NT and material wealth

Author: keithprosser ,

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  • keithprosser
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    Ethang wrote:
    The NT is saying do not make earthly wealth your hearts desire, not that wealth is bad
    I think the NT does go further than saying 'do not make earthly wealth your hearts desire' and does imply 'wealth is bad'.

    Perhaps the most explicit passage is
    "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26

    There are other verses that express similar ideas, and I don't know of anything that can be construed as otherwise.





  • EtrnlVw
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    --> @keithprosser
    I don't know why everyone likes to omit the first part of this passage because it is very important. It sets the stage for WHY Jesus said what he did. 

    And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
    17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
    18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
    19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
    21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
    22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

    One thing that is important here is that this passage came as a result of a specific individual. Jesus perceives the mans weakness and challenges it, and we see that as the man went away sorrowful. It goes back to the very principle of what Jesus was trying to convey, be careful where you put your heart, what you place your priorities in....it is not wealth Jesus is attacking but the love of wealth that is why it is imperative you understand Jesus was addressing the young mans mentality. One cannot spend their life placing their priorities around wealth neglecting the more weightier matters of life and expect to enter a paradise when they leave all that stuff behind. 
    The point, is that Jesus wasn't teaching us that wealth is bad in and of itself, you cannot omit the first part of the teaching because it follows as the objection was relevant to that young mans response. 

  • EtrnlVw
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    "22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
    23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven."

    Verse 23 follows from 22. It was the point Jesus was trying to make, that it made the man sad he would ever lose his worldly possessions. All in all I don't think Jesus was condemning the young man more than he was just trying to convey a message relevant to" treasures of the heart". 

    "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
    20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
    21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

  • Stephen
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    --> @keithprosser
    Ethang wrote:
    The NT is saying do not make earthly wealth your hearts desire, not that wealth is bad
    I think the NT does go further than saying 'do not make earthly wealth your hearts desire' and does imply 'wealth is bad'.

    Perhaps the most explicit passage is
    "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26

    There are other verses that express similar ideas, and I don't know of anything that can be construed as otherwise. 

    As you well know. I have raised a similar issue. but on that occasion you say ;
    keithprosser wrote: I Think he's terrible at  making what ever point he is trying to make but very good at blaming other people for his problem in expressing himself.
     
    It will be interesting to hear from Ethang now you have highlighted his contradiction particularly when, and if, you introduce those "other verses that express similar ideas" that also contradict his interpretation that Matthew 6:19-21 "does imply that  'wealth is bad'."

  • Mopac
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    Material wealth is not real wealth.

    The church doesn't teach that it is necessary to take a vow of poverty.
    There are plenty that do, Orthodoxy has had a monastic tradition since the very earliest days of Christianity.



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    --> @keithprosser
    Ethang wrote:
    The NT is saying do not make earthly wealth your hearts desire, not that wealth is bad
    I think the NT does go further than saying 'do not make earthly wealth your hearts desire' and does imply 'wealth is bad'.

    Perhaps the most explicit passage is
    "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26

    There are other verses that express similar ideas, and I don't know of anything that can be construed as otherwise. 
    The NT follows the OT in its teaching on idolatry. Money or wealth can be an idol that you place before God or sub for God that ignores the very first of The Ten Commandments, “You shall have no other gods before Me." - Exodus 20:3

    A god or idol is anything that is put in the place of God.

    Romans 1:22-25
    22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
    24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

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

    No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

    What the young rich man was doing was putting money before God. He did not want to let go of it to worship God. It held his heart, thus he went away sad. 

  • keithprosser
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    I think it is quite likely that the Christian attitude to wealth softened as a result of the promised new order not being quite as imminent as supposed!

    In Luke 6 verses 20-23 praise poverty and 24-26 condemns riches.

    20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

    “Blessed are you who are poor,
        for yours is the kingdom of God.
    21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
        for you will be satisfied.
    Blessed are you who weep now,
        for you will laugh.
    22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
        when they exclude you and insult you
        and reject your name as evil,
            because of the Son of Man.
    23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

    24 “But woe to you who are rich,
        for you have already received your comfort.
    25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
        for you will go hungry.
    Woe to you who laugh now,
        for you will mourn and weep.
    26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
        for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

    I think Christianity may have started out very ascetic and un-materialist but softened somewhat fairly quickly.




