Lissy

Jesus's Third Way

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I remembered reading this book The Powers That Be: Theology For A New Millennium by Walter Wink while I was at University. This extract popped back in my head while reading Matthew 5: 38-41. It totally revolutionised the way I saw this particular verse that had been explained to me as a child as submitting to evil as Jesus did.

 

I was wondering what other people's thoughts are on this excerpt? http://cpt.org/files/BN%20-%20Jesus'%20Third%20Way.pdf

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I remembered reading this book The Powers That Be: Theology For A New Millennium by Walter Wink while I was at University. This extract popped back in my head while reading Matthew 5: 38-41. It totally revolutionised the way I saw this particular verse that had been explained to me as a child as submitting to evil as Jesus did.

 

I was wondering what other people's thoughts are on this excerpt?

http://cpt.org/files/BN%20-%20Jesus%27%20Third%20Way.pdf

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The third way of Jesus per Walter Wink would appear to be, in a nutshell, assertive non-violent resistance to evil.

 

Well, it may as well be Gandhi's Way, or Thich Nhat Hanh's Way - and a few others come to mind. But why bring ANYONE into it at all as far as giving it a title?

 

Why call it "theology" (for whatever millennium)?

 

It is ethics. As I see it, once a Faith is reduced to an ethical system then it has lost its heart.

 

In my own way of seeing things, good works/ethics are a by-product of Faith ( as a Buddhist, a by-product of wisdom......."wisdom defined as the mind/heart, thirsting for emancipation, seeing direct into the heart of reality")

 

It is why, as I left Christianity, I had interest only in Christ and not in Jesus. Christ is, for me, to do with Faith, Grace, Reality-as-is AKA suchness/emptiness.

 

By all means "follow Jesus" and try to do what you may think he taught after your own study of the NT. For me that particular route no longer attracts.

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Tariki's link works.

 

Wink has some interesting thoughts, many of which I agree with, but I do not think his overall interpretation is solid.

 

This section of Matthew 5 is a single unit usually labeled "The Antitheses" . It is single diatribe where every argument is of the form "the law says this, but I say that". The point is comparing the written law with true righteousness.

 

Wink ignores the overall sermon to focus on a single point without context, and then amplifies his inadequate selection. He pulls one theme of many, but Jesus is doing the opposite by using many different themes to make a single point. Wink's logic is not like Jesus', but Wink does have some good thoughts.

 

Jesus also uses extreme hyperbole in these statements. If we are to take his 'turn the other cheek' statement literally, we would have to take the rest of the monologue the same way. There is no difference between naughty thoughts and physical adultery. Eyes should be plucked out and arms removed (FYI, on average, 3 US males self-amputate their every year based on a literal interpretation of Matthew 5). Divorced women could not remarry. Jesus really goes over the top in absurdity to make His point.

 

This is not a sermon on violence. We do learn a little about violence and self-defense, but Wink is essentially off-topic. The sermon is about how simply following the literal, written law is insufficient. The law is intended to point towards a greater spiritual righteousness, not to codify and define it. It is about the importance of intention and attitude and not just physical actions in approaching righteousness.

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In my own way of seeing things, good works/ethics are a by-product of Faith ( as a Buddhist, a by-product of wisdom......."wisdom defined as the mind/heart, thirsting for emancipation, seeing direct into the heart of reality")

 

It is why, as I left Christianity, I had interest only in Christ and not in Jesus. Christ is, for me, to do with Faith, Grace, Reality-as-is AKA suchness/emptiness.

 

By all means "follow Jesus" and try to do what you may think he taught after your own study of the NT. For me that particular route no longer attracts.

I agree with the opening line I quoted above. In Christianity, and I guess all religions, there is an understanding of mythos and ethos. Mythos, what you believe influences your ethos, how you behave.

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In my own way of seeing things, good works/ethics are a by-product of Faith ( as a Buddhist, a by-product of wisdom......."wisdom defined as the mind/heart, thirsting for emancipation, seeing direct into the heart of reality")

 

 

I am sort of with this ... though I am highly skeptical of morality and to some extent ethics.

 

If free will is an illusion, then morality needs a good careful look. And I think Genesis 3:22 points the way.

