Not too long ago, I finished reading A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. The book is an anthology of five of her novellas, each about a significant female character from the Bible. (I hate to say “character” when these women all lived in the real world. “Character” makes it seem like someone invented them.)
The first four stories, about Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, were very good and convincing in the way they were written. I thoroughly enjoyed them, and they inspired me to stay closer to God and have faith. (I’m sure there were elements of those four stories that clashed with Catholic teaching, but to be honest, I don’t know enough about the Old Testament to recognize anything.) The fifth story, which was about Mary, the Mother of Jesus, bothered me for multiple reasons:
- There were four wise men who visited Jesus after his birth. I’m really not sure why the fourth wise man was necessary; in the Bible, there are only three wise men.
- Mary and her husband Joseph had six other children after Jesus: James, Joseph, Anne, Simon, Jude, and Sarah. I was always taught that Mary remained a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Jesus.
- Mary was not assumed into heaven when she died, but she simply “went the way of all flesh” like any other human being.
- Mary was “a woman like any other, as impatient as her children.” No, she was not. She was extraordinary. As Catholics, we believe that God made Mary immaculate, as would be fitting for the mother of his only son.
- Mary was not sinless. Again, God made her immaculate. She was free from sin at conception.
I understand that the author is not Catholic and probably does not view Mary through the same lens. From reading the five novellas, I gathered that Ruth and Bathsheba were more free from sin than Mary, which is totally incorrect in Catholic theology (Mariology, to be more specific).
Would I read anything else by Francine Rivers? Sure. Her books are uplifting and refreshingly free from sex scenes. They also give a glimpse into the world as it was in the days when the events of the Bible occurred. But I will have to keep in mind that my beliefs differ from hers.