Dec 262017
 

MERCY

Some time ago, I wrote a brief column considering the Augustinian hermeneutic of love.  That is, the real question to ask in viewing any scriptural text is, “How does this relate to my love of God and my love of neighbor?”.  I was amazed at the amount of pushback it received.  Some evangelicals attacked the idea of a hermeneutic of “love” as though by saying the word, one was encouraging license.

 

Predictably, confessional Lutherans attacked the idea simply because it was not “their” hermeneutic of Law and Gospel.  Then, of course, there were the dispensationalists and covenant theologians, some of whom posited that we had to place even the Sermon on the Mount, or the summary of the law (the love of God and neighbor), within the proper covenant or dispensation to understand what Jesus was really saying and who he was addressing, almost echoing the Lutherans in dividing the discourse into warnings and promises either related, or, conversely, unrelated to us. 

I’m wondering… what are we so afraid of?

I think part of what we are afraid of is that Jesus actually meant what he said.  What he said was not shaded or nuanced.  It was direct and plainly stated for all to hear – Jews and Gentiles alike.  It was surely understandable to his listeners in real time, as it was to the apostolic writers in the Gospels and the later epistles.  It was plainly understood by the Church of the post-apostolic and patristic eras, as can be seen by even a cursory reading of the multiple texts of those periods.  Today, however, we simply don’t want to hear it, so we kill the plain intent of the Gospel through a thousand and one exceptions.

So why is it that we run from a simple hermeneutic centered around the love of God and neighbor?  Perhaps it is because it is not theoretical.  It is not complicated.  It is simple and easily understood.

It is similar to our reaction to the story of the Good Samaritan that followed the summary of the law.  Now, I’m fully willing to admit that there might indeed be layers of meaning in this story.  It could be an allegory in which Christ is the outsider, and the one who pays the price for the restoration of the man who has been set upon by sin and the Prince of this World, etc.  It could, however, be a straight forward story in which he asks us, “which of these three are you?”.  Are you the Levite, the upper class of society, who trusting in your lineage and position cannot be bothered to stop and give assistance?  Or, are you the priest, concerned about your religious duties, afraid of ritual impurity, and considering your service to God in the Temple to be of greater importance than helping this wounded man who had been left for dead at the side of the road?  Of course, we know that what he wants us to do is to imitate the actions of the Samaritan.

Yet, even here we can miss the point.  We spend much time on the “outsider status” of the Samaritan and how Jesus was indicating that the real neighbor is the one who, no matter their origin or background, helped the wounded traveler.  Yet, even here, we distance ourselves from what the Samaritan actually did… not what he talked about, or theorized about, but what he did. It is interesting to note, that Christ is very specific about what he did… and why.

In the story, Christ says the Samaritan “saw him”.  He didn’t just see a half-naked, bloodied body at the side of the road threatening his social status or his ritual purity, he saw a person.  Christ even tells us the how and the why of what impelled him to see a person.  The Samaritan had taken pity on him.  It was an emotional response borne out of an inner set of values. He did not reference Scripture as to what the Torah said he should do in such a situation.  He used his God given humanity to make his decision.  The story tells us that he went to the half dead man.  He likely did not know if he was dead or alive.  He had to go out of his way.  He probably had to see if he was still breathing.  He had to look him in the eye to see if the light of life was still present.  He could not have known his condition if he had not gone to him, entered into his world, his pain, his suffering. The Samaritan was not a physician, as far as we know, but he did what he could, there and then.  Although he was not prepared for such an encounter, he took what he had available, oil and wine to cleanse the wounds, bandages, likely made from his own clothes, and did all that he knew to do.  Finally, he had to physically lift the bloodied half dead man on to his own donkey, giving up his own comfort, his own plans and schedule, his own convenience.  Even when he was able to get him to an inn, Jesus tell us that the Samaritan took care of the injured man himself, apparently through the remainder of that day and through the night, for it is not until the next day that he made arrangements for the man’s continued care with the innkeeper. He paid the innkeeper the equivalent of two days wages to see to the wounded man and made a promise to take care of any extra expenses upon his return. What we see is an encounter becoming a relationship.

