This book, from beginning to end, is somewhat misleading. Fortunately, for the novice student of Mariology, it is partially informative, and written in a very simple, understandable style. Unfortunately, the reader will find very quickly that Dickson's arguments are based more on his ecumenical desires to unite the Protestant and Catholic branches of Christianity than on historical fact. Indeed, even the title is a misnomer. The book should be called "A Lutheran Ecumenical Pastor-With Hopes of Making the Roman Catholic View of Mary More Palatable to Protestants-Looks At Mary".
Having read several books that discuss the role, history, and doctrines of the Virgin Mary within the different branches of Christianity, I can honestly say that this one was the most disappointing. Protestants most often disagree with Roman Catholic Mariology in the following areas: Mary's Assumption, her Immaculate Conception, and her intercessory powers. Unfortunately, Dickson's attempt to shed light on the Catholic reasons for holding such doctrine is weak. Regarding Mary's alleged Assumption, Dickson simply regurgitates age-old Catholic arguments that support this doctrine (p.84). He does nothing to improve these arguments, thus the educated Protestant-who already disagrees with the Catholic reasoning-will gain nothing from Dickson's attempt. Regarding Mary's alleged "Immaculate Conception", the author also fails to improve past Catholic reasoning (p.88). Accordingly, here too he does not construct any "bridge of understanding" over which Protestants with ecumenical desires can walk towards their Catholic brothers and sisters. Perhaps the most dismaying aspect of this book is the complete lack of endnotes and footnotes that verify the author's sources of information. The astute reader, consequently, cannot even check to see from which historical "facts" Dickson gets many of his arguments.
It is important for readers to remember that, among all Protestant denominations, Lutheranism is probably the most similar to Roman Catholicism in many doctrinal areas. Accordingly, if we survey the spectrum of Protestant theology, what is acceptable to a Lutheran, may not be acceptable to more mainstream, evangelical, and/or conservative Protestants. Thus, Dickson's book perhaps will only be able to create more sympathy for Roman Catholic Mariology among Lutherans who were already closer to Catholics on the theological spectrum to begin with. I do not recommend this book for readers unless they are already educated enough about Marian historical theology to recognize that Dickson does no more than merely repeat the age-old Roman Catholic arguments for their particular perspective on Mary.
This book is SUPERB! I am a Roman Catholic, and this book by a Protestant is the BEST book about the Holy Virgin I have read to date. This book made me cry and it made my spirit laugh. After reading this book, few people will be able to deny Mary's role in the lives of ALL Christians, nor will they WANT to deny it. By reading this book, we learn how the Rosary is for ALL Christians and it is not the meaningless repetition of blasphemous prayers so many non Catholics imagine it to be. This book also helps construct a bridge between Christian groups. It attempts to establish some much needed common ground(With lots of success). Will Protestants and Catholics ever be able to agree about Mary? Well, this book sure will help that happen! I HIGHLY recomend this book to ALL Christians, regardless of denomination or lack of denomination.