Of all of Jesus’s stories, none is more familiar than the much-loved story of the Prodigal Son. But perhaps because it’s so well-known, we miss so much. I think we need to try to open ourselves up to hearing this story in a new way, to strain to hear it as those for whom it was first told may have heard it, however difficult that might be and however huge the cultural and historic gulf between us and Jesus’s first audience. Because here lies Jesus’s own story about his Father’s true nature. (Click on the title to read more)
It’s distressingly common to hear Christians denouncing others (including fellow Christians) for their lack of morality and demanding that those they see as not following ‘biblical teaching’ must ‘repent’ before they can be fully accepted into ‘God’s church’. But is this teaching itself biblical, or a uniquely human distortion? (Click on the title to read more)
The view that a great many people seem to take about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is, I think, along these lines: “If you’re fortunate enough to be wealthy in this world, God will turn the tables after your death and you’ll be sent to hell for eternity. Conversely, if you suffer a life of destitution, illness and misery on earth, God will compensate you after your death and you’ll spend eternity in heaven”.
If this depiction of the parable were true, then it would explain why so few of our fellow citizens feel that Christianity has much to offer them. But I think a closer look at the parable reveals that Jesus’s real meaning may have been lost. (Click on the title to read more...)