04 December 2012

Celebrating the Advent of...?

by Dan Phillips

You may recall that last year I mentioned a possible new direction for the Logos software company, when they hired a Roman Catholic product manager. Since then, those of us who use Logos have noticed a fairly steady stream of Roman Catholic material advertised on our home page, along with everything else, as expected.

So now on November 16 I noticed this on their Twitter feed:


So, okay, quick review: "Advent Season" is about the "advent" of...who, class? The innkeeper? Noooo, that's silly! King Herod? No, worse! Joseph? Again no.


Well, even Wikipedia knows it isn't about the Advent of Mary. It's about the advent of Jesus Christ. It's about the first coming of Christ.

Now I don't read all of Logos' tweets, so I don't know if there was a later one that said "Explore the Life of the Innkeeper This Advent Season," or "Explore the Life of Simeon This Advent Season," or  "Explore the Life of the Angel Gabriel This Advent Season," or any such. But there was this tweet about Mary.

Now, let me hasten to say, and to say with enthusiasm: my appreciation of Logos as a product is growing more and more all the time. As an active pastor now, I have invested more and more in building my Logos library. I have several reviews in the works of Logos and Logos products, and I'll tell you more about how much I'm loving it. The best way to read a substantial book is to read it in Logos.

So I can love Logos — without loving that one tweet.

Back to the subject. Those who worship Mary would protest that she is a key figure in the Advent narrative; and indeed she is. As was Joseph. As was Herod. As were the shepherds and the angels. Each is assigned an import supporting role.

Important supporting role.

But if one sticks to the Biblical data — which, for a Christian, is always a really important thing — any exploration of Mary's life would be pretty brief. I explained this a bit more fully a couple of years ago. At that time, I mentioned that my article on Mary in a Bible dictionary might look something like this:
The mother of Jesus. A pivotal yet minor figure in the New Testament, mentioned by name in only four books.
I still think "pivotal yet minor" pretty much surrounds it. Am I saying that there's no place for studying Biblical data about Mary? Not at all. I'm all for preaching the whole counsel of God, all 66 books. Teach about Mary, when the text takes you there. It won't do so very often; but when it does preach it. Also preach what it says about Parbar, cubits, Zacchaeus, and Gehazi, and every other person and thing the text mentions.

And when you do, give the prominence the text gives it. Because you know, a Christian is (among other things) a person who doesn't think he's smarter than God. So if it's a big deal to God, it should be a big deal to us. If not, not.

So a brief exploration of Mary, among the other supporting characters, will likely have its place in preaching during Advent. But for a Christian, the longer it goes beyond what the text warrants, the more finger-drummingly obnoxious the exploration would be.

Because Advent just really isn't about Mary.

Have you ever gone to a concert where the opening act just would not get off the stage? Recently, we went to a show where an "opening act" was a  fire-person of some sort. We were just out of easy-hearing range. Nearest we could make out, he talked and talked, even talked about lighting his entire body on fire (which, thank God, he never did). He did the same two tricks over and over. I began to wonder if he'd ever leave, and if the show would ever start.

Now, I can't blame Mary if she's kept on stage longer than warranted. She herself was eager to get off of it. "Do whatever he tells you," she says in John 2:5, then vanishes from that narrative. Good advice. If only those claiming to honor her were to take it, what a reformation that could spark!

The great heartbeat of a Christian is to preach Christ (1 Cor. 1:23), then to preach Christ (2 Cor. 4:5), and then to preach Christ (Eph. 3:8), and then go on to preach Christ (Col. 1:27-28).

And so, say: I've got an idea. You know what would be a great thing to do, this (or any) Advent season?

Preach Christ!

Dan Phillips's signature


DJP said...

Our Roman Catholic, vegetarian, Gospel-loathing etc. one-star hater has made his usual substantive contribution.

Robert said...

Amen. And remember that Jesus is the reason for ALL of the seasons...not just one month of the year. Just like all of the Bible points us to Christ.

DJP said...

Absolutely. I'm just for taking any and every opportunity to point to Him, and this remains a golden one.

Robert said...

Sorry...wasn't directing that at you...just venting. Haven't had much time to stop by and make my random comments in a while.

DJP said...

Oh, no problem at all. I didn't take offense; just took the opportunity to talk about taking the opportunity. (c:

Sort of my motto.

