Jason led the meeting in continuance of last week’s discussion.
Jay: Last week, we began a discussion of how education might shape our views of God and grace, based on an earlier comment from Michael that our psychology—the way we’re wired and the way that we’re nurtured—may affect those views. We therefore looked at some of the psychological underpinnings of the education system—specifically, behavioral and developmental psychology.
We discussed Bloom’s Taxonomy—the different levels at which we think, the basic level being a recall of facts, with subsequent levels of understanding, application, analysis, evaluation, and creativity. We noted that as we move up that taxonomy, from a low level of knowledge and thinking to a higher level of knowledge and thinking, the thinking becomes more abstract.
I asserted that 80 to 90% of most people’s educational learning and activities were at a very low level of thinking and knowledge, at the recall and understanding levels. Rarely, in our system of education, do we move from recall and understanding to the higher levels of application and analysis and evaluation and creativity. Since God and grace are very abstract concepts understandable only at the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, how can those of us who inhabit the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (estimated at between 30–60% of the population)—levels that deal mainly in concrete thought processes—understand God and grace?
Author Ryan Fan blogged in 2020 about abstractness based on feedback from a friend who suggested his ideas were too abstract, out of touch, not grounded in reality, did not add value to my reader, and was too theoretical. The writing was nice, but there was nothing new in it and no takeaways for the reader. Fan wrote:
The Merriam-Webster dictionary does not define “abstract” in a positive light, with definitions like “insufficiently factual” and “difficult to understand”. One definition even defines abstract as having “little or no attempt at pictorial representation or narrative content.”
I wrestle with the idea that every concept needs an application. Who am I, after all, to tell you how to apply your faith or spiritual beliefs to your life? I’m nobody and needing to make abstractions more practical is something I seriously struggle with because I believe every person should have the right to their own interpretation or decision-making.
However, it’s a middle ground. If your head is all in the clouds and you’re debating theory, well, who’s the person that needs to be actually doing? That’s how I make my peace with political arguments, for example. Sometimes, arguments are too much talking, debating, and yelling, but not enough doing. We wrestle with ideas, and yet in my personal observations, the difference between how someone thinks and believes versus how they behave and act towards others can be very different.
So it’s the interplay between theory versus practice.
When my ideas are too abstract, I have to ground myself more in the real world. Many people have different ideas than I do, and they believe abstract ideas are boring because there are no visuals…. If abstractions by themselves have no value to readers, how can I and other abstraction-minded people turn abstract ideas into valuable content?… According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, one proposal for what makes an object abstract is if it lacks any causal powers, or the ability to make any tangible impact.
At the end of the day, however, it’s a balance; the best and most valuable content is likely a mixture of abstract and concrete.
You can see the struggle here, between trying to grapple with concepts that are very abstract—grace, God, faith, forgiveness, etc.—while trying to make them concrete enough for half of the population to understand and make make applicable. Is the answer discernible from the way Jesus taught? One thing about his method pops out: The parable. He delivered no fewer than 43 of them, at least as recorded in the Bible (the list is appended at the bottom of this post).
Is the parable Jesus’ way of trying to make a connection between the abstract and concrete? If so, how? How do you see the methodology of Jesus assisting us in abstract thought so we can have clear views of grace and God?
David: The list of parables alone made it made it worth coming this morning. I was really quite astonished to see many that I don’t recall reading.
Michael remarked last week (tongue in cheek, no doubt!) that Jesus must not have been a very good teacher because his disciples walked around in a daze most of the time and didn’t really know what was going on. We do know that the disciples were not drawn from the Jewish intelligentsia. They were people at the bottom of Bloom’s pyramid,
But apart from their ordinariness, the only factor common to all of them was that they believed. They believed in Jesus, and the way Jesus taught them, I think, was designed to keep them that way. Jesus seldom answered questions; rather, he asked questions, and it seems to me his parables serve to create a whole slew of questions in the listener’s mind.