  • Mopac
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    --> @keithprosser
    Orthodox Christianity still understands Christians as being called to asceticism. 

    At bare minimum the prescribed fasts are followed, Orthodox are vegan over half the year.

    Materialism is not really the faith. The faith is more to be thankful. That is what "eucharist" means.





  • keithprosser
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    Now of course there are versions of Christianity that are pure 'gordon gecko'.
  • Mopac
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    --> @keithprosser
    We Orthodox wouldn't call them Christians, we would call them heretics.


    If you aren't Orthodox Christian and you call yourself a Christian, you would either be heterodox or a heretic. 




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    I think it is quite likely that the Christian attitude to wealth softened as a result of the promised new order not being quite as imminent as supposed!

    In Luke 6 verses 20-23 praise poverty and 24-26 condemns riches.

    20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

    “Blessed are you who are poor,
        for yours is the kingdom of God.
    21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
        for you will be satisfied.
    Blessed are you who weep now,
        for you will laugh.
    22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
        when they exclude you and insult you
        and reject your name as evil,
            because of the Son of Man.
    23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

    24 “But woe to you who are rich,
        for you have already received your comfort.
    25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
        for you will go hungry.
    Woe to you who laugh now,
        for you will mourn and weep.
    26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
        for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

    I think Christianity may have started out very ascetic and un-materialist but softened somewhat fairly quickly.

  • PGA2.0
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    --> @keithprosser

    I think it is quite likely that the Christian attitude to wealth softened as a result of the promised new order not being quite as imminent as supposed!
    What do you mean? The kingdom came in AD 70. It was imminent and near, as Jesus said it was.


    In Luke 6 verses 20-23 praise poverty and 24-26 condemns riches.

    20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

    “Blessed are you who are poor,
        for yours is the kingdom of God.
    21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
        for you will be satisfied.
    Blessed are you who weep now,
        for you will laugh.
    22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
        when they exclude you and insult you
        and reject your name as evil,
            because of the Son of Man.
    23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

    24 “But woe to you who are rich,
        for you have already received your comfort.
    25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
        for you will go hungry.
    Woe to you who laugh now,
        for you will mourn and weep.
    26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
        for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

    I think Christianity may have started out very ascetic and un-materialist but softened somewhat fairly quickly.
    Matthew 16:27-28 (NASB)
    27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.
    28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

    How was the Son of Man - Jesus - going to come (The Second Coming)? It was in the same manner the Father came to a nation in the OT. "In the glory of God." God's presence was recognized by the armies that God sent to judge a nation according to their deeds. Now, during the 1st-century, Jesus is telling His disciples that some standing in His midst will not die before He comes again (The Second Coming).

    Daniel, in Daniel 2:44-45 said, 

    Daniel 2:44-45 (NASB)
    The Divine Kingdom
    44 In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. 45 Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

    So, during the time of those kings/Caesars God would set up the eternal kingdom. The fourth kingdom in the king's dream was the Roman Empire. So the kingdom was set up at that time. It happened in AD 70. 

    Jesus and the disciples repeatedly said that His kingdom and His time of coming was near, at hand.

    so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 

    Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

    and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

    So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.

    “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

    From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

    And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

    What is more, Jesus taught the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, even in their midst since where the King is the kingdom is also there. 

    Luke 17:20-22 (NASB)
    20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”


    So, the kingdom came in AD 70.