We may also note what we do not find in this story. There is no recrimination or blame laid upon the victim… after all, wasn’t he at fault for traveling such a dangerous road alone, without protection?  Moreover, there is no reproof with regard to the recklessness of the Samaritan who, it seems, was the most affluent of all the characters in the story. After all, he had a donkey, money and possessions with him.  He risked all by stopping.  What if the robbers were still about? Was he prudent in taking such a risk? Yet there is no reproof indicated with regard to either man.

Instead, following the telling of the story, Jesus asks just one question, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The answer, came from a so-called expert in the law, “The one who had mercy on him”.  Jesus ended the discussion. He did not expound upon what the priest and the Levite did, or did not, do.  He did not expound upon the carelessness of the traveler or the seemingly reckless actions of the stranger . Instead, he merely refers to the mercy shown by the Samaritan, and simply says, “Go and do likewise”.

This is not a matter of Law and Gospel, or of dispensations, or of covenants. It is the straight forward application of what it means to love God and to love our neighbor.  It is to reflect in ourselves and in our actions the nature of God as merciful.  Without the quality of mercy, our theological schemes are bankrupt and without meaning. They are truly “tinkling brass and clanging cymbals” filling the air with noise as we shout our slogans and positions to no one but ourselves.

Yet, I think there is even more to learn here.  Mercy is not found in the abstract. It is only found and experienced in definitive encounters, often on the periphery of our “comfort zone”, and those encounters usually involve risk.  Indeed, any real and/or meaningful encounter with “the other” involves risk, but that is where true practical theology takes place. When one extends mercy, there is no guarantee that it will be returned in kind.  There is no promise that it will be met with gratitude or a successful outcome. Yet each encounter allows us not only to reflect more fully on the the love of God and our neighbor and the meaning of mercy, but to practice it as well. Moreover, the exercise of true mercy is not confined to the “theologically correct”, as the Samaritan shows us. 

We live in a time in which mercy is out of fashion.  Belligerence appears to be the “flavor of the month” and seems to have been so for some decades.  We see it in the media. We see it in politics.  God help us, we even see it among Christians in theological discourse.  We are constantly divided by, “I know the truth and you don’t”. Dialogue is reduced to posturing. All around us we witness the corruption of power set over against the powerless.  Winning is extolled, often at any price. Even cruelty of expression can be excused.  On the other hand, to be considered a victim (or victimized) is a slur, set alongside the epithets of “losers” and “snowflakes”. Too often, victims are blamed and shamed (often, it must be said, to shield perpetrators).  Those with opinions different than ourselves are not listened to, but are disregarded or, in the worst cases, bullied into silence.  This is as true in the Church as it is in society… and it is shameful. Instead of truly encountering one another in dialogue and extending love and mercy, we reduce the other person (or persons) to the status of a “position” or a “problem”. We disregard their essential  humanity and, in so doing, we set aside the value of one, no matter how wounded, disfigured or wrong in our eyes, was made in the image of God.  In that disregard, we set aside the truth of the Incarnation that Christ assumed humanity – all humanity – to himself when he was born in the Bethlehem manger.

I’ll stick with Augustine’s hermeneutic of love, but I think that I’ll add something that should be the result of that hermeneutic… Mercy.

Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

The Project

  79 Responses to “Mercy: Duane Arnold, PhD”

  1. What the hell, I’ll through the yellow flag and call foul to 2 comments — at least from my perspective.
    1.) “Predictably, confessional Lutherans attacked the idea simply because it was not “their” hermeneutic of Law and Gospel.” Care to add a little flesh to those bones? Can you point to anything in confessional Lutheranism that shows a Law & Gospel hermeneutic in anyway distracts from Serving Neighbor? Anything that would dictate walking past the beaten and bloodied man along the roadside? Your reply should be enlightening.
    2.) “I’m wondering… what are we so afraid of?” – if there is disagreement, why do you lay it at the feet of fear?

    Good morning, I hope your Christmas was swell.