 

Why look at this through a Jesus or even a Christ lens. Why not look at it through a 2000 y old lens? Are there not improved lenses to look at the human condition since then? Why not make our lens? Insights from various aspects of science, evolutionary psychology is one example.

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The third way of Jesus per Walter Wink would appear to be, in a nutshell, assertive non-violent resistance to evil.

 

Well, it may as well be Gandhi's Way, or Thich Nhat Hanh's Way - and a few others come to mind. But why bring ANYONE into it at all as far as giving it a title?

 

Why call it "theology" (for whatever millennium)?

 

It is ethics. As I see it, once a Faith is reduced to an ethical system then it has lost its heart.

 

In my own way of seeing things, good works/ethics are a by-product of Faith ( as a Buddhist, a by-product of wisdom......."wisdom defined as the mind/heart, thirsting for emancipation, seeing direct into the heart of reality")

 

It is why, as I left Christianity, I had interest only in Christ and not in Jesus. Christ is, for me, to do with Faith, Grace, Reality-as-is AKA suchness/emptiness.

 

By all means "follow Jesus" and try to do what you may think he taught after your own study of the NT. For me that particular route no longer attracts.

Somehow, I doubt you would have gotten where you are without having first been where you were.
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Somehow, I doubt you would have gotten where you are without having first been where you were.

 

I would say it is impossible ... but then so what?

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I think everyone's made really interesting points, but so often the Bible has been used to empower oppressors and keep the weak in their place "Slaves obey your masters etc."

 

I think the cultural context applied to this text brings it into a totally new light. Is this not exactly what civil rights activists did? The interesting thing about passive resistance is that not only does it avoid violence and give control to the oppressed it also forces the oppressor to think. "Why won't you fight back?", "Why are you being so kind to me?" etc.

 

People are so willing to see Jesus as just the submissive Lamb of God when there are many facets to who He is. They forget the place He grew up in, the people He grew up with, can you imagine what Simon the zealot would have thought of this? Jesus telling him there are more ways to fight back than your sword and your fists? I think that is part of the Kingdom on earth. Fighting injustice without causing harm.

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Posted (edited)

 

I am sort of with this ... though I am highly skeptical of morality and to some extent ethics.

 

If free will is an illusion, then morality needs a good careful look. And I think Genesis 3:22 points the way.

 

Why look at this through a Jesus or even a Christ lens. Why not look at it through a 2000 y old lens? Are there not improved lenses to look at the human condition since then? Why not make our lens? Insights from various aspects of science, evolutionary psychology is one example.

 

I would say that there is ethics "according to the law" and alternatively our "ethics" - words and actions - that issue choicelessly. My old mate Stephen Batchelor.......

 

After speaking of a psuedo integrity that responds to a moral dilemma only by repeating the gestures and words of a parent, an authority figure or a religious text, he writes:-

 

( we sometimes act )....in a way that startles us. A friend asks our advice about a tricky moral choice. Yet instead of offering him consoling platitudes or the wisdom of someone else, we say something that we did not know we knew. Such gestures and words spring from body and tongue with shocking spontaneity. We cannot call them "mine" but neither have we copied them from others. Compassion has dissolved the stranglehold of self. And we taste, for a few exhilarating seconds, the creative freedom of awakening.

 

( From "Buddhism Without Beliefs")

 

As Burl has implied in his post above, there is a transition between the two, variously walked. Maybe we must beware of running before we can walk. Which makes me think again of the old zen story I have told before.......of the old zen master who only speaks broken English, walking around his monastery with a newly enlightened westerner. At each and every statue of the Buddha the old master stops and bows deeply. The westerner looks on with increasing disdain and eventually exclaims "Don't you think that we are a bit above that sort of thing now? Speaking for myself, I think I would just as soon spit at those status as bow to them" To which the old master says "OK. You spit, I bow"

 

There is a transition that changes nothing, we just arrive at the place where we started and know it for the first time.

 

​What is a pure freedom of mind? I'm reading a biography of Dali at the moment. There is no doubt that Dali was free of all inhibitions and the writer (who spent much time with Dali) speaks of there being many small jewels amidst "the garbage" of Dali's life. How do we judge "freedom"?

 

I think the mind can perform somersaults when we witness a zen master burning the very sutras that he has studied assiduously for year upon year. Has he in fact dispensed with them or turned them into a living word? What are the words themselves?

