I’m currently doing a research essay on how the parable of the Good Samaritan has been preached in different times and contexts. Interpretation and preaching have traditionally centred on how the story presents three characters, one of who is the exemplary Samaritan.
But in the research, I’ve found that some rightly point out that the Innkeeper is a fourth. Apparently innkeepers were known to at times over-charge, and so the greed of the innkeeper provides another contrast to the generosity of the Samaritan who offers to repay any expense the innkeeper incurs in caring for the man (whose nationality or race are – deliberately? – never revealed).
Now, I’m probably not the first to see yet another person in the story, and I’ll have to check the commentaries, but the following lines suggest it to me:
On the next day [most MSS include 'when he departed'], he took out two denarii, and gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.”
It is the phrase “when I come again” that tipped me off. Was that a glimpse of the parousia just there tucked away? I wonder it we glimpse Jesus himself in the person of the Samaritan; and by implication the church in the Innkeeper. The ministry of the church is indeed (among other things) to welcome the lonely, to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, to visit the imprisoned. Do we glimpse Jesus here, equipping the Church (giving of the Spirit?) to do their work, and promise a ‘repayment’ (reward according to deeds?) for how much extra they do?
Posted in bible, christianity, ethics, theology
Tagged church, deeds, good samaritan, grace, innkeeper, jesus, parable, reward, spirit, work
http://thomism.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/the-finality-of-death-and-christian-faith/ Quite interesting.
Even given the doctrine of God’s self-disclosure or revelation, and given the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (Scripture, Reason, Tradition and Experience)… You will never, in your lifetime, know everything about God.
Or… see the doctrine of ineffability.
Posted in bible, christianity, theology
Tagged epistemology, experience, inefability, prolegomenon, reason, revelation, scripture, tradition, wesleyan quadrilateral
A true swordsman is recognised not simply by ability to swing the largest of swords with great speed and strength, but by the skill and agility to wield any sword in the best way. Likewise, the vision of God in Christian Scripture (not only in the NT – explicitly in passages like Philippians 2:5-11 – but in the OT) is of a God who does not mindlessly brandish the sword of omnipotence around like a brute or side-show stuntman, but rather wisely wields it in ways that are not about mere strength but intent, skill and purpose.
It is becoming increasingly clear to me that basically no Christian doctrine about God makes any sense at all if God’s omnipotence is not seen in this particular way. Just as a skilled swordsman most probably indeed could swing a sword quite fast and powerfully, but would only do so at rare occasions or perhaps only once, so also there are many things that an omnipotent God is able to do, but not willing.
The kenotic, or ‘self-emptying’, God is not shackled to ‘logical’ expectations for what omnipotence would do. God both a) refrains from doing things he has capacity to do, as well as b) does things he does not need to do. God could have not created. It’s not as though there could be any force or person or will ‘above’ God that caused God to create. But create he did – and does. To venture into the conversation of sovereignty and process theology and ‘free will’, etc., God could have chosen to have a very deterministic and micro-managerial rule over the world. It’s not as though that would be un-fitting or impossible for omnipotence. But his sovereign rule is far more respecting of freedom, and what we have is a mixture of inability to do many things (i.e. breathe in space, fly, etc.), and ability to direct our own courses of action. We are dependent enough upon the world and each other such that the degree of indifference we can fall to has limits, yet we are also independent enough from it and others such that an annoyingly persistent responsibility for our actions is perpetually ensured.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? (Galatians 4:8-9)
There is a lovely tension in Christian epistemology between our ‘knowing God’ and being known by God (both of which, to be clear, are about an interpersonal kind of knowledge, not about simply knowing an infinite quantity of ‘facts’ about God or us). One of the central announcements of the NT is that Jesus has revealed God in not only a fresh, unexpected way, but also in a full (and thus final) way. God can at last be known.
But this knowledge of God in the face of Christ does not catapult humans into a state of omniscience. ”Who has known the mind of the Lord?”, asks Scripture elsewhere. And in the passage above, Paul suggests that the point is not our knowledge of God, but God’s knowledge of us that matters.
There is continuity and discontinuity here with the knowledge proper to the natural sciences. Continuity in that in both cases, reality often has to surprise us for us to ‘get it’. It’s often not what we expected it to be. Truth has that ring to it. But it also has discontinuity in the obvious sense that nature does not and cannot ‘know us’ as we know one another – let alone as we can be known by God.
It’s a simple distinction.
When a panel of judges selects one competitor to be the champion, the others don’t benefit from the selection. They go home losers. (Cue Queen music…)
But when a nation elects a new leader, the entire nation benefits. He or she passes legislation that they elected him to pass, etc.
The biblical doctrine of election is no different. Israel in general, and Christ in particular, are God’s Beloved, not in the sense of being (randomly or otherwise) ‘selected’ out to win a prize that benefits nobody else, but so that the nations of the earth would be blessed through them (Genesis 12:1-3). Never in the Bible is it said that Israel was chosen so that she could have exclusive rights to God and salvation. On the contrary, she was chosen to pass on blessing and salvation – in all its forms – to all.
It is like a fire or police squad, or a hospital staff. They are not self-serving teams, simply to make sexy firemen calendars, etc. They have a mission and a calling to serve their community. A doctor tells her smoking patient to change his ways not because “I’m a doctor and you can’t be”, not because “I am perfect in all ways”, but because she is a good and caring doctor. That’s enough metaphor for one post. :)
I just saw someone else recommending this book on prayer: Anne Lamott, “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers” (Riverhead).
I’ve not read it, but I assume it treats these words as follows:
Not bad. A, T and S from ACTS prayer acronym.
If I were to attempt an addition of the S in ACTS (supplication), and to roughly follow the progression of the Lord’s prayer, my book title would be:
Wow. Help. Sorry. Thanks.
Two brief (and certainly unoriginal) observations on John 1:1.
The Greek Text
εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος
A rough English equivalent
In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was toward the God and God was the Word
First, one must note the Parallelism of the first line of John’s Gospel with the first line of Genesis:
In the Beginning, God… (Genesis)
In the Beginning was the Word… (John)
This line in John is not only the precursor to the rest of what is a theological and literary masterpiece, but the author is deliberately paralleling (not ‘replacing’) God with ‘the Word’, a term used precisely 40 times in this Gospel.
Second, note the chiastic structure in the following two lines (obscured by most English translations that put God at the end of the sentence):
ο λογος the Word
…..ην προς …..was toward
……….τον θεον ……….the God
……….και θεος ……….and God
ο λογος the Word
You might suspect that a point is being made!
So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19)
I’ve long held that this part of the creation story is a lovely expression of what we call science. Things like taxonomy and zoology explicitly name the creation. This is basic to a Christian understanding of the Imago Dei, what it means to be humans created in the Image of God. So you could imagine my childish glee to see that even a proper atheist like Michael Ruse can lament that this seems under-appreciated.
I’m not just a historian, I’m also a philosopher. So I don’t just want to find out what happened, I want to know what we should do. And I’ve been worrying about what is the right thing to do. I think it’s deplorable that we do have this division in American society today. I think it’s deplorable that science is not seen as, if you like, the true mark that we are made in the image of God – that our ability to ferret out the nature of the world shows that we are not just grubby little primates. (from here)
Posted in bible, christianity, culture, philosophy, science, theology
Tagged atheism, human vocation, imago dei, michael ruse, naming, science, taxonomy, zoology