Sunday, July 31, 2016

Comparitive Theology

I've been to church a couple times recently. One was an old friend I went to visit. He decided to move the Luke 11 passage a week ahead of the lectionary. The other is a new pastor at my wife’s church who wanted to meet me. He says only Lutherans and Catholics use the lectionary anymore. I also heard a podcast that pulled one line out of the lection.
The old friend, Roger, started out with an old theme of his, the franchise. By taking the words of Jesus and making them into a formula, and claiming that these particular words must be read and understood to get to heaven, we “make Jesus small”. We wrap him in tradition and ritual and hide the light that we say he brings. If Jesus is the heart of creation, Roger posited, then we should find him there. He pointed out that Einstein found mystery and zoologists find cooperation in the animal kingdom. We should look for the commonality of mystery and cooperation in religion, not claim we have the keys while others don’t.
Near the end of his sermon, he said that Paul (from the Colossians passage), says Jesus is in us. I had to read to the whole thing over again, passed all the parts about how glorious Jesus is and his blood sacrifice and the part about evil deeds. It’s there. It’s between a couple commas at the end. I’m glad there are preachers who can find these things and make a theme out of them, but sometimes I wonder how that affects the parishioner’s view of the Bible.
The tidbit was from Cass Midgley, in the “Everyone’s Agnostic” podcast was “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Cass quotes it slightly differently and seemed to imply this says parents can do just as well as God does for their children. It came after his guest, Tony Woodall had just discussed how he would never send his children off to be tortured if they had broken the rules a few times. Tony is a preacher, but he sees the problems with fundamentalist ideas, like hell. I agree with that, I'm not so sure the verse fits that discussion.
This whole section 11:9-13 is about asking and you will receive. And pointing out how children have no problem asking, and parents don’t give them snakes or scorpions instead of eggs or fish. The Matthew version of this, at 7:11, is in a section about giving and receiving and the golden rule. It is contained in Matthew’s version of the Sermon on the Mount. It fits there a little better. Matthew was written before Luke, so maybe that’s where he got it. In either case, it's a claim of something that is undelivered. The examples are people giving to each other and nurturing their children, then it just adds on that God can do it even better, because he's God.
It's a great podcast by the way. The bit I mention here comes after the 2 hour mark.

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