  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @keithprosser
    The Catholic and Orthodox stance on this are pretty different from the Protestant one, mostly because we share a belief in particular judgment which depends in nature on the godliness with which a person lived, a stance which dates back to Saint Augustine of Hippo and several early Church Fathers. Saints were famous for dispensing with earthly wealth. Elizaveta Feodorovna, a Russian saint, was one of the richest woman of Europe, Grand Duchess of the Russian Empire, and a German princess. She had huge collections of jewels, a palace, beautiful clothing. Her husband was assassinated by revolutionaries, and she went to his murderer's cell, gave him a bible, forgave him, and tried to plead for clemency for him. When she went unheard and he was executed, she sold off all of her great riches and became a nun, using the proceeds to found charitable organizations throughout the city, devoting the rest of her life to caring for the poor without her material comforts. She was martyred when the revolutionaries captured her and shipped her to Siberia as a precaution (as she was technically a Romanov heir), throwing her down a mine shaft along with a live grenade and several of her relatives. Villagers reported hearing hymns echoing from the damaged shaft, and when the White Army arrived later they found from the state of the bodies the Elizaveta had spent her last hours, grievously wounded, bandaging the wounds of others in the shaft and singing hymns. That complete giving of oneself over as a tool of God is the Christian ideal, and is very rare. A Catholic example would be Saint Catherine Drexel, one of the wealthiest heiresses in America who gave over her entire fortune, becoming a nun and devoting her life the the education of the poor, particularly Indian children, and founded the only historically Black Catholic college at the time (in the 1920s).

    So Christ is very right in this passage. Most of us deserve additional perdition after death; we can't look on the face of God without painful shame at the ways in which we failed to live up to those expectations. Every comfort that we enjoyed while others suffered, every moment of unjust anger, every failure to forgive, is a weight on our soul after death. Because it's impossible to live a life which is worthy of God, though saved on the last day we are separated by God in the afterlife to the degree which we separated ourselves from him in life. The saints like Katherine and Elizaveta are much closer to him, most of us are further from the beatific vision. In Roman Catholicism this state is called purgatory, and is poetically symbolized by cleansing icy fire.

    Most Protestant churches in America reject the idea of purgatory, holding instead that anyone who is saved is saved and that's that, they enjoy the full fruits of paradise. Obviously, I find this idea ludicrous.

  • EtrnlVw
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    I actually didn't know you were a Catholic you didn't strike me as the spiritual (religious) type, but if I may ask what about that particular belief stimulates you spiritually? don't get me wrong I love the Gospels, I'm more interested in your choice of religious stances or choice or religious belief. 
  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    I think that Catholicism is like the tree grown by the seed planted by Christ, or the fire kept burning all of these years, originating in the spiritual conflagration of Pentecost. The Church is the body of Christ, and everything, from its spirituality to its art to its theology, reflects the truth existing at the root of the institution. I am certainly more drawn to traditional Catholicism, and think that the current Church is caught in a struggle against very dark forces which have infiltrated it. I align a lot more with the mystic side of the Catholic intellectual tradition, like Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Benedict, Saint Bruno, etc. I am a convert, and am not at all a fan of Protestantism. Their nonsensical theology was all that I knew for a long, long time, and it really pushed me away from God for a lot of my life (I was an atheist previously).

  • EtrnlVw
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    I align a lot more with the mystic side of the Catholic intellectual tradition

    Why just Catholicism in the mystic sense? they don't seem to possess that side of spirituality from what I have seen. What do they express in that regard? to me they seem like the epitome of religious dogma and not the true mystic, intellectual side of spirituality or Christianity and Jesus is so unlike Catholicism it's not even funny. The Protestants from what I have encountered are much more like the nature of the Gospels and I have spent a lot of time around religious people and Christians both Catholic and Protestant. 

    I am a convert, and am not at all a fan of Protestantism. Their nonsensical theology was all that I knew for a long, long time, and it really pushed me away from God

    Can you give me an example of their nonsensical theology because IMO it is the Catholics that posses the most nonsensical interpretations of what Jesus taught? I've been around both Catholics and Protestants most of my life and the latter definitely has more freedom in the spiritual sense, less restricted to absurdities and misconceptions. Just my opinion of course, no insult to you personally. 
  • EtrnlVw
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    --> @ResurgetExFavilla
    I think that Catholicism is like the tree grown by the seed planted by Christ, or the fire kept burning all of these years

    Or the original cancer that spread misconceptions and falsities about the teachings of Jesus right from the get go. They can start with the development of the papacy, which misconstrued the principle oriented teachings of Jesus and turned them into an abomination along with their costly array of apparel and extravagant wealth. Those are the seeds that did not land in good soil, Catholicism represents very little of what Jesus actually taught IMO. Catholicism would be the equivalent of what Jesus opposed on earth. Which is why I would be confused as to why you would be a convert to that religious sect. 

