Paul Vander Klay
October 11, 2010
Wow---tough series of questions at the end."Should all religions be held to a universal moral standard commonly accepted by our culture"---suggests that a universal can be established and agreed upon; universals are hard enough for Christians to agree upon, let alone include Jews (Orthodox, Conservative,Reform,Hasidic, Zionist ), Muslims(Sunni, Shiite, Wahabi, etc), Buddhists, Hindus, etc; with every universal proposed, there are a host of "buts" and "excepts." Begin with "life is sacred/thou shalt not kill" and see how every group, every faith, every culture and shade of each dance around that simple apparently universal standard.Declaring "Jesus/Muhammed/Moses/Buddha---right or wrong" suggests also that the adherents of any chosen faith have fully understood what the leader meant by any statement and how the concept is to be interpreted and applied into actions, the exegesis/hermeneutic of theology. What Would/Did Jesus Do? in any given---is it necessarily a call to action, or a model for followers; or is What Would Jesus Have Us Do? more accurate---?
This parable is interesting in that everyone is given equal opportunity, not given different degrees of opportunity. It is interesting because only three of the ten who were given the ten minas(three months wages), were really mentioned. So the question is obvious, "who are the other seven servants supposed to represent, and what did/will they do?" This is not talking about different religions, but about individuals who will be held accountable. Those who reject God will be punished. Those who fail to be obedient with what God has clearly provided them, will lose the opportunity of obedience in the future. If we don't use what God has given us when the opportunity is there, we will lose the possibility of opportunity in the future. The task is to be obedient, and (in this parable), not to blame God that He has not given us enough opportunity or talents or gifts.
Exactly. We live with this subtle interplay between belief in a person on the basis of who that person is AND choosing to believe in that person BECAUSE of how that person's actions affirm pre-conscious religious commitments that have been formed within us. There is an ideal we bring to our experience of that person and embrace that person because they fit that ideal while at the same time that person reshapes that ideal within us as the relationship develops. It's a both-and process. CS Lewis explores some of this in his appendix to "The Abolition of Man" in terms of exploring a "common" or perhaps "mere" morality that is trans-sectarian. People regularly appeal to this in an "coexist" sort of way, yet we also know that this isn't as simple as it appears because we obviously can't come to consensus on it or perhaps we would have already. People both in his day and throughout the centuries on the basis of the gospels have been drawn to Jesus. We find him fascinating and he still enjoys a remarkable reputation trans-sectarianly. What he demands according to my interpretation of the parable of the pounds is a call to loyalty that really stresses one side of the trust equation I described above. Don't love me because I'm good, define good by me. That is something that only can be entrusted to the creator of the cosmos unless you switch over to more ancient gnostic variants that imagine materiality to be an evil to be escaped from. pvk
"Don't love me because I'm good, define good by me." I have to agree with this conclusion.If we consider God's command to Abraham to slay Isaac and Abraham's response of obedience, we see that God's command is always right because our ethical horizons are finite whereas his are perfect.In Abraham's case, we also see God's sovereign right to issue an immediate command above the law. We must sometimes submit to the direct command of the King over a casuaristic ethic.
Great post (as usual), Paul. Yes, who does Jesus think he is?! Never mind who or what we think he might be... Where does he get off disregarding our sacred traditions and Torah commands? And feasting with traitors like Zacchaeus? He acts like he's greater than Torah!Of course, Christians believe Jesus is greater than the Torah, (and greater than the Temple, and superior to human religious tradition) because he is Torah incarnate: the Law of God in human form. He alone has the unique authority to modify or overrule traditional interpretations of Torah as he is both the lawgiver and judge of humanity. His hermeneutic (if we've been paying attention) is a hermeneutic of compassion. Therefore, the Torah prohibition against physical labor on the Sabbath is overruled in the case of healing an ill person. The traditional animus and exclusion of Samaritans and other 'foreigners' was rendered null and void by Jesus' all-encompassing kindness and grace. In the Torah of Jesus, love is the organizing principle, and Jesus the final arbiter of right and wrong. He is the decider, commander-in-chief, and chief justice of the supreme court of the Kingdom of God.I have heard the criticism of Paul the apostle, when he states, "love is the fulfillment of the law" that he is offering a weak, nebulous platitude, lacking the specificity of Torah commands. Never mind Paul gives plenty of specifics in his epistles, his ultimate example (and ours) of love in action is Christ crucified: the just for the unjust, dying to save sinners (Paul being foremost). If loving Jesus, and obeying him, regardless of personal cost, is wrong I don't want to be right! Kidding aside, if we believe Jesus is the Word made flesh, God making his tabernacle with us, we are obligated to act in accordance with such belief and do what Jesus says, no matter what the secular state (or popular opinion) has to say about it. Jesus primary command is "love one another," for this is the primary way we show respect and obedience to God. If civil authority tells us we will face legal or other penalties for loyalty to the teaching and example of the Lord we will have to choose sides, no doubt. I am reminded of this warning from the James: "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4)Being a friend of the friend of tax collectors and sinners carries certain obligations, risks and rewards. Every would-be disciple must "count the cost" before putting hand to plow.
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