Matthew 5:38-39, Jesus Rewrites Scripture

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

//Five times in this chapter, the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins a topic with the words “You have heard.” Curious that Jesus would use these words, because the punch line resides in where they heard the words. They heard them in the synagogue, for each one is a quote from scripture.

In other words, Jesus felt it was permissible to say, “The scripture says this … but I say this.” Espousing a higher standard than scripture, Jesus calls his followers to step up to the next level.

Yet, today, we find it so hard to take this advice! We find it so hard to continue growing as Christians, if that means lifting ourselves above our beloved scripture. But how else is Christianity to continue advancing? How else are we going to draw nearer to Jesus’ vision of a Kingdom of Heaven on earth?

There is much good in scripture, but there is also much good in following Jesus’ example of rising above some of our scriptural teachings. One trendy example is the current issue over acceptance of homosexuality; it seems to me that the Bible’s stance is clear, yet as Christians, we are called to overcome such prejudices. Will we be able take the next step?

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Book review: The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life

by Emmet Fox

★★★★

I guess I blew it with the timing of this review. This is a beautiful hardbound reprint of a 1934 classic, clearly meant as a gift option. The publication timing of November 2012 hints of a Christmas gift. Did any of you get Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificates for Christmas? My apologies, HarperOne, for not jumping on this sooner, to get the word out.

Let’s start with the dirt on Emmet Fox (1886-1951). He was a spiritual teacher, and served as minister of the Divine Science church in New York during the depression years. “Divine Science” is a New Thought branch, which appears to me to be a watered down version of Christian Science. An emphasis on healing remains, focusing on prayer and positive thinking, but with a little more room for the medical profession to step in where needed. At least, that’s my take.

Fox’s work here on “The Sermon on the Mount” became popular with Alcoholics Anonymous, though it seems to me a bit more ethereal than many current-day A.A. attendees would appreciate. Subtitles abound for this work: not only is this book (and Jesus’ sermon) the “key to success in life,” it is “the timeless manual on the power of positive thinking” and “the classic manual for harmonious living.” You aren’t going to get converted to orthodox Christianity by Fox–“all the doctrines and theologies of the churches are human inventions built up by their authors out of their own mentalities, and foisted upon the Bible from the outside”–but Fox’s appreciation for Jesus still shines. “Higher Critics” are missing the point of the Bible, for it is but a spiritual treatise. As such, you must learn new meanings for many of the words in the Bible: “prosperity,” “earth,” “heaven,” “heart,” these don’t mean what you think they mean.

The great Law of the Universe is this: what you think in your mind you will produce in your experience. Lovers of The Secret will also love Emmet Fox, especially if you have a love also for Jesus, the Master Metaphysician.

 

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