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Ok, I can't resist commenting on de Mello's quote in my last post. Two points:
The obvious application is to fundamentalist interpretations of scripture. I'm not saying all fundamentalists make this error but it must be difficult to avoid it. If you believe in the truth of something sight unseen then it follows you cannot possibly understand it. However, I think this cuts both ways and also undermines the position of those atheists who insist on proving the existence of God. Faith is something that is lived and their absolute dependence upon proof substitutes proof for life. It is of a piece with the insistence on the priority of method over people, I mentioned only yesterday.
Second, I had a phone call the other day. Would I be able to prepare a topic for our local interfaith group on the theme of spirituality? Yes, I said warming to the idea of an in-depth exploration of John Wesley's spirituality. So, you'll do the spirituality of Jesus, then?
Ahhhh ... My first thought was I didn't think Jesus had a spirituality. My second thought was to revisit my dissertation study of Matthew's account of the temptations, 4:1 - 11.
As I considered this, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before, after many years of reflection on that text. Isn't it fascinating that the first story of the adult Jesus in the first book of the New Testament totally debunks a fundamentalist approach to scripture?
Here comes the devil (who is not the hammer horror character of some overwrought imaginations but an angel who is a stickler for doing things right). His job is to help Jesus face up to his responsibilities as the Messiah. He does this by reference to Scripture. Each time Jesus has to fend off his fundamentalist interpretation (based on Israel's contemporary expectations) with his own radical interpretation.
Jesus does not walk away from that encounter with a scripture based plan - he has rejected all the standard messianic expectations and trusts to what happens on the road. He trusts as it were to living his life.
If we have to believe in a devil, the devil as fundamentalist fits the bill nicely.