  2. July 10
    Comment #54 –

    “I agree with everything Steve says. I have never seen anyone lead with love who does not leave the standard for truth way behind in the dust.

    But hey, that’s just me.”

    Your comment…

  3. And this has what to do with lack of mercy and lack of serving neighbor?

  4. I read a few commentaries on this passage to see what my former brethren in the Reformed movement had to say about it.
    The most amusing was from John MacArthur who is worried that it will be interpreted as supporting Marxism…
    https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-466/the-most-misunderstood-parable

    While there are layers to this parable, the first meaning would have to be the simple one Duane noted…

  5. Great post Duane! Mercy is indeed a virtue that is very hard to practice. Over at the Boundless Community blog there is a post today about showing restraint with our words. This was very timely given your post, Duane, and given the tenor of online communication these days, not just here, but almost anywhere…twitter, Facebook, etc…mercy with one another is desperately needed.

    And hard.

    It may be more prudent and humble at times to NOT have to prove we are right all the time by responding to every single thing we disagree with. Of course if we practiced this, twitter just may disappear. Tear.

  6. #4 Michael

    Yes, a looked at a few as well. It was astounding… and a bit depressing…

  7. #5 Dan

    “Love and mercy is what you need tonight…”
    Brian Wilson

  8. The one that completely frosts me is the myriad of interpretation around the Sermon on the Mount…same saying that it’s not even for the church.

    I wish we could get rid of that stuff about loving your enemies too…

  9. Michael

    We have an amazing propensity for excising the things that make us uncomfortable. As I said, the death of a thousand exceptions…

  10. I took this from the original July article – which was stating the same. My comment, and it is quite similar to my post at #1;

    I said at #137 – “Who are these many Christians who detest Christian love and refuse to preach it? Other than the folks at Westboro Baptist, I don’t think I have run across this ‘many’.”

    Who are “the many”? and where is the fear?

  11. Duane’s article is not an indictment against the Law-Gospel hermeneutic or confessional Lutheranism, even though he wants it to be.

    However, the article exemplifies the danger of confusing Law and Gospel, as well as the danger of bringing Aristotelian virtue ethics into biblical interpretation.

    Since Duane alluded to Chapter Thirteen of First Corinthians, let’s take a look at one of the verses:

    “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

    According to Paul, unless the Samaritan was showing mercy on the basis of “correct theology” (which Duane implies is abstract, non-practical, i.e., of little value), then he gained nothing. This means, he would not have been “the neighbor” to the wounded man in Jesus’ story. Therefore, contrary to what Duane said in the article, the Samaritan must have had correct theology (Duane confused ethnicity for theology).

    The Law-Gospel hermeneutic teaches that a good tree (made good by God) produces good fruit. The implicit theology behind Duane’s Aristotelian virtue ethics is that acts of love will make a tree good. He can try to deny it, but let him show us where in his article he allows God to be the active agent in the Samaritan’s good work.

    By the way, being dismissive about Jesus being the neighbor in the story is foolish and very sad. It is a standard rule of interpretation to find Christ in passages which cannot reasonably be fulfilled by a human person. If you read the story of the Good Samaritan carefully, you might find that no human being fits the description: “Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.”

    Lastly, a question: Is this article the new standard for constructive discussion among different traditions?

  12. “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

    According to Paul, unless the Samaritan was showing mercy on the basis of “correct theology” (which Duane implies is abstract, non-practical, i.e., of little value), then he gained nothing.”

    Huh?

    Love=correct theology?

    As far as your question goes, I think Duane challenges dispensational and covenant hermeneutics as well as the law-Gospel construction.

    He laid out a view that is now open to challenge by folks who differ…it need not be something to take offense to.

