Sunday, 1 February 2015

Matthew 21: The Parable of the Tenants, the question of SENDING, and the limits of analogy and poetic language

I came across this in my main study today and considered whether or not it is of any use to us in the quest for the truth of 4th and 5th century creeds in the pages of Scripture. At first I thought there might be some mileage in developing the whole idea of “sending”. Trinitarians get quite excited about the Johannine passages that speak of Jesus being sent into the world… they presume from his pre-human-but-utterly-alive-continuously-begotten state into flesh, rather than God’s personified word being enfleshed in the man Jesus.

So in this parable, the owner of the vineyard “sends” multiple servants, before finally sending his son, who is killed. Of course, none of these sons pre-existed because they were "sent".

I am, however, cautious about using this example for the very reasons that Stephen Holmes is keen to highlight. He looks at our tendency = to disregard the dis-analogies in the use of metaphor (see Trinities episodes 42 and 43). It reminded me of John 1:6, and I thought, wow God does a lot of sending and birthing supernaturally to other people too! If any of these non-Jesus references had been said of Jesus, I am sure they would have been paraded in similar ways to John 1:2's English "he" (see this post and also how I attempt to bring clarification through it, and the French "elle" in reference to the Logos to the slightly side-tracked Trinities discussion here).

However, Holmes' words of warning have left an indelible mark on me, and we need to be careful to see this picture as ... a picture, not a statement of hard fact, but conveying truth about God's love for mankind and his judgement for those who reject it, I guess. This same logic, should, I feel, also be applied to passages like Isaiah 9, which do not work in the details, but do function in a broader wider way. I mention this example as a side response to my friend D., whom I have asked to send me some more info on Isaiah 9.

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