The Wheat and the Tares

Arguments/positions against Evangelical Universalism.

The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Dondi » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:51 am

I have to admit that of all UR arguments, this parable has given me the most trouble, particularly since I saw something in it recently that I didn't see before.

"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." - Matthew 13:24-30


Now in other discussions on this board it has been suggested that the 'wheat' represents a man's spirit, while the 'tares' represents a man's 'flesh'. And I was rather leaning that way, until I realized the other day that this is one of only a few parables that Jesus lays out an interpretation, found here:

"Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." - Matthew 13:36-43


So the problem I have is that since Jesus declares this parable's interpretation, it would not make any sense to make use of metaphors in said interpretation. Hence, I do not see how anyone can apply the spirit and the flesh to the wheat and the tares, respectfully. The interpretation IS the reality. Just as it is so in the Parable of the Sower.

Noting this brought me to a deep sinking feeling as I examined the parable closely. I made a comparison of what constitutes the 'wheat' and what constitutes the 'tares', and I note this as such:

1) The wheat

From the parable: a) Sown by the sower, b) sown as 'good' seed, c) sown in the sower's own field d) indistiguishable from the tares early in the growth process e) part of the expected harvest, f) is able to be separated from the tares at harvest time by reapers.

From the interpretation: a) The sower of the 'good' seed is the Son of God (i.e. He is the originator of the 'good' seed), b) the field (which is the sower's) is the world, c) the 'good' seed are the children of the kingdom, d) the harvest is the end of the world, e) the reapers are angels, f) the righteous (that is the children of the kingdom) shall shine forth as the Sun in the kingdom of their Father.

2) The tares

From the parable: a) Sown by the 'enemy', b) By definition, as well as in context to the parable, tares are destructive to the wheat and thus are sown as 'bad' seed, c) sown in the sower's field amidst the wheat, d) to be gathered up first in the harvest, e) burned up in bundles.

From the interpretation: a) The enemy that sown the tares is the Devil (i.e he is the originator of the 'bad' seed), b) the tares are the children of the wicked (one), c) the tares (the children of the wicked one) are gathered and burned in the fire, d) the Son of Man sends forth his angels (as reapers) to gather out of His kingdom all things that offend and them which do iniquity. e) all the forementioned shall be cast into a furnace of fire, f) there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

If there was nothing else to go by but the information that lay before us, then I would have to conclude that there are two catagories of beings with two different origins and with two different destinies.

1) If the Sower is the Son of Man and the wheat are the Children of the Kingdom, then that is all that is sown by the sower. In other words, all the seed that the Sower sows is good. They have the destiny of shining as the Sun in the their Father's kingdom.

2) If the enemy is the devil and the tares are Children of the wicked (one), then that is all is sown by the enemy. In other words, all the seed the enemy has sown is bad. And they have the destiny of being burned in a furnace of fire, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The question becomes: Does the enemy have the power to produce bad seed? And if so, what is the nature of the bad seed?

The only information we can glean from the parable is that the tares look identical to the wheat at the beginning stages of growth, but that at harvest time, there is a distinction. These are not good seeds that have gone bad. Nor are these bad seeds gone good. But each produces their respective fruit, as it were. Each seed produces exactly as expected. I do not see any change in either catagory.

So without drawing any other conclusions, I'd have to say that the Devil has the ability to produce literal children separate and distinct from the Son of Man who has the ability to produce literal children, based on this parable.

What say you?
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby auggybendoggy » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:30 am

Dondi,
Excellent observation and one which we need to take seriously. I often have argued that we out to rethink our language of how we express our beliefs and when people read passages such as this, it's no wonder they think we're twisting up the text. Indeed we need to really take your point here and wrestle with it.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Sherman » Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:34 am

In this parable Jesus is simply affirming the reality that there are some people who submit to the influence of the Word of God and there are others who respond to the influence of the lies of Satan. And in the end God judges between who was right and who was wrong. Until then let's not give ourselves over to trying to judge others but let's realize that there are people who now love God and people who do not love God. This does not mean that some people are born for destruction and others are born for relationship with God, but that some people are currently listening to the enemy and others are listening to God. The message was spoken to the disciples encouraging them to recognize that some people respond to the word of God in a positive way and others do not. It does not mean that a person can never repent and is locked into relationship with whoever (God or Satan) got to them first.

It's also helpful to remember that in context Jesus has just had another encounter with the Pharisees, the religious leaders in Mt. 12 and was accused by them of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul. Though Jesus had just done a wonderful miracle, these religious leaders were so hardened against God that they'd strive every way they could to dismiss/denounce Jesus and His message of grace, love, and judgment, and even accuse Jesus.

"40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear."

Yes there shall be judgment, fiery judgment where what we have done is life will be judged with the good being purified and the evil being burnt up. Those truly righteous shall shine like the sun and those who are wicked will suffer terribly with weeping (repentance) and gnashing of teeth (terrible angry remorse). Also note that this wording was a means of referencing the Pharisees theological metaphor of judgment, Gehenna, which the Pharisees used to warn of Judgment to come, and primarily referenced a type of purgatory though they argued over whether or not those they considered "irredeemable" would be annihilated or continue to suffer indefinitely long as God saw fit.

So what should we draw from the parable?
1) There are good and bad people in this world, and it's often not obvious to us who is who.
2) Let's leave the judging to God.
3) Let's live our lives being watchful as to what influences we are submitting to.
4) Let's live our lives knowing that one day we shall all be judged and there will be rewards and punishments as God sees fit and needed.
5) Let's be busy about planting good seeds and let God worry about judging others.
6) Let's not be like the Pharisees who were actually opposing God, acting as enemies of the most High.

This parable does not affirm that some people are born enemies of God and others are born of God; rather it does affirm that some do currently submit to God and others are influenced by the enemy. This parable is not meant to communicate that people cannot change, repent. And it is not meant to be a full teaching on judgment and Gehenna, but references them as side notes, concepts his audience would have already understood.

Also note that through judgment, those things in our lives that are evil will be burnt up and those things in our lives that are good shall be purified. And thus we shall shine like the sun. Judgment is fearful but necessary for us all. We shall all face judgement and need to live our lives accordingly.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby nimblewill » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:11 pm

This may be the scripture that shows that Gehenna was some future punishment apart from the Valley in Jerusalem and its place in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. I'm gonna have to ponder this for a while :shock:
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby auggybendoggy » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:19 pm

Remember that at one point WE ALL (at some point) were children of wrath or Tares. We all needed salvation which implies we were all lost and children of the devil. The question is still begged (and oh how I would have loved to question Jesus) why do people listen to one and not the other. Does God love them enough to reconcile (fix) them if they cannot fix themselves? Is it impossible for God to do?

I find Arminian theology to be very close to reformed regarding God's love. Recently I've been reading an Arminian blog site which I read comments which sould very reformed - OF COURSE GOD HATES THE WICKED!!!! - hmmmm I though God loves his enemies???

They're flat out confused but God has given us his Word and each other to sharpen each other that we might shine a light which is so contrary to the world - GOD LOVES ALL INCLUDING HIS ENEMIES.

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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby AllanS » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:38 pm

Jesus finishes with "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." There is more to this parable than meets the eye.

John said: "We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him."

Lamentably, I do sin, and so do you. Does this mean I am not born of God, but of the Devil? But note the "Lamentably." If I was born of the Devil, why would I think sin was lamentable?

I conclude that I am born both of God and of the Devil. There is a part in me (and in every person) that loves the Light, and a part that loves the Darkness. The part that loves the Light is born of God, kept by God, and untouchable by evil. The part that loves the Darkness is born of the devil, rejected by God, and untouchable by good. Both selves are man-shaped, since they exist in every part of my being. One day soon, the two will be separated by God. "All things that offend, and them which do iniquity" will be destroyed, leaving us "shining forth as the sun".

The alternative (the world is swarming with zombies who look like real people but in fact agents of pure evil) doesn't match my experience.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby nimblewill » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:54 pm

Our pastor yesterday told us to examine our hearts; were they joyous or sad, loving or hateful, greedy or giving................I came to the conclusion that my heart is both. I am over-joyed and I am sad, I love unconditionally and will pick on you in a heart beat. I tear up at the plight of the poor yet hold on to my money as if I would starve to death if I didn't. Yes I am wheat and I am tares. I am born of God but still listen to the liar.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Sherman » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:59 pm

And thus judgment comes to purify us, so that we might shine as the sun!
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby JeffA » Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:04 am

Good post nimblewill..

