Friday, March 09, 2007

My final exerpt from Spencer's book

Exclusive Theology

In Luke's account, we find the wonderful story of the woman who wiped Jesus' feet with her hair.

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of purfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner."

The story illustrates how easy it is to make determinations about people based on our understanding of whether they are "in" or "out" of our theological grid. Obviously, a Pharisee would look upon a woman of questionable background with some suspicion. His view of her even affects his opinion about Jesus. He is quite sure that Jesus cannot be the prophet some say he is because a true prophet would know her kind and never allow her to touch him.

The drama in the story is incredible. "'Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman?'" How could Simon not see the woman? But the point is that he couldn't see past the label he had assigned her. He was practicing a theology of exclusivity and dehumanization disguised as righteousness and purity. Whenever we use dismissive labels to define people-"terrorists," "baby killers," "homos," and the like-they blind us, and we miss the person God loves.


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