In the fullness of Jesus’ divinity, he had to learn how to be fully human. His family and culture were responsible for teaching him how to walk, how to talk, and how to be potty-trained.
He also learned about the superiority of Judaism and the inferiority of non-Jews, in the very same way that today there are those within the dominant culture who are taught America is No. 1 . . .
Nevertheless, for Christians, the imago Dei finds its fullest expression in the personhood of Jesus as he turned many “rules” upside down. This is a truth that even Jesus, in his full humanity, had to learn.
To deny this woman a healing and call her a dog reveals the racism his culture taught him. But Jesus, unlike so many within the dominant social structure of today, was willing to hear the words of this woman of color, and learn from her.
And thanks to her, Jesus’ ministry was radically changed. The Canaanite woman responded by saying, “For even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.”
Her remark shocked Jesus into realizing that faith was not contingent on a person’s ethnicity. In fact, Jesus had to admit that this was a woman of great faith.
This woman of color had to cross the “border” demarcated by Jesus’ culture. But she crosses this border not to worship her oppressor (Jesus), but to demand an equal place at the table of the Lord. She demands to be treated as an equal.
It matters little if she belongs. It matters less if she has proper documentation. Her daughter was sick and because of her humanity, she was entitled to a healing. She was more than the dog he called her.
Up to this point, the gospel message was exclusively for the Jews. In Matthew 10:5, Jesus sends his 12 disciples on their first missionary venture. He clearly instructs them, “Do not turn your steps into other nations, nor into Samaritan cities, rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Yet five chapters later, Jesus encounters the Canaanite woman who existed on the margins of his society. She challenged Jesus with the good news that healing was not the exclusive property of one ethnic group. Instead, healing should be available to all who come.
Jesus learned something about his mission from this woman of color. How do we know this? By the end of his ministry when he gives the Great Commission, he commands his followers to go out to all nations, not just the people of Israel.
Now, if Jesus is willing to learn something from the margins of society, from those who he was taught were his inferiors, no better than dogs, shouldn’t Euro-Americans who call themselves his disciples today be willing to do likewise?
Many of the articles over at ABP only receive one or two comments, if any. This article has blown up the comment thread. Here are a couple of the comments:
What a poorly presented and hermeneutically myopic piece.
I've defended ABPNews to many friends and colleagues who have belittled it and tried to decry the leadership. This is, however, inexecusable.
Her remark shocked Jesus into realizing that faith was not contingent on a person's ethnicity. In fact, Jesus had to admit that this was a woman of great faith.
This suggestion here is a straight-faced denial of Christ's divinity. It is also awfully close to heterodoxy. Jesus did not need any person to "teach" Him or help "reveal" the things of mankind to Him. Racism is sin. Suggesting Christ had indulged in such a practice is simply poor hermeneutics.
While we all clearly don't share the same liberationist critique that the author holds, I doubt heavily that most liberationists would offer such a twisted view of Christology.
The necessary response here is a retraction and apology from the editors of this site. You have done a disservice to Christianity and the God whom you serve in ministry.
I cannot defend this site again until that happens.
written by Broadman, February 24, 2009
"In this story, I find myself relating more with the Canaanite woman than with Jesus."
I agree. You are apparently a thorough-going pagan who has no relationship with Jesus. Your attempt to be theologically cute is blasphemy. Nor is it clever, as you deconstructionists are constantly aspiring to be (at the expense of the truth). Pitiful reasoning skills. In other words, you are an uninspired hack.
ABP, you bemoan your budget cuts. Here is how to say some money. Fire your editor for allowing such twaddle to ever see the light of day.
Needless to say, I doubt this particular op-ed makes it into any of the state papers.