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I distinctly remember the first time I heard this passage explained in a way that left me angry. It was the summer of 1994 and I was a student at Cornell, taking class on political theory. My professor was a highly respected historian, and he worked sequentially through Western political theory beginning with Socrates and Plato and ending with Marx.
This passage came up in his section on Christian theories of politics, during which he focused on three peo: Christ Jesus, Paul, and Augustine). What he said about verse 26 shocked me: ‚ÄúJesus was a radical who opposed traditional family values.‚ÄĚ
I was incensed. How dare he speak like that? And yet over time I‚Äôve come to realize that he had probably reflected on that verse more carefully and more fully than I had. Granted, the professor was trying to be provocative, he sought to incite a response. Then again so was Jesus. But we Christians often try to limit the provocation, the truly radical nature of this statement‚ÄĒand in so doing, we've removed the teeth of this passage.
So what was Jesus really saying? What does it mean to hate father and mother and the rest of your family‚ÄĒto follow him? How could Jesus dare to say such a thing?
Matthew Hoskinson serves as pastor for the First Baptist Church in the City of New York (firstnyc.org). He is the author of Assurance of Salvation: Implications of a New Testament Theology of Hope, and a regular contributor to the ChurchWorks media blog. He has also written for the Gospel...