The Good Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijna...

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670) shows the Good Samaritan tending the injured man. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though I am an agnostic I do have interest in Christianity as well as other religions.  One of the most impressionable parables attributed to Christ is the story of the “The Good Samaritan“.  I always wondered why the Son of God would tell such a positive story of a pagan doing good to a robbed and beaten man when two Jewish holy men ignored him as unworthy of their help.  Keep in mind that Christ was a Jew and never professed otherwise (there were no Christians when Christ was alive).  What motives could Jesus have had for telling such a story which attributes the virtues of goodness and compassion, Christlike attributes, to a pagan?

Christians often claim that it is only through the belief that Christ is God and one’s personal savior (except Christ’s grace to forgive them of sins) that one enters into the kingdom of heaven.  If there were such a Good Samaritan, as there must certainly have been, who did not know of God but was otherwise a very good and compassionate person, would he have been looked upon favorably by the son of God and gone to Heaven after death?  There are many very good and compassionate people throughout history and in everyday life who by accident of birth did not live in a Christian country and thus are not Christians or simply do not chose to believe in Christianity.  Is it the claim of Christians that such people would be considered less worthy of entering Heaven than a Christian that was less compassionate?  Did Gandhi go to heaven when he was assassinated or not as a very compassionate Hindu?

It would seem to me that in telling the parable of the Good Samaritan Christ is saying that there is goodness in everyone, even those who do not believe in Him and that such people would be looked upon favorably by God.  This seems to imply that accepting Christ as being one’s personal savior is not the only way to gain God’s favor and thus enter the Gates to Heaven.  If God is Just and Fair then why would he be unfair to very Good non-Christians who, by Christian standards lived very good lives by loving their fellow human beings and showing compassion to those in need?  Why would Christ have otherwise told such a parable about a good pagan and two uncompassionate Jews?

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9 Responses to The Good Samaritan

  1. I find it better to study with “authoritive teachers” rather than on my own when it comes to understanding the bible, or any other religious and philosophical writing. I enjoy going to Rev. Mark Brady’s Tuesday morning bible study at Union Church. Your blog is a good soliloquy about an important parable, but it doesn’t explain why Christ choose this story for us to ponder.

    • FG says:

      I feel that my conclusion is the reason Christ choose this parable to ponder. Kindness and compassion are universal values of goodness and Godliness for all mainstream religions. This seems to imply that God looks favorably upon such expressions of selflessness.
      What do you personally think was the purpose for Christ telling this parable?

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