Tom Chantry said...

Reminds me of a basketball game I once attended. At halftime, the cheerleader/dance squad ran on the court and their musc blared over the speakers, together with the words "Get ready for the main event!" But everyone still headed for the can.

DJP said...

Would that be "carpe commodum"?

Robert said...

One more quick random thought...the Bible does talk about worship of the queen of heaven. In Jeremiah 7 and 44 there is enough written to give people a right view on this concept. Not that Mary is the one spoken of there, but people who worship her as queen of heaven pretty much fall into the same category as the people Jeremiah is speaking to. It's scary how much of this type of stuff shows up in the RCC. Maybe that's the root of the one-star hatred you receive.

DJP said...

Well, you know the response when they're facing Christians: "We don't worship Mary. We just pray to her, attribute to her the Divine ability to hear thousands of prayers at the same time, focus on her, put statues of her all over the place, carry pictures of her in our wallets, make up stories about her, obsess on reported visions of her, go on at length about ways to live in devotion to her, and give her un-Biblical titles. But we don't worship her."

And then as in most things, when talking to each other, they admit they adore her in worship.

It's all in your perspective.

Kerry James Allen said...

Recently a Catholic bishop stated, "When I get to Heaven, Jesus will say,'I know you, my mother spoke of you often.'"


Robert said...

It's funny because I remember saying the same thing to my Christian friends when I was in the RCC. They did make me think, though, about what I was saying when reciting the hail Mary when I would get in trouble at church. Makes me more grateful that God decided to save me in spite of myself before He created the world. I certainly don't deserve it.

Rational νεόφυτος said...

Question I wonder about is, how did this Tweet get through without anyone else at Logos shuddering, or is the entire place a RCC shop? For instance, if some nutty actor on a children's show on Nickelodeon makes an offensive tweet, generally the network will yank the post. So did this not irk or trouble anyone else at Logos enough to have it removed? Or does the Logo's staff just back this type of thing like a good band of bobble-heads?

Michael Coughlin said...


DJP said...

Rational, read the previous article to which I link in the post. It answers your questions.

DJP said...

"Stop shouting"?

Kerry James Allen said...

"On the occasion of the marriage in Cana of Galilee, Jesus answered his mother—I will not say roughly,—that was not possible, to him,—but somewhat sternly, when he said, 'Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.' He purposely discouraged what he must have perceived was the natural tendency of people’s minds to reverence his mother unduly; and it does seem marvellous, to any thinking man, that after such words as these of my text, Mariolatry should have prevailed in the Church of Rome to so frightful an extent as it has done, and as it still does.
Why, for every prayer offered to Jesus Christ, I believe there are fifty, at the present moment, offered to the Virgin Mary. At all events, in the Romanist’s rosary, there are nine beads for the “Hail Mary” to every one for “Our Father.”

Observe, that she is to be held in profound respect, she is 'blessed among women.' There should never come from the lips of any Christian a single word of disrespect to her; she was highly favoured, she was a sort of second Eve, as Eve brought forth sin, this woman, this second Eve, brought forth the Lord who is our salvation. She does stand in a very high position; but, still, in no respect is she to be an object of worship; by no means is she to be lifted up and extolled as though she were immaculately conceived, and afterwards lived without sin, and were taken up, as the Papists declare, by a marvellous assumption into heaven,—an assumption, indeed, on their part, and nothing better than an assumption, without any foundation whatever in fact. No, brethren, the Virgin Mary was a sinner, saved by grace, as you and I are. That Saviour, whom she brought forth, was a Saviour to her as much as to us. She had to be washed from sin, both original and contracted, in the precious blood of her own Child, 'the son of the Highest;' neither could she have entered heaven unless he had pronounced her absolution, and she had been, as we are, 'accepted in the Beloved.' Yet I do not wonder that there was a tendency to exalt her unduly; however, I do marvel much that, after Christ has spoken so plainly and so expressly, men should have had the impudence, and the devil should have had the audacity, to delude millions of professing Christians into a worship of her, who is to be reverenced, but never to be adored." CHS

DJP said...

Absolutely right. Mary was a remarkable young lady, breathtaking in her simple and sincere faith and submission to God's will in the face of a dark future.

