Predictably, we recently had this development on Twitter:
Jared C. Wilson:
If Jesus were telling the parable we call The Good Samaritan to many evangelicals today, it might be known as The Good Muslim.
Then another blogger took him up on the idea and proceeded to redact the parable of the Good Samaritan:
i) There's nothing inherently wrong with updating or cross-contextualizing the parable. That's something a Christian reader should mentally do when he reads the parable. Consider parallels in his own time and place.
ii) However, we need to be very precise about how we do that. We need to understand what the parable means in the original context. And we need to come up with comparisons that are truly analogous.
What usually happens is that a social justice warrior simply comes to the text with his political agenda, then rewrites the parable to illustrate his political agenda. He didn't derive his position from the parable. Rather, he began with some issue of "social justice," which he takes for granted, and uses the parable to retroactively legitimate his preconceived outlook.
iii) You can't simply rewrite the parable, then sign Jesus' name to the result. He didn't tell your version of the parable. Your version of the parable doesn't have his authority. You have no evidence that what you think is analogous coincides with what Jesus thinks. You're not Jesus. You don't think like Jesus.
iv) The exercise can easily be sacrilegious. Using Jesus to rubber-stamp your social agenda.
v) What Wilson and Fletcher have done is intellectually slack. The parable turns into silly putty in the hands of every ideological agenda, right or left. Just depends on who we cast as the hero and who we cast as the villain. That proves nothing because the moral of the story is rigged by how the redactor stacks the deck.
The parable is easily manipulated depending on who you plug into the roles. You could cast a Klansmen in the role of the Good Samaritan. Given the tradition of Southern hospitality, I'm sure many Klansmen would help a stranger in need–so long as he wasn't black! You could tell The Parable of the Good Klansman. That would be very popular with skinheads.
Likewise, it all depends on what kind of Muslim you cast in which role. Due to common grace, some Muslims would certainly help a person in need. So, yes, you can selectively cast a Muslim as the Good Samaritan.
By the same token, you could cast a jihadist or suicide bomber as the victim of a traffic accident. You could cast a bleeding-heart evangelical as the Good Samaritan paramedic who stabilizes the vital signs of the suicide bomber. As a result, the suicide bomber continues on his mission, and kills or maims hundreds in a shopping mall.
vi) Because this is fiction, you can create any character you please. You can invent a fictional Muslim character who tells the hospital billing office, "Here is my credit card. Take care of him and whatever he needs."
What does that prove? It doesn't prove a thing about real Muslims. Rather, it demonstrates the ability of a creative writer to concoct storybook characters who say and do whatever he wants them to say and do. An imaginary Muslim good Samaritan. So what?
In real life, how many Muslims tell the hospital billing office, "Here is my credit card. Take care of him and whatever he needs"? That's a scenario which only exists in the fictional world of the redacted parable.
vii) More to the point, how many Christian readers who gave Jared Wilson and Phillip Fletcher high-fives have every driven a homeless person to the ER, then handed the billing office their credit card? It's funny how some people read a manipulatory exercise like this, then congratulate themselves on their agreement with the viewpoint of the storyteller, yet they never attempt to do what the hero in the story did. In fact, they think merely nodding in agreement makes them good people. That's a substitute for actually doing anything, much less anything like that.
viii) What this glib reworking of the parable overlooks is that true neighbor love requires us to take reasonable precautions to protect the innocent from gratuitous harm. Loving your neighbor is hardly equivalent to charity for someone who's bent on murdering your neighbor.
ix) This also suffers from a common disconnect between evangelical elites and the laity. Evangelical elites relate more naturally to their fellow elites than they do to the laity. It's horizontal rather than vertical, the way members of the same social class are apt to relate more naturally to each other than to members of a different social class.
Evangelical elites view themselves as the grown-ups in the room, while the laity are the mob, driven by irrational, unchristian passion. The laity need constant reminding by their religious superiors about their Christian duties.
There's this patronizing view that the concerns of the laity must be illegitimate. Evangelical elites look down on the laity. They act as if the laity are always on the brink of breaking out the pitchforks and torches.
x) There are undoubtedly some Americans who hate Muslims. Undoubtedly some Americans who view all Muslims as terrorists. That's clearly exaggerated.
Problem is, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When legitimate security concerns are dismissed or demonized, that radicalizes the opposition. When the public's rational concerns are disregarded by the political class, that pushes them to extremes. Irrationalism on the left provokes an irrational reaction on the right. If the valid options are summarily discounted, the remaining options are bad.