Gospel of Matthew 15
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus, and said: 2 “How is it that your disciples break the traditions of our ancestors? For they do not wash their hands when they eat food.”
3 His reply was: “How is it that you on your side break God’s commandments out of respect for your own traditions? 4 For God said: Honor thy father and mother,’ and ‘Let those who revile their father or mother suffer death,’ 5 But you say that whenever anyone says to his father or mother, “Whatever of mine might have been of service to you is ‘Given to God,’ 6 You are in no way bound to honor your father. In this way you have nullified the words of God on account of your traditions.”
7 “Hypocrites! It was well said by Isaiah when he prophesied about you: 8 ‘This is a people that honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far removed from me; 9 But vainly do they worship me, for they teach but the precepts of men.’“ 10 Then Jesus called the people to him, and said: “Listen, and mark my words. 11 It is not what enters your mouth that ‘defiles’ you, but what comes out of your mouth that does defile you!”
12 On this his disciples came up to him, and said: “Do you know that the Pharisees were shocked on hearing what you said?” 13 “Every plant,” Jesus replied, “that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them be; they are but blind guides; and, if one blind person guides another, both of them will fall into a ditch.” 15 Upon this, Peter said to Jesus: “Explain this saying to us.” 16 “What, do even you understand nothing yet?” Jesus exclaimed.
17 “Do not you see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is afterwards expelled? 18 But the things that come out from the mouth proceed from the heart, and it is these that defile a man; 19 For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts: murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, perjury, slander. 20 These are the things that defile a man; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
To continue reading Chapter 15 and read the story of the fish and loaves, please click on page 2 below.
Some folks have wondered why we still choose to identify ourselves as “Christians”; while others question our focus on Jesus Christ. A few progressive readers have taken exception with the “authority” we take on The Lord’s Prayer. After all, no one knows for sure whether Jesus of Nazareth even existed, so who are we to say what Jesus “wanted” us to believe?
Good questions all. And we could write long scholarly replies to each one, but as you have come to notice, that is not our style. We expect that Living Hour visitors know that what they read here is simply our educated opinions–ones which we have arrived at after many years of serious reflection and joyful living. If we were to use phrases such as “I think” or “It seems to me” that would be unnecessary, not to mention an insult to our old English professors who wisely counseled, “Don’t tell me it’s your opinion. I already know it’s your opinion! Just say it.”
And say it we have. But why in such a way? Well, suffice to say we keep Jesus as our centrifugal point because we are Americans/Westerners, ones who have been raised within a Christian culture and are the products of a Christian history. To cut ourselves off from that would be like cutting off an appendage. It is ill advised. Rather than abandon Christianity, it is our duty to lift it up and reclaim the spirituality of Jesus from the gatekeepers of religion–in other words, the organized Protestant and Catholic Churches who refuse to evolve and meet the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs of their 21st century congregations.
The term “Progressive Christian” though does not necessarily identify someone who shares these evolutionary spiritual beliefs. So in the spirit of camaraderie, and building a community of like-minded individuals that share a common vision (and helping these people find each other), we offer the term SBNR Christian or SBNR Progressive Christian–which can serve as a descriptive for new blogs and websites.
We can expect great diversity in SBNRand among SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious) Christians, but the core beliefs might be defined as follows:
1) A belief that Jesus was a prophet, and that his divinity is one in which we all share, as Sons and Daughters of God.
2) A belief that we should not abandon Christian traditions and iconography, but reinterpret, refashion, and reinvent them.
3) A belief that reason and faith walk hand in hand.
If you launch an SBNR Christianity website and would like us to link to you, please drop us an email at living (at) livinghour.org.
Lastly, for those who might say that being an SBNR Christian is a contradiction in terms, we point them towards the post: Praising Contradictions.
Sign up to receive The Living Hour’s SBNR Daily Motivationals. This free series combines history, literature, philosophy, psychology, and religion to help bring about new perspectives for Progressive Christians and anyone who seeks a better understanding of “God” and life’s purpose.
Gospel of Mark 7
One day the Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus. 2 They had noticed that some of his disciples ate their food with their hands ‘defiled,’ by which they meant unwashed. 3 For the Pharisees, and indeed all strict Jews, will not eat without first scrupulously washing their hands, holding in this to the traditions of their ancestors. 4 When they come from market, they will not eat without first sprinkling themselves; and there are many other customs which they have inherited and hold to, such as the ceremonial washing of cups, and jugs, and copper pans.
5 So the Pharisees and the teachers of the law asked Jesus this question: “How is it that your disciples do not follow the traditions of our ancestors, but eat their food with defiled hands?” 6 His answer was: “It was well said by Isaiah when he prophesied about you hypocrites in the words: ‘This is a people that honor me with their lips, While their hearts are far removed from me; 7 But vainly do they worship me, For they teach but the precepts of men.’
8 You neglect God’s commandments and hold to the traditions of men. 9 Wisely do you set aside God’s commandments,” he exclaimed, “to keep your own traditions! 10 For while Moses said ‘Honor thy father and thy mother,’ and ‘Let him who reviles his father or mother suffer death,’ 11 You say: ‘If a man says to his father or mother: “Whatever of mine might have been of service to you is Korban”‘ (which means ‘Given to God’), 12 Why, then you do not allow him to do anything further for his father or mother! 13 In this way you nullify the words of God by your traditions, which you hand down; and you do many similar things.”
14 Then Jesus called the people to him again, and said: “Listen to me, all of you, and mark my words. There is nothing external to you, which by going into you that can ‘defile’ you; but the things that come out from you are the things that defile you. 16 Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” 17 When Jesus went indoors, away from the crowd, his disciples began questioning him about this saying.
18 “What, do even you understand so little!” exclaimed Jesus. “Do not you see that there is nothing external to a man, which by going into a man, can ‘defile’ him, 19 Because it does not pass into his heart, but into his stomach, and is afterwards got rid of?—in saying this Jesus pronounced all food ‘clean.’ 20 “It is what comes out from a man,” he added, “that defiles him, 21 For it is from within, out of the hearts of men, that there come evil thoughts: unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, 22 Greed, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, haughtiness, folly; 23 All these wicked things come from within, and do defile a man.”
The meaning of the Jesus Prayer may surprise you.
To continue reading Chapter 7 of the Gospel of Mark, please click on page 2 below.