More Information
ISBN: 9781783682409
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 13
Publication Date: 30/04/2017
Pages: 248
Language: English

The Perilous Sayings

Interpreting Christ’s Call to Obedience in the Sermon on the Mount


Dr Amos Winarto Oei brings fresh clarity and understanding of the antitheses of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. Providing a thorough evaluation of key historical and contemporary interpretations of Matthew 5:21–48 from notable theologians, Oei illustrates the unity surrounding the teachings of Jesus, even among disparate denominational traditions. Dr Oei also addresses whether the ethics Jesus set out in the antitheses are for Christians only, or whether they are demands for all individuals and also the state. This book is the product of extensive theological research and sound exegesis and presents a clear argument of the universal nature and individual scope of the ethics and morality of the most famous sermon ever preached.

Author Bios

Amos Winarto Oei

AMOS WINARTO OEI holds a PhD in Moral Theology from Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, and has sixteen years’ teaching experience at higher education institutions in his home country of Indonesia. Currently he is Dean of Students at Aletheia Theological Seminary, Lawang, East Java, Indonesia. He also has experience in church ministry, serving as youth minister and then senior pastor at The Church of Christ the Lord in Surabaya, Indonesia.


In this important biblical study, Amos Winarto Oei examines the six antitheses in Matthew 5 that are key teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. If the arguments of this book are sound, as I think they are, then a great deal of contemporary interpretation and use of the antitheses is mistaken.

Calvin P. Van Reken, PhD
Author and Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology,
Calvin Theological Seminary

This illuminating book provides synthetic analysis of disparate Protestant and Roman Catholic theologians on a New Testament passage crucial for Christian ethics. Along the way, Amos Winarto Oei clarifies the ethical significance of key theological doctrines in creative ways.

Douglas J. Schuurman, PhD
Author and Professor of Religion,
St Olaf College

In this study Amos Winarto Oei shows that he is a discerning reader, not only of the Christian tradition but also of Scripture itself. The Sermon on the Mount, particularly Jesus’ antithetical teachings concerning the Mosaic law, is one of the most controverted and significant texts in the Christian religion. Oei’s work in this volume helps his readers to better understand the shape of Christian reflection on this passage and helps to clarify the serious implications for life today.

Jordan J. Ballor, PhD
Senior Research Fellow,
Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty

In the often murky world of religious ethics, this book provides a roadmap by which to navigate. Amos Winarto Oei has written a thorough review of the various modern traditions of interpretation of the antitheses. Here he displays the delicate balance between love and justice, and how an individual must display the former, but a State must display the latter.