The key is that in attempting to answer them in our own minds, I think we are pointed in the direction of truth. I don’t think the Absolute Truth—the fact, the concrete, “the answer”—is visible on the surface of any parable. Parables just point us toward a spiritual direction, and given such deep spiritual concepts as God and grace and forgiveness and so on, that is the best we can possibly hope for. We will never get to the concreteness of these concepts, as Isaiah 55 makes plain (to me, at least).
One of the problems, of course, is that religions know perfectly well that their flocks are by and large like the disciples, stumbling around the base of Bloom’s pyramid in a spiritual daze, and that the easiest way to deal with them therefore is to satisfy their need for concrete facts by making them up.
C-J: I hope not. I hope they are not standing around thinking “What do you think they’ll believe if we make it spin in such a way that it’s palatable?” That’s a very dangerous thing, for many reasons. But for me, the abstract is experiential, where concrete facts exist independent of an experience. It’s like telling somebody: “I’m in love”, or “I’m afraid”. But when we’re there, we know exactly what that abstract is. It’s experiential, or a revelation of how things come together: “Oh, I understand why it’s sequential in this manner.”
I know we all have two narratives—the one we’re given, and one we write for ourselves—and somewhere between the lines we are evolving into establishing our personal truth and coming to understand the abstract and the necessity of tainted truth based in fact, and we have to sort through that the end discernment really is abstract. But I hope that we do not do what David just said—“We’ll just tell them anything and if they’re quiet, that’s what we’re looking for.”
Don: What makes something abstract and what makes something concrete?
Donald: We all know that we are told that we are to be like children. So does that mean we should not try to seal everything up and go after what I used to say, being a photographer, you shouldn’t try to be a banker. “Okay, I got my camera, I got my film, etc.” That doesn’t give you any level of creativity. You have the tools of being a photographer but you can’t see.
But those of us who have an Adventist background recall the greater light and this lesser light described with Mrs. White, and in my childhood the adults seemed to spend more time reading Mrs. White than the Bible. And I wonder why? Is Mrs. White giving us information down here, filling in all the details here, and creativity isn’t as needed because it’s more understandable—we’re not working in parables anymore? I think that’s a unique thing in regards to this conversation.
Jay: It’s very interesting to consider the difference between the teaching of Jesus and the teaching of any other human being, whether it’s your church’s prophet, or pastor, or whatever. Sermons and books written by humans are to some degree trying to teach, espouse, get across a point. Comparing and contrasting those two things is is an important part of the conversation, and I think is is tied to Don’s question about what is concrete and what is abstract, to which I would add: Is there something that connects the two?
Abstract isn’t something I can put my hands on, isn’t something with a quid pro quo relationship (such as “touch hot pan, burn hand”—that’s concrete. Is there something that connects concrete to abstract? I think the question you just asked about the teaching methodology of Jesus versus the methodology of man is worth exploring. Do they themselves fall into one or other of the concrete versus abstract categories? Do they overlap at all? I
C-J: I think they do. But I think it’s the application that makes it concrete. An idea is just a potential. And it’s creative. It doesn’t exist until we apply it, whether it’s making a cake or abstract theory, when it comes to physics or medicine. Somebody has an idea. They’re looking at a problem and saying, What if we do this? So the abstract is essential in terms of the gateway to creativity.
But I think a lot of creativity is intuitive, which is the abstract. Why does a bird fly like that? How does the bird do that? Is it just geometrics, just the way it glides and catches the air? But I can’t do that. I think you have to be able to apply that with an awareness that is intuitive. And even if you take it to the side of someone who struggles with finding middle ground in terms of mental wellness, who knows what’s appropriate and appropriate, who knows how to apply a kitchen knife to cutting a sandwich and not doing harm to someone.
Those are extremes, but overall, collectively, I think the process is to ask the question: “I wonder how it works?” and then to explore that and to apply it in our own realm. “I need a wheel, this cart just isn’t rolling. Pulling and pushing isn’t doing it for me. But I noticed that log went rolling down the hill pretty well.” So that’s the application: What’s in my environment? What do I know? What can I perceive that I do not understand, and find understanding by manipulating it, watching it in different environments, or creating environments where I can explore it, where it doesn’t naturally inhabit?
