Saturday, October 8, 2011

Marilynne Robinson, Matthew 25, and the Neo-Fundamentalists

Since these folk [neo-fundamentalists] claim to be defenders of embattled Christianity (under siege by liberalism, as they woould have it), they might be struck by the passage in Matthew 25 in which Jesus says, identifying himself with the poorest, "I was hungry and ye fed me not." This is the parable in which Jesus portrays himself as eschatological judge and in which he separates "the nations." It should surely be noted that he does not apply any standard of creed, of purity, or of orthodoxy in deciding whom to save and whom to damn. This seems to me a valuable insight into what Jesus himself might consider fundamental. To those who have not recognized him in the hungry and the naked, he says, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels." Neo-fundamentalists seem to crave this sort of language - more than they might if they were to consider its context here. It is the teaching of the Bible passim that God has confided us very largely to one another's care, but that in doing so he has in no degree detached himself from us. Indeed, in this parable Jesus would seem to push beyond the image of God as final judge, to describe an immanence of God in humankind that makes judgment present and continuous and, in effect, makes our victim our judge. Neither here nor anywhere else in the Bible is there the slightest suggestion that our judge/victim would find a plea of economic rationalism extenuating.
Marilynne Robinson, "Onward, Christian Liberals" in The Best American Essays 2007

(I love Marilynne)


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