Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Lent day 20 - it takes more than talent

Ok - so I'm only a day behind since there was no day 19 and I was busy finishing a talk on climate change and Christianity I gave at Australian Catholic University in Ballarat, so here is yesterday's entry.

There are times when someone comes along and shakes up your understanding of a part of the bible. This has happened for me for Matthew 25:14-30, the so called parable of the talents (or pounds in older translations). It's so shaken my thinking up, I am not sure what to do with it.

The traditional reading says that God is like a slave owner who goes away and gives various amounts of talents (money) that they are to invest. When the master comes back, he rewards those who have invested well and made him more money, and punishes the one who recognises that the master is wicked and was afraid of him. The usual story is that we are given gifts and told to use them, it isn't enough just to sit on what you have.

Part of the problem is that the character ascribed to God is not a positive one, consistent with what we know. You might argue though that a) not every aspect of a parable need apply, i.e. there can be just one point to a parable and b) this parable is not to be applied straight to us without remembering that this is aimed at the Jewish leadership.

That said, when we move to think about ourselves - it takes more than talent, use what you have. Of course, applied quite literally this might be understood as a way of 'losing your salvation', and while as an Arminian I believe that is possible, I really don't think that is what this parable is on about. It's a judgement on the Jewish leadership.

The critique I've heard is that this sort of story would have been so familiar and subversive in an absentee landlord culture, and we are meant to read it in much more economic terms and side with the slave who hid his money. I'm still not sure how to apply that thinking - another blog post perhaps.

So my final thoughts: this can apply to individuals, but also who organisations and structures who really in the end just don't get God in the first place. There will be rejection because there was nothing in the first place. This happened to the Jewish leadership back then, it can still happen now.

No comments:

Post a Comment