Mary and the Ark

Perhaps I was a bit hasty in my recent Notice to Protestants about Mary. In the Baptist Standard, of all places, you can now read how Mary is The Coming of the New Ark to Jerusalem. It is nice to see non-Catholics recognizing the Blessed Virgin as more than just a kind of talking incubator for Jesus.

Unfortunately the Baptist writer, Bill Crittenden, does not follow his comparison to its logical end. He recognizes that the original Ark was no mere box: It was a chest built of acacia wood, a material that was considered worthy of housing God, everlasting and with no defect. Hmmm, could the New Ark also have some of these qualities? Crittenden doesn't say.

The parallels between Mary and the Ark are nothing new. Athanasius saw it in the third century. Steve Ray has an excellent article on the subject. As Augustine said: The New Testament is hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed by the New.

O Come O Come Emmanuel

Here is a nice video to close out your Advent. Merry Christmas to all!

Rick Warren, Inauguration and Gay Rights

Gay rights activists are up in arms because Obama asked Rick Warren to offer an invocation at the presidential inauguration next month. Warren is unacceptable, in their view, because he supported the Proposition 8 drive to outlaw gay marriage in California. They feel betrayed because they thought Obama was devoted to their cause. They forget he is also a politician who is keenly interested in attracting more Christian voters to his cause. This was a chance to do so and also reinforce his image as a unifier. I do not think it indicates any sympathy on Obama's part for conservative Christian beliefs.

For his part, Rev. Warren is getting it from both sides. The gay-marriage advocates consider him a bigot while many on the right consider him a turncoat for daring to participate in the inauguration. Personally I don't see the problem. It is appropriate and fitting that Christians pray for our national leaders - whether we agree with their actions or not. Warren has made his disagreements with Obama about abortion and gay marriage crystal-clear. Presumably, his invocation will not ask God's blessing on those parts of the Obama agenda that conflict with Christian belief.

What's interesting to me is how the Proposition 8 defeat has so galvanized gay activists in the last few months. Any Christian who disagrees with gay marriage is now a de facto bigot. The anger is palpable, and it is leading to all kinds of intimidating and even violent rhetoric against people who gave even casual support to Proposition 8. The Mormon church is a particular target of gay wrath. Rick Warren also endorsed the proposition, but was by no means a leader or even particularly vocal about it. Indeed, he is regarded as far too soft on the culture-war issues by many conservative Christian activists. No matter - he made the wrong choice, and now he has to pay. To get a taste of it, read this post by a liberal who found himself sympathizing with Warren, and then read the comments that follow.

Al Mohler rightly points out that the angry response to Warren's presence at the inauguration will not be the end of this battle. Gay marriage is quickly becoming an issue where everyone will have to take a stand - and there is no middle ground. It's going to get ugly.

Rick Warren has just found himself in the midst of a whirlwind. We must pray that God will give him wisdom as he decides what to do -- and what to say -- as he stands in this whirlwind. But every evangelical Christian should watch this carefully, for the controversy over Rick Warren will not stop with the pastor from Saddleback. This whirlwind is coming for you and for your church. At some point, the cost of being "cool" will be the abandonment of biblical Christianity. We had better decide well in advance that this is a cost far too high to pay.

Amazing Grace

Here is a stirring performance of Amazing Grace, including bagpipes.

The singers are a group called Il Divo. If it looks like they are in the Roman Colosseum, you're half right. They are in a Roman Colosseum, but in Pula, Croatia, not Rome. It's nice to see what was probably a place of martyrdom for some early Christians now put to much better use.

(Hat tip: Steve Ray)

Notice to Protestants

In the month of December, it is okay to display statues of the Virgin Mary as part of a larger Nativity scene. During this time no one will think you are promoting idol-worship. Images of Mary and other Biblical figures may even serve as a source of inspiration during the holidays. Candles are optional.

Following the Christmas season, all such statues will once again become idolatrous and must be hidden from view for another year.

Thank you for your cooperation. That is all.