Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Wednesday Meditation: Why Parables?

I'm stealing an idea from my friend over at Progressive Christian, who has given himself a detailed and ambitious "editorial schedule." I think this is a good idea for three reasons -- it provides motivation, keeps me on topic, and lets readers know up-front when the next installment will be. So, starting today, I will post a meditation every Wednesday: a discussion of scripture, theology, ethics, etc. Basically, something that transcends current events. Also, starting July 17, I will post a comment every Sunday: commentary on a weekly news item from a Social Gospel perspective. Note that this new schedule does not mean that I won't be posting blurbs at other times.

Now a short meditation to kick off the schedule. This Five Gospels that I've been reading has got me thinking not only about what Jesus taught, but how he taught. Why did Jesus teach in parables? Wouldn't things have been much easier if Jesus more often laid down clear rules of ethical doctrine? Consider the preface to Donald Morgan's (famous?/infamous?) list of "Biblical Inconsistencies." While acknowledging that many of the difficulties listed could be resolvable on certain interpretations, Morgan asserts that "a perfect and omnipotent God could, should, and likely would see to it that such problems did not exist." In other words, God has the answers, so why doesn't God just come out and tell us already?!

My tentative answer to Morgan, and to the question of why Jesus taught in parables, is twofold. First, Jesus taught in parables because He wants us to think for ourselves. God did not intend us as automatons. God created human beings, with free will and curious (and at least sometimes rational) minds. It should not be surprising therefore, that Jesus' teachings are more than simply a laundry list of commands that we are supposed to "download" and follow like robots. They invite creative thinking and critical discussion.

Second, parables are more powerful than abstract doctrine. It's great artists like William Shakespeare and not academic Psychologists and Sociologists who provide us with the greatest, most memorable insights into the human condition. Similarly, Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan provides us with more powerful moral insight than could any abstract discussion of ethics.

3 Comments:

At 7:58 PM, Blogger ats54 said...

Infission,

I am excited to hear of your decision to begin posting weekly meditations on this blog and look forward to reading them. I think personal exploration, prayer, study, etc. is something missing from many Christians' lives.

I know that I (yes, even a seminary student) find that my own personal times of study, prayer and exploration are often few and far between.

Maybe - hopefully - your resolve will help spurn the rest of us to do the same; even if we aren't brave enough to bare our souls to the world in e-form.

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger Infission said...

Thanks! And I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger ChesapeakeBlue said...

And I am honored to hear that I am your friend! It is mutual. My schedule may be a bit too ambitious, I like your twice-a-week approach.

 

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