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A clever post by Raffi about being both innocent as doves and wise as serpents. It is fairly easy to be either of these extremes. I used to be a high-handed theological serpent when it came to people. I saw everything starkly and in black and white, except myself of course. I have definitely swung around like a pendulum to the the other side. I certainly did the “serpent” act wrong most of the time. Maybe I’m doing the “dove” act wrong most of the time as well. But that is why life is here. Live and learn, rinse and repeat. We have more than once chance. We are not the sum of our successes or failures. Though each of our successes and failures have consequences that we have to live with – for better and worse.

8 Responses to “Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves”

  1. on 16 Mar 2009 at 12:01 pmVictor

    John, I appreciate you raising this point. I thought the article was very good as well – thought provoking. I took have seen both extremes in my own life and around me. Jesus is so wise to command both – one or the other alone leads to us not following him.

    But now I fear what Raffi raised – am I too much of a dove in my toleration of falsehood for the sake of evangelism, cooperation, fellowship etc?

    It is easy to tend to one side or the other based on ones personality, but I really need to check that against the model of Jesus.

  2. on 16 Mar 2009 at 9:22 pmBrian

    Raffi seems to use the expression “wise as serpents . . . ” as a jumping off point to present his idea, but the basic truth of what Jesus was saying seems to get lost in his metaphorical meanderings. It is wisdom (or prudence) and innocence (or lack of guile) that are the attributes that Jesus is exhorting his disciples to have. We may have have a lack of one or the other or both, but these are not attributes that are contrary to each other or opposite ends of a pendulum. To live in a world as sheep among wolves we need both of these attributes, along with a few others, I suppose.

  3. on 17 Mar 2009 at 2:41 amWolfgang


    just read the article linked above …

    It seems to me – judging from the tone and style of writing used by the author – that he might have to work quite a bit more to gain those qualities which the Lord was encouraging us to have 😉

    Also, it may be helpful to note that Jesus’ points are “wise” and “harmless”, not “serpent” and “dove”. In both cases, there is only one particular point of comparison in view, not “overall characteristics” of the animals mentioned.

    In other words, Jesus is NOT encouraging to be “like a serpent” nor to be “like a dove” … Jesus is encouraging to be “wise (prudent)” and to be “harmless (without guile)”


  4. on 17 Mar 2009 at 7:17 amJohnO

    So, it seems we “like it” when Jesus says “wise”, but we don’t like him saying “serpents”? I don’t see how you can just rip the image that Jesus purposefully chooses to use right out of his mouth.

  5. on 17 Mar 2009 at 7:30 amBrian

    What I don’t like is when we take a statement that Jesus said, and use it as a springboard for what WE want to say.

  6. on 17 Mar 2009 at 6:32 pmJohnO

    So, doesn’t that make your first point kind of self-defeating?

  7. on 18 Mar 2009 at 2:34 amWolfgang

    Hi John O.,

    you wrote

    So, it seems we “like it” when Jesus says “wise”, but we don’t like him saying “serpents”? I don’t see how you can just rip the image that Jesus purposefully chooses to use right out of his mouth.

    I am not ripping the image Jesus choose right out of his mouth, I am just not putting aspects of the image into his mouth, which aspects he did not use and mention 😉

    Cp. the image of the “unjust judge” Jesus used in a different place to illustrate a point … but can you take the aspect of “unjust” in the image and apply it to the comparison which Jesus made (if you did, God would be “unjust”)?

    I was (and am) saying that one must be careful to NOT do what you mention above as “it seems we like ….”


  8. on 20 Mar 2009 at 2:39 pmRaffi Shahinian

    Thanks for the love, John.

    Quite an interesting discussion. My take?–Yeah, metaphors and similes are dangerous and scary, but Jesus nevertheless seemed to make liberal use of them. But then again, He did quite a lot of dangerous/scary things…

    And yes, Wolfgang, I have A LOT of work to do. Don’t we all ;).

    Grace and Peace,


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