Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jesus is Lord -- but only of the rich

Dear Hannah,

I know all the passages about the meek inheriting the earth and camels going through the eye of the needle -- my personal theory is that God is only the God of the rich; and barring this extremely restrictive outlook, maybe the God of the middle classes too.  The poor have almost nothing to do with Him.  They get all the fun.  The well-to-do get all His rules, which means they get a God.  Nay, they get worse than his rules -- they bear His cross.


Consider the Golden Rule.  We've all heard sermons about giving to bums or Haitians or socialists or failed states.  Now try and think of one sermon about leftists not being covetous of capitalists.  You can't think of it because nobody has ever heard it.   Nobody has ever seen Pope Francis get on a pedestal and, reminding us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, call for lower taxes on the rich.  We don't imagine ourselves in the rich man's shoes, the first step of applying the Golden Rule, because the rich man has a God and we don't.  He's asked to walk the ways of the Lord and the poor man is asked for nothing.

Furthermore, nobody has ever asked the Mexicans to respect the American border like the Mexicans want the Guatemalans to respect the Mexican border; and beyond this we've all heard sermons against racism but none for turning the other cheek to the racists.  Nobody has asked black people to go the extra mile for the neo-Nazis, or to turn their cheeks to police officers, or to give white people even the benefit of the doubt.  The sermons all go the other way, and everyone else is asked to bend over backward for black people -- a thoroughly Satanic concept if there ever was one. 

We could go on.  We might ask the Syrians to not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  We might ask them to be grateful for what they have, instead of passing up Greece and to Turkey to get to the German women; and beyond this we'd ask the gay Christians to not judge the Baptists over marriage licenses -- for as we judge others, so shall we be judged.  Upset about voter ID laws?  Obey the authorities, as Paul commanded; and if you're upset about this, perhaps a sermon about telling the truth about your age, name, and citizenship.

It's easier, of course, to direct these rules at the rich.  It's easier to apply the Golden Rule to well-to-do people in well-to-do countries.  They rarely (if ever) admit that the wealth of any single Christian can be exhausted and his neighborhood can be ruined and nobody will be better for it.  They never talk about how it feels to have something beautiful stolen from you by someone who didn't deserve it.  They never talk about how it feels to have your neighborhood go to pot because someone was being too generous to illegal aliens, or layabouts on Section 8.  They never ask how it feels to have to hire people who are useless and obnoxious; or to be slandered every day for things you didn't do; or to even be constantly reminded about the horrible things your ancestors did.  Nobody cares about the feelings or the safety or the rights of the "rich," because we've bought into the lie that being "rich" means being the target of Jesus's sermons.  Almost as much as being "white" means being the target of Jesus' sermons.  If this is the case, then I say only well-to-do white people can be Christians.

But being poor isn't a virtue.  In fact you never really know how virtuous you are until you're dealing with money and power.  Poverty is also not a vice.  Poverty is the result of the injustice, ignorance, imprudence, imbecility, bad luck and indolence of the poor or the people who actively oppress them; and if there are rich men who are rich for their avarice, there are poor people who are impoverished for their villainy.

Consider last that hell, according to the teachings of the apostles, isn't a place where men go because their wallets are full.  It's a place they go because their hearts are corrupt.  It's the place for people who call Jesus Lord and then hear Him say why do you call me Lord and then not do what I say?  It's for the people who call Jesus their Savior and then pretend as though they haven't committed any sins.  It's for the poor people of the world who think the rules only apply to men who have built things.  It's for the Pharisaical minorities who cherry-pick the commandments and then apply them irrationally -- to everyone but themselves.

Narrow is the way and straight is the path, and there are few who find it.  We have yet to hear any preachers remind the world that the poor comprise the majority.

Your father,
-J

2 comments:

  1. From the Didache, also known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, which was confirmed to be worthy of study and reading by Athanasius. From wwww.earlychristianwritings.com: "Athanasius describes it as 'appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of goodness' [Festal Letter 39:7]."

    Preface: The beginning of the Didache writes about two ways: The way of life, and the way of death. Here's the fifth chapter, dealing with the way of death. Take notice, the constant mentions of those who are what Jesus considered "the least of these."

    Chapter 5: "The Way of Death."

    And the way of death is this: First of all it is evil and accursed: murders, adultery, lust, fornication, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rape, false witness, hypocrisy, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far, loving vanities, pursuing revenge, not pitying a poor man, not laboring for the afflicted, not knowing Him Who made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him who is in want, afflicting him who is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners. Be delivered, children, from all these."

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    1. Take notice that this is a text that is recommended for recent converts to read, and profit from. For many in the early church, this would be their first steps in spiritual growth, as well as, of course, being taught in churches by elders and deacons about the gospel itself. It deals with all sin, for all people, from all backgrounds.

      The great sin of society today is its insistence that because of the strengths (and of course there are plenty, I do not argue with that) of a system that has got us to where we are today, namely capitalism, that we must then, in order to preserve it, necessarily ignore all of its flaws. At the very least, many endeavor to downplay any weaknesses therein. This most recent move by some in the church to demonstrate the injustice in which sinful actors behave in a capitalistic society, I believe, falls completely within the tradition of the early church to call out all ways by which sin can taint and hurt the least of these, which, in the end, also hurts the perpetrators of injustice in the long run. God is not partial to capitalism, nor communism. He is neither to the rich, nor the poor. Jesus' sermons are not a brand to the forehead of the rich, nor a condemnation of the poor, but a light which shines upon all men to show himself his wickedness, and in doing so, guides us to a more perfect communion between all of mankind. This justice, therefore, is one which protects the powerless, and holds those in power accountable. It is also that which holds the powerless accountable, and protects those in power. However, we must never confuse God's protection of the rich for an endorsement of his sins, as Jesus Christ is not a minister to sin. In the same way, we must also never confuse God's protection of the poor as an endorsement of their sins.

      When Christians preach against those who have much power on this earth, it is more in dealing with those who use their power to oppress, rather than empower, or those who use it to self-enrich to useless extremes, rather than bless others through tithing*. It is because of this that I believe that the recent move by Pope Francis, as well as many from the Christian left, to strive toward a fearless admonition by those whose avarice blinds their better judgement are in the right. However, and I agree with you, we must also preach to the poor about the danger of sin and the stranglehold it can have on what could be a productive life, either for capitalism, or for their neighbors.

      I have to point out, however, that you're painting with an awfully broad brush when you say things like all leftist pastors are 'convinced that white people are the enemy of humanity.' A great deal, I believe, are not. They are, however, convinced that racism definitely IS a great enemy of humanity. It is sometimes not a matter of what is said in a sermon by a preacher that is important, but those principles therein which are remembered and meditated upon by those receiving the preaching. Those who hear what they want to hear may indeed interpret some preaching as being about the 'white devil,' or whatever, but the other option by those with a sincere heart, who want to know and emulate Christ, is an understanding that yes, racism is evil, and yes, 'I want to change and God must change me, and my racist tendencies are a start.' I believe where you're coming from regarding what you said in that section has much more to do with the calamities and controversies found in the media regarding 'white devil' preachers, or whatever, rather than say, going to a black church in an urban area and listening to a sermon by a preacher there. You might be surprised. Might.


      * I say tithing (i.e. giving with the abundance that is in your heart [2 Corinthians 9:7]), as of course, it is the more just, and 'biblical' way of giving to those in need.

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