The Platinum Rule (III)
First part of this series here. Second part here.
What would the historical Jesus have thought about the Platinum Rule? It should be noted that the Golden Rule is less misguided in a communal (group-oriented) society like that of ancient Palestine, where people were less concerned about catering to individual needs like we are today. "Treat others how you want to be treated" was Jesus' way of telling groups of people to put themselves in the shoes of other groups of people. "Give to those who beg from you" (Mt 7:9/Lk 6:30); etc., meaning the haves should treat the have-nots the same way they themselves would want to be treated if their situations were reversed. That's a tall enough order in Jesus' society. In our individualist world the Platinum Rule simply improves upon the Golden Rule by honoring its actual intent. One could say that it even one-ups, or outdoes, the Golden Rule.
In this light Mitch Hadley's observations become interesting:
"I get uncomfortable with someone who tries to trump Christ. It's really kind of a zero-sum game, like trying to outdo your Boss. One can imagine Jesus slapping His head, thinking to Himself, 'The Platinum Rule! Why didn't I think of that?' And Alessandra, like all ambitious people, should fear the consequences of this game of oneupsmanship. Because when this Boss calls you to His office, it's a one-way trip. And being dismissed from His presence is eternal."Oh really? Though Jesus excelled at one-upping rivals like the Pharisees, he seems also to have thrived on being one-upped in turn by certain outcasts and low-lives. In Mk 7:24-30/Mt 15:21-28 he gets burned by a Canaanite woman, and salvation comes to the heathen nations because of it! John Pilch has discussed the account, where Jesus ignores this woman and then calls her a dog when she persists in harassing him, but she shamelessly embraces the insult and one-ups him in a clever rejoinder: "Lord, even the dogs get to eat scraps." Jesus actually concedes defeat: "For saying this you may go your way; your daughter is healed."(Mark)/ "Great is your faith! Your daughter is healed."(Matthew) In other words, "Touché, woman; you dish out what you take, so God grants your favor" (Pilch). This stands as the pivotal account in the gospels by which grace came to the pagan nations, and it all happened (so Mark and Matthew believe) on account of a shameless hussy who gave as good as she got, and gratified Jesus because of it. Who knows, perhaps Jesus would have been equally gratified to see his own Rule being "outdone" by the heathens of corporate America.
It wouldn't surprise me in the least. I hasten to add, however, that I seriously doubt Jesus would have gone so far as to say that grace came to corporate America (of all places) just because some managers were putting the Platinum Rule into practice. :) The point is that Christians like Hadley could learn from the example of the shameless hussy, and perhaps dare to one-up their savior more often.
UPDATE (3 years later): As it turns out, the historical Jesus probably did not teach the Golden Rule.