  13. #11 Jean

    Thank you. You made my point…

  14. Okay, since this wonderful simple illustration of showing compassion when it costs something to do so is fomenting a little rankle, I’ll add mine 😇
    I don’t like the way we use the word victim today… or at least the way I perceive its use… it does not indicate either social status or virtue… we are all victims of something, ranging all the way from inordinate self esteem to an attitude of entitlement that exceeds what is our due. … or so it seems to me…
    That Samaritan didn’t say, “Oh look, a victim! Now I can show my moral suoeriority!” why is it we identify only with the Samaritan; why don’t we consider that we might be the guy in the ditch? More than likely because it is a lesson in humanity behaving well in a world where humanity, for the most part doesnt.
    Still life is good when there are no victims.. or it will be… Come soon Lord Jesus – please
    What’d she say? Dunno didn’t make any sense to me….

  15. Biblical love is faith in action. It is free and spontaneous. Yes, love is the fruit of faith in the Christ as He gives himself to us in His Word, according to correct theology. Not according to Joseph Smith, Ellen White, the dudes from the Watchtower, Marciaon, Arius, or any other erring soul.

  16. Jean,

    So…I do not hold Lutheran theology as the end all of “correct theology”.
    I do not believe that a strict Law/Gospel hermeneutic is always correct.

    Does this mean I lack love?

  17. Without correct theology, mankind does not even know what love is.

    Just look at the mainline churches which believe that affirming same-sex marriage is loving, that ordaining women and gay people as pastors is loving. That flows out of their theology.

  18. Michael,

    Only you can answer that question, because “love” is wellspring in you heart. You can do all kinds of stuff, which I may witness outwardly; to me your actions may appear loving or unloving. But, I have can’t see into your heart to know from where your actions originate. In love? Out of guilt? For a reward? To look good to others?

    I would say that the more correct your theology is, the more likely it will be that your faith will be grounded on the Rock, rather than in the sand. And the more grounded your faith is on the rock, the more fee you will live, and as a result the more loving you will be.

  19. I think you guys are missing the point. If a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim all play the part of the Good Samaritan and then witness to others based on their works – what make Christianity stand out as different?

    Their works stand out just as brightly as the Christians – you know, the not hiding your light under a bushel stuff.

  20. I’m in real trouble…I have no issue with the ordination of women.

  21. Jean

    Your argument is self-referential. You have already assumed your hermeneutic to be correct and, therefore, measured by that hermeneutic, everything else is wrong. It is precisely what I am arguing against.

  22. Duane – I am still waiting for clarification about the fear we have in not accepting the mercy rule.

    Would you be upset if I said the same – fear keeps Duane away from a Law Gospel understanding?

  23. I find it fascinating that in a discussion on hermeneutics and the mercy of God, that arguments have thus far included: women’s ordination, Jews, Muslims, same-sex marriage, gays, JWs, Joseph Smith, Arius, Marcion, my “confusion”, my “Aristotelian” views of virtue…

    I think this helps to make the point of the article better than I ever could…

  24. #22 MLD

    The phrase was “what are WE so afraid of…” I hate to break the news, but it was not written about you…

  25. The allegory which is here contrived by the advocates of free will is too absurd to deserve refutation. According to them, under the figure of a wounded man is described the condition of Adam after the fall; from which they infer that the power of acting well was not wholly extinguished in him; because he is said to be only half-dead. As if it had been the design of Christ, in this passage, to speak of the corruption of human nature, and to inquire whether the wound which Satan inflicted on Adam were deadly or curable; nay, as if he had not plainly, and without a figure, declared in another passage, that all are dead, but those whom he quickens by his voice, (John 5:25.) As little plausibility belongs to another allegory, which, however, has been so highly satisfactory, that it has been admitted by almost universal consent, as if it had been a revelation from heaven. This Samaritan they imagine to be Christ, because he is our guardian; and they tell us that wine was poured, along with oil, into the wound, because Christ cures us by repentance and by a promise of grace. They have contrived a third subtlety, that Christ does not immediately restore health, but sends us to the Church, as an innkeeper, to be gradually cured. I acknowledge that I have no liking for any of these interpretations; but we ought to have a deeper reverence for Scripture than to reckon ourselves at liberty to disguise its natural meaning. And, indeed, any one may see that the curiosity of certain men has led them to contrive these speculations, contrary to the intention of Christ.

