The Christian’s Home

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey is essentially a formula that stories with classic protagonists and plots which involve good overcoming evil are built upon. Think Batman and Robin Hood. Characters are born, leave home, while away they gain experiences but ultimately they return home and get to work. To be clear, despite the many steps in the Hero’s Journey, it is a three-part saga. Begin at home, leave home, return home.

Obviously, I am in school right now being indoctrinated into the cult known as Christianity. Yes, it is a life-encompassing worldview. One of its most adored parables is the story of the prodigal son. Do you know it? Sure you do. The rich dad has a son who asks to get his inheritance early. The dad acquiesces and the son leaves home with his fortune only to squander it. The now impoverished son remembers his father. He resolves to return home even if only to live as a servant. The way Jesus tells the story, the father, instead of being mad, is joyful upon his son’s return.

My question for you is, “What do you believe the bible is?” You see, if you believe the bible contains new information, or put another way, if you believe that Jesus must be the original author of his parables for Christianity to be sound, then I think we’re at odds. Because I believe the bible is God’s self-revelation to his creation. That means that the bible doesn’t have to contain original concepts, or put another way, if the historical record shows that Jesus didn’t come up with the golden rule (he didn’t), that doesn’t not detract from the bible’s value. The bible is valuable because it is God’s self-revelation. In theology we would call it one of a few methods of God’s particular revelation.

Christians believe God has revealed himself to his creation generally and particularly. General revelation (or universal revelation) includes things like my McDonald’s argument, the digestible version of which goes something like: How many churches, synagogues, mosques, temples etc. are there? And you’re going to tell me there’s no God? Okay. Well, you also have to deny McDonald’s exists.

But general revelation isn’t enough for salvation. So God chose to reveal himself particularly as well. The bible is one of his methods. This means that it doesn’t matter if the parables in the bible are original, what matters is what they teach us about God’s nature. The parable of the prodigal son reveals that God will welcome us poor sinners back into his loving embrace if we just come home. The fact that the story of the prodigal son involves the home-leave-return formula that storytellers use to make their fortunes only adds it to the man-made category of general revelation. It’s as if God is using every method of persuasion available to him to convince us to see the truth of our condition.

I like that God would be relentless.

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7 comments

  1. noelleg44

    Relentless indeed, with forgiveness and love. Ive always believed the Bible is founded in truth- stories that were handed down over the centuries, all based in fact but altered over time by the tellers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gmgoetz

    I am thankful God is relentless. I am a home — leave home– return home to Christianity Christian. If God had given up on me, I don’t know where I would be now, I do know my life would not be as good as it now is, thanks to Jesus.
    Thank you Pete for your blogs. They are interesting, encouraging, and cause me to think at times. I am also happy that you are in seminary, and sharing various situations with us.
    I hope your friend who no longer wants to have conversations about God changes his mind. I understand your situation there too, as my focus is on Jesus, Christian living, sharing the Love of Jesus with others. I don’t push it, but when others ask, I tell them. God’s Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brother Dave

    (Luke 15:3) And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
    (Luke 15:11) And he said, A certain man had two sons:
    The word parable appears 32 times in the N.T.
    The word parables appears 15 times in the N.T.

    The writers prefaced the parables of Jesus with authorship by penning, “And he said or And he spake or All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables….”; hence, if I were to believe the parables were not authored by Jesus Christ then how could I believe any of the writings by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Deakon

      Hey Brother Dave,

      When I used the word author, (I’ve since edited the post) I meant creator/developer. It’s in the realm of possibility that archeologists unearth a document/scroll which contains some version of the prodigal son parable pre-Jesus. That doesn’t take away the parable’s status as inspired revelation. I am certainly not claiming that Jesus didn’t say what the Bible most clearly says he did say. My point was that the Bible is God’s self-revelation to us. It doesn’t matter if the home/leave-home/return home story formula existed before Jesus’ prodigal son parable. What matters is that God used that story to reveal his nature to us. The Bible didn’t invent poetry, psalms, or proverbs. It didn’t invent story-telling. Instead, God–in his infinite wisdom–chose to use those literary devices to reveal himself to us.

      You and I are not in disagreement here. We just need to be cautious about what we claim the Bible to be. For example, the fact that the Israelites’ contemporaries (Hittites, Canaanites etc.) also had sacrificial systems doesn’t debunk anything in the OT (as some want to claim), rather it strengthens our (essential) claim that the Israelites actually existed in the time-periods which the Bible claims they did.

      Thanks for taking the time to help keep me in check.

      Pete

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brother Dave

        The Scriptures are a Spiritual, Historical and Doctrinal Book. All of it was written for us, but not all of it was written to us.

        One verse that really hit home to me after years of being immersed in the traditional system of education is 2 Timothy 2:15.

        Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

        We are to study to shew ourselves approved unto GOD. Teachers, although they would not readily admit it, would have you to study for their approval. What a great awakening.

        I no longer found myself turning to the world’s history to prove the Scriptures. I came to realize that the faith God expects from me allows me to prove the existence of things operating outside of the Scriptures when viewed by the History, Doctrine and Spirit of the Scriptures.

        Liked by 1 person

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