- Essay: Principles of Institutions Guided by Christ
No. 97 of The Peaceable Table is online
- This Week’s Sermon from
Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
1. Essay: Principles of Institutions Guided by Christ
reading, the Gospel accounts do not describe Jesus trying to start a
new religion. Rather, he aimed to reform Judaism, restoring the faith
of prophets such as Micah, who announced that God wanted the faithful
“to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your
God” (6:8). Indeed, in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus twice declared, “I
desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13; 12:7), recalling the
words of Hosea 6:6.
In recent essays, I have highlighted how
institutes are grounded on scapegoating, and sacrificial violence is
the most obvious manifestation of scapegoating. As I discussed in
detail in my book Guided by the Faith of Christ, I think Jesus aimed
to show how we could have communities grounded on love rather than
scapegoating. How might this be accomplished?
I think that when
Jesus talked about the “Realm of God” he had in mind communities
grounded in love. Perhaps because people were unprepared for his
radical notions, he often chose to describe the Realm of God with
parables. Now that we have 2000 years to reflect on Jesus’ teachings,
we might be in a better position to more directly describe what the
Realm of God might look like.
I suggest that, first and foremost,
there is no scapegoating in the Realm of God. I don’t think there is a
single formula to avoid scapegoating, and specific policies might
reflect unique attributes of different communities, but I offer the
following principle as a starting point: When making difficult
decisions, community members should always be guided by the question,
“What is the most compassionate choice in this setting?”
principle, several others follow. For example, when determining how to
prevent people from hurting other individuals, community members
should do everything in their power to avoid having vengeance play a
role in their deliberations. Also, communities should do their best to
avoid the strong temptations to punish people for dishonoring
institutions. People might request that others not show disrespect for
their institutions because it hurts their feelings, but they should
not enforce respect for institutions with violence or threats of
Such principles, I think, would help contemporary society
move toward Jesus’ vision of the Realm of God “on earth, as in
Heaven.” Next week, I’ll discuss, and attempt to expand on, John
Rawls’ book A Theory of Justice.
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.
Issue No. 97 of The Peaceable Table is online.
* The Editor's Corner Essay, "Return to Eden, Part II:
The Holyday," deals with the Jewish weekly celebration of the Sabbath
as a remembrance of the "holiday" the Creator took to enjoy his/her
newly finished universe. The creation myth of the day's origins
suggests that the Sabbath is in part a recapitulation ofEden--where
humans were assigned a plant-based diet. This festal holy day is
rich in its implications for other people of faith as well as Jews.
* Did you know that in India, dophins have now been
officially recognized as persons? See the NewsNotes.
The Pioneer in this issue is Australian philanthropist Philip Wollen,
who calls himself an "ahimsan." He created a foundation that supports
some 500 projects, many benefiting vulnerable children and animals.
* The two tempting summer recipes on offer in this issue are Cold
Curried Green Pea Soup from *The Vegetarian Shabbat Cookbook* by
Roberta Kalechofsky and colleague, and a Blueberry Coconut Popsicle
from our own Angie Cordeiro.
To read this issue, see
Friendship for all,
Gracia Fay Ellwood, Editor
3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
Regaining the Image of God