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Featured Is God biased?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Hmm, Dec 1, 2020.

  1. Hmm

    Hmm Rapture Threat Level: ORANGE

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    I was reading a church address by Desmond Tutu and I thought he made a very telling point. He was talking about Jesus as the good shepherd and saying that we make a mistake when we take its meaning as being He looks after the fluffy little lambs. The point of the story is that He's prepared to leave 99 well-behaved sheep to go look for a troublesome one.

    The question of bias comes in because Jesus say there's not only joy when he finds and carries back the strayed lamb but there is greater joy over this one than over the 99. So Jesus shows a bias in favour of those who don't count. Tutu related this to the Last Judgement where he says we're going to be judged by how we treat the down-and-outs: the hungry, the thirsty and the naked.

    He then gave what he said was the bombshell which is that Jesus isn't just saying He has a kind of solidarity with the poor and outcast, He says it is an identification. "When you do it to the least of these, you do it to me" Matthew 25:40.

    The challenge is that when we look at a prostitute, a drug addict or a prisoner do we see the face of Jesus in them? I think that's a very hard thing to do but the above scripture says that's what we are called to do.

    So do you think God is biased towards the hungry, the thirsty, the naked? And does that mean we should also be biased in favour of the poor, the weak and the hungry and must make an effort to help these people both in personal acts and in political engagement?

    Edited: typo corrections, no dount many left
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
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  2. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Drunks, prostitutes, and such who realize their wills are bound are in fact closer to the kingdom than those who believe their will is free and can save themselves at will.

    "First, God has promised certainly His grace to the humbled: that is, to the self-deploring and despairing. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled, until he comes to know that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsel, endeavours, will, and works, and absolutely depending on the will, counsel, pleasure, and work of another, that is, of God only. For if, as long as he has any persuasion that he can do even the least thing himself towards his own salvation, he retain a confidence in himself and do not utterly despair in himself, so long he is not humbled before God; but he proposes to himself some place, some time, or some work, whereby he may at length attain unto salvation. But he who hesitates not to depend wholly upon the good-will of God, he totally despairs in himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such an one, is the nearest unto grace, that he might be saved."

    Martin Luther. The Bondage of the Will.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
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  3. Cormack

    Cormack “I bet you're a real hulk on the internet...”

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    This reminds me of “God is no respecter of persons.” Which normally comes alongside either a call to not be swayed by material wealth, or a verse saying that He judges justly and whomsoever does right (regardless of their nation) will be acceptable to Him.

    So it’s not like He’s biased towards an individual on account of their bad behaviour or their status, rather He’d be moved towards those people because of something else.

    Any loving father worries more about their moody teenage son who spends all day locked in his room than their jock son who’s off breaking hearts and eating his vegetables everyday. One is strong and healthy and has “made it,” while the other is struggling. It’s very humane, natural “bias.”

    I agree He’s leaning into the most broken and battered in society, maybe not because of a bias, I’d distance myself from that word just due to a negative connotation I’ve been taught is there. Rather Gods heart goes out to the lowest, He’s inclined towards healing their suffering.

    We often flee from sickness, violence and hatred in an act of fear and self preservation, God being fearless and invincible doesn’t.
     
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  4. Hmm

    Hmm Rapture Threat Level: ORANGE

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    "Inclination" is a better word than "bias" but is it strong enough? By Jesus identifying Himself with the poor and the weak ("When you do it to the least of these, you do it to me" Matthew 25:40) He seems to be saying more than that. He doesn't identify Himself with kings or bishops. Isn't He saying that that if you really want to meet with me, you have to visit the prisoner and feed the hungry - going to church just isn't enough?
     
  5. Friedrich Rubinstein

    Friedrich Rubinstein Active Member

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    It seems to me that the OP is mixing two things here: the people Jesus came for and the people Jesus identifies with.

    Who did Jesus come for?
    In Lk 5:31 Jesus says "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance". That's why there is greater joy in heaven about a lost sheep that is brought back than about the 99 sheep who are safe and sound at home already. Every lost sheep that's brought back = Jesus' mission is successful. (And remember that there was the same joy in heaven when each of the 99 sheep was brought back).

    Who identifies Jesus with?
    When you read Mt 25 carefully you will notice that Jesus does not identify with "poor, sick and hungry" in general but with His children, the children of God, only. You quoted Mt 25:40 there but it actually says in my Bible: "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
    And in verse 45 he refers again to "these", his brothers and sisters.

    Jesus/God himself lives in every Christian, in every child of God. Whatever someone does or does not do to a child of God counts as if they did it to Jesus. Non-believers, according to Mt 25, get in fact judged for their behaviour towards Christians.
     
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  6. Bob Crowley

    Bob Crowley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It depends what you mean by the lost sheep, and also a definition of the weak, marginalised etc.

    If we take the parable of the Prodigal Son, what we usually don't hear emphasised is that the prodigal son had to come to his senses first.

    Luke 15:17 -
    The Father didn't come running until the son appeared on the horizon heading for home. Until that point came, he would have stayed right where he was.

    There's a difference between the weak and marginalised when it's through no or little fault of their own - refugees fleeing war, a woman from domestic violence, a child an abusive relationship, slaves from slavery, prisoners from unjust sentences, and of course the unborn child, and that of the person who deliberately places himself on a path of evil - the criminal, the serial murderer, the rapist, the conman.

    There's no doubt though that God is very interested in how we treat other people. We can't do anything for God directly - He doesn't need us. He's infinite. He doesn't need our churches, our cathedrals, our cars, our music, our clothes, our money, our sporting or academic achievements, our careers, our industrial military complexes - He needs none of it, and probably thinks a lot of it is rubbish.