Donald: A good teacher, a good preacher. Basically, you have your congregation and your preacher. I go to church for a variety of reasons, but one is the sermon, and I look to the preacher to have bigger thoughts than I do, otherwise there’s no point in that person standing up there. But if that person presents an idea, then I can take it and make it creative. I can apply it. So a good teacher has to teach the facts to begin with, it seems to me, but then has to go beyond that and invite the person they’re teaching the idea of what’s next, what you can do with that.
To me, that’s what a good book is. It is what a sermon is. A surgeon may go into a patient’s room with a bunch of facts and say, “This isn’t this, this, or this. But have you thought about this? Have you thought about that?” The idea actually is much more transformative, it would seem just. I wonder, based on the story of the garden, whether concretizing Information is a sign of the Fall?
David: I think we are we are conflating the sacred and the profane, the spiritual world with the mundane, the so-called real world. Don’s prayer in class every Sabbath morning mentions our coming together to discuss “things of the Spirit”. C-J used the word realm, which I think may be better in concept than the world world. We need to be conscious of the realm are we dealing with.
In the spiritual realm, I don’t think Bloom’s pyramid applies at all, because God does not want us to be creative in his realm. Creation is his job, not ours. In the real world—the mundane realm—creativity is probably necessary and even beneficial, but in the spiritual realm, with God to rely on, why would we even want to be creative? What could we possibly create that God hadn’t already thought of? Didn’t God shatter the Babelonians and their tower precisely in order to prevent their bringing their creativity into his realm?
We seem to keep forgetting that we’re dealing with a different realm and that, spiritually, at least, God wants us at the bottom of Bloom’s pyramid. He wants us where the disciples were at. He wants us where the newborn is at. It has no bearing whatsoever on how we how we live our lives in the mundane world, but it has everything to do with what we think of God, goodness, faith, grace and all of those other things.
Kiran: ChatGPT says abstract concepts are generally intangible, often representing ideas and qualities that cannot be directly observed or measured or experienced through the senses. But concrete is specific and tangible and can directly be perceived, experienced, and measured through the senses. So going from abstract to concrete requires breaking the concept down into pieces, using metaphors and analogies to understand it better, seeking real life examples and situations to illustrate it, visualizing it, applying it in familiar contexts, discussing it and experimenting and applying it.
I guess that’s what Jesus was trying to do with all the disciples and us, because grace is something that we can’t measure. It took a long time for me to understand grace and even today I sometimes struggle with it. I guess we are limited by our human understanding. We want everything to be measured in some way. I was listening to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson asking his guest about how many observable planets have been identified and whether any life forms have been observed. His respondent said that if you think of the entire observable universe as an ocean on Earth, what we can currently observe of it amounts to about a gallon. She continued that if we were to examine one gallon of the water in the ocean we would be highly unlikely to find any fish in it, yet we know there are plenty of fish in the ocean. So that’s how limited we are in our search for the seemingly intangible.
Donald: In regards to Don’s question: The only other real place that you find very specific information is in the 10 commandments. There’s no wiggle room in “Thou shalt not”. However, the commendable The Chosen is basically is about disciples wandering around being confused. They don’t understand their master, though they’re right there with him. They argue constantly about what he meant: “it’s this way.” “No, it’s that way.” Christ was presenting ideas to them (and us). A kingdom is going to be set up, we’re going to be part of it, and it’s going to be here and now.
They were pretty close to the source, but they were confused.
C-J: I think we need to realize that what we call time is on a continuum of energy in motion. Our time in this dimension is very limited, when you think about that ocean. But when we think in the abstract, it doesn’t have boundaries, it has potential, and I think that’s what God sees in all of his creation, whether we are great masters of science, art, or literature. We have our family, we may work close to the earth as farmers I think the potential in each of us is a time and place that God reveals himself in that potential.
