The Curmudgeon


Sunday, May 06, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: Mark 4 i-xx

In front of a large crowd, Jesus relates the parable of a sower whose seed is variously choked by God's thorns, scorched by God's sun, or devoured by the birds which cannot fall to earth without God. A small portion of the seed falls on soil which God has made fertile, and this seed grows and yields a good crop. Once the crowd has dispersed, Jesus explains to His disciples that He couches His message in parables so that only the elect will understand and be saved. He then explains the parable.

Since Jesus believed that those who missed His message deserved worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, His explanation to the disciples is a parable in itself. The disciples are saved because He has personally aided their understanding; the men, women and children in the crowd must all fend for themselves, and for the most part face hell-fire at their loving Father's whim. Willingness to listen is not enough; those non-disciples who listen and do not understand can expect neither help nor mercy. Only the Saviour's personal favour, arbitrarily bestowed (though He seems to have had a marked preference for people who cannot interpret a parable on their own), will bring salvation from eternal torment.

The parable of the sower admirably reflects this attitude of whimsical cruelty. Given the precious nature of his seed, and the hellish consequences for any place where it fails to flourish, the sower is astoundingly careless at his work. He has not cleared the ground of thorns and rocks; he does nothing to keep the birds away; and he makes no attempt to nurture or care for his crop once the seed has been scattered. Presumably we are to take it that the work of preparing the ground is the Father's; in which case the responsibility for the sower's abject performance rests largely with the crazed despot who creates thorns and rocks only to blame and punish them for not being flowers and vineyards, and whose régime Jesus aspired to fulfil and not to abolish.


  • At 11:49 pm , Anonymous Brian M said...

    "Bad Theology" is my favorite series on your blog, Phillip. (I tend to the even more dour...Google the lyrics to the EP "Drought" by black metal band Deathspell Omega).


  • At 8:50 pm , Blogger Philip said...

    "An abrasive swirling murk" pretty well sums up my entire literary project.


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