Unwinding a Heretic’s Spin…Reflecting on Karen Oliveto’s Opinion of Jesus’ Bigotry

John Lomperis, in his Juicy Ecumenism article on Karen Oliveto’s heretical view of Jesus actually included a copy of the text of her message to her Conference. Take a look at how she draws her conclusions about Jesus.

“Below is Bishop Karen’s weekly message to the Mountain Sky Area:
Praying for the clergy and laity of the Mountain Sky Area as we prepare to come together for worship.
I love the Gospel text of this week’s lectionary–Matthew 15:21-28. You know the story:
A Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded with Jesus to heal her sick daughter. Jesus ignored her. The disciples get involved, “Jesus, can’t you do something? She’s driving us crazy.” Jesus tells them no.
Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. “Master, help me.” He said, “It’s not right to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to dogs.” She was quick: “You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.” Jesus gave in and the woman’s daughter is healed.
Jesus, Jesus, what is up with you? Where is the gentle Jesus, meek and mild, the one who said, “Let the children come to me”? What happened to Jesus, the one who said, “Consider the lilies”. Where did his compassion and love go?
But as I ponder the story, as I look at the verbal jousting between Jesus and this female who is considered less than human because of her gender and ethnicity, I can’t help but note how Jesus comes around.
Too many folks want to box Jesus in, carve him in stone, create an idol out of him. But this story cracks the pedestal we’ve put him on. The wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting one, prince of peace, was as human as you and me. Like you and me, he didn’t have his life figured out. He was still growing, maturing, putting the pieces together about who he was and what he was supposed to do. We might think of him as the Rock of Ages, but he was more like a hunk of clay, forming and reforming himself in relation to God.
As one person put it: “Jesus wasn’t a know-it-all, he was also learning God’s will like any human being and finally he changed his mind…if Jesus didn’t have to know it all innately, but rather could grow into new and deeper understanding through an openness to God’s people [even those he formerly discounted], maybe if Jesus could change his mind then maybe so can we!
As he encountered this one who was a stranger, he comes to a fuller sense of the people he is to be in relationship with. He is meant to be a boundary crosser, and in the crossing over, reveals bigotry and oppression for what they are: human constructs that keep all of us from being whole. He learns that no one, no one, including the outsider, the foreigner, the hated, the misunderstood, the feared, no one is outside of the heart of God and the care of God.
In his conversion, by changing his mind and acting outside of tradition, by treating the woman as a person and responding to her needs, Jesus is willing to stand against culture and social norms and risk his status and power. It is this action of giving up that Jesus gains the most: because of his willingness to be in relationship with one so different, Jesus finds greater intimacy with God. The two go hand in hand.
This is the heart of the story. This is what offers us hope. If Jesus can change, if he can give up his bigotries and prejudices, if he can realize that he had made his life too small, and if, in this realization, he grew closer to others and closer to God, than so can we.”


Karen Oliveto reads into this passage what she wishes to see to make the point she wishes to make, not what is actually evident there and clearly demonstrated elsewhere in Scripture. No clearer case can be made for the liberal feminist proof texting of her message in order to dismiss the Word of God and the Son of God!
Here’s the passage from Matthew from which she draws her nasty view of Jesus as just another misogynistic xenophobe who has to learn a lesson, and my take, a step at the time: (NASB) Matthew 15:21-28

The Syrophoenician Woman

21 Jesus went away from there-
The “there” is from Gennesaret, where the Jewish men of the area had recognized him and sent word for all the sick to come to him and as many as reached out to touch his cloak were cured- (Matthew 14:34). Gennesaret was “a tract of land some three of four miles long on the western border of the Sea of Galilee. It was a lovely and exceedingly fertile region; in it probably lay Capernaum and Bethsaida of Galilee, places often visited by our Lord.” (ATS Bible Dictionary). Immediately after this broad scale healing with those in Gennesaret, the Pharisees from Jerusalem came to him there and there was a contentious encounter in which Jesus dressed them down and then had to explain it to his disciples, who could be rather dull-witted dunderheads at times.