If you’ve ever worked close to the Earth—and I think we all have—the smell of the Earth, the texture of the Earth changes continually throughout a given season. And if you are paying attention, it draws you in. What color is it today? Is it tight? Did it rain, the smell? Is there a worm? What’s this spider walking across it? What’s going to be planted there, how it will grow time in place? Nobody sees the potential in that seed, if it doesn’t germinate. It’s just organic but the potential was never fully actualized.
I think that’s what God sees in us, and going back to the garden, I think it was always God’s intention to give us potential and to set us free. But he wanted to prepare us in that process. He walked with them in the cool of the evening, and they discussed things of the day. He wanted them to ask questions. I’m sure that they were living very close to the earth, they came from the earth as the story was given us.
I’m always looking for potential in somebody, especially those who have experienced trauma and believe they no longer have potential, that they’re stuck; and to see that glimmer, that seed that is planted begin to germinate and to grow again, and believe. It goes beyond hope. They start to do the abstract, they start to imagine potential again, valuing themselves in their environment instead of being subjected to it. It’s an amazing gift that God gave us, to draw and wander into creation, and to be creators.
Carolyn: What does it mean that we are to become like little children and that we must listen to the Holy Spirit, which will guide. As the Holy Spirit guides the little child as well as the adult. I just wonder what it means that we take on this attitude of allowing it to be a mystery. A child takes you at your word. Adults are always thinking of giving the word, but to be a child, you listen or you have something to add that we don’t know at all.
Don: I think children before the age of maybe six or seven have a very difficult time separating what’s reality and what’s abstract. When my six-year-old grandson builds up a fort in my living room with blankets and chairs, for him it’s a fort. If he turns the chairs upside down and makes a choo choo train, for him it’s a train.
It’s not a mere representation or an abstracted version of a train for him. There’s a concreteness that that is quite remarkable. And if you were to try to dissuade him from believing that his fort is not a fort, he’ll have a very strong counter argument. So I’m wondering, again, are we here to take abstract concepts and concretize them? Or are we to take concrete notions and somehow abstract them?
C-J: I think that little boy did exactly what we do at a different level because we’re sophisticated, now we’re grown. He knows what a real train looks like. And he knows the environment of a real train. In his mind, he was creating a train in his environment, with the potential of the things he had around him. It’s a wonderful idea, because he saw it may be a chair. “I know this is a chair. But if I do it this way….” The idea of duplicating it differently becomes his imagination materialized, it’s just that it’s not sophisticated—you can’t get in it and sit in a nice, comfortable seat. But the idea behind it, is that seed being germinated.
I would never stop a child who did that, I would just encourage it. That’s wonderful. I never saw it that way. I want to crawl inside that kids had, I want to know what that child saw that I don’t see any more. A chair’s a chair and I’m gonna sit in it, I’m not going to turn it on its side, cover it with a blanket, and make a fort. Children are learning how to trust that intuition and that experience of the abstract.
Donald: So to go back to Carolyn’s question: IF we’re admonished to become as children, should we leave it at that and stop trying to formalize religion and spirituality? When Christ says “I go to prepare a place for you”, I get that. If somebody says, “I’m going over here, I’ll be back”, I get the concept. But if you start talking about streets of gold, you’ve lost me.
C-J: I think that the translation is receptivity, not literal; be receptive to things being authentic in your awareness. Of course, there aren’t streets of gold. Could there be if that’s what God wanted to do? I have to believe God is big enough. But I don’t think the streets of gold are the issue. I think that gold means great value. Streets are a pathway. So it’s an analogy. But really, I think the whole text is about being receptive to something that isn’t tangible, to see it through a different lens as we continue to mature.
Donald: A couple years of years ago, we talked about Jonah, and some of us wondered if the story really happened or was it just a way of enabling us to think something through? I think we’re supposed to believe that the Bible is literal, and that’s where we get into the creation and the length of time and all the rest of it…
Don: The Bible is concrete, is what you’re trying to say…?