    John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries (Complete), trans. John King; Accordance electronic ed. (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1847), paragraph 70797.

  26. #24 Duane – no, it is an indictment of the whole church.

    You have conflated your hatred / disagreement with the media and politicians that you have no conscience about taking down the church.

  27. “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.””
    (Luke 10:36–37 ESV)

    Now, the plain meaning of the text to me, is “go and do likewise”.

    Kind of like when some folks see “this is my body” as a plain text…

  28. #26

    “WE”… it is an indictment of us all…

  29. Michael, “Now, the plain meaning of the text to me, is “go and do likewise”.

    I will ask you directly like I asked earlier above – who do you see not advocating mercy to the poor? I do not know any. Now some may have a different solution to the issue – but someone, some denomination what? Who ignores the poor?

  30. I guess we could put your theoretical to the empirical test.
    Who here is in fear of giving assistance to the poor? A show of hands please.

    It makes for good rhetoric, but it goes no further. Duane, what is your fear that keeps you from caring for the poor?

  31. MLD,

    I have a stack here of church budgets that have been sent to me .
    Large churches.
    Big media and salary expenditures.
    No benevolence budget.

    One church which removed any benevolence about 5 years ago has salary expenditures exceeding six million dollars…

  32. #30 MLD

    “Who here is in fear of giving assistance to the poor?” Not said (misquote as per usual).

    “Duane, what is your fear that keeps you from caring for the poor?” No said or indicated, but a good example of posturing…

  33. So you can isolate a few – but the point remains – the indictment is that the church does not give a flip about the poor.
    So the church members are taught not to give to the poor?

    This article reads like a year end appeal by Focus on the Family or some group – “you are not doing enough for the cause”.
    Personally, I will not be guilted.

  34. Duane, after your indictment of the church in the 2nd paragraph – you asked “I’m wondering… what are we so afraid of?”

    Sounds like you are saying fear is at the heart.

  35. #33 MLD

    There is not a single reference to the poor in the article… It is your own invention and interpretation…

  36. MLD,

    I think that when we reinterpret texts like the Good Samaritan or the Beatitudes to exclude the plain expectations given we remove a great deal of responsibility from people in regard to how the church (and it’s individual members) should think.

    That has real world implications.

  37. #34 MLD

    There was not indictment of the Church in the second paragraph. Again, your invention and interpretation…

  38. Michael,

    Regarding Calvin and your use of him here. Calvin is correct that Jesus expounds what the love of neighbor entails, which as with all the Commandments is far more severe than what many of the Jews and we imagine, and this is why you see various moves to either lesson that severity or get rid of it all together (as some dispensationalists do).

    But, whether it’s the Good Samaritan or the rich man and the camel and the needle or loving your enemy or not committing adultery in the heart, you name the law, we do not measure up; we cannot measure up; and the Law was not given to make us righteous.

    Thus, Jesus came to fulfill the Law! Jesus fulfilled all the Laws which He expounds. So, He must be the Good Samaritan, in that He fulfills the Law to love God and love neighbor. This is not allegorizing the story, but giving credit where credit is due.

    If Calvin thought Jesus was giving a straight sermon on mercy, then Calvin was dead wrong. Let me ask you: How many times can a person be the Good Samaritan before, his family starves, he loses his job, and he goes broke?

  39. #38 Jean

    And, “how many times shall I forgive my brother… seven times?”

  40. “Mercy is not found in the abstract. It is only found and experienced in definitive encounters, often on the periphery of our “comfort zone”, and those encounters usually involve risk. Indeed, any real and/or meaningful encounter with “the other” involves risk, but that is where true practical theology takes place. When one extends mercy, there is no guarantee that it will be returned in kind. There is no promise that it will be met with gratitude or a successful outcome. Yet each encounter allows us not only to reflect more fully on the the love of God and our neighbor and the meaning of mercy, but to practice it as well.”

    I had to pick T up from work on Christmas Eve, having read this piece before I arrived.
    I usually have to wait for him, depending on how long it takes the crew to finish up.

