Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More about “spiritual gifting" . . .

My friend TS is a little frustrated. He has asked a question—and has gotten a number of answers—but none of the answers have actually answered his main question. He wants to know why some charismatic Christians these days are talking about receiving “spiritual giftings” instead of “spiritual gifts.”

Here is part of his blog-entry response to my blog-entry response about it:

. . . But while Judy shows "gifting" is a proper word, no one has explained its use in place of "gifts" when referring to spiritual gifts. As I wrote earlier, even the King James Version authors saw fit to use the word gifts, and there is no English translation that uses giftings anywhere. Was the introduction of "giftings" accidental or intended?

This situation reminds me of a short story I like to teach called “Conversion of the Jews,” which centers on questions asked by a young Jewish boy, Ozzie Freedman, a student in a Jewish school. In school, Rabbi Binder (note the delightful significance of the names!) always allows his boys to have “free discussion time.” However, the discussions are anything but free. It is okay to talk about anything—as long as it is about something uncontroversial like Jewish baseball players.

Ozzie has been in a lot of trouble for asking questions. The latest is this: “If God can do anything, why couldn’t he make a child without intercourse?”

The well-meaning but stubborn rabbi tries to tell him Jesus was a good man but wasn’t born of a virgin, as that’s not possible. It just isn’t done. Ozzie keeps saying that isn’t what he wants to know. What he wants to know is about God. Look at his question. Whacked and harassed, Ozzie is finally pursued to the roof of the building.

The story displeased many Jews, according to literary criticism. But contrary to what some believed, Roth doesn’t mean to proclaim that Jesus is God. The effect of his question, of course, is to point out a fundamental flaw in Jewish belief. Can God do anything? The answer is yes. If so, then why couldn’t he make a child without intercourse if he wanted to? The question is not why doesn’t he—but why wouldn’t it be possible if God is all-powerful?

Ozzie becomes temporarily powerful from the roof-top, and he makes everybody down below say that God can do anything. That God could make a child without intercourse. That they won’t ever hit anybody about God. So ultimately, the “conversion” of the Jews is that they admit the possibility and they will try to allow—and to answer—sincere questions about God.

All that, then, is to say that we never did answer TS’s question, although we jumped all around it. I, for one, would like to know the answer to his question, but I can’t think of a way to find the answer. As TS concluded,

Like the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie-Pop, the world may never know . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment