Friday, July 10, 2009

Bailey's Barnacles

Part 6 (vi)- The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Here Bailey wants to 'rescue this "not so simple story" from the "centuries old barnacles" which have attached themselves to it'. Try downloading the commentaries from E-Sword. See if you can find them thar barnacles there. And while you are at it send them $15. It is well worth it.

Bailey starts by claiming that we should take the first verse (Luke 18:9) "seriously". Again, makes me wonder why he didn't take the last verse seriously (or address it at all) in the previous post. Seems to think this is an "apostolic [Luke?] signpost". Musta overlooked that previous signpost.

Again, this parable is addressed to the Pharisees. Again, Jesus is mocking them. Again, Jesus is telling them that they are unrighteous. Again Jesus is telling them to repent.

Bailey thinks them thar barnacles are the derived instructions on how to be humble in prayer(346). I find them barnacles pretty hard to see, Matey. He would like us to see- that this here parable tells us how we are made righteous with God. How we are made mates with God. Problem is, he doesn't show us how. Just tells us that we are. Tells us to hang in there. Let's see how he derives this understanding.

First, Bailey again has to favour(347) the liberal translation of the NRSV over most other translations- on where the Pharisee is actually standing. Bailey may be right here- but it doesn't tell us much.
Later, Bailey has to dismiss most English translations (349)- to tell us the true standing of the tax collector. Again, Bailey is standing on shaky ground. Or is it his sea legs?

Let's deal with the latter dismissal. Here Bailey demands that we disallow the Greek word hilaskomai a semantic range. Is this fair? Is this fair in its context?

Seems there is no reason "apparent" to Bailey why we should deny the translation, "O Lord, make an atonement for me" as a result. Seems apparent to me that a humble man (v. 14) would not make such a bold demand. That a humble man would plead for mercy! The other end of the semantic range.

Much more in keeping with Exodus 33:19. Much more in keeping with the last words of the Puritan Thomas Hooker- who was told on his deathbed to look forward to his eternal rewards. Hooker kinda replied, "I go not to seek my eternal rewards, Matey. I go to seek mercy!"

But all the above stuff is just flotsam and jetsam compared to Bailey's definition of dikaios (344).
Bailey floats around in Greece and the Hellenistic world without an anchor to tie this definition to. Providing a bare allusion to Kittel [more in next post]. Finally jetting to a different word.

As Bailey cites of Von Rad, "There is absolutely no concept in the Old Testament with so central a significance for all the relationships of human life as that of sadaqa (righteousness)". I would protest, "Except for how we are made righteous, Mateys!" That is our true plight. Bailey gives us no solution because he doesn't see a plight.

Bailey seems to think that an all-encompassing righteousness was given to Israel from the earliest times onward (345). Where is Christ in this gift? Did He not make us righteous? And how did he make us righteous? Can we overlook the cross?

And how much of Israel is overlooking Christ and the cross today? All but 15,000 Christians in Israel according to current estimates. All but 15,000 overlook the cross in their own backyard. Indeed, in their own bailiwick.

Bailey does little to illuminate that cross. To show Israel that she is not righteous.

Instead he encourages Israel to "maintain" her righteousness. To remain loyal to her unearned status. And as a reflective response to her unearned status- continue in righteousness.

Again, welcome to the New Perspective. Welcome to the new bailiwick. Welcome to the Brink.

Bailey claims that behind this parable is the rich heritage of God's gracious gifts of saving acts (righteousness). Why is it that I can only think of one truly saving act?

Allow me to close with a D.A. Carson analogy:

A little old Jewish lady dying of cancer calls up the rabbi of her balliwick for counsel. Pastor Bailey arrives and is asked in final breaths, "Pastor, what must I do to be saved?"
Pastor Bailey, relying on his NRSV parable, Von Rad and cultural studies replies," Just continue to be mindful that you have been granted a special relationship in the presence of God. That in response- you should continue in a righteous standard toward God, men, animals and His natural environment."

If Pastor Bailey can't do better than this... he should be walking the plank!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your enlightenment on Bailey! I had read most of his book but, I didn't even catch the subtle hints of NPP. Doesn't surprise me, and perhaps I am misjudging his motivations, but he seems arrogant by believing that he is doing justice to the Gospel and the New Testament(no NPP pun intended) by living in the Mid-east saying he has more knowledge of the culture in which the NT was written than anybody else.

    I have also read his Prodigal book, and found it disappointing when he redefined repentance to 'being found.'