In the middle of her wonderful, difficult book, By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine,1 Ellen Charry works through the Sermon on the Mount. After a blessed beginning with the Beatitudes, Jesus launches into a list of seemingly extravagant ethical demands on such matters as divorce, vengeance, and retaliation. Any sense of blessedness that we might feel at the beginning of his sermon dissipates as Jesus condemns lust of the heart, evil in the eye, anger, and other perfectly normal human emotions. I take some satisfaction in having steered clear of divorce, but the roving eye and the lustful heart is me all over. What does Charry make of such searing divine scrutiny? She concludes, “The rhetoric aims at making the hearers uncomfortable.”
KeywordsChristian Faith Moral Courage Christian Doctrine Deep Tension Righteous Indignation
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- 1.Ellen Charry, By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997 ).Google Scholar
- 2.Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity ( New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003 ), 5.Google Scholar
- 3.Richard John Neuhaus, “In Time of War,” First Things 118 (December 2001): 11–17.Google Scholar