Mountain Manifesto -- By: Vernon C. Grounds

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 128:510 (Apr 1971)
Article: Mountain Manifesto
Author: Vernon C. Grounds

Mountain Manifesto

Vernon C. Grounds


[Vernon C. Grounds, President, Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado.]

At the outset of His public ministry, as Matthew records it, our Lord issued that Manifesto which we know as the Sermon on the Mount. In it He announced the principles which would govern the citizens of the new spiritual order He had come to inaugurate. To be sure, God’s kingdom is a term which covers a vast ambit, but we may take Paul’s summary in Romans 14:17 as disclosing its inner most nature, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

As premillenarians interpret the New Testament, the Kingdom of God will have a glorious fulfillment here in time and space when the returned Savior reigns as global King. Then, and only then, will the ideals set forth in this Mountain Manifesto achieve their supreme and God-satisfying actualization. But whatever its eschatological and cosmic dimensions, therefore, that kingdom is the quality of life which one experiences when by faith in the Gospel he submits himself to the rule of redemptive love. The opening passage in that Manifesto (5:3–12; cf. Luke 6:20–24) is a series of epigrammatic statements which are at once delineation and demand, the so-called beatitudes. Positioned at the very threshold of Matthew’s unique biography, this passage immediately makes clear that a distinctive personality-pattern together with an equally distinctive life-style ought to characterize the disciples of the Messiah who is also Master. Ought, yes, since the indicative here is implicitly an imperative.

Several things about these epigrammatic statements require brief comment.

For one thing, though they are expressed in a striking diction which is pithy and poetic, it is no doubt true that parallels to them can be adduced from the Old Testament and the Talmud. This, however, does not detract from the originality of Jesus, viewing Him on a purely human plane. To abstract these insights from a mass of literature—much of it, in the case of the Talmud, spiritually worthless—remint and cast them into an integrated ideal was evidence indeed of a creativity nothing short of genius.

For a second thing, the much-disputed structure of the passage deserves at least a passing glance. Some scholars have argued that, on the analogy of the Decalogue, there are ten beatitudes; others count nine; still others have tried to reduc...

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