My Version of the Parable

Three men prayed in an otherwise empty Chuch. One, sitting in a pew, went down onto his knees, quiet, head bowed. He spoke to Christ, but with his voice low. God commended this man as good. This was the kneeling man

One man went and knelt at the very foot of the Cross, in the front of the Church. He raised his hands out in supplication to God, and sang a hymn, low at first, then louder as he got caught up in his prayer. He cried out to God in thanks, and asked God for his mercy. And God commended this man as good. This was the singing man.

The third man sat in the back of the Church, and had been on his knees praying quietly like the kneeling man. When the second man started singing, he appeared to the first man to grow more and more agitated. Finally, to the kneeling man’s mild horror, he walked over to the singing man and whispered something in his ear, and the kneeling man was sure the singing man would stop singing. But he just smiled wider and sang louder while the third man stood awkwardly for a moment before sitting back down.

The kneeling man shook his head and thought to himself “I shall call that third man the Pharisee; for look at how he tried to interrupt the joy of a child of God singing his praises and calling his name! What a terrible thing that is!”

And God responded, Oh foolish man, that third man is not the Pharisee, but a true Christian. For he did not ask for him to stop singing, but to add him to his prayers.

The only Pharisee here, kneeling one, is you.

My attempt to translate Steve Gershom’s parable post into an actual parable.

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6 Responses to My Version of the Parable

  1. I don’t like this parable very much. It seems to me like the second man (while well-intentioned) is being rather thoughtless to those who come to the Church for silence and to be alone with God. I don’t think it’s Pharisaical at all to ask him to pray silently so that others can pray in silence.

    • Not at all, actually, but that isn’t the point. The point is the assumptions being made by the second man.

      If one really were to merely politely say “Please pray more quietly”, that would be different. But the second man has discovered a way to feel superior to the third while reaffirming his own righteousness. The second man is caught up in his prayers, and we don’t know the of the third at all.

      • Yes, the kneeling man made an uncharitable assumption, although not entirely unwarranted considering the third man was visibly agitated and stood awkwardly by the singing man after whispering to him. Yes, there is a problem in feeling smug when we see people doing something we think is wrong. I guess my own point was directed at this statement:

        Oh foolish man, that third man is not the Pharisee, but a true Christian. For he did not ask for him to stop singing, but to add him to his prayers.

        which seems to be implying that the charge of Pharisee would have been true had the kneeling man’s assumption been correct. And none of it would have happened in the first place if the second man had respected the silence of the Church in the first place.

        Either way it’s a good translation of Gershon’s story into an actual parable. Sorry to be so negative on my first comments; I do actually enjoy your blog.

      • Not at all! I get your point. I think, though, that the real point here is the assumptions being made by the second man more than anyone else.

        The singing man maybe shouldn’t have been singing, but even if so his poor decorum is at least honest in its earnestness.

  2. I think this just proves why sometimes names should be used in parables because now I’ve totally lost the thread about who did what. lol

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