Rev Mike Abma
Pastor of Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Chapter 1
    1. Introduction
      1. 1.1 The State of the Problem
        1. 1.1.1 On the Nature of the Antitheses
        2. 1.1.2 On the Scope of the Antitheses
      2. 1.2 Thesis Statement
      3. 1.3 Methodology
      4. 1.4 Terminology
        1. 1.4.1 Antitheses
        2. 1.4.2 Personal and Social Ethics
      5. 1.5 Chapter Survey
  3. Chapter 2
    1. Leonardo Boff on the Antitheses
      1. 2.1 Introduction
      2. 2.2 The Antitheses Are not Moral Precepts
        1. 2.2.1 Jesus vs. Exclusivism
        2. 2.2.2 Jesus above the Law
        3. 2.2.3 The Antitheses Are Samples of Jesus’ Creative Love and Not Laws
      3. 2.3 The Antitheses Are Jesus’ Call for Social Revolution
          1. 2.3.1 Jesus Christ the Liberator
          2. 2.3.2 The Primacy of Social over Personal
      4. 2.4 Summary and Assessments
          1. 2.4.1 Summary
          2. 2.4.2 Assessments
  4. Chapter 3
    1. John Calvin on the Antitheses
      1. 3.1 Introduction
      2. 3.2 Calvin’s Exposition of the Antitheses 4–6 (Matt 5:33–48)
        1. 3.2.1 Oaths (Matt 5:33–37)
        2. 3.2.2 Eye for Eye (Matt 5:38–42)
        3. 3.2.3 Love Your Enemy (Matt 5:43–48)
      3. 3.3 The Antitheses Are Intended to Govern the Conduct of Individuals
        1. 3.3.1 The Contrast between Calvin and the Anabaptists on Oaths
        2. 3.3.2 The Contrast on the Interpretation of “Do Not Resist an Evil Person” (Matt 5:39)
        3. 3.3.3 A Short Analysis on Calvin’s Concept of the Two Kingdoms
      4. 3.4 The Antitheses Are Binding on All People
        1. 3.4.1 The Contrast on the Interpretation of Love for Enemies
        2. 3.4.2 Calvin’s Theological Understanding of Morality
      5. 3.5 Summary and Assessments
        1. 3.5.1 Summary
        2. 3.5.2 Assessments
  5. Chapter 4
    1. Helmut Thielicke on the Antitheses
      1. 4.1 Introduction
      2. 4.2 The Usus Elenchticus of the Antitheses
        1. 4.2.1 Thielicke’s Understanding of the Law
        2. 4.2.2 Thielicke and the Three Uses of the Law
        3. 4.2.3 Thielicke’s Exposition of the Antitheses
      3. 4.3 The Sociopolitical Implication of the Antitheses
        1. 4.3.1 A Brief Review of Martin Luther’s Two Kingdoms
        2. 4.3.2 Thielicke’s Appropriation of Luther’s Two Kingdoms
        3. 4.3.3 Thielicke’s Extension of the Scope of Antitheses to States
      4. 4.4 Summary and Assessments
        1. 4.4.1 Summary
        2. 4.4.2 Assessments
  6. Chapter 5
    1. John Howard Yoder on the Antitheses
      1. 5.1 Introduction
      2. 5.2 The Nonviolent Epistemology and the Antitheses
        1. 5.2.1 The Nonviolent Epistemology of Yoder
        2. 5.2.2 The Interpretation of the Antithesis “Love Your Enemy” (Matt 5:44–48)
      3. 5.3 The Particularity of the Antitheses
        1. 5.3.1 Christians as the Recipient of the Antitheses
        2. 5.3.2 Yoder on Christian Particularity
      4. 5.4 The Institutionality of the Antitheses
        1. 5.4.1 Yoder’s Response to Reinhold Niebuhr’s Social Ethics
        2. 5.4.2 The Antitheses and the Church as a Community
      5. 5.5 Summary and Assessments
        1. 5.5.1 Summary
        2. 5.5.2 Assessments
  7. Chapter 6
    1. Roman Catholic Interpretation of the Antitheses
      1. 6.1 Introduction
      2. 6.2 The Antitheses and the Decalogue
        1. 6.2.1 Jesus and the Law
        2. 6.2.2 Jesus’ Correction to the Erroneous Interpretation of “Oaths” (Matt 5:33–37)
      3. 6.3 The Extent of the Antitheses
        1. 6.3.1 RCC’s Teaching on Natural Law
        2. 6.3.2 The Antitheses Are Universal and Individual
        3. 6.3.3 Love for Enemies (Matt 5:43–48)
      4. 6.4 Summary and Assessments
        1. 6.4.1 Summary
        2. 6.4.2 Assessments
  8. Chapter 7
    1. The Antitheses Are Binding on All People
      1. 7.1 Introduction
      2. 7.2 Morality and the Antitheses
        1. 7.2.1 On “What Is Moral Is Binding on All People”
        2. 7.2.2 On the Morality of the Antitheses
      3. 7.3 A Reconsideration of Previous Chapters
        1. 7.3.1 Leonardo Boff
        2. 7.3.2 John Calvin and Helmut Thielicke
        3. 7.3.3 The Official Roman Catholic Church and the Antitheses
        4. 7.3.4 John Howard Yoder and the Particularity of the Antitheses
      4. 7.4 The Moral Teaching of the Sixth Antithesis
      5. 7.5 Summary
  9. Chapter 8
    1. The Antitheses Are for Individuals and Not for States
      1. 8.1 Introduction
      2. 8.2 The Antitheses and Their Ethical Scope
        1. 8.2.1 Love and Justice
        2. 8.2.2 The Antitheses, Their Institutional Implications, and the State as a Test Case
      3. 8.3 An Evaluation of Leonardo Boff’s Sociopolitical Liberation Agenda of the Antitheses
      4. 8.4 An Appraisal of Thielicke’s Usus Elencthicus Pattern of the Antitheses
      5. 8.5 A Review of Yoder’s Nonviolent Model of the Antitheses
        1. 8.5.1 Yoder on the Church and the State
        2. 8.5.2 Yoder, the Nonresistant Paradigm, and the Antitheses
      6. 8.6 The Antitheses and the Place of Social Ethics in Scripture
      7. 8.7 Summary
  10. Chapter 9
    1. Conclusion
      1. 9.1 Summary of the Argument
      2. 9.2 Areas for Further Study
        1. 9.2.1 The Area of Theological Study
        2. 9.2.2 The Area of Hermeneutical Study
        3. 9.2.3 The Area of Ethical Study
      3. 9.3 The Contribution of the Project to the Ministry of the Church
  11. Bibliography

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