Just as the purer a heart, the more horrified at evil, so also the purer a heart, the more it is naturally drawn out to help and relieve and protect and comfort, whereas a corrupt heart sits still, indifferent. So with Christ.

Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly, 62

I had never considered this before. The whole chapter deals with this in depth, but to me it was something I am sure I had heard many times, but had never truly considered. While Christ is rightfully set against my sin, the fact that it is my sin moves him to come out to me, to pursue me, to heal me. He is not an angry, sulking victim who can give nothing but a sneer. He is kind and compassionate, ready to restore.

WikiTheology: Was Jesus being overly dramatic?

Here is an explanation of WikiTheology. For similar posts, see why we have armswhy we don’t eat snowy owlswhy Hell might not be what you think, and why your stomach still growls.

Friend: If Jesus knew he would rise from the dead, wasn’t he being over dramatic, or lacking in faith when he asked the Father to take the cup away?

Me: That is a tough question! Let me think about that…

Text where it stems from: Matthew 26:36ff

This question deals with one of the more perplexing issues found in Scripture and the answer is determined by how we understand Christ, or in theological studies, Christology. When understanding Jesus’ cry in the garden (or any of his other human characteristics such as his hunger, tiredness, limited knowledge of the Father’s timing, and ultimately his death) we have to take into account what we read in Philippians 2:4-11:

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In these verses we see that Jesus was just like us because he became a human being, or “emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” This did not eliminate or mix with his divine nature (“the form of God”). Being the second person of the Triune God he could not give up his divine nature just like God the Father could not give up being the Father, or the Spirit the Spirit. Nor could Jesus separate himself from his divine attributes such as his omnipotence, or omniscience, and still continue to be God. However, because Jesus took on the human nature in addition to his divinity, voluntarily limiting himself to that which corresponded with his humanity, he could accomplish the loving rescue plan which the Father had given to him, which involved his own death. He could be tired and thirsty. He could be lonely. He had humbly become a man and set aside the independent control of his divine attributes which were rightfully his.

With this understanding of Jesus’ divine nature and his human nature, we now consider him in the Garden. Here he knelt, weeping. If he knew he would rise again, why the drama? As a human being, he had lived perfectly. His entire earthly life had been one of unhindered communion with God the Father. He never had any sin to disrupt their communion, nor had he ever experienced the correction of God for pursuing his own sinful desire. But this was about to change. Soon he would be hung on a tree and made to be a curse. He would bear the wrath of God for sins he had never committed. He would drink the cup of God’s justice down to the dregs. He would be cut off from the Father for the first time in his life (see Isaiah 53, Romans 8:3; Galatians 3:13; Romans 4:25).

At this point, we have to remember that we are speaking of the human nature of Jesus the Messiah. We are not speaking of his divine nature, which could not be cut off from the Father and the Spirit. The Triune God could not abandon one of the persons, but the man Christ Jesus could take our sins and carry them to his grave. There he, flesh and blood, would lie dead.

This is why he wept. This is why he was in agony. He was about to give up his life and his perfect acceptance and communion with the Father on behalf of sinners like you and I.

So from this perspective, the struggle in the garden which Jesus faced is not an evidence for a lack of faith, but rather a demonstration of his faithfulness in the midst of the most horrific fate possible, to feel the full wrath of God upon him.

This is a very brief look at a very complex issue. I highly recommend reading this book for a greater treatment!

Ware, B. The Man Christ Jesus. Crossway, 2012.

Top Shelf Book: The Man Christ Jesus

Book: Ware, B. The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ. Crossway, 2012.

Pages: 160

Point: Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune God, emptied himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. This truth has a profound impact on how I view his life, my life, and the coming life.

Path: Ware walks through the key passages speaking of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and future reign with an eye toward how Scripture presents his humanity. He answers common questions and critiques oversimplifications and quick responses which we are prone to make.

Sources: Based on exegetical studies of pertinent texts and also historical theology, the author helps the student or the layman to find a better foothold when considering the profound ramifications of Christ’s humanity.

Agreement: I found this to be a great encouragement both theologically and devotionally. Ware helped me to shore up different areas of my Christology and point out the errors of my sometimes sloppy explanations of our Savior’s life and ministry.

While there were a couple places where I was disappointed in how he ended a discussion but I was encouraged throughout the entire book.

Personal App: Jesus Christ, the God-Man, obeyed God perfectly through his dependence upon the Holy Spirit. This same Spirit he has promised to his followers. Therefore I have been provided all that is necessary for my faith and godliness in his Word and his Spirit.

Favorite Quote:

“Second, given the fact that this was the greatest act of obedience he rendered, requiring the deepest commitment of faith and hope in his Father, in light of the severest of all suffering he was about to encounter on the cross, does it not stand to reason, then, that the Father had prepared Jesus for this moment? Can we not now see that all the previous tests of his faith, the divine demands that he followed and the sufferings that he experienced, were preparatory and strengthening for his obeying the Father in the garden?”

Stars: 5 out of 5

Top Shelf book

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

– Is seeking to understand better our Savior Jesus Christ

– Someone willing to think through the complexity of Jesus the Messiah.

Other books along this theme would be:

Scott, J. The Incomparable Christ

Piper, J. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ

Athanasius. On the Incarnation of the Word of God

Old Testament God

If we think God isn’t compassionate and forgiving in the Old Testament, we haven’t read about his patience with the Israelites. And if we think he isn’t demanding and warlike in the New Testament, we’ve missed some of Jesus’s most pointed teaching—not to mention the book of Revelation. We’ve also been blind to the uncompromising violence of the cross.

Klumpenhower, Jack. Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids. New Growth Press, 2014.

A perfect life

“Jesus not only died the death we should have died in order to take the law’s curse for us, he also lived the great life of love and fidelity we should have lived in order to earn God’s blessing for us.”

Tim Keller, Encounters with Jesus