Edited by tariki
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I think everyone's made really interesting points, but so often the Bible has been used to empower oppressors and keep the weak in their place "Slaves obey your masters etc."

 

I think the cultural context applied to this text brings it into a totally new light. Is this not exactly what civil rights activists did? The interesting thing about passive resistance is that not only does it avoid violence and give control to the oppressed it also forces the oppressor to think. "Why won't you fight back?", "Why are you being so kind to me?" etc.

 

People are so willing to see Jesus as just the submissive Lamb of God when there are many facets to who He is. They forget the place He grew up in, the people He grew up with, can you imagine what Simon the zealot would have thought of this? Jesus telling him there are more ways to fight back than your sword and your fists? I think that is part of the Kingdom on earth. Fighting injustice without causing harm.

Yes indeed.

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Posted (edited)

I think everyone's made really interesting points, but so often the Bible has been used to empower oppressors and keep the weak in their place "Slaves obey your masters etc."

 

I think the cultural context applied to this text brings it into a totally new light. Is this not exactly what civil rights activists did? The interesting thing about passive resistance is that not only does it avoid violence and give control to the oppressed it also forces the oppressor to think. "Why won't you fight back?", "Why are you being so kind to me?" etc.

 

People are so willing to see Jesus as just the submissive Lamb of God when there are many facets to who He is. They forget the place He grew up in, the people He grew up with, can you imagine what Simon the zealot would have thought of this? Jesus telling him there are more ways to fight back than your sword and your fists? I think that is part of the Kingdom on earth. Fighting injustice without causing harm.

Hi Lissy, my life seems burdened with quotes and memories. They just trail along with me and often take on a new life. I remember reading a book on the Civil Rights movement in the US, of the bus bycott by the black people who had been forced to give up their seats to the white people. One oldish lady, rather large, had walked miles to and from work for weeks on end rather than take the bus. When the bus company eventually gave in she was asked how she felt....."Well, my legs are weary, but my heart is rested".

 

What is the price of a rested heart? It varies.

Edited by tariki
Changed Lizzy to Lissy!!!!!! Oh dear!
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Posted (edited)

Reading on, as far as the Dali biography is concerned, and a couple of relevant passages - well, relevant as far as I'm concerned. After a passage where my own rather innocent mind was rocked by the description of a ping pong ball in the hands of a nubile double jointed contortionist, I found a more savoury episode, where the writer spoke of his journey to India and of a moment in Herat, Afghanistan. A group of young boys, recognising him as a westerner, began to throw stones. "No one raised their voice of gave chase. They just stoned me as I ran. It was Biblical. I arrived back at the centre of Herat covered in small bruises, not angry but, on the contrary, I felt more in empathy with the people, more conscious of those abstract, universal principals that separate the seeker from the voyeur; the traveller from the tourist."

 

I think, reading "the word", we can be voyeurs or seekers, travellers or tourists.

 

And then, another passage, how the writer learnt to order tea, say thank you or greet another in Hindi. "I was amazed how a few words in another's language can create such warmth and friendship, build such bridges."

 

The "word" made flesh!

Edited by tariki
Changed Heart to Herat, twice!
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I think the cultural context applied to this text brings it into a totally new light. Is this not exactly what civil rights activists did? The interesting thing about passive resistance is that not only does it avoid violence and give control to the oppressed it also forces the oppressor to think. "Why won't you fight back?", "Why are you being so kind to me?" etc.

 

People are so willing to see Jesus as just the submissive Lamb of God when there are many facets to who He is. They forget the place He grew up in, the people He grew up with, can you imagine what Simon the zealot would have thought of this? Jesus telling him there are more ways to fight back than your sword and your fists? I think that is part of the Kingdom on earth. Fighting injustice without causing harm.

 

While I agree with much of what you have said about passive resistance, I don't think it can always work nor does it always give the oppressor pause.

 

I have read recently (and can't remember the source) that the ethic of 'turn the other cheek' works in an apocalyptic framework when Jesus is expecting the end of time and the establishment of God's Kingdom but when that Kingdom didn't come as expected, it would be impossible to sustain. I'm not sure I agree with this completely but, in part, it rings true. For example, I don't think a passive approach worked with Hitler, nor, seemingly, would it work with North Korea.

 

In addition, if someone came after my kid, it depends on their approach. If they were yelling, I might try reason and understanding but if they came with a knife, not so much.

 

Same with the KKK here in America who hate Jews, gays, 'minorities' and on and on. They seem not to be impressed with passive resistance. I think if the KKK marches in a community, it is acceptable to passively resist by marching against them, but if they show up in your gay brother's yard, burning a cross and threatening those in the house - not so much.

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Transliteration of Lissie's selected text from The Message.

 

Matthew 5:

 

Love Your Enemies

38-42 “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

 

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

 

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

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Posted (edited)

It did not work for a certain minority in Germany in the last century.

 

It is tough to be on the high ground when your adversary thinks you are actually the low ground.

 

We can point to all sorts or religious, texts morals, ethics etc But if some reasoning does not enter into the equation then the whole lot is nonsense, at least in my opinion. We can interpret these texts every which way. But end of the day our actions and the consequences are the proof of the pudding. We can point to ancient texts as a guideline and hope we have interpreted them correctly.

 

Or we can look at history of past actions and consequences and use those as a guideline. And likely even more efficacious would be use history and our ability to reason and predict consequences, recognizing we might get it or wrong and there will be unintended consequences.

Edited by romansh
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Posted (edited)

​What is a pure freedom of mind? I'm reading a biography of Dali at the moment. There is no doubt that Dali was free of all inhibitions and the writer (who spent much time with Dali) speaks of there being many small jewels amidst "the garbage" of Dali's life. How do we judge "freedom"?

 

What is pure freedom of mind? If you are asking me it is an illusion. Freedom of the mind is not being able to see the strings.

 

And as much as I like Batchelor I think he is misleading us when he says creative freedom of awakening. ​Simply because we cannot see our sources does not mean they are not there. We live in a chaotic universe and occasionally two disparate sources bump into one another and we think of as creative.

Edited by romansh
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What is pure freedom of mind? If you are asking me it is an illusion. Freedom of the mind is not being able to see the strings.

 

And as much as I like Batchelor I think he is misleading us when he says creative freedom of awakening. ​Simply because we cannot see our sources does not mean they are not there. We live in a chaotic universe and occasionally two disparate sources bump into one another and we think of as creative.

 

I have in the past thought much the same myself. I find now that I do not wish to draw conclusions.

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I find now that I do not wish to draw conclusions.

 

Is that the conclusion you have come too? :)

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Is that the conclusion you have come too? :)

 

Well, I think we can play around with words. Lets just say it is another form of conclusion not to reach one.

 

That there ARE "strings" there, that freedom can only be an "illusion", that our reality is "chaotic" are notmy conclusions.

 

Such conclusions are potentially limiting.

 

Thats my conclusion.

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Posted (edited)

Transliteration of Lissie's selected text from The Message.

 

Matthew 5:

 

Love Your Enemies

38-42 “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

 

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

 

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

 

All well and good and I agree with this practice and have acted on it throughout life. However, if they drag you into court unjustly and and your family is threatened with financial ruin, don't gift wrap anything, hire a good lawyer and fight.

 

No problem loving the unlovable, but if they start kicking people, bashing in brains, enslaving others and on and on, what is one to do?

 

if you witness a mugging (which includes a beating), what is one to do?

 

All makes for an interesting discussion.

Edited by thormas
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All well and good and I agree with this practice and have acted on it throughout life. However, if they drag you into court unjustly and and your family is threatened with financial ruin, don't gift wrap anything, hire a good lawyer and fight.

 

No problem loving the unlovable, but if they start kicking people, bashing in brains, enslaving others and on and on, what is one to do?

 

if you witness a mugging (which includes a beating), what is one to do?

 

All makes for an interesting discussion.

Yes, it does engender discussion. This is why it is important to read in context. As I pointed out, Jesus is not prescribing behavior here. In fact, he is doing the exact opposite by preaching that one must discern the purpose of the law and act intelligently; NOT to brainlessly follow rigid instructions. The law is a compass which points one towards righteousness but if you follow a compass blindly you will walk into a tree.

 

I added the Message transliteration for interest, and because it is really good for first-time and casual readers. Also for our cynics. I am using The Message for my weekly lectionary posts as well. I think it does well here by identifying generosity and not self-sacrifice as a primary theme.

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