|Abraham and the Three Angels. James Tissot 1836-1902|
For as long as I can remember, my wife and I hosted dinners—birthday parties for congregants, baby showers, Thanksgiving dinners for displaced New Yorkers, dinners to honor people, and many others. In 2005, I hosted a man I barely knew. I just knew that he was a missionary to China and played a role in the great revivals there.
Unknown to me, he was a giant of faith, a modern-day Paul, a person who would shape the trajectory of my life and all those around me. To think that he would accept my hospitality—an uncomfortable red convertible sofa and food from an untrained culinary hand—humbles me. Hospitality can be paradoxical. Often those who show it are blessed more than those who receive it.
The theme of theoxeny, the showing of hospitality to a god or gods—usually in disguise—is not a common one in Christian theological discourse. I’ve never come across this word in any commentary or theological book (perhaps an indictment on my shallow reading), not even in a footnote. The first time I came across this word was when I was working in Homeric scholarship. Read More