I recently did an interview with John Shuck on the radio show/podcast progressive spirit, also on youtube about my book “All Things in Common: The Economic Practices of the Early Christians.” I hope you enjoy it.
So I’m going to go a little bit backwards here in responding to Steve Hays latest response to me. I’m going to start with John 10:34–36, which was, originally, the entire point of this exchange, and in my view the point of dispute. I’m going to ignore all the other distractions untill we can get out of Hays an actual coherent exegesis of the text in dispute. I have a straightforward reading of that passage and I’ll give it below.
Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’?
Citing Psalms 82 where beings, which are not Yahweh, are called gods.
Me and Steven Hays have been going at it over a couple posts, and we’re kind of going in circles and I feel like the points are being lost, so I’m going to focus on the main points here. The main points in this dialogue are, in my opinion, what was Jesus’ claim that his enemies were responding to, and how did Jesus reply to their accusations.
Steven sees an allusion to the Shema in John 10:30, I don’t, in fact I don’t see any evidence whatsoever for an allusion to the Shema, the only word that is the same is the word “one” and John 10:30 uses a different form of that word. Therefore, I’m going to ask Steve Hays again, what evidence is there that Jesus is alluding to the Shema, here is John 10:30:
I recently came across a blog post by a Steve Hays who was arguing with philosopher and Unitarian Dale Tuggy on John 10:30-36. Hays gave an exegesis … a bad one, but unfortunately Dale didn’t really argue against it. So I figured I’d break down his exegesis point by point:
i) The context of the Jn 10:30 is a dispute over the identity of Jesus. The context of 10:30 is a Jewish audience who recited the Shema every day. The only way Jesus could reasonably expect them to interpret his statement is an allusion to Deut 6:4. In context, the statement would inevitably trigger that association. Hence, he’s claiming to be the Lord of the Shema.
I would argue that the best summation of Christian ethics is found in the sermon on the plain in Luke 6:20–49. What I love about the sermon on the plain is just how radical it seems on the surface, it seems almost impossible; however, when you think about what it’s saying, and think about it deeply—it makes sense. Probably my favorite example of this is found in Luke 6:34–35 (NRSV):
If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Interfaith Dialogue is a bizarre phenomenon; I never know exactly what the point is. Is it just to find one what various traditions agree on? If so what’s the point? Where is the dialogue? Is it to compare doctrines? To what end? Also, dialogue on what basis, addressing what questions? Different religions address different questions with different assumptions. John Milbank puts it right in his essay “The end of Dialogue”:
The Event of dialogue, since its Socratic beginnings, assumes a commonly recognized subject matter and certain truths that can be agreed about this subject matter by both (or all) participants)
And then at the end of the Essay:
In the course of such a conversation, we should indeed expect to constantly receive Christ again, from the unique spiritual responses of other cultures. But I do not pretend that this proposal means anything other than continuing the work of conversion.
I use the term Heretic here in a tongue in cheek way. I don’t think either Dustin Smith or David Barron are Heretics in the actual meaning of the term, I use it because that is how many more orthodox theologians would label them (falsely). Recently both David Barron and Dustin Smith had a debate about Christology, in particular, whether or not Jesus existed prior to his being conceived in Mary’s womb. What makes this debate interesting is that both Dustin Smith and David Barron are Unitarians (thus the tongue in cheek use of the term “Heretic”). Dustin Smith coming from what would be called a Socinian position (Jesus came into existence at his conception), David Barron coming from what would be called an Arian Position (Jesus existed as a spiritual being prior to his conception, but cannot be identified with Yahweh). Both debaters did a wonderful job and, I honestly wish more theological debates were done like this, carefully, honestly and in depth. Even if you’re a Trinitarian, or think the Socinian and Arian Christologies are Heresies, watch the debate, you’ll definitely find it interesting.