Several years ago, I was interviewed by Linda Wertheimer of
National Public Radio about the then extraordinarily popular Left Behind
series. At one point, she asked me if I thought the Left Behind books were
funny. I paused, trying to absorb all the layers of her question, and then came
up with a brilliant answer: "No. Why? Do you?"
"Constantinian" has lately been a favored pejorative in
theological circles. The term--an allusion to the fourth-century Roman emperor
whose conversion to Christianity turned a marginal sect into a state religion--has
been used to deplore any alliance between the church and the state or, more
broadly, between the church and the dominant political culture.
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.
Paul Dafydd Jones of the University of Virginia argues that patience should receive a starring role in theology—the patience of God, first of all. This move would help to dispel some negative images of God: God as a control freak, God as a puppeteer. It would help people see that God grants human beings time and space to make sense of themselves and to grow. It would encourage people to be patient with themselves and others. There is a place for impatience—the Hebrew prophets and Jesus demonstrated an impatience for injustice—but impatience must be marked by patience for people to live into the future that God hopes for them (Theology Today, April).