feminism, grace, incarnation, sacrament

Towards an Anabaptist Marian Theology

Theological feminists find much in the character of Mary, specifically within the magnificant. This, I believe, is quite right. This is also held by the majority of feminists that I have encountered.

These feminists, or at least the ones I like and have had fruitful conversations with, are wary of what I shall condense into the term: self-annihilation. Lets be honest, there is no way to get around the idea of obedience. Some feminists recoil at the idea, but personally, while I understand the logic, I do not believe that obedience is the real problem. Obedience can be a very good thing. It is a bad thing, however, to tell an abused woman to be obedient to her husband and send her back to him.

I confess, I have never wanted to be rid of obedience because the divine community is built on humility and bowing to one another in a healthy way. But I have been unsure how to voice another way while still meeting feminism’s legitimate concerns. In reading von Balthasar, I was confronted with obedience in a different sort of way, and more to the point, perhaps here is the beginnings of a legitimate obedience, although it requires some (or much, very much) outside help. So I couldn’t simply drop obedience for many reasons.

After a long time mulling, I think the true objection is that often obedience is seen with self-annihilation. This, this is not what Mary did. The incarnation to which she responded was not abuse, but gift. She chose participation in the work of God. Mary responded to the gift of the incarnation. Mary’s work was gift back to gift. It was not self-annihilation.

With Mary as an image of healthy discipleship, this Marian theology could make us all feminists in a certain way. I could certainly live with that.

This theology also means that anabaptist need a stronger theology of gift — grace and sacrament — which they/we have never been strong on in a multifaceted way. Should it look exactly like the Catholics? Of course not, however, that doesn’t mean that we should just end with the abstract notion of the community as grace.


6 thoughts on “Towards an Anabaptist Marian Theology

  1. I don’t know if you have read Alexander Schmemann’s For the life of the world in which he discusses this point.

    Sometimes people speak as if obedience were in itself a virtue, but it is not. Men who have committed mass murder of innocents have claimed as a legal defence that they were “obeying orders”, Mary’s obedience was not this kind of blind obedience, but obedience in love.

  2. A. Carpenter says:

    I think obedience is a virtue. Those who “obey” evil dictums are not in fact being obedient, but being slaves. Obedience is, as you say, of a different order.

    Lovely reflection, David.

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