The Chair and the Desk, 10/12/15

From the chair:

27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him“Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

-Luke 5:27-32

This weekend, as I read this passage, I was reminded that all theologians have blind spots–except Jesus Christ. I’ve been reading theologians who are zeroed in on my blind spots, especially the ways I overlook the marginalized. Yet, in this story, the Nicodemus story, the Zacchaeus story, we’re reminded that Jesus also has mercy for the privileged who will follow him. “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” All theologians have blind spots, except Jesus Christ.

From the desk:

“They are history-like precisely because like history-writing and the traditional novel and unlike myths and allegories they literally mean what they say.”

-Hans Frei, The Identity of Jesus Christ, 2013 ePub ed., p.49

This may come as a surprise to non-seminarians, but what Frei says here is relatively rare in seminary world: The Gospels mean what they say. The writers may at time make literary decisions–e.g., they do not have the same commitments to numbers as the census bureau (“5,000 men” probably isn’t saying it wasn’t 5,003 men); in that way they are different from history written in the 21st century–but the accounts are still “history-like” in that they “literally mean what they say.” For example, Luke is not using some kind of code language when he says, “two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.'” He’s making a bold declaration about who Jesus was and is.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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