Donald: Yes. I’m told that that’s absolute. That’s not a variable. In this conversation, maybe we’re trying to make everything literal.
Jay: The cognitive dissonance that I’m having now, and Carolyn’s point is amplifying it, is this call to be as a child. In the context of what we’re talking about today, that’s a call back to concreteness. So the younger you get, the more you move backward to concrete thinking as opposed to abstract thinking. The cognitive dissonance that I’m having here is that the teaching methodology of Jesus couldn’t be more abstract, in my mind. So if there’s a call to be concrete, why are you teaching me in abstract ways? That’s a disconnect for me.
I’m not saying that one is right and one is wrong, I’m just trying to articulate the cognitive dissonance that I’m that I’m starting to have here. As I look at the parable teaching methodology of Jesus, that is extraordinarily, it seems to me to have abstractness to it, or he seems to be saying, “Here’s an abstract thing, and I’ll try to make it concrete.”
That’s another thing that’s happening here that I think that we need to talk about. But when you say to somebody, “I need you to be as a child”, it can’t be much more abstract than that. That’s an abstract notion, to say to an adult. That’s where I’m having some dissonance right now.
C-J: When I had a TIA and people were trying to teach me something that as an adult, somebody could grasp quickly, I said to them, “I need to hear the space between the words. When you’re telling me this, pretend you’re talking to a seven-year-old child”, because I couldn’t follow that person as I got better. But having that experience as an adult really taught me to see the world with a different lens, not as a patient, not as something out of a textbook.
But I came through that. It’s not a perfect world for me, but I don’t know how much of that is from getting old and how much is a result of my brain not being the way it was. But what I do know is that experience made me more patient, lean in, and I do not see the world the way I did before. I don’t see that as a linear thing anymore. I see potential, only potential.
Kiran: As the parent of a two-year-old, I’m reading a lot of children’s books on pretty much everything. The latest information in them is that children’s brains are more complex, more intelligent than the adult brain. The understanding is that children are born with adaptability for everything. For example, they’re born with phonics for every language. They’re born with understanding for every sort of thing. But as they grow, whatever they’re not using, they turn off, and then specialize in one thing.
So we become set in our ways when we grow. In telling us to be like a child, perhaps Jesus means to revert back to a place where we’re open to new understandings, new experiences, and a new way of seeing God. Because our way of seeing God is so set, based on our environment, so that God is in the skies, he’s not bothered with us, he wields a stick to punish us if we make a mistake. And this is how we see God: as a punisher.
To see God as a loving, kind God who came to sacrifice his life is relatively easy for those of us who have been hearing about it our entire lives on the basis of 2000 years of sermonizing, but how do you understand it as a disciple who is thinking that the Christ is going to come as a conqueror, not as a sacrificer?
The more I think about it, being child-like is being open to new interpretations, new ways of seeing God. As a neophyte Seventh-Day Adventist, I wasn’t ready to allow any other new thoughts or new interpretations besides what Ellen White said or what church taught me, because it was scary to do so. I no longer have that fear but I still have difficulty understanding. I still struggle with new concepts for a long time. But children seldom discriminate. They’ll play with anybody.
Jay: As I reflect on the last 10 years of sitting in this class, the injunction to be as a child has probably come up 100 times, at least. It has had application no matter what the topic off discussion, it seems. In discussing trust, we decide to be as a child. Forgiving?—Be as a child. It’s much easier to forgive as a child. Can we apply “Be as a child” to everything we’ve discussed today? To one of the things we’ve discussed? To some of them? Is one more important than the other?
It relates to our conversation today, I think, because “Be as a child” is a very abstract way of viewing an adult. What is that, and why use that phrase? Why don’t we just say what it is?
Donald: When we were kids, there were Spot and Sally and Dick and Jane. We were told to “Watch Sally run” and shown a picture of Sally running.
