Don’t be a parable-pooper

The Lord spoke to the multitudes one way and to His disciples another. What was the difference in the two forms of teaching?

Obviously Jesus gave the disciples more details. But what did these details relate to? The answer is that the Lord spent additional time with the disciples to explain the deeper meaning of His parables and how all the stories of Scripture contained deeper truths.

This is highlighted by the Lord’s taking several disciples to a mountaintop, where they briefly saw Him transfigured and conversing with Moses and Elias, and also by the special conversation the Lord had with His disciples along the journey to Emmaus.

When the His disciples asked the Lord why He spoke in parables, His reply was “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven . . .” (Matt. 13:11)

In other words, the Lord attempted to teach His disciples about the symbolism and inner depth of Scripture. Concerning this deeper knowledge of faith, the Lord told them, “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Matt. 13:17)

There are also references in Scripture indicating that even the disciples did not understand everything they were being told. These things included such paradoxes as the conflicting statements about the Lord’s return “And then shall they see the son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27) compared with “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20).

In fact, to add even greater confusion concerning the details of Lord’s return He also told His disciples that “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12)

What could the human mind not bear – especially if it concerns the good news of the Lord returning to reprove the world of sin? The answer can be summed up best by Walt Kelly’s comic strip character Pogo, who said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

The big revelation within Revelation is that Armageddon, which takes place at the time of the Second Coming, symbolizes the denial and resistance that WE each put up to keep the Lord and His commandments out of our lives. The Great Red Dragon is not an over-sized reptile. It is a belief-system that falsifies God’s truth – such as the monstrous doctrine of salvation by faith alone!

One of the big purposes of my blog (besides unifying science and theology) is to find ways of demonstrating the reality of deeper meanings within the narratives of the Holy Word.

Are you a parable-pooper?

If so, why?

Why would you think a God of Infinite Wisdom is incapable of such a thing? How can the Word be God (John 1:1-3) if it is anything less than God’s Infinite Wisdom? The only way a finite book can contain Infinite Wisdom is if its words and stories contain multi-layered meanings. Having access to some of these levels would indeed show us the true glory of God!

Posted on January 14, 2009by thegodguy


Posted in god, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, symbolism, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quibbling about Parables

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

Parable of the prodigal son.

I am having a spot of bother with parables – nothing serious, you understand; nothing to worry about. Some of them, however, do seem just a little dated.

There is that famous puzzle about the workers in the vineyard, for example – enough to spark a general strike. And what about the story of the lost sheep? I wonder why the shepherd didn’t return to find the rest of his flock scattered over the wilderness. I am also concerned about the humble guest at the banquet: what was the poor fellow supposed to do if all the lowest places were already taken?

The parable of the talents is likewise hardly fair-play and could have turned out very badly: in a less favourable economic climate the investor could have been very glad to find at least part of his capital still intact. Sorry, but I think the whole story simply demonstrates that life is a risky business. I’m not entirely sure about the unforgiving servant either: he was, after all, desperately anxious to pay off his own debt and was prepared to go to any length to do so.

Then there is that strange yarn about a king trying to arrange a wedding feast, only to find that the guests all had prior engagements. The king’s reaction was, to put it mildly, a bit excessive, especially towards the fellow who eventually turned up inappropriately dressed.

But enough of my silly quibbles. The parables, I suggest, were never intended as watertight arguments. I imagine they were throw-away anecdotes delivered off-the-cuff. They make their points brilliantly. I can pick no holes in the parable of the sower, or the prodigal son, or the good Samaritan, or the man who built his house upon a rock.

There are others also that clearly reveal an inspired man speaking plainly to the people of his own time. It is perhaps tempting to reflect on what imagery Jesus might use today if he were speaking to us, now that insurance has softened so many of the blows that life throws at us.

Some scholars, however, would have us believe that there is much more to it than that. The Parables go much deeper, they say, and every word is filled with holy meaning for all time and beyond. One such writer was the prolific 18th century visionary, Emanuel Swedenborg.

He reckoned that this life is some sort of spiritual training ground – nothing very original there! But he went on to say that once established in the next world, our abiding character, for good or evil, is fully formed and thereafter unchangeable. If so, it is surely sensible to make the most of any flexibility this world may have to offer. We need to ‘invest’ in spiritual values while we have the opportunity and not stubbornly nurse our prejudices.

Anyway, that is Swedenborg’s slant on the parable of the talents. Where evil predominates any remnants of goodness will fall away. (i.e. “are given to the one who has ten talents.”) So the parables might all be interpreted as profound psycho-spiritual cameos.

Over the centuries parables have perhaps become shrouded in stifling holiness, but they were certainly never meant to be taken literally at all. It is a neat idea.

Copyright 2010 G Roland Smith