    I was using the time to finish my message for the night with one eye on a football game I was watching on my phone.

    I glanced up and saw a homeless guy coming toward the truck with two overflowing shopping carts of “stuff” including two large white buckets he used for lavatories.

    I didn’t want to deal with him.

    At all.

    This piece came to mind…and I did what I should do.

    I don’t always want to do what I ought.

    I appreciate the reminders of what ought is….

  41. Jean,

    If Jesus was only telling a parable about Jesus…why did He tell us to go and do like wise?

    Are there not layers to this parable, one of which spells out how we are to live in light of the Gospel?

  42. It’s not too hard to figure out people! The Jews hated Samaritans to the core, and Jesus audience here was Jewish. The Samaritans were generally outcasts as well while the Jews were always so proper and special.

    2 things,
    1. We will never do it perfectly, but Christ finishes our works.
    2. Stoop to a new low, help someone the rest of society hates.

  43. Jean asked how many times can one be a good Samaritan before he goes broke? The Samaritan helped someone who crossed his path as the Samaritan was going about his business. The man wasn’t looking for people for whom he could drain his bank account…
    As the French among us would say, “one does the best one can with what one has.”

    the homeless guy who asks for your spare change, if you have it to give, give it – but, if you don’t have it, should you feel like a lesson Christian if you look him in the eye and tell him that your gas tank is on empty and you need what money you’ve got to buy gas? If he is a career victim, he may curse you, but if he’s struggling to stay alive, he’ll probably say, “thanks anyway” and maybe add “hope you get home okay” or he may just turn and walk away… but you can only do what you can do….

    Why is it so hard to see what our Lord was teaching? Why hang all sorts of theological trappings on such a simple truth? Jesus was saying to those He was addressing, if you think you’re so holy, you’re probably not… For instance there was this traveler……… errr something like that. 😀

  44. Michael,

    “If Jesus was only telling a parable about Jesus…why did He tell us to go and do like wise?”

    Jesus was telling a parable about the eternal, immutable will of God. This is His will for His image bearers on the earth. Just like: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    He tells us to go and do likewise to (1) bring us to repentance [2nd use of the Law]; and (2) guide the life of the Christian [3rd use of the Law].

    I think, Michael, that we agree here far more than what our conversation is revealing. I suppose, I just like to keep things in in their proper bucket and maintain the proper distinction between faith and works.

  45. … Or he was saying, “Go and do likewise”…

  46. Duane,

    Is your #45 directed at my #44? Did not I affirm a 3rd use of the Law?

    Is Jesus, in you scheme, the moral teacher or the Savior of the Word?

    Gandhi is quoted as saying: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Does Gandhi have it right, in your view, Duane?

  47. Jean,

    I’m really not concerned about the 3rd use of the Law. That is an internal Lutheran debate.

    Secondly, as you well know, my view of Christ is that of the Second Person of the Trinity, fully God and fully man, etc. Your question is mere posturing, not desiring a real answer, but some sort of bolstering of your position.

    With regard to Gandhi, he may have had a point. In our self-absorption with theological systems, we too often forget the imitation of Christ (a massive influence on the Augustinian houses in which Luther trained) or, in another form, conformation to Christ. Both of these concepts being re-born in the pre-Reformation Brethren of the Common Life who were also influential in Luther’s development.

    Simply because there may be other layers of meaning in a text, to ignore the plain sense of what is being said in preference to those other meanings is, in my opinion neither sound exegesis or sound hermeneutics.

  48. Wonder what the over under would have been that MLD would be one of the first three commenters on this post?

    Who didn’t see that coming?

    But wow DA busts out the July 10 #54 comment …

    ha Merry Christmas indeed

  49. A man I consider wiser than old Gandhi said that not one of God’s attributes ever conflicts with any of His other attributes … therefore, I think I must agree with July 10 comment #54.
    Love righteousness justice holiness. etc. By God’s genius, they come together in grace. Grace doesn’t overrule the character of our God nor does love overrule our obligation to follow what ,Scripture teaches us. It will all fit together in direct correlation to our obedience. IMNSHO …. well… I guess if it’s my opinion it is a humble one…

  50. Em

    It comforts me to know that the character of God as revealed in Scripture is mercy….

