Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jesus is Lord -- but only of the rich

Dear Hannah,

If I could change one thing about Christianity today, I would make Jesus the God of the poor.  If this sounds like I've forgotten all the passages about the meek inheriting the earth and camels going through the eye of a needle, some explanation may be necessary.  Whatever the Bible says about the poor being blessed, their blessing may rest entirely on the fact that Christians today aren't placing them under any obligations.  They're blessed because they do inherit the earth; but only in the sense that they don't have any rules to follow, and only because they don't have a God to give them any rules.  The earth is theirs because it's theirs to squander: the Western middle classes are only here to build it.

Consider the Golden Rule.  The overwhelming majority of us have heard sermons about how capitalists who succeed ought to be more giving to failing socialists and Muslims and Africans; but I've never heard a sermon about how socialists who fail shouldn't be coveting and stealing what belongs to capitalists.  I'd also love to see Pope Francis get on a pedestal and tell the poor to stop raising taxes on the productive because we should imagine ourselves in the richer man's shoes.  This sermon would a strange and twisted kind of fate.  It would be almost as if when Jesus said do unto others as you would have them do unto you, He might have actually been speaking to all of us instead of the wealthy minority (who are always easy targets for an unusually demanding sermon).

The fact that I've never heard a sermon about Mexicans respecting the American border like they expect the Guatemalans to respect the Mexican should also seem extremely suspicious.  And if we're adding sermons to this list of growing inadequacies, we should add one to soften the manners of the poor as well.  To the best of my knowledge, nearly every leftist pastor has delivered a sermon against racism in some form or another.  What's possible is that nobody has ever preached a sermon about black people turning the other cheek to police officers -- or giving white people the benefit of the doubt in questionable circumstances.  We might even go so far as to ask black people to spend their time blessing white people as Jesus commanded, since leftist pastors are convinced that white people are the enemy of humanity.  If what's good for the goose is good for the gander, we might even expect more sermons blessing white people in general.

We could go on.  If we're still talking do unto others, we might suggest that honest pastors (who are apparently in short supply) would preach about Syrians being thankful of what God has given them instead of passing up Greece and Turkey and going farther north for German women; and we'd ask gay Christians to not judge their straight counterparts for not giving them marriage licenses -- for as we judge others, so shall we be judged.  And if we wanted to really put the icing on the cake, we'd skip reasoning with people about our extremely reasonable voter ID laws, and just remind them that God has given everyone authorities, and that the authorities have to be obeyed because God put them there in the first place.  We might even be more reckless and ask people not to commit acts of dishonesty.

The truth of the matter is that nearly every swindling demagogue has always taken the Golden Rule and applied it against the well-to-do in functional neighborhoods with limited resources.  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" (who we define as all white people), because we've bought into the lie that being "rich" means being the target of Jesus's sermons.

But being poor is not a virtue.  We might even go so far as to say that 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, 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 uselessness.

Hell, according to the teachings of the apostles and contrary to the opinions of the covetous majority, is not 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've built things, and then aim to take what's been built by forceful acts of injustice.  It's for the Pharisaical racial 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 is a sermon you'll hear from any decent preacher.  We have yet to hear any preachers remind the world that the poor comprise the majority.

Your father,


  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."

    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.