Don't forget how poignantly Paul describes his own battles with the flesh - delighting in the law of God in his spirit yet obeying the law of sin in his body - wretched man that I am!

Although he aks the rhetorical question - 'who will deliver me'? - and answers himself with 'I thank God in Christ' - that seems to be a hope that God will in the future through Christ wholly deliver him from his continuing sinning not that it was accomplished at the time of writing.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Dondi » Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:45 am

All poignant answers and I appreciate the insight. Yet I still have to point out that nowhere in the parable, or in the progression of the 'harvest' therein, is there any indication that the tares turn into wheat (or vice versa, for that matter).
Nor is the argument that the wheat and the tares are just of different shades of ourselves seem to bear out, for again I must stress that in the interpretation Jesus gives it clearly states that there are two factions of children at play here.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus clearly identifies what each symbol represents in the real world. The seed is the Word of God and the four soils are the various conditions of the hearts of people for whom the Word of God is given. And the fruit that the fourth soil bears is that which is produced by those who receive the Word and are of a noble and good heart. There is no speculating about what the parable means, it is clear from the intepretation.

So likewise, it would be consistent to assume that the parable of the wheat and the tares bears the same clear interpretation as the former parable, without the need to allegorize what the symbols mean. Good seed = children of the kingdom. Bad seed = children of the wicked one.

I'm not trying to insist this is what the parable means. I'm only trying to be consistent. Nor am I espousing necessarily some form of Calvinism, which I abhor the thought of.

I do have one thought concerning this, a radical thought indeed, but I caution that it is just an idea that may be stretching it. But I only put it out for further discussion.

What if the children of the wicked one, presumably the Devil, are really his children, i.e. fallen angels or perhaps some kind of hybrid human as some suggest in Genesis 6, through the mating of sons of God with the daughters of men. If somehow they were able to propagate through the centuries, they would be indistinguishable among us God-created humans. And they would be responsible for much of the evil that has risen in the world.

There are various cases in the bible where angels have appeared in the form of humans. We learn in Hebrews 13:2 that some have entertained strangers unaware that they were angels. In Jude 1:4, we are told that some have crept into the churches 'who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.' Why would they have been condemned 'before of old'? This suggests that whoever these ungodly men were, they are ancient. And then in verse 6-7 we have this description: "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Apparently angel can, and have, engaged in sexual fornication, even going after strange flesh (which I assume to mean homosexual activity. Again, if this is the case, they are indistinguishable from humans.

Jesus said that the everlasting fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. Perhaps this is literally true in the sense that these tares are evil angels among us who have already been condemned as being the children of the wicked one, yet live among us as humans, until they are revealed and burned up at the end of the harvest, with no humans involved. Would they not also have the senses of wailing and gnashing of teeth? Certainly they admitted to being tormented by Jesus when they abode in the man of Gergesenes (Matthew 8:29). How else would we as the 'elect' be qualified to judge angels ( I Corinthians 6:3) if we didn't have opportunity tosee them physically operating around us in human form?

Thoughts anyone?
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby AllanS » Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:44 pm

I agree that Jesus' interpretation seems to be clear. We're speaking of individuals, some who are God's children, some the devils. But you know how it is with parables... He who has ears to hear etc.

If a person born of God doesn't sin (1John5), then presumably a person born of the devil does nothing but sin. However, I see neither sort of person in the real world. We all seem to be a bit of both. If many (most?) people are in fact born of the devil, how would this devilish paternity transmit? By what rules of spiritual heredity? In one family, you might have 3 unbelievers and one believer, all from the same parents. How does it work?

I find it helpful to think of physical dimensions. Just as there is absolutely nothing North about going East, there is nothing good about evil, or evil about good. However, a person moving North-east is moving both east and north simultaneously. In the same way, I find both good and evil in myself simultaneously, expressing themselves in everything I do.

I thought of another example last night. I am both rational and irrational simultaneously. When someone reasons with me, they are speaking only to the rational me. The irrational me cannot understand a word of what's going on, and rejects the entire conversation with disgust. Similarly, when someone speaks the truth about God, the spiritual me hears and understands, but the unspiritual me does not. The word of God "rings true" only to that part of me that's in tune with God. It resonates.

Re. the nephilim etc, those stories occur in a thoroughly mythical context. We have the creation of the world, magic trees, talking snakes, cherubim, fiery swords, towers reaching into heaven, giants in the land, and angels fathering mighty children from mortal women. Though I firmly believe those stories are inspired and profoundly true, I think they are true like the parables of Jesus are true, and that we cannot get reliable scientific information from them. That's not their purpose.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby roofus » Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:09 pm

"Re. the nephilim etc, those stories occur in a thoroughly mythical context. We have the creation of the world, magic trees, talking snakes, cherubim, fiery swords, towers reaching into heaven, giants in the land, and angels fathering mighty children from mortal women. Though I firmly believe those stories are inspired and profoundly true, I think they are true like the parables of Jesus are true, and that we cannot get reliable scientific information from them. That's not their purpose."

Tell me a miracle that doesn't sound like a myth. Isn't that what makes a miracle, something that doesn't fit the usual, something that breaks the standard way that things happen?
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby AllanS » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:35 pm

Luke opens his gospel with a forceful declaration that this stuff is history. He's carefully investigated everything, talked to the eye witnesses etc. We have the same with John: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, seen, touched... this we proclaim..." And Peter: "We did not follow cleverly invented stories..." Now a person can choose to disbelieve these accounts if they wish, but it certainly looks like we have the testimony of reliable witnesses to some very extraordinary events.

The writing style both at the beginning of the Bible and at the end doesn't read like Luke's gospel (to my ear at least) but reads more like myth. (Inspired myth, I hasten to add. If God can speak through the poetry of the psalms and the nihilism of Ecclesiastes, he can also speak through mythology. Why should God's literary taste be limited to historical narrative?)

This raises the uncomfortable question of which bits are historical and which bits are myth, but this isn't a new problem. We already have to decide which bits are poetry, and not everyone will agree even on this. Luther famously called Copernicus a fool, quoting a psalm that said, "The earth is firmly established; it cannot be moved." That answers the question, said Luther. The earth does not go around the sun. QED. He thought he could get reliable scientific information from a poem, which wasn't his exegetical high point!
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby TotalVictory » Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:28 pm

Sorry, Dondi, to come so late to the party…

Have just been asking the question about the tares myself, wanted to place a post here asking, but decided to google if it’d been asked before. And HERE it is!!

It does seem to present a special problem for us doesn’t it. For it seems we have here a group whose fate is set from the beginning! By virtue of who “planted” them! There is clearly no hope of redemption in this model; and since there is no hope, why should there be any hint of evangelism….

… And of course in this parable, there is no evangelism. Why bother? It seems that these tares are irrevocably sealed, forever, in their initial condition. No hope of transformation, of redemption, of turning away from their deplorable and pitiable condition.

Quite sad really; no hope, ever.
The fact of tares among the wheat is simply observed, and dealt with later.

It certainly is true that we all too often ask parables to bear far more weight than they were intended to bear. So too here. That this parable denies hope and transformation and redemption (the very heart and soul of the gospel!!) must mean that this is simply not the point of the parable, nor can it by any stretch of the flailing imagination be allowed to assert as much.

God comes to seek and save the lost; Jesus enters our world as the perfect light, which lights every man. Who then is the object of God’s concern BUT what we’re now calling “tares”??? … The very ones we’ve determined are, in the telling of the parable itself, irredeemable.
-- Simply makes no sense.

Perhaps then the parable simply conveys a reality with which we are already quite familiar; the fact of evil in our midst that appears to flourish even under the watchful eye of the caretaker. Why has not God acted to root out the evil which all can see is right there? In our very midst?

The evil, if dealt with as we may immediately wish, may in fact have harmful effects on the righteous; the wheat as-it-were. This must not happen and so God allows both to ripen to their true nature into maturity. And only then does the separation occur.

This parable then seems to address the heartfelt (by the faithful of all ages) cry to God: Why do you allow wickedness to prosper right along side righteousness? Trust Me, God says in reply, in due time there will be a separation and order will in fact be reestablished.

