Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Books mentioned last Sunday

This past Sunday, I preached on Luke 16:1-13, often called the Parable of the Dishonest Steward, considered by many to be the most difficult parable of Jesus to interpret.  I chose to offer two perspectives on the parable.

The first came from Richard Swanson's book Provoking the Gospel of Luke.  Swanson  interpreted the master's praise of the manager/steward's forgiving of the debt owed to the master (essentially praising his employee for ripping him off) as a case where the master is happy that his employee finally knows how to play hardball.  In other words, the boss finally believes the manager/steward has learned how to be cutthroat when it comes to business and is therefore only now worthy of being employed.  Thus, the parable is meant to urge disciples to be as shrewd and determined in their pursuit of the goals of the Kingdom of God (of course it's not an endorsement of dishonesty).

The second perspective came from Robert Farrar Capon's book Parables of Grace.  He understands the story to be about the "grace" demonstrated by the manager/steward (albeit for selfish motives) flowing upwards and inspiring the master to be gracious as well.  Under this interpretation, the manager/steward is a "Christ-figure" who is rejected and lowly, and whose gracious actions seem small but have much larger effects.

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