  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    Honestly, your conceptions of Catholicism are similar to what I held most of my life, before I actually read anything written by Catholics or met many Catholics in any deep sense of the word. It's what we're taught in school, part of the historiographic 'Black Legend'. My conversion to Catholicism began with reading Catholics. I read the writings of everyone from the Church Fathers and Carthusian Monks to G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy Day, and John Moriarty. I visited a very beautiful, quiet, out of the way island that was deeply Catholic. Far from being judgemental or rigid, the people were at once serious about their faith and attuned with the natural world, living simple lives rich in color and care for one another. In my readings, I came to the conclusion that I have been fed lies about this religion on a grand scale. That it offered a way of life and a way of interacting with people which were much more deeply and profoundly satisfying than anything else.

    I already listed one of Protestantism's bad ideas: the idea that heaven and hell are a strict black and white dichotomy. Others include denying transubstantiation, holding that the dead are unaware of what happens on earth, and their opposition to monasticism. The idea that the Old Testament is a science textbook is another, and the borderline denigration of Mary is another. The abandonment of sexual morality is also rampant among Protestants. But by far the most offensive, imo, is the commercialization of spirituality which takes place within evangelical megachurches.
  • Swagnarok
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    I might want to debate you one day on Catholicism vs. Protestantism (not now, and not soon, since I'm scheduled for a debate with Virtuoso). Would you be up for that?
  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    Possibly, depending on how it's framed. I feel as if a blanket debate would be too broad. I would certainly debate the communion of saints or transubstantiation.
  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    This Chesterton excerpt (who was himself an agnostic converted to Catholicism) sums up what I mean pretty well:

    "And if we took the third chance instance, it would be the same; the view that priests darken and embitter the world. I look at the world and simply discover that they don’t. Those countries in Europe which are still influenced by priests, are exactly the countries where there is still singing and dancing and coloured dresses and art in the open-air. Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism. We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff’s edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased.

    Thus these three facts of experience, such facts as go to make an agnostic, are, in this view, turned totally round. I am left saying, “Give me an explanation, first, of the towering eccentricity of man among the brutes; second, of the vast human tradition of some ancient happiness; third, of the partial perpetuation of such pagan joy in the countries of the Catholic Church.” One explanation, at any rate, covers all three: the theory that twice was the natural order interrupted by some explosion or revelation such as people now call “psychic.” Once Heaven came upon the earth with a power or seal called the image of God, whereby man took command of Nature; and once again (when in empire after empire men had been found wanting) Heaven came to save mankind in the awful shape of a man. This would explain why the mass of men always look backwards; and why the only corner where they in any sense look forwards is the little continent where Christ has His Church. I know it will be said that Japan has become progressive. But how can this be an answer when even in saying “Japan has become progressive,” we really only mean, “Japan has become European”? But I wish here not so much to insist on my own explanation as to insist on my original remark. I agree with the ordinary unbelieving man in the street in being guided by three or four odd facts all pointing to something; only when I came to look at the facts I always found they pointed to something else.