… Or something like that…

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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby awakeningaletheia » Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:55 pm

We know that there will be a correcting and refining, that is unavoidable scripturally. The weeping has never given me a problem since we have verses like this, "weeping may endure for a night (outer darkness), but joy comes in the morning". Gnashing simply represents the stubbornness of the unrepentant, which is the whole reason they are going through judgment in the first place!

I think the whole interpretation of the parable comes down to this passage,

"[The angels] shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the reign of their Father. (Fun little thought: the phrase and them that do iniquity can be translated as and that which causes iniquity)

We know by Scripture that the furnace isn't evil, in fact why would Jesus say people are thrown into a fiery furnace? Where else in scripture is this theme of people figuratively being put through a furnace?

"As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace,
to blow the fire on it in order to melt it,
so I will gather you(Israel) in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you. (Ezekiel 22:20)"
(Later in chapter 39 God declares that Israel will be restored, so to be melted in a furnace mustn't be a final state.)

"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. (Isaiah 48:10)"

"The crucible is for silver,
and the furnace is for gold,
and the LORD tests hearts. (Proverbs 17:3)"

I think my favorite is the Proverb, notice that the furnace is for gold, combining this with the wicked being touch-stoned* in the Lake of Fire (a process which was used to test the value of gold and silver) we begin to discern a clear picture throughout the scriptures. God is putting the wicked into the furnace of fire to touch-stone(test) them like precious metals, only through this process can their true value be found. The final result is "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the reign of their Father", realizing that all people are children of God (Acts 17), then we see this as a prophecy about the wicked's final redemption and not of their eternal punishment. Remember the reign of Heaven is within, it is something that God must establish in every heart, by this testing in the furnace of affliction the war is won and the kingdom established.

P.S. If anyone thinks this interpretation lightens the impact of the cross and the blood of Christ, I wish to draw their attention to the very plausible interpretation of the 'Lake of Fire' as the blood of Christ burning away all sins. The Revelation is just that, an uncovering of Jesus Christ, its about him and his work. The Fire purifies and touch-stones everything, for everyone will be purified with fire.

*Touch-stone is translated as 'torment' in most bibles, however the Greek word here is 'basanos' and it literally is a black stone used for testing precious metals. To translate it as torment is a stretch, 'testing' is a better one.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby corpselight » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:10 am

i think we have to be careful about mixing metaphors in this instance. yes, a furnace is for refining or creating, but if you throw a bundle of weeds in there, they will be burned to ash.

however, the very statement that there's weeping and gnashing of teeth in the furnace when there should be rather a swift but painful death means maybe Christ Himself was mixing metaphors LOL

if i was Jesus, i'd have hoped the disciples would question me further. this parable begs questions, and that's why i feel it's not a final statement, but a leading one. the "end of this world" doesn't mean there is no hope in the next.

Dondi, you've definitely found us a puzzle! but it still has to balance against the rest of the Bible. also, i doubt this parable contains the whole truth, just a part of it. we still have to consider the 1 Corinthians 3:15, and see that everyone is judged by fire, and if his works or life don't stand up to the test, he himself will still be saved, but will suffer loss.

i also find that a very foundational scripture which still will apply here is Lamentations 3:31. God does not cast aside forever.

i'll agree with whoever said calvinism is abhorrent (unless every living thing is pre-destined, but that contradicts the Point about limited atonement).

i think the statement that God will separate the good from the bad, and burn away the bad, should be a comforting statement that God will eventually destroy all evil. parables are not meant to be taken as more than a picture. if you analyse too far you see issues.

i really don't believe in the Nephilim theory, though it would make a fantastic film. if you read that part of Genesis, it does not follow from the statement that the children of the "Sons of God" were anything more than mighty warriors of legend. the statement that sin was rampant is grammatically separate, and so these fellows may've been big and strong and wise, but no more evil than you or i. they were not why the Flood came (if the Flood's literal). also, after the Flood, how could any of their descendents have been alive on earth, given that Noah and his family were all that were saved?
however, if it IS true, maybe the reason why Hitler's body wasn't found was because he didn't die...scary thoughts. but like i say, a good movie but not good history. Hitler would then not be "human" and us humans would have reason to celebrate that such evil wasn't caused by us...and blatantly it is in all our hearts, so this would be a false comfort.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Kelly S » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:27 am

I just want to interject a "thank you" to you all. As I read this thread, I was so full of joy, reading all your comments. I have never seen people work, with differing ideas, to find an answer together. Not about the Bible. I am so thankful to be here, to have found a place where it can be truly said, "You will know them by their love for one another". Thank you all! You are a blessing and bring me much hope!
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby TotalVictory » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:37 am

Very helpful comments and texts awakening and corpselight

Some additional comments and emphasis:

1) The tares are clearly something with no worth; they are valueless. So it takes a stretch to say they represent people/minds/souls. In our beloved Luke 15 parables of the Lost sheep, lost coin, and “lost” son, the thing/entity being sought has worth and thus the relevance of God’s persistence and initiative and ingenuity in seeking the lost. And of course we can’t postulate a salvation drama where Christ comes to save/redeem that which is worthless to Him…

2) The burning in this parable is clearly for the purpose of total destruction; to get rid of; to make disappear, that which has no value. The Tares, as valueless, clearly will be subject to this destiny. While we can say that evil is valueless, we cannot say that those who engage in evil are also valueless. Therefore it makes sense the burning may indeed convey a purification in that it burns away that which is worthless. This of course fits quite well with the death and fire images in the bible as means of purification and journey to holiness and so on. Pauls dying daily, being crucified with Christ, etc

3) As for the more tangential speculations about the Nephilim, I’m not real sure that’s a worthwhile path of inquiry here. Seems a central theme of the bible is that life’s author and sustainer is God -- not the evil one. Satan (to put a name, if one prefers to, on the evil one) is the destroyer and God the creator. All Satan can do is twist and pervert and subvert and adulterate that which is/was created good. But the life that is in these perversions does not come from Satan, but from God. And thus should stand of object of God’s saving justice and mercy it seems to me…

4) Lastly, and this is a bit sobering perhaps, it does seem that the presence of the Tares among the Wheat does have a negative impact on the Wheat. We’re told that uprooting the tares before the harvest will ruin the Wheat; presumably because their roots are all jumbled up together in the soil. But this would also mean that precious nutrients in the soil that are intended to nourish the Wheat is in fact being diverted to the Tares and thereby depriving the Wheat of it’s full sustenance. --- But I have little idea what spiritual meaning that might have.

Bobx3

PS -- yes Kelly S! I agree with your take on the fine folks who think together here!
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby corpselight » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:17 am

just had a thought. Robin Parry has tentatively and cautiously mentioned the hypothesis that Satan may be destroyed in order to save lucifer.
could the tares be our sin natures? it'd surely kill us to rip them out now, and in a sense our sin natures are offspring of the evil one...
that's more speculative than i wanted to be, but just throwing the idea out there.

PS: Kelly, yeah it's pretty cool! i like the environment here :)
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Sherman » Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:16 am

corpselight, that's an interesting hypothesis. Parables are challenging because it is so easy to read much into them. On the other hand, they are also powerful tools of teaching for they force the person to wrestle with the text. And in wrestling we might come away with a limp and our names changed, like Jacob did, marked and changed. I find that accademically/exegitically speaking, parables clearly communicate just a couple of points; but as we wrestle with such passages, God can communicate to us much through them.

And Kelly, I too appreciate that we on this site, for the most part, can discuss differences of opinion/beliefs openly and gracefully. Much of it comes from the beliefs that 1) God is in control and the only righteous judge. 2) All people are valuable and loved by God. 3) We are not called to judge one another, but love one another. 4) An increasing level of humility that recognizes "I could be wrong; I certainly have been in the past". And 5) a hunger to grow in the "grace" and "knowledge" of our Lord and Savior. There is always more to learn, and more grace to grow in!

I was raised in a group who thought we had to corner market on truth, that we were the only ones who really read the scriptures honestly and dealt with them forthrightly. Looking back on it now I realize just how prideful and selfrighteous that was.

Well, anyhow, thanks for reminding us how rare this type of fellowship is!

