Does faith in the personal God of Scripture make sense if we acknowledge that we do not have free will? This blog presupposes that we don’t have free will, but argues that far from being a source of anxiety or even a death sentence for faith, our lack of free will may actually be the central point of Scripture and essential to our inherent human dignity.
October 9, 2016 - The First Shall be Last
went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times
at the word of Elisha, the man of God.
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child,
and he was clean of his leprosy.
2 Kings 5:14-17
remarkable thing about Naaman is that he was a Syrian and that Elisha was
willing and able to heal this Gentile of his leprosy. In the Gospel story this Sunday, Jesus heals
ten lepers but only one, a Samaritan “foreigner”, returns to thank Jesus.
stories do double duty. One the one hand,
they fulfill Old Testament prophesies that Jews and non-Jews will recognize the
Messiah. On the other hand, and more
importantly, they are part of an on-going theme throughout Scripture that the
first shall be last. In the Beatitudes,
the poor are blessed and the rich “have already received their reward”. In last week’s readings, poor Lazarus received
heavenly peace after death while the rich man “had already received his consolation”. In the parable of the prodigal son, the son who behaved badly gets the party and the obedient son gets left out. And in the parable of the vineyard workers, those
who worked all day get the same pay as those who started at 4pm. This week, the outsider and foreigner receive
healing while the chosen wait.
will tell the Old Testament story of Naaman in the New Testament, while he is
visiting his home synagogue in Nazareth.
When he points out that a Syrian got healed while thousands suffered leprosy
in Israel, his childhood friends try to throw him off a cliff, ISIS style.
prefer that the first shall be first, but that is not God’s way.
Image: Ferdinand Bol, Elisha Refusing the Gifts of Namaan, 1661