When I Heard the Learn’d Theologian
When I heard this parable preached at a Lenten service, I was much gratified. What a beautiful testimony of ecumenism! There I was, a Jew by birth, an atheist by temperament, a Buddhist by conviction, listening to a passage from the New Testament to which I could nod in complete agreement. I did not for a moment take the story in any literal sense, but I also could not object if anybody else did. For the message was totally benign; and if I should one day wake up dead and witness the very spectacle with my own spiritual or physically reconstituted eyeballs, I would not be displeased.
Imagine my surprise, then, when the lay preacher proceeded to parse the passage in a partisan way. He explained that the sheep were those who had accepted Jesus as Christ and the goats those who had not. I had to rub my mental eyeballs: Were we reading the same text? For I take it to be saying exactly the opposite, that even those who had not recognized “the King” in this life could be blessed.