So was Daniel. So was Noah. So was young David. So were Athanasius, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, and many others.

Christians don't pray to or otherwise worship them, either.

Michael Coughlin said...

Thanks, Kerry.

DJP - I think CHS would be understanding that sometimes the capslock key is depressed without any apparent reason.

As you can see I've cheered it up, now. :)

DJP said...

Hard call. CHS could be gracious, or pretty darned brusque.

Bill said...

I was raised in the RCC. Upon the Holy Spirit’s extricating me (and sovereignly placing me in an evangelical Baptist Church), I was told by my Dad: “you’re dead, you no longer exist.” Some RCs take this seriously.
Q: Who needs a Savior?
A: Those that sin.
To that end, if they would only listen to Mary herself:
Luke 46-47: And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”
Special, yes. Sinful, by her own admission, yes.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Rational: If you would read the founder of Logos's book, entitled Fire Someone Today, you'd see that he is a fairly hard-nosed businessman and probably will go after any market he can go after, would be my bet. RCC is a big market.

Nash Equilibrium said...

DJP wrought:
"Well, you know the response when they're facing Christians: "We don't worship Mary. We just pray to her, attribute to her the Divine ability to hear thousands of prayers at the same time, focus on her, put statues of her all over the place, carry pictures of her in our wallets, make up stories about her, obsess on reported visions of her, go on at length about ways to live in devotion to her, and give her un-Biblical titles. But we don't worship her."


Joseph Dethrow said...

Did you just slam Piper in this post, too?

Joseph Dethrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

I probably read Piper online just slightly more than he reads me, and hadn't seen that article.

Linda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara said...

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
(Luke 11:27-28 ESV)

DJP said...

Amen, sister, amen. As I say in the other post, I've no doubt Mary would be horrified at what the RCC has made of her. It's a crime and a slander.

Stephen said...

Dan, I realize Logos isn't so much the subject of this post as the occasion for the topic, but would it have equally offended you if on the normal day of Pentecost (50 days I believe after Easter), they tweeted "Come study the life of Peter to remember Pentecost" instead of "Come examine the work of the Holy Spirit"?

For what it's worth, Logos may have heard your complaint: earlier today, after this post went up, they tweeted another message, "Bible Study on the Birth of Jesus Begins Today" with a link to a tip on how to ad hoc study in Logos on any topic, including Christmas. Of course, they also linked today to a daily calendar study of Catholic saints...

DJP said...

Interesting question. Candidly, I think I'd have a similar reaction, though.

Ironically, though, you get a lot more of Peter than you do of Mary!

Yet Pentecost isn't about either.


Stephen said...

Cool. I think there could be and assuredly have been many good books written about both characters (though can't say I've read any of them...but I was in a SS class that went through Macarthur's book on the Disciples), but the bigger question is probably the worthiness of preaching or otherwise doing extensive biblical biographic study on its own. That is, searching through the whole Bible for info about one character, when that character is not named Christ. Many characters have self-contained individual stories written about themselves (e.g., the cycle of the Judges) but and a few characters have many stories about themselves (Moses, David, Paul).

Sometimes Scripture clearly wants us to gain benefit or instruction from individual texts about characters, but could it be said that only one Person (er, 3 Persons) should be studied as He is presented throughout all of Scripture? For example, is the Holy Spirit interested us in figuring out the nuances between Peter's actions during the storm on the lake with Jesus, while finally bringing the Gospel to Gentiles in Acts, and his exhortations to the persecuted church in 1 Peter? Or should we only focus on the central focus of all these texts: Christ.

Anyway, I was grateful that my pastor did actually preach on Mary two days ago, from her hymn and the surrounding story in Luke 1, but the focus of his text was Christ. Next week I believe he is doing the same on Zechariah.

Robert said...


I think any character study from the Bible that is really grounded in searching Scripture will lead one to the work of God in the life of the person studied. In the case of Peter, you can see how the Holy Spirit awakened him to all that Jesus had taught him when you see the change in his life after Jesus ascended into heaven. With Mary, you can see her humility in her prayer to God, which is clearly His work through the announcement the angel made to her and piecing that together with the Scripture she would have known.

Of course, if one starts with an agenda or preconceptions of what they will find, they might not get there. Sadly, that is what the RCC does. Same goes for JW's and the LDS.