Pastor Kevin Haug writes:

It becomes a question of the heart of Jesus’ movement. Was it a movement about moral purity or eating with outcasts?

First question: is it really an either/or?

Second question: Are either of those two things really at the heart of Jesus’ movement? Or is it something else?

For instance, if I remember some of my seminary training correctly:

The heart of Jesus’ movement in Mark is summarized by Mark 1: 14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

The heart of Jesus’ movement in Matthew is a fulfillment of the Law in the tradition of Moses.

The heart of Jesus’ movement in Luke is summarized in Luke 4: 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The heart of Jesus’ movement in John is the unflenching salvation of the world through being the Lamb of God who is destined to die and rise again.

Oh, and we haven’t even begun delving into that rascal Paul and his take on Jesus’ movement.

It seems to me that within all of these perspectives, one can find Jesus being a moralist. One can find Jesus eating with sinners and the outcast. One can find Jesus offering repentance. One can find Jesus offering condemnation. So why the either/or nature of the question? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

It seems to me Christian ethics demands us to take moral positions. It also demands us to reach out and dine with the outcast and marginalized. In fact, I would almost argue it is a moral imperitave for Christians to dine with the outcast and marginalized. But that is another thread altogether. Your thoughts?