Friday, April 17, 2015

Mercy Is Not Fair

“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
James 2:13 

"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Matthew 9:13

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8

Alan: It was not until middle age that I realized what biblical exegetes had known all along: The parables of Yeshua reveal a God whose "justice" outrages most human beings shot through with their paltry, tit-for-tat sense of fairness.

In many, if not most parables, God richly rewards those who, by human standards, seem unworthy of reward, or at least unworthy of lavish reward.

The parable of The Day Laborers In The Vineyard is perhaps the best known -- and most irksome -- of all Yeshua's accounts of divine generosity and the inexhaustible mercy of God. 

On "payday," when the latecomers receive the same recompense as the laborers who have toiled throughout the torrid day, those who have worked ten times as long as Johnny-come-lately grumble at their employer's generosity. 

"Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' 16 So the last will be first, and the first last."

Legions of uncharitable Christians "play religion" like uninspired students "playing school." All that matters is getting a good enough grade to proceed to the next (quietly desperate) level.

In the miserly (and miserable) view of the vengeful, God is seen as a punitive bean counter, a credo that is not only irreligious but dangerous and damaging - even to the souls of the miserable... perhaps chiefly to them.

The Parables of Jesus
Original Texts

The Parables of Jesus

Tight-fisted, punitive Christians are rankled that "mercy is not fair." 

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 
The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 
1 John 4:18

Traditionalist Catholics (as distinct from traditional Catholics) are particularly peeved at Pope Francis for spotlighting a "Church of Mercy," simultaneously de-emphasizing Catholicism's dubious commitment to a vengeful God, a God who is not only willing but eager to damn human beings to an Unquenchable Lake of Eternal Fire. (A literal reading of "Revelation" tells us that only 144,000 will be saved.) 

G.K. Chesterton On Charity, Hope And Universal Salvation

GK Chesterton's Universalism

In the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile, the question that evokes deepest quandary is this: "'If you could choose just one, would it be justice or mercy?"

Pope Francis says that "mercy makes the world more just," making clear that without mercy, justice is diminished.

On the flip side of the same coin, Shylock demonstrates that justice without mercy makes the world "cruel to begin" and "a horror at the end" as the vengeful, largely removed from the wellsprings of abundant life, consolidate positions of formal power.

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Devout Christian, Blaise Pascal

"You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image 
when it turns out God hates all the same people you do."
Tom Weston S. J.

In the end, we all live by selective credos, focusing our virtues and overlooking our vices. 

Notably, brittle Christians who insist justice cannot be tempered by any more mercy than they can muster in their own lives will find no words from Jesus' own mouth to support their passion for merciless justice.

What they will find on the master's tongue is a torrent of teaching on the central importance of forgiveness and mercy. 

All Christians - whatever their band on the political spectrum - will ascribe to Scripture and "Church Teaching" whatever biases the survival of their identity "requires."

Have you ever met anyone who "turns the other cheek?" 

Or sells all his goods and gives the proceeds to the poor? 

Or who loves his enemies? 

Or does good to those who persecute him?

Hey Christian! 
How Many Of Jesus' Moral Stands Do You Approve? 
Take The Test!

At bedrock, there is no Gospel-based argument that divine justice exists apart from mercy, whereas we find abundant argument that mercy over-arches, subtends and informs justice itself - certainly those forms of merciful justice observed in The Parables, the biblical passages that scholars think most likely to have been spoken by Jesus himself. 

The "moral laundry lists" on the other hand -- the "Thou Shalt Nots!" -- which conservative Christians fondle like Gollum his "precious" are more likely the result of scribal modification. 

Hey Christian! 
How Many Of Jesus' Moral Stands Do You Approve? 
Take The Test!

"Trial By Ordeal: The Bloody Old Testamental Roots Of Modern Justice"

Yeshua Excoriates Fellow Pharisees: "The Woe Passages"

"Twelve Steps For The Recovering Pharisee (Like Me)" By John Fischer

"Love Your Enemies. Do Good To Those Who Hate You," Luke 6: 27-42

"Do You Know What You're Doing To Me?"
Jesus of Nazareth

Time To Expunge Catholicism Of Traditions & Texts That Represent God As A Terrorist

Christianity's Bedrock Commitment To Torture: Remaking "The Faithful" In God's Image

Bibliolatry... And How To Live Happily Ever After

"Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran?"

Worst Bible Passages

"What ISIS Really Wants" And How The Patriarch Abraham Appears To Be The Instigator

Pope Benedict XVI's Question: 'Can Modern Warfare Ever Be Just?'

ISIS And The Inquisition: The Shadow Side Of Religion. Why Does Belief Do This?

The Prodigal Son


The "other" son in the background of the same painting:

The Parable Of The Prodigal Son

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