Don: “See Sally run”, not “Watch Sally run”.
Donald: Yes. The thing is that now books know that this kid doesn’t need to know what run looks like. They use imagination, so even adults are reading them. And they can barely get through because the content is off the charts. Books seem to be written now for the purpose of imagination rather than the purpose of facts.
Maybe I don’t read that many children’s books, but it’s my sense that they have changed. They used to be much more specific, and the world was an easier place. We knew what was right and what was wrong—even if it wasn’t! We had a dogmatic approach to everything. Now everything’s wide open. And it’s confusing.
C-J: It’s confusing because of the generations. But actually, STEM is essential in the evolution of the cultural domain. We were trained to sit still for long periods of time with tedious, monotonous labor. You couldn’t just be running up; ‘Oh, look at that!” Just get the work done. Today, it’s all about math, science, technology and its application to what you cannot see but has potential.
So when you say “See Sally run”, really what I’m seeing in my mind is the mechanics of those muscles, that blood pumping, what’s happening in the brain, where she’s going to. I’m not just reading a word to get me from A to C. I’m not looking for the verb, the adjective, the color of the ball. None of that. I don’t care about it. I’m looking for the mechanics. In this generation, it was very, very fast. Our generation didn’t change much for 50 years. It really did.
I’m thrilled to be coming into a new domain in my way of viewing things because a year ago, I was very much afraid. I said “I can’t keep up with this” and I knew it was going to overtake me. But I got to a place where my potential was demanding that I take that leap. Did I do it gracefully? Oh, no. I was free falling into it. But It compelled me not to be satisfied with “I only need to know this to do what I want on my computer.”
It compelled me to say “If you want to be able to be completely independent in the future should this happen (for example, a giant crash of power) you need to know about ham radio. If I wanted to go into this new domain feeling I had some ability to adapt, I had to accept that I’m not going to be a marathon runner—I’m not an athlete—but I want to be able to keep my head above water.
Donald: But think about Don’s grandson building trains and forts in his living room. That’s one activity. But when the child has a sense of needing a relationship, a sense that they’re not in control, guess what he does: He huddles next to Grandpa’s leg and holds his hand. It is interesting that a child innocently just comes close, and says, “Protect me and love me”. That is perhaps a nicer attribute than mere creativity. Innocence and creativity both seem important, though.
C-J: That hugging of a leg can be out of fear or out of feeling safe. I was playing with a neighbor’s daughter and as I was getting ready to leave she grabbed my leg. I was as surprised as her parents, because she’s three and only now grabbed my leg for the first time. I put my arm around her little shoulder. She trusted me. She saw her family trusted me, in their natural element where she was safe. It was intuitive to her in her world. it wasn’t abstract. She wasn’t thinking “I’m going to hug her because I don’t want her to go right now. I am having fun.” It was about trust.
Robin: The child-like spirit or trust that God wants us to have in him is because he is the Father of all, the good and the best father. But we’re not supposed to stay in confusion either—hence the parable of the mustard seed, which doesn’t just stay in the soil and say, “Okay, I’m here. This is what God designed me to do—to just be down here and never grow, I just stay this little tiny seed.” No, it grows into a huge bush.
We are supposed to stretch our faith, to apply our faith, so it can grow. During the Egyptian captivity the Jews could not practice their faith as they had before, so much was lost. The disciples understood tradition. They had pride in their ancestry, but they had lost their spiritual child-like dependency. They were too full of their ancestry and what they “deserved” because of it.
I think that God has to rewire our thinking when we are thinking and living in the concrete, so that we can experience the spiritual, which may be defined as more abstract but I’m not sure. The last part of Philippians 1:6 says that God will be faithful to complete what he has begun in us—enhancing our understanding of tangible, concrete, earthly things and thus leading us to faith in the existence of the spiritual realm, and how to understand and enjoy it.
