Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Sermon on the Mount" - For you, and you and you and you??...

I haven’t been able to write for way too long, as I have been busy with a move, and currently, my internet at home isn’t working. Needless to say, I have been doing a lot more reading... (which is definitely a good thing).

As I have been doing my reading, I came upon an assigned book written by Fuller’s Christian Ethics professor – Glen Stassen. It’s called, “Living the Sermon on the Mount”. The book overall isn't something to rave about, but the overall idea is pretty fascinating. The theory is that the “sermon on the mount” is not only for Christians, but for everyone. Stassen turns Martin Luther King’s view on the church and state upside-down, as he expresses his view that the church should not be the sole responsibility for helping the poor, and living an honest life, because God has created all people in His image (whether they believe in Him or not), and so all should feel a responsibility towards the morals that Jesus gives in His "sermon". This, in turn, would make it a priority for the Christian to fight for human rights (and other things), within the political arena.


My professor is passionate about our country providing healthcare for everyone, and treating illegal immigrants with love and dignity; he is a great man.

Though this blog entry is not supposed to be focused on universal healthcare (that will come later…), I would like you take this issue into consideration as you think about this “sermon on the mount” theory.

Does it seem to make sense for everyone to be under this “rule”? And if everyone obeyed what Jesus had to say on the mount, would the world be a better place?


Andrew Faris said...

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!! No!

Well, yes.

But no.

The Sermon on the Mount would be what we all followed if we weren't born stuck in our sin. So it's a real nice idea that we all suddenly just start caring for the poor, but I suspect that it would be hard to get sinners with stone hearts to suddenly stop being selfish.

From a more directly textual standpoint, we have to connect the SotM with discipleship (look at the sermon's audience in its first verse) and the kingdom (look at the first and last beatitudes and the way that Jesus connects the sermon to his broader purpose).

The perspective of that book is nothing really that new, is it? Haven't people been saying for a long, long time, "That Jesus sure did have some delightful ethics that we all would do well to live by..."

How's that working out?


c.c. said...

so i just read this Amazon review:

"The author provides the reader with two very important tools: First, an understanding that the Sermon on the Mount is not a moral code or legal requirements for those who follow Christ, but is rather a portrait of those who have experienced 'new life' in Christ and as John 15 indicates "abide" in Him...."

this seems a little different than what you described. can you fill in the blanks for me as to how/whether these themes come together?

as for what you asked---"if everyone obeyed what Jesus had to say on the mount, would the world be a better place?"---the answer seems like an obvious "yes," but everyone couldn't/wouldn't, unless everyone were regenerate. i mean . . . right?

Carrie said...

Hi blog friends. :)

Carissa, ummm, ya, the description is definitely accurate, and I didn't really get a sense of what I wrote on my blog from the book itself, but more from his lectures. I actually thought the book was kind of boring, but when he got really open and honest in class, it was a bit racier.

"Unless everyone were to regenerate"?... This is a question that I struggle with because it's hard for me to understand why Christians can have SUCH a difference of opinions. Some Christians I know think we should go through individual houses where illegal immigrants live and kick them all out.. some Christians I know are obsessed with material things.. and some Christians I know are getting divorced and aborting their babies. It's hard for me to distinguish the regenerate person from the unregenerate person at times... a lot of times. I don't even think the Christian is living the sermon on the mount most of the time...

Andrew, ya, you are right too. And it's not really working out. But that's why I admire Stassen, because he just tries to tell us - "don't give up"...

Andrew Faris said...


But that's just the thing- non-Christians should give up. If Christ affirms and sometimes heightens the Law in the SotM (which he does), and the Law can't justify anyone (Paul), then believers shouldn't try and follow it.

Unless, of course, you mean that this will inevitably convict non-believers of their sin and force them to turn to Christ, which Paul indicates is a major purpose of the Law.

So give up, non-believers! Don't try to follow God apart from what Christ has done for you! Don't try to follow the SotM without being a disciple, because you cannot do so. You need the Holy Spirit to change your heart first.

This, I think, is much of the connection between Christ, his kingdom, and his "fulfillment" of the Law.