Yesterday I shared the parable post with my former CTS colleague David Weasley, and he sent me this excerpt from a contemporary reimagining of Jesus’s preaching by our mutual friend and former colleague Nate Dannison. I have no doubt that if Nate rewrote the entire Bible along these lines, it would quickly replace the original version in the world’s affection.
National Gospel of Liberty,
A Warning Against the Poor
12. 1 Meanwhile, when the wealthy men had gathered into the temple, so that they required many disciples to gather their tithes, he began to speak first to his soldiers, “Beware of the yeast of the poor, that is, their laziness. 2 Nothing is hidden from you that you cannot see with your own eyes. 3 Therefore what a man has done in the dark will be shown by his appearance, and if he has sinned his condition will be made known to all.
Exhortation to Fearless Egoism
4 “I tell you, my followers, do not fear the philosopher and the mathematician, for they cannot change the minds of the faithful. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the sinner amongst you, lest he infect you with his curse. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not the fields filled with thieves and outcasts? They are so for they have sinned, and must eat only grass and sparrows. 7 So I tell you, your sins are known by your Father in Heaven, who counts them, and uses them to determine the wealth of your storehouses. 8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges the poor and the outcast will be acknowledged as an outcast; 9 but whoever denies the poor and the outcast will live in peace, because they are odorous and live in fields. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the poor will be forgiven, for this is right; but whoever speaks out for the poor and the oppressed will not be forgiven. 11 When they bring you before the magistrate, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12 for you are wealthy and the wealthy need have no fear of the courts.”
Parable of the Wealthy Fool
13 One of the wealthy men who had gathered said to him, “Sir, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Foolish coward! Can you not work for yourself? 15 Do you not see those around you, who have prayed steadfastly and have built up great stores?” 16 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of laziness, for one’s life consists of the abundance of his possessions.” 17 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no more room to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods and my wives. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, for God has blessed you with riches.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night you will be blessed with additional riches. And the barns you have prepared, they are not large enough.’ 21 So it is with those who do not build enough barns to store all the treasures that God has blessed them with.”
22 He said to his soldiers, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear, or about your house or oxen or wives, or the fullness of your barns. 23 For this life has been given you to amass great wealth, and your Father knows this. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn nor wives, and they are odorous and vile. Of how much greater value are you than these wretched birds! 25 You should be worried about your appearance, that people do not take you for a raven, lest you are cast out into the fields. 26 If then you are not cast out into the fields with the ravens, you have pleased your Father in Heaven. 27 Consider the lilies! They neither toil nor spin, and so I tell you, their life is but a season, and they have no wives. Solomon had many wives, and in his glory was arrayed in garments finer than any lily of the field! 28 They are but meager grasses, fit only to be thrown into the oven, but you are precious to your Father in Heaven and your prayers have brought you great wealth. 29 In striving for what you will eat and what you will drink, pray steadfastly, and your Father will give you these things. 30 It is the outcast of the field who neither prays nor works steadfastly, and so he is convicted of his lack of faith and his condition is made known, 31 for truly I tell you, God helps those who help themselves. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you your houses, and your barns and wives. 33 Cherish your possessions, and avoid those who have failed to pray steadfastly. 34 Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, so that your coins do not fall by the roadside and into the greedy hands of the outcast. 35 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
36 “Be dressed for battle and have your swords sharpened; be like those who are waiting for their neighbor to rob them of their possessions, so that they may lay a trap for him when he appears in the night. 37 Blessed are those whom the thief finds waiting when he sneaks into their barns; truly I tell you, for the thief will be rent asunder and his possessions will be given to the faithful watchman. 38 If he comes during the middle of the day, or in the evening during dinner, then he is foolish and his condition is made known. 39 “But know this: if the thief had known at what hour the watchman was making ready his trap, he would not have entered his barns at all. 40 You must then keep silent, and allow the thief to reveal himself – for in doing so you will inherit all his possessions.”
The Prudent and the Imprudent Homeowner
41 Peter said, “Sir, are you telling the parable for us or for everyone?” 42 And Jesus said, “Foolish coward! Who then is the faithful and prudent homeowner whom his government has given charge of his property, to see that it is protected from the thieves and the outcasts? 43 Blessed is that man whom when the thief comes in the night is able to defend his barns with sword and staff. 44 Truly I tell you, he will slay many thieves, and wifeless outcasts, and will inherit many possessions. 45 But if that homeowner says to himself, “I need not ready my sword and my staff, for the centurions will protect me and my barns, and my taxes will provide for my security,” and he does not lock his gates, and sharpen his swords, and put away his wives, 46 the thief will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will steal his possessions, and put him in the fields with the outcasts and the ravens. 47 That man who knew what was required to protect his barns and wives, but did not prepare himself or do what was needed, will have neither barns nor wives. 48 But the one who did not trouble the centurions and kept sharp his sword will have many barns, and many wives. 49 From everyone to whom much has been given, much must be protected; and from the one who was lazy and timid, all will be taken.
Jesus the Divider
50 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 51 I have a sword here at my side, and what stress I am under to keep it sheathed! 52 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? 53 No, I tell you, but rather liberty! 54 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 55 they will be divided: father against son
and son against grandfather,
grandfather against uncle,
and male cousin against stepfather,
father-in-law against half-brother
and friend of son against best friend’s grandfather.
Interpreting Right Management
56 He also said to the wealthy men, who could afford entrance to his gathering, “When you see a great cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “We must set our slaves to planting, for the rains have come!” 57 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “It is a fine day to sit upon the terrace and drink wine!”; and it is so. 58 You foolish cowards! You know how to manage your slaves and your wives, but why do you not know how to elect godly rulers?
Settling With the Court
59 “And why do you not judge for yourself what is right? 60 It is because you are feeble-minded and unsure of the law. 61 Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, do not speak with him, for he may use your words against you before the magistrate. 62 And if you are asked a question in court, answer truthfully, for the law is greater than any one man and if you are innocent you have nothing to fear. 63 I tell you, if you tell an untruth before the magistrate, you are guilty of perjury and you will be thrown into prison for five to ten years.”