    But we can do something for God in what we do for others, since He's a God of Love. As Christ said (John 12:32) "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

    So in some sense He's in all of us. Therefore how we treat others, and in particular the least of these His brothers (and sisters), is as far as He's concerned, how we treat Him.
     
  7. Monksailor

    Monksailor Adopted child of God. Supporter

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    I do not know who Tutu is. It sounds like a lap dog or a ballerina skirt. So I'll not refer to that but as noted, I agree with Cormack.

    Jesus' lineage includes Rahab, the prostitute, and He is described in Isaiah as "despised and rejected" and elsewhere the "rejected cornerstone," I believe, and He, GOD, the Son, was born in a stinking animal stable and had a live stock feeder for a baby crib. I think He could relate, NOT identify, as He was God and purposefully and willingly came to suffer and die for humanity.

    One other thing, the Gospel says that we do not become a child of God until after we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
     
  8. Hmm

    Hmm Rapture Threat Level: ORANGE

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    I don't know. You emphasise the words "brothers and sisters" but I think the emphasis should be on "the least of these".
     
  9. Hmm

    Hmm Rapture Threat Level: ORANGE

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    He's a former Archbishop of Cape Town who was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in resolving and ending apartheid.
     
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  10. Friedrich Rubinstein

    Friedrich Rubinstein Active Member

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    The least of his brothers and sisters, yes. Which means that we cannot look down on other Christians. A prostitute who believes in Jesus but got no other way to make a living is in God's eyes as valuable as a pastor.
    Now, while we are supposed to treat every human with love Jesus doesn't refer to the outsiders of society in general in Mt 25. He is talking about people who actually believe in Him.
     
  11. Hmm

    Hmm Rapture Threat Level: ORANGE

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    I believe He does need us. He doesn't have hands and so He needs us to feed the hungry.
     
  12. Hmm

    Hmm Rapture Threat Level: ORANGE

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    I doubt Jesus said feed the hungry etc but only if they're Christians. Thats not compatible with who He is. He couldn't have done actually as there weren't any Christians when He said those words.
     
  13. Friedrich Rubinstein

    Friedrich Rubinstein Active Member

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    As I said, we're supposed to treat everyone well. But when Jesus talked about who He identified with He talked about Christians. Which is logical btw because God cannot identify with unholy people. Jesus can identify with righteous people only and that's those who have been justified by Him: believers.
     
  14. Hmm

    Hmm Rapture Threat Level: ORANGE

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    Let's agree to disagree
     
  15. Bob Crowley

    Bob Crowley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Christ fed 5000 people (and that's just the men, not including the women and children) starting with a few loaves and fishes. They miraculously multiplied until all were fed, with more left over at the end than He started with.

    All the disciples had to do was pass the stuff around.

    He doesn't have hands, but He feeds the birds "who neither reap nor sow".

    If God wanted to directly feed the hungry, He could. But as I said He's interested in how we treat others, and He waits to see our response. He delegates as much as possible, so that we might understand what the difference is between good and evil. Some choose the good - others choose the evil.

    Feeding the hungry is a subset of "how we treat others".
     
  16. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    I kind of think he misses the point of the story because he is trying to make a Social Gospel point. If you take the parable literally yes God is biased toward the unrighteous... But I take the parable as God in his omniscience realizes that the rest of the flock is OK for the next hour or two, and that frees him up to give that last bit of effort to save the lost. The parable shows God's goodness and mercy especially when people need it most.....

    But people need to take care how they apply this stuff. It is good to set aside time to talk to the lost and help those outside the church. But there have been some horror stories by people going too far with this thinking where they are catering to the needs of homeless more than their own people. (e.g. - They turn the entire church into a homeless shelter during the evening and early morning etc. only the homeless people not being members of the church do not appreciate it and trash the place etc. meanwhile this drives away the actual church members and the church is damaged long term by this where many families and other parishioners abandon it for more family friendly ones, and this impacts the church financially where it will have to close down or somehow downsize in the future).
     
  17. Hmm

    Hmm Rapture Threat Level: ORANGE

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    But how could He do that Himself? He can't and so isn't this why we were commanded to do just that? God does not have hands to feed the poor, we do.
     
  18. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    all mankind is doomed to the lake of fire no matter how nice their clothes, no matter how much money they have in the bank, no matter if they are sick or healthy.

    That is the start.

    So that puts all mankind in the "lost sheep bin".

    Where are the 99 who need no salvation? Who do not need Christ to die for them to save them from the lake of fire?

    Well the unfallen angels would be one example of that group.

    So in the sense that God the Son did not remain in heaven to comfort and guide the unfallen Angels but instead came to Earth to save mankind - he left the 99 to come here and save the one... that is the point of that parable.

    (I notice a kind of glass-half-empty focus in your posts).

    If a family is at home on a cold winter night being thankful for family in their warm living room by the fire -- and suddenly find that one child is missing - they all frantically search the nearby area and woods until that child is found. When the 1 is found - everyone rejoices to have them back in the living room... even more than they were rejoicing to have the never-lost children there as before.
     
  19. Hmm

    Hmm Rapture Threat Level: ORANGE

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    Well, you may be right but I understand the 99 good sheep to be (human) followers of Christ.

    Perhaps I'm world weary.
     
  20. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    The idea that 99% of mankind are sinless saved obedient followers of Christ and there is some small 1% that is lost for which He does all of his work... is a hard world view to find in scripture ... at least for me.
     
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