#whitefeather diaries

The Sermon on the Mount

Monday 18 August 2014

When he writes about forgiveness, Bert mentions Jesus' teaching that God will forgive those who forgive others. This was one of several occasions on which he quoted the Sermon on the Mount, a collection of Jesus' teachings that appears in chapters 5–7 of Matthew's Gospel. It is probably quoted by Christian pacifists more than any other part of the Bible.

Here is an extract from the Sermon on the Mount. This is from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the English translation now used in academic circles. Like most English-speaking Christians of his time, Bert was most familiar with the King James translation. Differences of translation are only one of the reasons for the widely varying interpretations that different readers bring to the text.

You can read the whole of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) in various translations at www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5-7&version=NRSVA.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Pray then in this way: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.”

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

From the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Monday 18 August 2014

Forgiveness was central to Bert's understanding of Christianity and his own life.

Monday 18 August 2014

How did Bert come to be such a strong pacifist? Unlike Howard, he did not grow up in a pacifist family. His brothers Philip and Harold joined the army shortly after war broke out.