Blessings,
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby awakeningaletheia » Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:47 am

Good point corselight, we must careful not to read to much into Scripture, however the way I look at Jesus and his parables is that they intimately connect to the Old Testament. Jesus uses metaphors found in every OT book, for instance the Sheep and Goats parable is taken from Ezekiel 34, Jesus's claim to being the door (the only way to God) is taken from Psalm 24. Jesus takes many different themes (some barely touched on) to tell his stories and teach his people. Looking up furnace, all throughout scripture it is used for refining and judgment, its a title for Egypt (iron furnace a.k.a. bondage); the furnace is also associated with testing of the heart, it is where God pours out his wrath and melts the wicked, and its where Shadrach/ Meshach/ Abednego were set free of their bonds and became a testimony of God's might.

Jesus knew all these Scriptures when he said that the wicked would be thrown into the fiery furnace. Right after the parable of the Wheat and Tares, Jesus tells another one about good and bad fish, the result is the same the evil are thrown into a fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. So we must realize that Jesus is not alluding to tares or bad fish here, because if you burn either of those they turn to ash. No, he is talking about the wicked being put in a furnace for refining. The wheat,tares,fish etc. are inconsequential, Jesus is focusing on the fiery furnace in both these parables. And as I've tried to explain the furnace is used for good in most if not all the scriptures its mentioned.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Gabe » Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:40 am

Excellent discussion.

Paul, too, employed the same sort of metaphors as John the Baptizer and Jesus did. In 1 Cor 3, he describes our fiery purification wherein all within us that is not worthy of God is destroyed by His consuming fire. "Wood, hay and stubble" here corresponds to the tares of Jesus' parable.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby TotalVictory » Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:44 am

corpselight wrote:could the tares be our sin natures? it'd surely kill us to rip them out now, and in a sense our sin natures are offspring of the evil one...

Very interesting and thought provoking corpselight!


Also, seems perhaps the parable intends to address what have been cries of the faithful in all generations:

-- Why, O God, evil? (“an enemy has done this…”)

-- Will You, O God, forever stand by and let evil prosper? -- the answer is clearly NO

The parables intent then would not be to elicit fear (oh no! am I a “Tare”? and destined for the furnace?) but to elicit hope. (God sees, knows, and will be faithful His purposes of eradicating evil/sin…)

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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby dirtboy » Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:13 am

Dondi wrote:All poignant answers and I appreciate the insight. Yet I still have to point out that nowhere in the parable, or in the progression of the 'harvest' therein, is there any indication that the tares turn into wheat (or vice versa, for that matter).
Nor is the argument that the wheat and the tares are just of different shades of ourselves seem to bear out, for again I must stress that in the interpretation Jesus gives it clearly states that there are two factions of children at play here.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus clearly identifies what each symbol represents in the real world. The seed is the Word of God and the four soils are the various conditions of the hearts of people for whom the Word of God is given. And the fruit that the fourth soil bears is that which is produced by those who receive the Word and are of a noble and good heart. There is no speculating about what the parable means, it is clear from the intepretation.

So likewise, it would be consistent to assume that the parable of the wheat and the tares bears the same clear interpretation as the former parable, without the need to allegorize what the symbols mean. Good seed = children of the kingdom. Bad seed = children of the wicked one.

I'm not trying to insist this is what the parable means. I'm only trying to be consistent. Nor am I espousing necessarily some form of Calvinism, which I abhor the thought of.

I do have one thought concerning this, a radical thought indeed, but I caution that it is just an idea that may be stretching it. But I only put it out for further discussion.

What if the children of the wicked one, presumably the Devil, are really his children, i.e. fallen angels or perhaps some kind of hybrid human as some suggest in Genesis 6, through the mating of sons of God with the daughters of men. If somehow they were able to propagate through the centuries, they would be indistinguishable among us God-created humans. And they would be responsible for much of the evil that has risen in the world.

There are various cases in the bible where angels have appeared in the form of humans. We learn in Hebrews 13:2 that some have entertained strangers unaware that they were angels. In Jude 1:4, we are told that some have crept into the churches 'who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.' Why would they have been condemned 'before of old'? This suggests that whoever these ungodly men were, they are ancient. And then in verse 6-7 we have this description: "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Apparently angel can, and have, engaged in sexual fornication, even going after strange flesh (which I assume to mean homosexual activity. Again, if this is the case, they are indistinguishable from humans.

Jesus said that the everlasting fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. Perhaps this is literally true in the sense that these tares are evil angels among us who have already been condemned as being the children of the wicked one, yet live among us as humans, until they are revealed and burned up at the end of the harvest, with no humans involved. Would they not also have the senses of wailing and gnashing of teeth? Certainly they admitted to being tormented by Jesus when they abode in the man of Gergesenes (Matthew 8:29). How else would we as the 'elect' be qualified to judge angels ( I Corinthians 6:3) if we didn't have opportunity tosee them physically operating around us in human form?

Thoughts anyone?



All poignant answers and I appreciate the insight. Yet I still have to point out that nowhere in the parable, or in the progression of the 'harvest' therein, is there any indication that the tares turn into wheat (or vice versa, for that matter).
Nor is the argument that the wheat and the tares are just of different shades of ourselves seem to bear out, for again I must stress that in the interpretation Jesus gives it clearly states that there are two factions of children at play here.


A parable isn't meant to be absolutely inflexible. Just because Jesus doesn't talk about tares turning into wheat doesn't mean they don't -- the whole kingdom is about repentance and being born again (...and three thousand souls were added to their number that day..."). Tares are constantly turning into wheat. The parable doesn't say it, but we know it to be true because the kingdom is like this. It started out with none, and souls are constantly added. In modern politics and culture we talk about "the rich and the poor" as if they are a static group of people. Not true. When we say "the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer" it doesn't mean that there is a fixed group of people "the rich" and another fixed "the poor" and they increase and decrease. In life we start out quite a bit poorer. In our 20's with a new job and a low wage we tend to be closer to "the poor". By the time many people are in their 50's they have had promotions and raises and they tend to be in "the rich". Also by fate, you could be "the rich" and a terrible thing could happen and you find yourself among "the poor". They are not static groups - they are constantly changing. So are the wheat and tares.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby corpselight » Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:38 am

so what do we say then? i think if we're going to stick with the likely view that the tares are people just as we are, we still have to balance it against the rest of the Bible...

this is one parable, it can't supercede every other part of the Word that argues for restorative wrath being wielded by love for the sake of the object of wrath.

i think we're making it too complicated. this is merely saying that God will sort out the evidoers. justice will be done, we can take comfort/warning from that...but mostly comfort, as the rest of the word talks of restoration and "fair togetherness" as Jason is fond of saying :) it's just that the full judgement and removal of bad people etc would damage the faithful at this time. maybe this is also saying then that God is aware of the perfect time for every act, and therefore we must be patient for this as we are for His return.

parables are meant to be a picture of something that is hard to understand with temporal minds, not the whole.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby redhotmagma » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:05 am

who sows the tares? the adversary
what are the adversaries children? lies, he is the father of lies
tares are lies
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby awakeningaletheia » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:57 pm

Well we must take comfort that no matter what punishment the sinner goes through at the end of the age, God is still love, his purpose is still corrective, and that the judge of all the earth will do right. Jesus used many parables that seem to contradict (though in truth they don't) Ultimate Reconciliation, and we should never shrug them off, but this particular one is not without hope.

I continue to look at the final verse as a prophecy of all one day being justified,

"Then the just* will shine out as the Sun in the Kingdom of their** Father."

*Romans 5:18

**Acts 17:29, Ephesians 4:6
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby I sit in Awe. » Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:43 pm

Just sitting back eating my popcorn....

So no one is going to show up and give a Preterist take on this one huh? :)

I've seen some very convincing arguements from that perspective on this exact parable.

Anyone? No one? Hmm. :?

Going back to eating my popcorn then. 8-)
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Aaron » Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:47 am

Just sitting back eating my popcorn....

So no one is going to show up and give a Preterist take on this one huh?

I've seen some very convincing arguements from that perspective on this exact parable.

Anyone? No one? Hmm.

Going back to eating my popcorn then.


