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July 11, 2004

TEACHING BY EXPERIENCE AND PARABLES

Page 56 of Perry Miller's Jonathan Edwards says Pastor Edwards sought "a Christian oratory"

...which would use words as God uses objects, to force sensations and the ideas annexed to them into men's minds through the only channel ideas can be carried to them, through the senses-- would such an oratory not force upon New England the awakening that three generations of prophets had called for in vain?

This was in connection with Edwards' elaboration of John Locke's idea that communication depends as much upon the receiver as on the sender of the message, or on the objective contents of the message. Pastor Mangrum's sermon today at ECC touched on this too. The text was from Lamentations 3, but he mentioned Jonah's lesson, which was given not first through words but through experience. Jonah had preached destruction to Nineveh for its sins, but then ...

2:6: For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7: And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9: Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? 10: And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

3: 1: But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 2: And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. 3: Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

4: Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?

5: So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

6: And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah , that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

7: But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. 8: And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

9: And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

10: Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: 11: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

The sermon also alluded to the story of David having caused the death of Uriah the Hittite so that he could marry Uriah's wife himself. In II Samuel 12, Nathan the prophet did not simply tell David he had sinned: he used a touching story:

1: And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. 2: The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: 3: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. 4: And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.

5: And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 6: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

7: And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; 8: And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. 9: Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10: Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

11: Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12: For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.

13: And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

14: Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

This is something important for economists, professors, and fathers to keep in mind. Teaching directly is not always the best way.

Posted by erasmuse at July 11, 2004 10:12 AM

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