…..and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon.
Jesus “withdrew”….He went to the of district Syro-Phoenicia, in the area of modern-day Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, in the area of these two ancient cities. They were not in Israel any longer and he was free from the Pharisee’s scathing scrutiny and the pressing masses who were gathering and clamoring for healing and other miracles wherever he went. The disciples had raised no objections when the people from all over the Jewish area of Gennersaret had come clamoring for healing. This points to what I believe is the more significant reason that Jesus went to the Tyre-Sidon district and it had nothing to do with his own bigotry, but with that of the disciples. As noted by William MacDonald, author of “The Believer’s Bible Commentary” and “True Discipleship”, this appears to have been a detour to teach his disciples about the dangers that arise from the heart…..about which he had just spoken in regard to the Pharisees’ criticism in Gennesaret.
“The Syro-Phoenician woman is used by the Lord Jesus as a test case to expose prejudice in the lives of the Twelve and then teach them a very valuable lesson concerning prejudice. The lesson is this: an exclusive mentality caused by pride; one that says we’re better than you, economically, ethnically, physically, religiously, can result in prejudice and could lead to partiality and discrimination.
Just prior to Jesus’s departure from the Sea of Galilee, He addressed the issue of defilement. His disciples asked Him about His comments. He answered them, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:20-23). Jesus then gave a vivid lesson to His disciples about pride that came to fruition as prejudice.
Matthew and Mark are the only gospel writers that record this event. Mark, hearing this account from Peter, would have recorded it because this was a lesson Peter had to learn the hard way. Even though he was an apostle to the circumcision, Peter came to realize that salvation was for all, both Jews and Gentiles. Mark was also writing to a Jewish audience in Rome. Both record this event because they may have included this event in order to provoke their Jewish audience to jealousy when they realize Gentiles can be part of the Kingdom of God as well (Rom. 11:11,12) http://www.plymouthbrethren.org/article/5052

Additionally, there is ample biblical evidence of Jesus’ inclusionary posture with regard to foreigners and of the Jews hatred of him because of it.
In Luke 4:14-30, in Jesus’ inaugural sermon before his home synagogue in Nazareth after his baptism and temptations in the wilderness, he incurred the ire of all the Jews present when he spoke about the prophet Elijah, the healing of Naaman (of Syria) and Zarepheth, the Syro-phoenician widow of Sidon with whom Elijah had stayed and whose son Elijah had raised from the dead. He might as well have spat in the face of these bigoted Jews when he spoke of prophets not being welcomed in their own country but finding hospitality among and ministering to Caananites. In Luke 4:28-30 we read at the end of that sermon, “ And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way.” He knew the hearts of the Jews toward non-Jews. And he started his ministry challenging it.
Later in speaking of himself as the Good Shepherd Jesus makes another inclusive claim that enrages the Jews. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?” ( John 10: 14-20) I don’t believe it was just his claim of authority, but also his claim that they were not the only ones to belong to the “flock” that offended them.


…….22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word.
Jesus waited. Not to demonstrate his own disregard for this woman’s distress, but to observe the response of his disciples and create a teachable moment for them, testing what was in their own hearts. This was on the heels of having just recently explained that it is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him, but what comes out, which emanates from his heart. And it didn’t take long…..


……And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”
“She keeps shouting at us.” Not at “you”….not, “Master, do you hear her? Are you going to answer her?” They had no compassion for her. She was making a scene and they wanted her dealt with quickly by being sent away.

……24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
That is what the Jews believed about the Messiah. He is a Jewish rabbi. What claim on his Lordship can this Canaanite woman make unless the Spirit of God has moved her? I can almost hear Jesus’ teasing sarcasm in this. As if to say to his Jewish disciples, “What do you expect of the Messiah?” as a test of whether or not they are ready for the larger vision that Christ has for the redemption of God’s people……all of God’s people.

……. 25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.
Once again, I can almost hear Jesus’ sly tease in his response, meant more so for the benefit of his disciples, who were undoubtedly hanging on every word, as it was for the woman herself who has come in desperation and cried out for help, even bowing in a posture of worship and calling him “Lord.” I expect he glanced at his disciples to see if they were watching and listening as closely as he needed them to. Jesus responds to the woman’s persistence, her recognition of his authority and power, her quick mind, and her faith! I can almost see him smiling as he says to her, “O woman, your faith is great”. And her request is granted.


