Mary and the Protestants, by Casey Chalk

Texas Right to Life Flooded With Hate, Threats After Planned Parenthood Leaks Employee’s Address, by Calvin Freiburger
September 16, 2021
How Much More Are You Going to Take? by John Droz, Jr.
September 16, 2021

*Image: The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898 [Philadelphia Museum of Art]

By Casey Chalk, The Catholic Thing, Sept. 16, 2021

Casey Chalk is a contributor for Crisis Magazine, The American Conservative, and New Oxford Review. He has degrees in history and teaching from the University of Virginia and a master’s in theology from Christendom College.


Casey ChalkWhen I was a Protestant seminarian, I thought I had good reasons not to venerate or pray to Mary. The mother of Jesus, however holy, was only so because of Christ, and thus any special honoring of her necessarily detracted from the unique, unparalleled honor due to our Lord. That’s certainly what the Reformers thought. As John Calvin writes in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, “one who takes refuge in the intercession of saints robs Christ of the honor of mediation.” It wasn’t until reading Manfred Hauke’s Introduction to Mariology that I realized the ecumenical stakes regarding Mary are quite a bit higher than avoiding “idolatrous worship.”

The early Reformers revolted against the Catholic Church preeminently over salvation. Whereas the Church taught that man’s cooperation was required for his own salvation, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, among others, rejected this as undermining both the doctrines of grace and God’s sovereignty. Salvation must be wholly and entirely the work of Christ, they declared, asserting the Protestant doctrines of sola fide (faith alone) and sola gratia (grace alone). As Luther wrote in The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, “all works are measured before God by faith alone.” …