Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Parable of Creation

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.
Matthew 13:10-16 NASB

par·a·ble [par-uh-buhl]: a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.

Origin: 1275–1325; Middle English parabil  < Late Latin parabola  comparison, parable, word < Greek parabolḗ  comparison, equivalent to para- side by side + bolḗ  a throwing

Synonyms: allegory, homily, apologue. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2013.

When Jesus explained to his disciples the reason he taught in parables, he was not giving them instructions to follow in order to achieve effective pedagogy. Just the opposite, in fact: parables, as used by Jesus, were meant to be equivocal in order to give an out to those not willing to learn. Some would consider that deceptive, I consider that brilliant, and far more to the point--effective to the purpose Jesus was aiming to achieve.

Two classes of audience would hear the parable and both would perceive it differently. The same words, the same syntax, the same context, and yet those in one part of the audience were meant to understand one thing, and those in the other part something else. This was not due to flaws in communication, nor glitches in reception, it was by design and it worked perfectly.

Jesus' use of parables was meant to filter out those with faith. Those listeners with the faith perspective Jesus desired, would hear the parable, and with some added elucidation, understand the divine truth contained therein. Those without the faith perspective Jesus desired would hear the parable and not see divine truth at all. Advertisers today attempt to do something similar in public media by using their craft to target a more specific audience within a broader one.

I see the creation as a parable spoken by God. One not communicated in words capable of being reduced to ink on a page, but one assembled in subatomic particles and fields and perceived as reality. Like the parables of Jesus, it is not produced so as to garner the same perception in one group that sees it as it does in another. Either group looks at the same phenomena, the same facts, sees the same interactions, and uses the same mathematical language to describe it, but they see a different underlying message.

For those with the faith perspective God desires, it's divine message is all too clear. For those without that perspective, they see no divine message at all. Someone might protest that that is deceptive. If it is (and I don't think that is the case), it is no more deceptive than Jesus teaching by parables. God knows what makes for everlasting life and is well within his rights to filter for that amongst the creatures he's made in his image. The problem involved is with the hearers and seers, not with the communicator.

And let's be clear here: this phenomenon is not a mere accident, the foibles of communication, nor simply a trick. There is an "otherwise" at play in this that the unhearing consciously act according to. There are consequences to seeing or hearing with a faith perspective, repercussions that are just too repulsive to abide in their judgment. So they close their eyes, and stop their ears, and guard their hearts against the parable of creation.