Monday, October 18, 2010

Socialist Doctrine?

Okay, so I know this has nothing to do with writing, though it does have to do with personal faith, the creation of meaning, logic, etc.. Maybe. But as a former religion and philo student,

I've often wondered, how does one mix capitalism with the teachings of the New Testament? (Are the meek somehow translated to mean the CEOs?) It sometimes seems that the more Christian the radio, the more capitalist the preachers and the talk . . . And yet, how does one reconcile so many of the passages? I'll paste a few below, but they sound more socialist to me . . . and yes, it just baffles me. Not that it's worth the time to baffle over, but hey.


Luke.4.18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

Matt.19.21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Luke.14.13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,
And thou shall be blessed for they cannot recompense thee;

Mark.14.7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.

6 comments:

Dan Ehrman said...

I think you're exactly right. It is baffling to see too many Christians pursue money above loving others and God in the way you read in passages like those you quoted. But not every "christian" or "evangelical" is like this...in the same way one might like to disassociate with some who would call themselves "poets" or "writers".

The best teaching about money in the NT is Matthew 6. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6&version=ESV

Verse 24 is a great summary of Jesus' teaching about money:

"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

After my own experience living in China, the model of life and work I experienced in the christian community in China was far closer to what is taught in the Bible than how I've lived it out in my seperate individualistic life. But the societal norm of "socialism" was more like chicago politicians run wild. You had to bribe everybody for almost anything, there was more rampant nepotism in the national government than in the tiny family business I work for, and the system was fundamentally broken with a "glass ceiling" that wasn't so much glass as plainly visible to anyone.

Personally, I think there should be a distinct separation between church and state. As a Christian, I believe any governmental system we might devise will never work outside of God's intervention. Ultimately, you might say I naively believe in a theocracy...but that's dangerous territory as too many christians shift from believing God can do anything to believing they can do anything because they believe in God.

Some Christians are addressing issues like justice and community development. (www.ccda.org)

Taken out of context you could make the Bible say almost anything you wanted. But Jesus summed up His life and all the commandments in a simple way: Love the Lord your God with all of who you are and love your neighbor as yourself. If that simple principle was lived out even in a half-hearted way the Church might begin to reflect more of the light of Jesus Christ and less of our broken, selfish, greedy, needy selves.

Dan Ehrman said...

I think you're exactly right. It is baffling to see too many Christians pursue money above loving others and God in the way you read in passages like those you quoted. But not every "christian" or "evangelical" is like this...in the same way one might like to disassociate with some who would call themselves "poets" or "writers".

The best teaching about money in the NT is Matthew 6. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6&version=ESV

Verse 24 is a great summary of Jesus' teaching about money:

"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

After my own experience living in China, the model of life and work I experienced in the christian community in China was far closer to what is taught in the Bible than how I've lived it out in my seperate individualistic life. But the societal norm of "socialism" was more like chicago politicians run wild. You had to bribe everybody for almost anything, there was more rampant nepotism in the national government than in the tiny family business I work for, and the system was fundamentally broken with a "glass ceiling" that wasn't so much glass as plainly visible to anyone.

Personally, I think there should be a distinct separation between church and state. As a Christian, I believe any governmental system we might devise will never work outside of God's intervention. Ultimately, you might say I naively believe in a theocracy...but that's dangerous territory as too many christians shift from believing God can do anything to believing they can do anything because they believe in God.

Some Christians are addressing issues like justice and community development. (www.ccda.org)

Taken out of context you could make the Bible say almost anything you wanted. But Jesus summed up His life and all the commandments in a simple way: Love the Lord your God with all of who you are and love your neighbor as yourself. If that simple principle was lived out even in a half-hearted way the Church might begin to reflect more of the light of Jesus Christ and less of our broken, selfish, greedy, needy selves.

Zaphos said...

I talked to C. about this and we seemed to agree it (esp. the talk radio aspect) is linked to the political right joining with the religious right, which occurred I believe around the time abortion became a campaign issue, with Regan.

C. also indicated that it is not an attitude you see in the black Christian community, which strengthens the impression that it's an artifact of religion being intertwined with politics ...

Suzanne Andrews said...

Religion is the fastest way to people's heart. (quote from my friend's palestinian husband) so it is this powerful tool to be manipulated by savvy politicians, fox news etc.

So the religious teachings of 'prophets', Jesus, Muhammad etc, are overshadowed by the louder voices, that use religion to sell whatever their view is... and many churches teach people not to question, that 'faith' is the way to salvation.

So depressing, the way teachings that were written to help us live better lives, take care of one another, are twisted into something so divisive and individualistic. even more frustrating that people are buying it.

Suzanne Andrews said...

http://teapartyjesus.tumblr.com/

So totally inappropriate. and yet..

dg said...

Nin,

I found you through Writer's Almanac & loved your words.

As to Jesus and America, I love all the comments.

I remember Gandhi's words "I like your Christ, but not your Christians. Because they are nothing like your Christ..."