christianity ethics theology

tree planting

I don’t have time to look into it at the moment, but I’d love to see a treatment of what led Protestant Reformer Martin Luther to say,

“If I knew Jesus would return tomorrow, I would plant a tree today.”

16 replies on “tree planting”

hmmm… maybe he thought if jesus was returning – all the christians would be raptured and then there would be wanton destruction – so the tree would bless those who needed shade before the great judgement.

Maybe it is saying something similar to what Jesus did when he cursed the fig tree that bore no fruit. He cursed the fig because it showed no signs of faith in a summer to come. A sign that points to us needing to be faithful now in the light of that which Jesus promised and began to fulfil and is yet to be fully rendered in the future. That what we do now, in the light of Jesus word and action, will not be lost but in fact be enhanced if it is done for the new creation.
A bit of outworking of an inaugurated eschatology.

Justin (a.k.a. ‘you steen’),
Mate – Jesus wouldn’t want ‘left behind’ people to have any comfort!!! :D

Ahh… inaugurated eschatology. Music to my ears! :)

Off hand two possibilities come to my mind.

He could merely be referring to storing riches for himself up in heaven rather than here on earth.

He was battling the whole catholic buying-a-place-in-heaven thing wasn’t he? Most likely, then, he was making an opositional statement to the idea of a heaven being ‘up there’.

Interesting that the more ’emergent’-esque church is now trying to argue that heaven was never meant to be ‘up there’.

of course, the word ‘heaven’ carried at least two meanings: 1) the ‘sky’, and 2) ‘God’s place’; and the early Hebrews would never have imagined that (literally) ‘God lived in the sky’. They would have understood the relationship between heaven and earth to be just a tad more interesting than that, even if the pictures/metaphors they use can seem that way (especially) to modern ears. In fact is it precisely the ‘i spy with my eye the god in the sky’ view which the author/community behind the Genesis 1 creation poem is/are negating – among other things, he/she/they refuse to call the ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ by their names, and thus affirm the beliefs around them that they were gods (sun-god / moon-god); instead they are simply called the ‘greater light’ and the ‘lesser light’.

But then why do we no longer use pictures/metaphors that way?

I do understand that the creation stories were polemic towards surrounding cultures, but I don’t recall the “up there vs down here” thing being one of them. I defy you to find literature on that issue.

Actually, I do think we use pictures/metaphors that way. All language is really metaphor anyway at one level or another.
And yes – the Genesis creation story isn’t so much contrasting “up there vs down here” as much as it’s contrasting pantheism (EDIT: polytheism!) with monotheism.

The quote has nothing to do with eschatology nor being environmentally friendly. The original quote is more closer to “If I knew Jesus would return tomorrow, I would STILL plant a tree today.”

The main concern here is the topic of Ethics. He was rejecting consequentialism (e.g. utilitarianism in modern days). Depending on your interpretation, he was endorsing either deontology or “virtue ethics”. Check out the whole readings.

Hi, Y.F.C.,
Thanks for your comment – I’ve (still) not got the time to hunt down the context, but it sounds legit :) cheers!
p.s. to all – I’ve corrected my slip-up two comments above (pantheism –> polytheism).

Oh I was referring to the readings on ethics. Martin Luther never wrote that quote. He supposedly spoke something similar along those line when someone asked him a certain question. Actually we got no proofs whether Luther really spoke those words…..but you can easily find all kinds of bizarre interpretation of the quote (with its own bias agenda of course ;)

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