RE: Matt. 6:12//Lk. 11:4a. "Forgive us our sins"

From: Mark O'Brien (
Date: Fri Mar 13 1998 - 14:48:24 EST


At 08:13 AM 3/12/98 -0000, you wrote:
>2. In the Parable of the Prodigal Father, the son returns home in
repentance but the Father ignores his guilt - he simply welcomes him home.
There is no legal repayment or penance asked for - there is no place for
the guilt because the father sets up a celebration. Guilt is ignored
within the joy of return. Is this a picture of the way God works - a
picture which has been subverted by Augustine and others taking us into the
law courts and setting up a straw God who demands guilt and punishment and
the like. In the end the God of guilt is an ogre we can never please. Far
short of the covenantal Father of Jesus.

My question would be whether you are trying to read more out of the parable
than the main point it was designed to get across (along with the parables
on the lost coin and the lost sheep). Isn't this one of the basic
hermeneutical tenets observed when approaching the parables? I don't think
this parable is about the son's repentance so much as it is about the
father's concern for his lost son and his joy at his return (which also
seem to be the point of the other two parables).

It seems clear to me that the kind of language being used in passages like
Romans 3:21-26 (esp. vv. 25-26) indicates that there is, in a sense, a
legal transaction being undertaken to satisfy the judicial requirements of
a just God. Your comments regarding Augustine and a "straw God" seem a
little harsh to me.



Rev. Mark B. O'Brien
Assoc. Pastor, Subiaco Church of Christ, Western Australia
Lecturer, South Perth Christian College, Western Australia
To attack a man for talking nonsense is like finding your mortal enemy
in a swamp and jumping in after him with a knife. --Karl Popper

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