The following pretty much sums up my understanding of what Christ had in mind when he gave this parable: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=1044#p14096

I'd only add that the "devil" or "evil one" who sowed the "weeds" should probably be identified as that which is figuratively identified as a "serpent" in Genesis 3: the deceptive and "crafty" desires of the flesh, which, when yielded to, lead to sin and an antagonism to what is good and true (viewtopic.php?f=14&t=610&start=60#p6088). It's the same personified enemy which I believe even tempted Christ in the wilderness (without success): viewtopic.php?f=14&t=610&start=120#p10657 (see last 5 paragraphs).
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Melchizedek » Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:33 am

I sit in Awe. wrote:Just sitting back eating my popcorn....

So no one is going to show up and give a Preterist take on this one huh? :)

I've seen some very convincing arguements from that perspective on this exact parable.

Anyone? No one? Hmm. :?

Going back to eating my popcorn then. 8-)


I was thinking the same thing myself, ISIA.
Thanks for that link to your previous post on this Aaron.

I think the preterist view neatly answers this one, assuming that the Wheat and Tares are (or rather, were) distinct individuals.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby jaxxen » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:03 pm

redhotmagma wrote:who sows the tares? the adversary
what are the adversaries children? lies, he is the father of lies
tares are lies

So, are we to allow the lies that are in our own hearts and the lies of others to grow together with the truth?

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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby jaxxen » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:11 pm

Sherman wrote:In this parable Jesus is simply affirming the reality that there are some people who submit to the influence of the Word of God and there are others who respond to the influence of the lies of Satan. And in the end God judges between who was right and who was wrong. Until then let's not give ourselves over to trying to judge others but let's realize that there are people who now love God and people who do not love God. This does not mean that some people are born for destruction and others are born for relationship with God, but that some people are currently listening to the enemy and others are listening to God. The message was spoken to the disciples encouraging them to recognize that some people respond to the word of God in a positive way and others do not. It does not mean that a person can never repent and is locked into relationship with whoever (God or Satan) got to them first.

It's also helpful to remember that in context Jesus has just had another encounter with the Pharisees, the religious leaders in Mt. 12 and was accused by them of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul. Though Jesus had just done a wonderful miracle, these religious leaders were so hardened against God that they'd strive every way they could to dismiss/denounce Jesus and His message of grace, love, and judgment, and even accuse Jesus.

"40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear."

Yes there shall be judgment, fiery judgment where what we have done is life will be judged with the good being purified and the evil being burnt up. Those truly righteous shall shine like the sun and those who are wicked will suffer terribly with weeping (repentance) and gnashing of teeth (terrible angry remorse). Also note that this wording was a means of referencing the Pharisees theological metaphor of judgment, Gehenna, which the Pharisees used to warn of Judgment to come, and primarily referenced a type of purgatory though they argued over whether or not those they considered "irredeemable" would be annihilated or continue to suffer indefinitely long as God saw fit.

So what should we draw from the parable?
1) There are good and bad people in this world, and it's often not obvious to us who is who.
2) Let's leave the judging to God.
3) Let's live our lives being watchful as to what influences we are submitting to.
4) Let's live our lives knowing that one day we shall all be judged and there will be rewards and punishments as God sees fit and needed.
5) Let's be busy about planting good seeds and let God worry about judging others.
6) Let's not be like the Pharisees who were actually opposing God, acting as enemies of the most High.

This parable does not affirm that some people are born enemies of God and others are born of God; rather it does affirm that some do currently submit to God and others are influenced by the enemy. This parable is not meant to communicate that people cannot change, repent. And it is not meant to be a full teaching on judgment and Gehenna, but references them as side notes, concepts his audience would have already understood.

Also note that through judgment, those things in our lives that are evil will be burnt up and those things in our lives that are good shall be purified. And thus we shall shine like the sun. Judgment is fearful but necessary for us all. We shall all face judgement and need to live our lives accordingly.

Sherman, can you or anyone else please elaborate as to weeping and gnashing of teeth indicating repentance and terrible, angry remorse in this parable (or others, for that matter). When Cain was confronted by the LORD for murdering Abel he mourned his own punishment. Easu found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. Also, the rich man (Dives?) lamented his fate but did not appear to give any indication of repentance. In each of these examples it appears that the transgressors only show sorrow for their condition, not what they've done. There are multitudes of men and women in prisons today who readily confess to their crimes, acknowledge that they belong in prison and hate their punishment but have no sense of remorse or contrition. Prior to my becoming a Christian I had a few dust ups with police and the court systems. While I was greatly enraged / saddened / frustrated with my situation, I wasn't truly repentant even though I knew I was guilty. I was more pissed that I had been caught. I know that I can not presuppose that my own experience is indicative of every single human that has ever existed, but it still seems to be Biblically based.

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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Sobornost » Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:24 am

Hi Matt –

Just want to say that I really appreciate the grace of your posts – I don’t know any Calvinists; but you are a good advert for Calvinism.

I find it difficult to put Cain, Esau and Dives in the same boat as characters all showing a sort of resentful rage rather than true remorse at their crimes.

God banishes Cain form his presence to live in exile in the land of Nod – but the ways I see his tears are s if he is a child who has done something in a frenzy and hardly knows what he has done – but with the awful realisation he is made to bear responsibility – as Adam and Eve also are as they are banished from the Garden. But God protects Cain from revenge killing by putting a mark on him; so this is not a clear cut story of damnation.

With Esau – yes he cries his tears but this time there is no murder and Jacob and Esau are in the end reconciled without any revenge killing.

Dives – the fictional character from Jesus’ parable does actually at least show concern for his friends and one early Universalist – a disciple of Origen - interpreted this as a sign of hope. Even in hell God is present in the virtue of compassion that Dives shows and this would outlast the scene of wrath. Perhaps this last gloss on scripture is a long shot – but I still don’t think that any of these three examples necessarily fit tidily together as types of resentful rage instead of remorse/repentance.

In terms of criminal justice – there is much evidence to show that criminals actually do feel remorse and want to make amends where a process of restorative justice is tried. Where they fully face their victims, and hear their victim’s stories and are required to make restitution. It doesn’t always work – there are people who are simply sociopaths – but it works a lot more that when people simply undergo retribution by the state. And I guess this is an appeal of PSA – this requires a person to confront what they have in a sense done to God and what God has done for them.
Blessings

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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby jaxxen » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:11 pm

Sobornost wrote:Hi Matt –

Just want to say that I really appreciate the grace of your posts – I don’t know any Calvinists; but you are a good advert for Calvinism.

I find it difficult to put Cain, Esau and Dives in the same boat as characters all showing a sort of resentful rage rather than true remorse at their crimes.

God banishes Cain form his presence to live in exile in the land of Nod – but the ways I see his tears are s if he is a child who has done something in a frenzy and hardly knows what he has done – but with the awful realisation he is made to bear responsibility – as Adam and Eve also are as they are banished from the Garden. But God protects Cain from revenge killing by putting a mark on him; so this is not a clear cut story of damnation.

With Esau – yes he cries his tears but this time there is no murder and Jacob and Esau are in the end reconciled without any revenge killing.

Dives – the fictional character from Jesus’ parable does actually at least show concern for his friends and one early Universalist – a disciple of Origen - interpreted this as a sign of hope. Even in hell God is present in the virtue of compassion that Dives shows and this would outlast the scene of wrath. Perhaps this last gloss on scripture is a long shot – but I still don’t think that any of these three examples necessarily fit tidily together as types of resentful rage instead of remorse/repentance.

In terms of criminal justice – there is much evidence to show that criminals actually do feel remorse and want to make amends where a process of restorative justice is tried. Where they fully face their victims, and hear their victim’s stories and are required to make restitution. It doesn’t always work – there are people who are simply sociopaths – but it works a lot more that when people simply undergo retribution by the state. And I guess this is an appeal of PSA – this requires a person to confront what they have in a sense done to God and what God has done for them.
Blessings

Dick

Hi Dick, hope your Lenten season is going good. Thank you for your kind words. You too are a great rep for your position. I've recently started a couple of other threads and don't have time to respond to this one right now, but I just wanted to acknowledge your post! Take care of yourself and hopefully I can come back to this one soon ;)

Matt
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Athousandhills » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:54 am

I continue to look at the final verse as a prophecy of all one day being justified,

"Then the just* will shine out as the Sun in the Kingdom of their** Father."


Amen, I finally registered to this forum just to make that point. After the tares make their trip through the furnace, THEN THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS will shine through. The wheats righteousness is already apparent, it's not shining because the tares are finally out of the way, no the tares have now been made righteous by the refiners fire and shine along with the wheat, or have been made into wheat or however you want to say it!

