Here comes that man again, running up to Jesus with a question about eternal life. We can hear those dreaded words on Jesus’ lips even before the man approaches: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Even before Mark tells us so, we know that the rich young man will turn away grieving, for he has many possessions.
Although only the most daring (read stupid) among us preachers will take on the task, one has the opportunity to preach the scandal-of-the-particular-versus-universalist controversy this Sunday. I say daring (stupid) because it will invariably get you in hot water, but you could, the texts are there, the opportunity is available, but the nuance is tough.
If you wrestle with this Matthean parable through the night, it'll leave
you limping by morning. Martin Luther didn't like preaching on it, and
worshipers in early October won't be in the mood for its judgment.
In Williamsburg, Virginia, where I live, the fraternities and sororities of The College of William & Mary invite new members in (and leave others out). What's in and what's out translates cunningly into who's in and who's out.
It is by living and dying that one becomes a theologian, Martin Luther said. With that comment in mind, we have resumed a Century series published at intervals since 1939 and asked theologians to reflect on their own struggles, disappointments, questions and hopes as people of faith and to consider how their work and life have been intertwined.