About Providence, Divine Action and the Church

In this blog, Terry J. Wright posts thoughts and shares research on the Christian doctrine of providence. This doctrine testifies to God’s provision for all things through creation’s high priest, the man Christ Jesus. However, the precise meaning and manner of this provision is a perpetually open question, and this blog is a forum for discussion of the many issues relating to providence and the place of the Church within God’s action.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mary, Making a Difference

I missed the opening of Oliver Davies’s paper at the recent Colin Gunton Lecture Day, which made it difficult for me to tune in to its remainder. However, Professor Davies has kindly sent me the manuscript. It’s an insightful paper, which I hope will find publication somewhere.

Essentially, Davies’s paper considers the ‘becoming historical’ of Jesus. Are we to understand this ‘becoming’ as a divine work, a human work, or a combination of the two forms of agency? Davies answers this question by exploring the place of Mary in the act of the Word’s becoming flesh. Mary’s response to Gabriel’s announcement (Luke 1:26-38) was ‘one of judgment and free assent’, says Davies, and so the actuality of the incarnation was made possible only because Mary freely said, “Yes.” And because of this free response, Mary made a difference by becoming the place of divine action, where the Old Covenant moved into the New Covenant.

It’s another instance in Scripture that shows God acting providentially through human freedom rather than by divine fiat. And to be honest, this is a pretty impressive instance, too. Suppose Mary had said, “No.”

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