Radical Preaching

Can preaching again have something to say?
This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Matthew 22:34-46 (The Message)
The Most Important Command

34When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. 35One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: 36"Teacher, which command in God's Law is the most important?"
37Jesus said, ""Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' 38This is the most important, the first on any list. 39But there is a second to set alongside it: "Love others as well as you love yourself.' 40These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

David's Son and Master 41As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance with his own test question: 42"What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said, "David's son."
43Jesus replied, "Well, if the Christ is David's son, how do you explain that David, under inspiration, named Christ his "Master'?

44God said to my Master,
"Sit here at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool."

45"Now if David calls him "Master,' how can he at the same time be his son?"
46That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good.

It looks as though though the religious leaders are finally going to achieve what they have so desperately wanted to accomplish- to trap Jesus with words and send him down the road packing.

They confront Jesus with yet another litmus test to see where Jesus stands. But being rhetorical master that he is, Jesus skillfully dodges the religious leaders and even manages to rhetort with amazing words of truth.

This story makes me think of the litmus tests that some of our religious leaders in the church like to have in place to judge who is in and who is out. The arguments and rhetoric that comes from the religious right and left is nothing more than devisive and destructive to God's plans for an expansive Kingdom of Love. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for healthy discussion and conversation about the issues that we struggle around, but at the end of the day we still all come to the same table and receive eucharist from The Host.

So where does this leave us as a community divided by theology, doctrine, hot button faith issues?

3God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. 4Be assured that when we speak to you we're not after crowd approval--only God approval. Since we've been put through that battery of tests, you're guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. 5We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you.
6Even though we had some standing as Christ's apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. 7We weren't aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. 8We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did. 1 Thessalonians 2: 3-8

Paul writes that the good news of God is free of error and hidden agendas (that includes our liberal/conservative agendas that we tend to read into scripture) Words of scripture are never to be used as a weapon or litmus test but as a spirit breathed living document that guides the people of God. And we live together in a community that cares for one another in the same way that a mother cares for her children. What a practice for the children of God to take on.



Blogger Scott said...


I am working on a post right now, and I am amazed at how closely we are moving. I've followed the posts on your blog in recent days with interest. I read some of the comments today (re: Anabaptists and Methodists). I confess that I have a time or two poked fun at the new slogan (Warm Hearts, etc). At the same time, the one comment highlights the fear we have at turning loose of our secular labels. I have come to believe that liberal and conservative are useless labels since they both really hold the same theological world view. They just bicker about different issues.

I hope to pick up on one key point in your reflection: the risk of the Gospel. I believe we fail to truly embody the Gospel because of the risks involved. We must move beyond the comfortable moralities of the left and right to "risk" the Eucharist and Baptism. What would it mean to fully realize the baptismal covenant? What would it mean to be a fully doxological community? Who might show up at the table? How would we receive them?

Thanks for your post.

Grace and Peace,

October 18, 2005 6:31 PM  
Blogger St.Phransus said...

i look forward to seeing your post scott.

October 18, 2005 8:57 PM  
Blogger Eric Lee said...

Jonathan, thanks for this post. I've never really read much from Eugene Peterson's Message before, but that sounds like a pretty good translation, I think (not that I even know a speck of Greek to tell you or him wrong!).

Scott, the issue you raised in your question is where we need to be. How do we receive ourselves (huh? :) and each other -- even those of us who are just so darn different? And if the answer is "in Christ," then how is that lived?



October 19, 2005 5:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home