RE: parables

From: Gary S. Shogren (
Date: Thu Apr 18 1996 - 19:36:21 EDT

Al - I agree that "sermon illustration" is only a rough analogy. Some of
Jesus' parables stand alone, at least in the gospels as we have them. Off
the top of my head, I'm thinking of the three in Luke 15, where a parable
seems to BE the message in response to Luke 15:1-2, not an illustration of
some other immediate statement of the Lord. I think in the West we want the
story to back up a proposition, but that may be our bias (cf. Doing Theology
with Huck and Jim, by my friend Mark Shaw, for a counter-suggestion from an
African milieu).

Also - I think one of the reasons I have had a visceral attraction to the
Julicher-Jeremias approach is that the allegorizing that the church has done
on the parables goes way beyond the decoding that makes the seed the word,
for example, in Matt 13. When the parables are rigorously allegorized so,
their "bottom lines" bear no resemblance to what I feel is the stated or
implicit main thought(s) of the parables. Hence, Augustine's handling of
the Good Samaritan becomes an allegory of an Augustinian read of Adam's
fall, and not what one would expect = some sort of answer to "who is my
neighbor?" What Blomberg proposes as a corrective to Julicher does not lead
us back to that. While I may disagree with Blomberg in details, IMHO he has
demonstrated that Julicher has "excluded the middle" by claiming that EITHER
you allegorize like Augustine et al. did, OR you go for a single-pole
hermeneutic, despite the evidence within the canonical gospels themselves
and despite the whispers of common sense.

Gary Shogren

At 09:00 PM 4/18/96 UT, you wrote:
> I think using "sermon illustrations" for sermons is good. However, I would
>not be in favor of calling Jesus' parables by the name "sermon illustrations."
> The word parable is interesting. It is roughly synonymous with the Hebrew
>word Proverb. This gives a whole new force to Christologically interpreting
>the Proverbs.
> You write that "I would not be tempted to find an analog for every element of
>his story in the concept or set of principles that he's trying to illustrate."
>This I would say is a wise practice. An illustration in a sermon made by the
>pastor is not the same and does not carry the authority of God's Word.
> I am not arguing that every word and point in one of Jesus' parables has a
>symbolic meaning. However, there certainly is more validity to seeking a more
>in depth meaning in a parable of Christ than in a sermon illustration.
>Al Collver
>Vicar Luther Memorial Chapel
>From: James H. Vellenga
>Sent: Thursday, April 18, 1996 9:50 AM
>Subject: Re: parables
>I find myself wondering whether, if we used the phrase "sermon
>illustrations" instead of "parables," we would be so concerned
>about whether a particular "illustration" had one "point" or a
>related series of "points". As I listen to our pastor, I suspect
>he doesn't consciously think about whether his story has an
>isolated point or illustrates a broader sweep of things.
>On the other hand, I would not be tempted to find an analog for
>every element of his story in the concept or set of principles
>that he's trying to illustrate.
>James H. Vellenga |
>Viewlogic Systems, Inc. __|__ 508-480-0881
>293 Boston Post Road West | FAX: 508-480-0882
>Marlboro, MA 01752-4615 |

Gary S. Shogren
Biblical Theological Seminary
Hatfield, PA

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