    I have given an imaginary triad of such ordinary anti-Christian arguments; if that be too narrow a basis I will give on the spur of the moment another. These are the kind of thoughts which in combination create the impression that Christianity is something weak and diseased. First, for instance, that Jesus was a gentle creature, sheepish and unworldly, a mere ineffectual appeal to the world; second, that Christianity arose and flourished in the dark ages of ignorance, and that to these the Church would drag us back; third, that the people still strongly religious or (if you will) superstitious—such people as the Irish—are weak, unpractical, and behind the times. I only mention these ideas to affirm the same thing: that when I looked into them independently I found, not that the conclusions were unphilosophical, but simply that the facts were not facts. Instead of looking at books and pictures about the New Testament I looked at the New Testament. There I found an account, not in the least of a person with his hair parted in the middle or his hands clasped in appeal, but of an extraordinary being with lips of thunder and acts of lurid decision, flinging down tables, casting out devils, passing with the wild secrecy of the wind from mountain isolation to a sort of dreadful demagogy; a being who often acted like an angry god—and always like a god. Christ had even a literary style of his own, not to be found, I think, elsewhere; it consists of an almost furious use of the A FORTIORI. His “how much more” is piled one upon another like castle upon castle in the clouds. The diction used ABOUT Christ has been, and perhaps wisely, sweet and submissive. But the diction used by Christ is quite curiously gigantesque; it is full of camels leaping through needles and mountains hurled into the sea. Morally it is equally terrific; he called himself a sword of slaughter, and told men to buy swords if they sold their coats for them. That he used other even wilder words on the side of non-resistance greatly increases the mystery; but it also, if anything, rather increases the violence. We cannot even explain it by calling such a being insane; for insanity is usually along one consistent channel. The maniac is generally a monomaniac. Here we must remember the difficult definition of Christianity already given; Christianity is a superhuman paradox whereby two opposite passions may blaze beside each other. The one explanation of the Gospel language that does explain it, is that it is the survey of one who from some supernatural height beholds some more startling synthesis."

  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @EtrnlVw
    "I take in order the next instance offered: the idea that Christianity belongs to the Dark Ages. Here I did not satisfy myself with reading modern generalisations; I read a little history. And in history I found that Christianity, so far from belonging to the Dark Ages, was the one path across the Dark Ages that was not dark. It was a shining bridge connecting two shining civilizations. If any one says that the faith arose in ignorance and savagery the answer is simple: it didn’t. It arose in the Mediterranean civilization in the full summer of the Roman Empire. The world was swarming with sceptics, and pantheism was as plain as the sun, when Constantine nailed the cross to the mast. It is perfectly true that afterwards the ship sank; but it is far more extraordinary that the ship came up again: repainted and glittering, with the cross still at the top. This is the amazing thing the religion did: it turned a sunken ship into a submarine. The ark lived under the load of waters; after being buried under the debris of dynasties and clans, we arose and remembered Rome. If our faith had been a mere fad of the fading empire, fad would have followed fad in the twilight, and if the civilization ever re-emerged (and many such have never re-emerged) it would have been under some new barbaric flag. But the Christian Church was the last life of the old society and was also the first life of the new. She took the people who were forgetting how to make an arch and she taught them to invent the Gothic arch. In a word, the most absurd thing that could be said of the Church is the thing we have all heard said of it. How can we say that the Church wishes to bring us back into the Dark Ages? The Church was the only thing that ever brought us out of them.

    I added in this second trinity of objections an idle instance taken from those who feel such people as the Irish to be weakened or made stagnant by superstition. I only added it because this is a peculiar case of a statement of fact that turns out to be a statement of falsehood. It is constantly said of the Irish that they are impractical. But if we refrain for a moment from looking at what is said about them and look at what is DONE about them, we shall see that the Irish are not only practical, but quite painfully successful. The poverty of their country, the minority of their members are simply the conditions under which they were asked to work; but no other group in the British Empire has done so much with such conditions. The Nationalists were the only minority that ever succeeded in twisting the whole British Parliament sharply out of its path. The Irish peasants are the only poor men in these islands who have forced their masters to disgorge. These people, whom we call priest-ridden, are the only Britons who will not be squire-ridden. And when I came to look at the actual Irish character, the case was the same. Irishmen are best at the specially HARD professions—the trades of iron, the lawyer, and the soldier. In all these cases, therefore, I came back to the same conclusion: the sceptic was quite right to go by the facts, only he had not looked at the facts. The sceptic is too credulous; he believes in newspapers or even in encyclopedias. Again the three questions left me with three very antagonistic questions. The average sceptic wanted to know how I explained the namby-pamby note in the Gospel, the connection of the creed with mediaeval darkness and the political impracticability of the Celtic Christians. But I wanted to ask, and to ask with an earnestness amounting to urgency, “What is this incomparable energy which appears first in one walking the earth like a living judgment and this energy which can die with a dying civilization and yet force it to a resurrection from the dead; this energy which last of all can inflame a bankrupt peasantry with so fixed a faith in justice that they get what they ask, while others go empty away; so that the most helpless island of the Empire can actually help itself?”