  51. BD, Mercy Me! That was classic. The irony wasn’t lost on me either LOL.

  52. “In our self-absorption with theological systems, we too often forget the imitation of Christ (a massive influence on the Augustinian houses in which Luther trained) or, in another form, conformation to Christ.”

    Duane, have you changed your mind that the Good Samaritan is, after all, Christ?

    But, specifically regarding the imitation of Christ, I don’t think forgetting to imitate Him is the problem. What some expressions of American Christianity have done is re-imagine who Jesus is, because of defective theology, so they think they are imitating Him.

  53. Good article Duane.

    ” Without the quality of mercy, our theological schemes are bankrupt and without meaning.”

    This should be the opening statement of most Fall seminary classes. But unfortunately, we love our truth, so much, indeed, that we often are blinded by it.

  54. @ 48
    LoL. Consistent, aren’t we?

  55. #50 – yes, mercy is in God’s character…
    Psalm 103:13-14
    “As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
    For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.”

  56. #52 Jean

    No change of mind whatsoever. You are, however, becoming as adept as certain others at taking things out of context.

    As I said, “Simply because there may be other layers of meaning in a text, to ignore the plain sense of what is being said in preference to those other meanings is, in my opinion, neither sound exegesis or sound hermeneutics.”

  57. Duane, no one is taking you out of context – your context is clear… in both these articles. You just haven’t been able to persuade anyone, so you are frustrated.

    I can be the good Samaritan to my neighbors without developing a new hermeneutic and changing the way we read scripture.

  58. In other words, your premise is that no one is capable of ” go and do likewise” unless they have adopted you style of reading the whole Bible.

  59. #57 MLD

    Wrong in both comments… as usual.

  60. #57 MLD

    BTW, never mentioned anyone taking me out of context… I assume it’s another invention of yours…

  61. Sidestepping the current food fight…

    I just don’t see how Love and Mercy works as a hermeneutic for the entire body of Scripture. What do the OT passages about “kill all the men, women, children, and livestock” tell us about loving our neighbor?

    My “Redemption History” hermeneutic has a place for those scriptures as I’m sure the Law/Gospel dynamic does as well.

  62. Duane,
    #59 – “Wrong in both comments… as usual.” – well, that’s a tactic I never considered to move a conversation along. For some reason, I hear that in Pee Wee Herman’s voice.
    (also, by telling me I am wrong, you have just bolstered your opinion that no one can be the good samaritan and ‘go and do likewise’ without your new fangled hermenuetic.

    #60 – ” You are, however, becoming as adept as certain others at taking things out of context.” I will assume you are not suggesting we take ourselves out of context.

  63. #62 MLD

    You do not, in my opinion, desire a conversation… unless it is one-sided with you informing all and sundry that they are wrong and you are right…

  64. #61 Josh

    The suggested hermeneutic of Augustine was approaching a text in terms of love of God and love of neighbor. I think the redemption history hermeneutic can certainly come into play as we see a progressive revelation of God’s love, His relationship to to the people of the covenant and ultimately, His relationship with the Church. If, however, it goes to the extreme of discounting the plainly spoken words of Christ, I think it runs into a problem.

  65. “unless it is one-sided with you informing all and sundry that they are wrong and you are right…”

    This could have been the title of your article.

    but let us put it to the test – at #1 I wanted conversation and asked serious questions for you to clarify. Your reply to one was snark and not applicable to the question and to the 2nd, silence. (I think I had to ask it 3 times). Where I come from, that is called stonewalling.

  66. “it goes to the extreme of discounting the plainly spoken words of Christ, I think it runs into a problem.”

    Yes, of course.

  67. #65 MLD

    That is certainly an opinion…

  68. To All (and I mean “all”)

    If this is a discussion about loving God and loving neighbor, you have all tragically missed the point.