Reinhard: I think we go from concrete to abstract, from the five senses to the sixth—the spiritual—sense as we mature. People who come to God they have to grow up to accept the abstract belief in God. God created the world by his words, almost an abstract process. By grace, we are saved through faith. If we think deep about the sentence, it means God envisioned giving us salvation as a gift without our work. But to achieve salvation by grace, we have to believe through faith—we have to believe that grace is given to us and we have to respond. In other words, we have to accept.
We have to develop abstract thinking about belief in God as we grow, just as we have to develop through the tangible things we experience though the five senses. When we accept God, the more we have faith in God and the more we can apply that to what we do in terms of concrete things. The10 Commandments deal with the concrete things, but faith itself is an abstract thing. All in all, I think we have to grow in concrete understanding of the world and in abstract understanding of the spiritual realm.
Donald: Faith is really fundamental. Without faith, facts are useless. So it turns the pyramid a little bit upside down.
Jay: For sure.
In preparation for next week, to plant some seeds in your brain, we’ll continue to wrestle with the teaching methodology of Jesus and look more at the parables, so if you want a little homework between now and the next class, take a look at some of them (direct links in the list below will take you straight to them) and think about how you would boil them down to their essence—to the lesson Jesus is trying to teach—in just one word or short phrase. That might help us navigate the concrete vs. abstract dilemma and our view of God and grace.
The other theme that emerged today that I want us to wrestle with in coming weeks is whether God wants us to stick to the concrete or venture into the abstract? Is there a transition from concrete to abstract and if so does it help us to develop a view of God and grace? Is the methodology by which we as humans teach different than the methodology by which the divine teaches us?
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- New Cloth on an Old Coat (Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:21; Luke 5:36)
- New Wine in Old Wineskins (Mark 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37–38)
- The Lamp on a Stand (Matthew 5:14–15; Mark 4:21–22; Luke 8:16, 11:33)
- The Wise and Foolish Builders (Matthew 7:24–27; Luke 6:47–49)
- The Moneylender forgiving unequal debts (Luke 7:41–43)
- The Rich Fool Building His Bigger Barns (Luke 12:16–21)
- The Servants Must Remain Watchful (Mark 13:35–37; Luke 12:35–40)
- The Wise and Foolish Servants (Matthew 24:45–51; Luke 12:42–48)
- The Unfruitful Fig Tree (Luke 13:6–9)
- The Parable of the Soils (Matthew 13:3–23; Mark 4:1–20; Luke 8:4–15)
- The Weeds Among Good Plants (Matthew 13:24–43)
- The Growing Seed (Mark 4:26–29)
- The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31–32; Mark 4:30–32; Luke 13:18–19)
- Yeast (Matthew 13:31–32)
- Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44)
- Valuable Pearl (Matthew 13:45–46)
- Fishing Net (Matthew 13:47–50)
- Owner of a House (Matthew 13:52)
- Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:12–14)
- The Master and His Servant (Luke 17:7–10)
- The Unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:23–34)
- The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37)
- Friend in Need (Luke 11:5–8)
- Lowest Seat at the Feast (Luke 14:7–14)
- Invitation to a Great Banquet (Luke 14:16–24)
- The Cost of Discipleship (Luke 14:28–33)
- Lost Sheep (Luke 15:4–7)
- Lost Coin (Luke 15:8–10)
- The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32)
- The Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1–8)
- The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31)
- The Early and Late Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16)
- The Persistent Widow and Crooked Judge (Matthew 18:1–8)
- The Pharisee and Tax Collector (Luke 18:10–14)
- The King’s Ten Servants Given Minas (Luke 19:12–27)
- Two Sons (one obeys, one disobeys) (Matthew 21:28–32)
- Wicked Tenants (Matthew 21:33–44; Mark 12:1–11; Luke 20:9–18)
- Invitation to a Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:2–14)
- The Fig Tree and Signs of the Future (Matthew 24:32–35; Mark 13:28–29; Luke 21:29–31)
- The Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1–13)
- The Talents (Matthew 25:14–30)
- The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31–46)
- The Sheep, Shepherd, and Gate (John 10:1–18)