    There is an answer: it is an answer to say that the energy is truly from outside the world; that it is psychic, or at least one of the results of a real psychical disturbance. The highest gratitude and respect are due to the great human civilizations such as the old Egyptian or the existing Chinese. Nevertheless it is no injustice for them to say that only modern Europe has exhibited incessantly a power of self-renewal recurring often at the shortest intervals and descending to the smallest facts of building or costume. All other societies die finally and with dignity. We die daily. We are always being born again with almost indecent obstetrics. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that there is in historic Christendom a sort of unnatural life: it could be explained as a supernatural life. It could be explained as an awful galvanic life working in what would have been a corpse. For our civilization OUGHT to have died, by all parallels, by all sociological probability, in the Ragnorak of the end of Rome. That is the weird inspiration of our estate: you and I have no business to be here at all. We are all REVENANTS; all living Christians are dead pagans walking about. Just as Europe was about to be gathered in silence to Assyria and Babylon, something entered into its body. And Europe has had a strange life—it is not too much to say that it has had the JUMPS—ever since."

  • disgusted
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    Christianity is correct because there are 2.4billion versions of it.
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    --> @keithprosser
    I think the NT does go further than saying 'do not make earthly wealth your hearts desire' and does imply 'wealth is bad'.

    A close read of the scriptures continually tell us that the many if not all of Jesus' disciples were rich. His close friends and other supporters and followers were also people of high office and status and also rich. 
  • Tradesecret
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    --> @keithprosser
    Ethang wrote:
    The NT is saying do not make earthly wealth your hearts desire, not that wealth is bad
    I think the NT does go further than saying 'do not make earthly wealth your hearts desire' and does imply 'wealth is bad'.

    Perhaps the most explicit passage is
    "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26

    There are other verses that express similar ideas, and I don't know of anything that can be construed as otherwise.


    Hi Keith,

    I am not sure of the context of Ethang's quote above; but I am not convinced that your understanding of Jesus' point is correct - or at least needs to be qualified. 

    Jesus' entire message to his people was that it was impossible for anyone to get to heaven by themselves. Whether they are rich or poor or black or white or slave or free or male or female. The context was specifically talking about receiving eternal life. Many persons believed in that time that rich people were rich because God blessed them. Poverty was seen as a curse of God as was illness, or ailment. Jesus turned all of this thinking upside down. He takes wealth or poverty out of the equation. As he takes out gender, and slavery, and race. Jesus knew that no one was able to get themselves to heaven.  And he said as much. The disciples were clearly shocked by Jesus' comments which indicated that it was impossible for a rich man to get into heaven. His point was - getting into heaven required trusting in him not yourselves, your own deeds, your own skills, your own wealth - but rather in Jesus. 

    This is the fundamental contrast between religion and Christianity. Do we get ourselves to heaven or does God get us there? What this passage really does not have that much to say about is wealth. Yes, it is a rich man. Yes, he valued his wealth over heaven. Yes, rich man cant buy their way to heaven. Jesus wanted them to know that just because some one was rich or wealthy, it was not going to guarantee them a place in heaven, in fact it probably was a clue that were not in the kingdom. It depends upon what they are trusting in - money or God. This is why he told the rich man to give his money away - and to stop trusting in  his wealth and follow Jesus. 

    the NT was not opposed to wealth per se. Yet it clearly points out that wealth is something that can easily become an idol - and one which people can easily fall into the trap of trusting in rather than God. In our times, people do the same with their education, their jobs, science, even their poverty.  some right wingers - consider their maleness or even the colour of their skin a guarantee of divine favour. Jesus pushes through all this and says - "sorry, that is not how it works" - you need to lay that all aside - and trust me. Hope this helps.