Thanks everyone on this site for sharing your hearts, I've been reading along for awhile and have been extrembly blessed and encouraged to discover this site. I had practically given up on the whole "God Thing" in my heart because I just couldn't understand hell and all of the trailing effects of that theology. This is the God that I want to share with my neighbours! To be able to do so while still having Gods word as my foundation is truly awesome, thanks again!
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Athousandhills » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:55 am

Ha, just noticed this thread is over a year old!
*edited to say,
Never mind, was looking at jaxxens join date, feel free to delete this post
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Sobornost » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:26 pm

I’d just add that historically this parable has been a favourite for those Christians who have advocated religious tolerance. Unlike normal Jewish apocalyptic that speaks of a separation of the righteous and unrighteous at an imminent judgement (and could be used to urge the Sons of light against the Sons of Dark in violent conflict in the here and now) this parable speaks of the good and the bad being entwined together in the middle times before the judgement. It is for God to judge and not for us. Both Erasmus in his 'Annotations to the New Testament' and Roger Williams of Rhode Island in his ‘Bloody Tenant’ used the parable to argue against the persecution of heretics and for tolerance of difference in the Church. Likewise Milton in his ‘Areopagitica’ used the parable to argue for a free press – truth has nothing to fear from error and error is multiplied in attempts to suppress it.


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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Cindy Skillman » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:58 pm

AThousandHills,

Thanks so much for your encouragement and the edification you've offered!

And Dick,

Very cool -- I never knew that. (There are a lot of things I never knew!) ;)

Love, Cindy
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby jaxxen » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:43 pm

Athousandhills wrote:I continue to look at the final verse as a prophecy of all one day being justified,

"Then the just* will shine out as the Sun in the Kingdom of their** Father."


Amen, I finally registered to this forum just to make that point. After the tares make their trip through the furnace, THEN THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS will shine through. The wheats righteousness is already apparent, it's not shining because the tares are finally out of the way, no the tares have now been made righteous by the refiners fire and shine along with the wheat, or have been made into wheat or however you want to say it!

Thanks everyone on this site for sharing your hearts, I've been reading along for awhile and have been extrembly blessed and encouraged to discover this site. I had practically given up on the whole "God Thing" in my heart because I just couldn't understand hell and all of the trailing effects of that theology. This is the God that I want to share with my neighbours! To be able to do so while still having Gods word as my foundation is truly awesome, thanks again!

Sadly for the UR perspective, there is nothing whatsoever to indicate that weeds / tares / chaff gets refined in a furnace :shock: If Jesus had used gold or silver in this parable, the UR argument would not be so completely untenable, but in point of fact He doesn't refer to silver or gold, but rather sons of the evil one to be cast into a fiery furnace, where there'll be weeping and gnashing of teeth. It will only be when the sons of the wicked one, all law-breakers and things that cause sin are removed that the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father, which He has prepared for them from before the foundations of the world.

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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Sobornost » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:14 am

Hello Matt –

Well this is a parable – and you’ll not get unanimity here because all we share is an interest in universalism – rather than doctrinal coherence. As far as I can see the wheat are the offspring of God, the tares the offspring of Satan – this we know because Jesus interprets it. The two are entangled feeding from the same soil – so they are not obviously separate. That’s a new idea that the disciples have t grasp – different from say the teachings of the Zealots and the Qumran sect; and I think it is very important not to miss this. So the central teaching of this parable is not that there is to be a judgement and a separation – this was not news to Jesus’ audience. It is that the judgement is at harvest time. Of course Universalist will see in the burning of the tares a metaphor for a refinement of the wheat – the darnel chokes the wheat and stunt its growth; also it’s not good to eat. So this still can be seen as a metaphor for painful refinement as the God seed and seed of the enemy is separated in a way that runs through the centre of all of us. Also I note that Chaff burns quickly – so it takes a lot to see this as a metaphor of Eternal Conscious torment; a believer in ECT has to look elsewhere for convincing proof texts.

But most of all I am convinced that the central message of this parable is that the process of sifting and judgment is God’s process – only at the harvest will the Righteous be revealed in full glory. It’s sifting is not for us to engage in now – or we will fall into wrath. Every tradition of Christianity is flawed and has its dark side as well as its lighter side. I think Calvinism today has learnt much from those Christians who did advocate tolerance – and you too can be grateful to them because they have in a way enabled you to be a Calvinist and also to be the very likeable, witty and compassionate man that you so evidently are.

The thing about historic Calvinism is that it has often been so intolerant and infused with persecuting zeal – seeking to found the purified community of the elect now rather than leaving judgement later to God. When this impulse has been brought under control by other factors I think we see the best in Calvinism – but there are some very bad things in the wide history of Clavinism.

I cannot judge Calvin or Calvinists in the past – but I cannot ignore that past when Calvinists try to persuade me that somehow the light shines in Calvinism in ways that it does not in the wider Church. Calvin was a man of his times – but so was Castellio who opposed him and argued for tolerance. The burning of Michel de Servetus for Unitarianism is still something to be reckoned with. Yes Calvin wanted him beheaded when he proved impenitent rather than burned slowly over green wood as actually happened – but as Tom Talbott says in TILOC there is much evidence to show that Calvin entrapped him in the first place. Calvin also encouraged the killing of Anabaptists in a huge way – and early Calvinists killed huge numbers of Anabaptists (I say this as an Anabaptist sympathiser).

Calvin’s last commentary was on the Book of Joshua and it was Calvinists who overturned any idea of just war theory and showed no mercy against the people they subjected – and there are stories of Calvinist chaplains urging soldiers on to total slaughter when the commanders of troop urged restraint –in Ireland for example. Roger Williams rebuked John Winthrop for his genocidal wars against the Native Americans and rebuked all persecutors as under the judgement of God – he was a moderate Calvinist - his Calvinism had been tempered by the teachings of the Universalist Seeker sect in England.

And the idea of the elect as a separated people has lead to colonial abuses like apartheid (whereas I South Africa Anglican incarnationalism always with a splash of universalism sustained the hope of Black Christians). I understand that the Dutch Reformed church in South Africa has done mush soul searching in bringing their teachings into line with values of universal human rights. Of this I’m glad – Gregory of Nyssa he Universalist did this in the Fourth century and argued against slavery on the basis of the teleological dignity of all in the universal reconciliation.

All of this takes me back to the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. Yes Calvinism has a strong doctrinal base and fine tradition of learning and education has much to give the universal Church. But Calvinism has also learnt about how to live with others in the time of the wheat and tares from the wider Church. And I hope we can continue to learn from each other – and not revive old factions.

None of this is to say that I'm in any way bringing up Straw Men or trying to make out that Calvin and Calvinism are wicked. Indeed I found Marilynne Robinson's essay on Jean Cauvin in The Death of Adam - which is sympathetic without being proselytising - very welcome. I think we UR bods do always need to reflect upon not being over reactive against ECT versions of Calvinism – just because these are at the opposite end of the spectrum to our beliefs. At the same time there must be ways of trying to express difficult truths about history etc, without trying to offend. Origen was held up by Erasmus as the most temperate and kind debater. When the Pagan Celsus mocked his Christian beliefs and laughed them to scorn, he did not retaliate in kind, or see dark meanings everywhere in Census’ words. Instead he replied with gentle wit - 'You cook for the elite with refined palates; we cook for the masses'. I want to follow Origen's example (at least in this matter :lol: )


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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby blackiebori » Mon May 20, 2013 2:12 am

Dondi wrote:What say you?"


I would say that this is a parable concerning what it will be like at the 'end of the age', as spoken of in verses 39 and 40. The Wheat and the Tares is obviously the parable, but Jesus' explanation of it in verses 37 through 43 is obviously a prophecy of what was to come at the end of the age, namely the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. The parable of the Fishing Net and it's explanation in Matthew 13:47-50 is similar to the Wheat and the Tares in its scope. Are their any hints within these parables of "eternal conscious torments" after the end the "world"? Not one. It merely states there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in the fiery furnace at the end of the age (αἰῶνός), not that this weeping and teeth gnashing would last forever. Jerusalem and the lands around it were to be turned into its own garbage dump, Ga Ben Hinnom (Gehenna), when the Son of Man returned with his angels to gather the elect (Matt. 24:31) and weed out the wicked for judgement.

