Monday, January 22, 2007

"The abandonment of tower-building"

Jesus' parables of the tower builder and the warrior king are not really about the cost of discipleship, says Andy Crouch, but the cost of non-discipleship. And they're of special value for counteracting American hubris (HT: In the Clearing).

Update: Mike Russell has posted a rebuttal.


Blogger Michael Russell said...


I think Crouch's article is classic eisogesis. I hope to present my rebuttal later today at EP ( Sorry 'bout the link: blogger won't accept html tags in comments.)

1:03 PM, January 23, 2007  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

I eagerly await your rebuttal, Mike. Peace.

1:07 PM, January 23, 2007  
Blogger Michael Russell said...

Wait no longer: I just finished it.

4:00 PM, January 23, 2007  
Blogger Andy Crouch said...

Thanks very much for the engagement with my piece!

The eisegesis charge doesn't sting very much, because my reading of this pair of parables, which I admit is (as far as I can tell) unprecedented in the scholarly literature, came out of a straight exegetical study of Luke 13-15 many years ago -- long before I had formulated the "application" that Mike quotes in his piece. I was really driven by trying to understand these parables' place in the broader context in the gospel, which is a series of teachings about wealth, and especially the sentence that immediately follows: "So then . . . " I would be grateful if Mike could post more information about how his favored commentators construe that very strong transition. To me, if the parables are about making sure you have enough money (or armies) to be a disciple, the transition to, "therefore, you need to give up all your possessions" is very strange -- a non sequitur at best. But if they are about the way that wealth (and power) tempt us to erect our own tower (what does it matter if towers were often erected in fields? the point is that the tower is a symbol of self-provision, not trust in God; also, isn't the Tower of Babel an overwhelmingly relevant reference from the OT?) and to fight against God, then it makes perfect sense that Jesus' next move is to say: discipleship requires you to renounce these potentially deceptive resources. There is also the amazing echo (though it's not word-for-word, the ideas are powerfully there) about sending for the terms of peace "while he is still far off," just as the prodigal son finds his father running to make peace "while he is still far off." Again, the prodigal son emphatically does _not_ "count the cost" of discipleship; rather, he counts the cost of his waywardness, and heads home with nothing. To me this makes much more sense of these enigmatic parables in context than the standard reading; but of course some real scholars will eventually have to take up this reading before it will carry the day. In the meantime, let readers judge for themselves which seems the more graceful and gospel-filled interpretation.

12:35 AM, January 25, 2007  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, Andy, for continuing the conversation. Both you and Mike have given me a lot to think about and continue looking into. Peace.

7:56 AM, January 25, 2007  

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