From the website “Think Christian” this is noted, as well:    http://christianthinktank.com/qcrude.html

“Important details are added from the parallel passage in Mark 7.24-29:
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” 28 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

……From a literary standpoint, this section is wonderfully placed–the wonderful woman serves as a foil against both the Jewish leaders and the disciples (in both Gospels). So, D.A. Carson, EBC:Mt, in. loc.:
Of greater interest is the placing of this pericope in both gospels. It not only records Jesus’ withdrawal from the opposition of the Pharisees and teachers of the law (cf. 14.13) but contrasts their approach to the Messiah with that of this woman. They belong to the covenant people but take offense at the conduct of Jesus’ disciples, challenge his authority, and are so defective in understanding the Scriptures that they show themselves not to be plants the heavenly Father has planted. But this woman is a pagan, a descendent of ancient enemies, and with no claim on the God of the covenant. Yet in the end she approaches the Jewish Messiah and with great faith asks only for grace; and her request is granted.
and Lane (op.cit.):
the faith of the Syrophoenician woman contrasts dramatically with the determined unbelief of the Pharisees and the scribes from Jerusalem while her witty reply to Jesus indicates a degree of understanding which puts the disciples to shame.”


There is nothing bigoted about Jesus in this exchange, before or after his encounter with the Syro-Phoenician woman. It is Jesus at his best as a teacher, challenging the impatience, prejudices and preconceived assumptions of his disciples. Jesus gives his disciples a first-hand laboratory lesson in what is revealed about one’s heart in what one says. Karen Oliveto would do well to take a look into her own heart and learn a few lessons from Jesus, as well! Liberationist feminist theology is a warped perversion of the Gospel that is born of their own warped view of God. God help them and those who are burdened by having to sit under their teaching.                                                               Cathy Byrd  10-9-17



Addendum:   10-13-17

I have delighted in the view of Jesus’ humanity in Luke 2:52- “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” It comforted me to realize that all the ways in which I and others had to grow- intellectually, emotionally (“wisdom”), physically, morally (“stature”), spiritually (“favor with God”), and socially (“favor with man”)- were ways in which Jesus had to grow, too. It confirmed to me that Jesus is, indeed, in all ways, like those he came to save and can understand us completely, empathizing and interceding for us. The difference, however, is that Jesus did it perfectly (in keeping with God’s perfect plan). Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb so the Holy Spirit was directing his growth and forming him into the perfect instrument of the Christ that he was. And so, in Luke 42-47 we see Jesus as a 12 year old astounding the religious leaders in the Temple of Jerusalem with his knowledge and insights. Then from that one verse, Luke 2:52, we see nothing more of Jesus’ life until he begins his formal ministry with his baptism by John in Luke 3 at age 30. Many of us, even those in ministry, have to continue to be honed, refined, and transformed by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit all of our lives. The divinity of Jesus Christ and his intimacy as a part of the Triune Godhead, impartial and with a clear-eyed understanding of his role in the salvation of humanity apparently by the time he was 12 or certainly soon after as his maturing reason gave him the capacity for understanding, did not have to learn to not be a bigot. Liberals make a big deal about children NOT being bigoted, loving and accepting of one another and that such behavior is learned through the corrupting influence of one’s culture. Jesus was enveloped in Jewish culture, but he also had the protective enveloping of the Holy Spirit’s care throughout his life to protect him from the corrupting influence of that culture, hence, his sinlessness. To impugn his mature character as bigoted and having to be taught not to discriminate as other Jews did is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in his life. Jesus repeatedly said to “come as a little child”….without the corrupting influence of the culture, with the trusting nature of a child, with gentleness and interest in knowing all that one can learn.
” And when He became twelve, they went up there (to Jerusalem) according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.”


OK. I think I’m done with this. I have nothing left for Karen Oliveto but pity and to pray for mercy for her because of her ignorance……the same as Jesus had for the Jerusalem Pharisees in his interaction with them in Gennesaret just before this lesson for his disciples with the Syro-Phoenician woman in Tyre/Sidon, “But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15: 13-14) Thank you for your patience.