A Preterist interpretation of this parable, and the parable of the Fishing Net, fits perfectly within the context of an impending judgement to come on that generation of Israel. But when would this judgement come? When they (the disciples) see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing in the holy place (Matt. 24:15). Indeed, Saint Paul describes this desolating abomination as the 'man of lawlessness' who sets himself up in God's temple (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4); he is the man doomed to destruction. This doom was brought upon Jerusalem and its Temple in the year AD 70, and has little to do with a literal destruction of the physical universe at the end of time. As I said above, there is no indication that such destruction would last forever, as God promises that All Israel will be restored (Romans 11:25-32).
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Sherman » Mon May 20, 2013 6:47 am

jaxxen wrote: Sherman, can you or anyone else please elaborate as to weeping and gnashing of teeth indicating repentance and terrible, angry remorse in this parable (or others, for that matter). When Cain was confronted by the LORD for murdering Abel he mourned his own punishment. Easu found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. Also, the rich man (Dives?) lamented his fate but did not appear to give any indication of repentance. In each of these examples it appears that the transgressors only show sorrow for their condition, not what they've done. There are multitudes of men and women in prisons today who readily confess to their crimes, acknowledge that they belong in prison and hate their punishment but have no sense of remorse or contrition. Prior to my becoming a Christian I had a few dust ups with police and the court systems. While I was greatly enraged / saddened / frustrated with my situation, I wasn't truly repentant even though I knew I was guilty. I was more pissed that I had been caught. I know that I can not presuppose that my own experience is indicative of every single human that has ever existed, but it still seems to be Biblically based.

Matt

Good morning Matt. I'm sorry that I didn't respond to this sooner; I missed it. You are correct that there are plenty of examples of people refusing to accept responsibility for their sins, blaming others, and even accepting that they are guilty, hating the punishment and upset the got caught but not remorseful or repentive. And the purpose of the phrase "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is to highight that punishment for sin will be bad, something to be avoided. When highlighting the negative ramifications of sin, one always appeals to the worst-case-scenario at the least, and often uses hyperbole, overstatement to illicit a positive emotional response. And such phrases being hyperbole certainly fit the style of the passages. I mean, few think that Jesus really meant to cut off one's hands or pluck out one's eyes to stop sinning. Jesus was using hyperbole to make the point that we need to do all we can to live holy, get sin out of our lives. He wasn't speaking literally, but hyperbolically.

I find it funny that people want to take warnings of doom and gloom literally, but the passages affirming UR they take as hyperbole or generalizations, even though the literary context of the doom and gloom passages are full of metaphor and hyperbole, and the passages affirming UR tend to be literal, explicit, not metaphorical or hyperbolic.
I suppose in short, as I think about it more, I'd say I'm reading "repentance" into the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" phrase because ultimately I think that when we are all faced with the absolute truth and freed from the deception of evil, we'll see just how much evil we've participated in and, well, our weeping will be full of repentance. And from experience, when I'ven encountered the judgment of God, and faced the truth concerning my own wickedness and evil, it resulted in terrible, heart-renching weeping and repentance.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby JasonPratt » Tue May 21, 2013 9:37 am

This seemed like a good excuse to add an entry to my Exegetical Commentary (with a link back here for more discussion). :)

Among other things, I point out in detail that Jesus does make direct reference in the parable of the wheat and the weeds to the purpose of the furnace being purgative and salvific (thus also the furnace of the parable of the good and bad fish), even though He doesn't spell it out for the disciples. In typical rabbinic style He quotes the first part of a scripture, expecting them to contextualize the rest of it; if they don't, the meaning could be obscured from only the portion quoted alone and they'll be dishonored as poor students!


In typical Synoptic style, He's also criticizing His own apostles for having attitudes similar to those of the Pharisees, whom He has just previously lambasted with the sin against the Holy Spirit, and because of whom He had recently switched over to parables.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby JasonPratt » Tue May 21, 2013 10:06 am

I should probably add that I'm not yet finished commenting on Matt 13 and its Synoptic parallels. Some of the connections are very interesting although not immediately obvious: for example, Mark and Matthew report the parable of the mustard seed here, but Luke reports it shortly before his account (unique to his Gospel) of the man who came to Christ asking if only a few were being saved--and being rebuked for thinking such a thing, with language echoing Matt 13 and parallels! "You shall be standing outside" being told to stay outside because the Lord doesn't know where you, the man asking the question, are from, and being ordered to depart as a doer of non-fair-togetherness, weeping and gnashing teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and those coming from east and west and north and south reclining at the table in the kingdom of God but you being outside.

Notably, this warning is very similar to that launched against "the sons of the kingdom" in Matt 8, previous to what Jesus says in Matt 13!

Anyway, that's over in Luke; there is a hill of material still to dig through and report on in Matt 13 and its parallels in GosMark and GosLuke.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Obadiah » Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:53 am

Greetings, I just found this post.
The scriptures have the answer to our questions. We need to pray for Holy Spirit to help us the hear the answer.
Here is an article on the "Wheat or Weeds". Please mouse over the scriptures especially. Without them it is merely another opinion.
Article: http://wheatorweeds-obadiah.blogspot.com/

I hope you enjoy the perspective that the scriptures give.

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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby johnnyparker » Fri Oct 04, 2013 7:25 am

Mmmm. Looks like propaganda for the Jehovah's Witnesses to me, Obadiah. As are your other two posts :? . Posting links to someone else's blog, on threads that have been dormant for five months and two years respectively, is bound to raise people's suspicions about your motives in coming here.

This is a forum for discussing ideas around Christian Universalism. And other stuff, of course. If you are interested in giving us your perspective on that we'd be glad to hear it.

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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby JasonPratt » Fri Oct 04, 2013 7:56 am

Well, people do show up to read old threads on occasion (and this one isn't overly old by forum standards). :)

I'm not entirely sure why someone would create a whole new blogspot account to write one article, but it's a free internet. ;) To be clear, the article was written almost two years ago, so "Obadiah" wasn't responding to the thread here by doing so.

We do pray to the Holy Spirit to help us understand scriptural testimony, Oba, but thank you for the reminder, and for the link to your own opinion (or the report about some other people's opinions) about what they think the HS was saying to them about this parable. Like any other human (ourselves included), you and the others are using human reasoning about the data you have, or think you have, to infer the meaning and implications of the data -- unless you (or they) are claiming to be merely repeating by direct plenary inspiration what the HS is telling you. In which case you should be willing to grant that without solid demonstration of your-or-their prophetic authority, people ought not to accept such claims from you or them.

Still, readers are welcome to compare for themselves how accurately and validly different people account for the scriptural data, and your article is (for whatever it is worth) an example to check.

We would of course prefer for posting members to have actual discussions here in relation to the threads they are commenting on; but life is often busy and if you've already worked on the topic somewhere I can understand wanting to just point back there and moving along. To be honest, I kind of prefer that to you spending no more time copy-pasting your article here without actually trying to discuss anything: that way readers can choose whether or not they want to spend time on your work.

(After all, fair's fair: I did something similar myself up earlier in the thread! :lol: )
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby Obadiah » Sat Oct 05, 2013 7:15 am

Greetings,
Thank you for your kind words Jason. Yes I did write the Wheat or Weeds article a while back. I came across this forum recently when I was looking on Google for the "kings of the earth", based on an article I had recently read. After coming here I browsed this Christian site to see what other subjects there were here. When I saw the one on the Wheat and the Tares, I couldn't resist letting people know what I found in scriptures on the wheat and weeds. Jesus did clearly say the seed was the "word" and your "heart" (not the physical one of course) was where the seed was sown.
. So comparing all the Gospel accounts on the subject of seeds and heart, as well as world, will help to give a clearer understanding. Holy Spirit is of course what helps most.
Nevertheless, the scriptures cannot be nullified, so the word as Jesus says in Mark is the seed that the farmer sows and the heart is where he sows it. My article on Wheat or Weeds has all the scriptures in it to show all of this.
As to JW propaganda...no... this is not that. I will never direct people there. Jesus does not need an organization. I was in the organization of JWs for over 30 years and it took me that long to "wake up" with God's help to get out of it. If you were truly aware of what JWs teach (currently...because they keep changing) then you would know that my understanding is not in agreement with their doctrines. I was disfellowshipped for disagreeing with the official doctrines and sharing my findings with other members. (I lost my own children due to the "shunning" that follows this disfellowshipping. This causes a heartbrake that cannot be fully described) I chose truth over family. I value Bible research and thinking not mind control, and I don't believe that might makes right. I don't believe any men have the divine right to dictate what truth is. (Independent of the scriptures.) All Organizations have the potential for corruption and abuse of power. I am searching for "The Truth", not man's opinion. If you have a love of the truth, God and Jesus will help you to find it. If you pray for it. Once again I thank you Jason, for your balanced view here. No one is obligated to look for truth, but it is there. Jesus said the truth will set you free. It set me free from allowing men to dictate "what is truth". Paul speaks about this subject in Galatians. He did not get his Gospel from men, nor did he try to please men.