    Why not begin by showing love towards each other here on the blog? Easy to “love” the guy in the ditch in the 2000 year old parable, maybe not so easy to love each other here.

    You can all begin by assuming the best of what each other has to say.
    You can begin by not deliberately twisting each other’s words.
    You can cut out the provocations.
    You can cut out the snark.
    You can cut out the denominational triumphalism.

  69. #68 Xenia

    Thank you. If I have overstepped, I do apologize. I would hope theological discussions could be engaged in without belligerence, as I said above. If I have failed in this, mea culpa…

  70. Amen Xenia!

  71. More,

    I tried to interject a comment way up top on restraint in our words, basically because 1) of another reading I did somewhere else on the interwebs, and 2) because I KNEW that this was going to happen.

    I’ve been on this blog for years and have held my tongue ALOT on what I saw was grandstanding and posturing, well, Xenia, you said it best at #68…provocations, snark, and denominational triumphalism. I know there are some people that highly value theological study and debates, and I agree that in the end, perhaps opposing sides can sit down and enjoy an adult beverage or two, al a Obama.

    I know some may say to me “if you don’t like debating and discussions on this blog, then go away!”…well, I won’t do that because I like this blog and the fact that it’s not an echo chamber. I will continue here, but some of you need to cool off and zip it.

  72. Say “no” to adult beverages.

  73. I don’t understand why folks are surprised when a conversation goes in this direction when the 2nd paragraph comes off as a Palestinian molotov cocktail being tossed into an Israeli coffee house.

    “Predictably, confessional Lutherans attacked the idea simply because it was not “their” hermeneutic of Law and Gospel. Then, of course, there were the dispensationalists and covenant theologians, some of whom posited that we had to place even the Sermon on the Mount, or the summary of the law (the love of God and neighbor), within the proper covenant or dispensation to understand what Jesus was really saying and who he was addressing, almost echoing the Lutherans in dividing the discourse into warnings and promises either related, or, conversely, unrelated to us.

    I’m wondering… what are we so afraid of?”

  74. Dan

    In the past year I have at least twice talked to Michael about not writing for the blog any longer, owing to the concerns you have stated…

  75. I hardly think the paragraph was worthy of being conflated with terrorism.

    The Lutheran hermeneutic wasn’t the only one held up to scrutiny…the rest of us managed to come away unoffended.

    Oddly enough, the point being made is one that the Lutherans use when defending their version of the Real Presence..only on a broader scale.

    We will now restart this thread invoking Xenia’s standards…

  76. Michael – well, as one who has never brought up Anglicans and their doctrines as article fodder, let me just clarify that not only were the Lutherans brought up, but then all of the others were then compared in their error to the Lutherans. Read the paragraph more closely.

    Then it was implied that we reject Duane’s hermeneutic because we are drenched in fear. That my friend was a theological terrorist act.

    But I will make it easy and step away from this article conversation.
    Duane – I don’t want you to stop writing. I rather enjoy your articles.

  77. #76 MLD

    To be correct, you have brought up Anglicans from time to time. Secondly, what you have stated is simply wrong. Lutherans, as Michael said, were one among several positions critiqued. Any implication on “What are WE so afraid of…” are yours, not mine.

  78. It wasn’t an honest critique of Lutheranism; it was just malicious. First of all, Duane failed to connect our way of reading the Bible to a fear in being merciful. He failed to give any evidence that a Law-Gospel hermeneutic leads to a Christian shunning mercy. He just wrote an insulting article.

    Duane either studied and/or worked at a Lutheran seminary. He knows what the Law-Gospel hermeneutic is. Duane is a smart man. Therefore, he knows that Lutheran theology and the Law-Gospel hermeneutic does not case fear in an adherent to an admonition for mercy, nor does it encourage a lack of mercy.

    I will leave the conversation too, unless Duane wants to share some evidence for his case against Lutherans, other than simply an accusation.

  79. Good Lord…
    The point was that all of the hermeneutics mentioned (which pretty much covered all of Protestantism) have a way to water down the difficult words of Jesus.

    The rest of the thread proved the point.
    I’ll be closing this now…

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