Agape, and may you keep progressing in truth.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby JasonPratt » Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:41 pm

Obadiah wrote:Jesus did clearly say the seed was the "word" and your "heart" (not the physical one of course) was where the seed was sown.


Jesus says this in regard to a previous parable in Matt 13 (paralleled elsewhere), but not in regard to the wheat and the tares: Jesus clearly says the good seed are the sons of the kingdom and the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the field is the world. (Nor are these details obscure in the Greek texts, or in other ancient language texts so far as I know.) The text, so far as it goes, does not say that wheat seeds can turn into weeds ("can turn bad and so can be viewed as no better than a weed"), nor that they do; much less does it say that God's word can turn into weeds when sown in the heart! -- which would seem to be the result of simply conflating ideas between two parables here.

A conflation of ideas runs against what Jesus "clearly says" here while He is explaining the parable. What I mean is that it is not a matter of simply looking up what Jesus or the Bible "clearly says", or words with completely different meanings wouldn't have to be substituted.

I don't say that because I'm unsympathetic to the attempt -- ideologically I would prefer for Jesus to be talking about sowing the word in a persons heart instead of sowing children of the kingdom in the world here. Since that very evidently isn't the case, then I'm obliged to work with what's actually there, rather than substituting for it. Adding in details from elsewhere can certainly help flesh out the meaning (and maybe illustrate that Jesus was only trying to make a limited point or two here which should not be construed as testimony constraining against fairly obvious meanings elsewhere), but I don't find that substituting meanings back and forth is the best way to proceed with this material.

It happens, for example, that there are direct contextual clues (including by reference to OT scripture) that the furnace isn't intended for, and doesn't represent, hopeless punishment; I can point to those without having to make a term/idea substitution.

I do certainly agree that the "sons of the kingdom" mentioned in this parable aren't some special elect who are immune from falling -- no moreso are the tares immune from being saved from their sins. Jesus Himself warns earlier in GosMatt about "sons of the kingdom" being thrown into the outer darkness (i.e. into the situation equivalent to the furnace in this and the related fishing parable) and those previously outside the kingdom (equivalent to the tares in this parable, or the bad fish in the nearby related parable) coming in. In fact, Jesus hints pretty strongly about the chief ground for the sons of the kingdom being thrown outside! -- because in their hearts they don't really want those outside to come into the kingdom, too!

(Also, I appreciate your numerous examples demonstrating that most of what Jesus has to say in condemnation is aimed at misbehaving servants of His -- even the ones He calls sons or servants of the evil one are obviously supposed to have been His servants. The apostles themselves are not immune from such warnings, and the only two people actually called "Satan" in the Gospels are Satan and the apostle Peter! That has to be taken seriously as a judgment warning; but just as obviously it doesn't necessarily involve a hopeless condemnation.)

None of this extension and comparison of principles requires that the figures in this parable be something other than what Jesus explained them to be. But I (and many other people here) certainly would agree that the parable, when read in conjunction with other information, is not intended to refer to two classes of people who are immune from shifting from one class to another.

Obadiah wrote:Nevertheless, the scriptures cannot be nullified, so the word as Jesus says in Mark is the seed that the farmer sows and the heart is where he sows it.


On the same principle, that the scriptures cannot be nullified, the sons of the kingdom as Jesus says in Matthew is the seed sown by the farmer, and the world is where he sows it. If a concept substitution is attempted one way, it can be attempted the other way just as easily, unless there are good reasons for inferring only one direction of substitution, and then good reasons for the substitution to go in one direction rather than another. But then there must be good reasons for inferring a term substitution was meant by Jesus at all, rather than Jesus using a similar metaphor to talk about two somewhat different ideas (and so the two uses of the same imagery shouldn't be pitted against one another). I don't think this has been established in your article yet.

For what it's worth, Oba, we do have several members here who also regard this parable as being about wheat and weeds sown in a person's heart. But (so far as I recall) they don't shift back and forth between metaphorical applications on this, so that the end result is a world of people who have let one kind of seed grow in their hearts instead of the other. Rather, they follow their metaphorical substitution out to the end, where God gathers up and destroys the evil (weeds) out of the heart (field) of the person at the judgment.

Also, while I don't go that route for this parable, I do agree (as most other members here) that the wheat threshing metaphor mentioned by John the Baptist is intended to refer to purification of the soul from evil, through disciplinary punishment where necessary. There are strong connections to this notion in John's reference to Malachi 4 (with important lead-ins from Mal 3), which also includes the language about chopping down and burning the tree: it's meant to be purgative and remedial, not hopelessly punitive. (This by the way would apply by extraction to Jesus' own remarks about trees being threatened with destruction -- it wasn't hopeless punishment over here, and so doesn't refer to hopeless punishment over there.) You may find that connection helpful if you decide to update your work.

I especially appreciated your connection of threshing to tribulation; I think many other readers here will find that interesting, too.

Obadiah wrote: So comparing all the Gospel accounts on the subject of seeds and heart, as well as world, will help to give a clearer understanding.


While you did work hard to compare this parable to other scriptural parables about seeds and heart, you didn't include a comparative reference to the "world" in your article at all. The only time you even use the word is when you write, "Certainly if you just look at the condition of the world it is evident that Satan still rules it." Breaking the connection to Jesus' identification of the field as "the world" in this parable doesn't help your explanatory case any; and you can see that keeping that meaning in the account is important, or you wouldn't have written that doing so will help to give a clearer understanding. Leaving that important detail out of the account, cannot help but obscure a proper understanding of the parable by proportion of its omission.

I don't want to sound like I'm being harshly critical of your attempt. I'm intrigued by the idea of multiple overlapping and interlacing metaphorical applications to one parable's details (partly because this seems to be how Biblical prophecy often works). I just don't see yet that this kind of interpretation is called for in regard to this parable. And even if I did see that, I would never try to promote it over-against other interpretative attempts by claiming this is a "clear" or "simple" matter of just reading what the scriptures say here -- especially when your attempt completely leaves out one of the major important details.

(Possibly you did write that material and thought you had posted it, but something happened and you posted your article in pieces and got distracted and missed including that piece; thus explaining why you seem to think you included it when commenting on your article for us.)


Obadiah wrote:As to JW propaganda...no... this is not that.


Not really my concern of course -- we ourselves might be regarded as a "propaganda" site, and any apologetic thrust could be labeled as that by someone who doesn't accept it, so I'm not overly quick to throw that out as a charge -- but this may be of interest to Johnny: many people here can sympathize from personal experience about being disenfranchised, even to an extent of emotional terrorism, and I know Johnny is especially not fond of that.

This is not something I have personally had to worry about yet, and I try to be charitably understanding about why groups do so. Still, losing your children over it is a grief I can only approximately imagine, and I know it would be harder to be charitable toward those who instigated that break.

(To those who haven't read Obadiah's article yet, he has structured it as a criticism of JW leadership; and I really think many readers here will at least be able to sympathize with Oba's frustration at them. Actually, his language and condemnations of them remind me a lot of several members when talking on this topic. :) )

Peace and strength to you, and may you also keep progressing in truth, walking according to what light you can see from the Holy Spirit, looking for more light thereby.
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Re: The Wheat and the Tares

Postby johnnyparker » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:26 pm

Hi Obadiah

I'm sorry to hear of your troubles with your family and the JWs. Your experience is the only evidence that is needed to expose them for the cruel cultists they are.

All the best

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