My 2 cents.
Comment from Bill Hartmann:
"Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus did not attack commerce or wealth. These were areas of little interest to him, as his objectives were people’s souls. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, renter unto God that which is God’s. “
In at least three of his parables, one of the roles was a wealthy man: Prodigal Son, Vineyard, and Talents. The wealthy man represented God the Father in each case. In Prodigal Son, he gives mercy to the son who did not deserve it, in response to the son’s repentance. In Vineyard, he punishes those who abuse his property, attack his people, and refuse to listen to reason. In Talents, he rewards the person who invested and gained the most profit (!!) and punished the person who refused to put the money at risk.
If Jesus was so against wealthy people, why did he use that role to represent his Father in Heaven?
Judas Iscariot is seen as the ultimate villain in the New Testament; someone who knew Jesus yet turned on him. Judas put helping the poor above saving souls and was obviously unhappy with Jesus declaring that poverty would never be cured.
My conclusion is that Liberation Theology and Social Justice were not key perspective of Jesus. Lots of support for giving to the poor and other works of charity. None that I can find to changing the government to do these things for us."
What does government have to do with this discussion? I did not mention government at all, and in fact specifically referenced anarcho-communism. Nevertheless. the Apostle Paul advocated in his letters and actions that relying on government to fulfill God’s will was a prudent and spiritually justified position. I can provide many verses on that — even though it wasn’t my main point. But on to what my main point actually was….
Regarding Jesus not attacking commerce or wealth — or asserting that these areas were of “little interest” to him — you are woefully mistaken. The opinion you are promoting is actually the more “popular” one among the prosperity-doctrine crowd of certain evangelicals. Here are just a handful of examples of scripture that contradict your (and their) position. These barely scratch the surface of the plentiful examples available, but nevertheless soundly refute what you’ve stated…
First, from Jesus himself:
Luke 16:9 — “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.”
Mark 10:17–22 — “And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
Mark 10:23 -25 — “And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Luke 16:19–25 — “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.’”
Matthew 6:19–21 — “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:24 — “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.”
Matthew 21:12–13 — “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
Later on, there are countless other examples elsewhere in the New Testament, such as what the newly formed Church did in Acts, etc. But perhaps the most cogent summary of the pervasive sentiment is Paul’s discourse in 1 Timothy chapter 6. I recommend reading all of it, but here is a particularly noteworthy section:
1 Timothy 6:6–10 — “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
I could fill many pages with such excerpts, and there is really nothing at all in the New Testament that supports your position. In all of the parables you allude to, the entire point of the parables is about bearing spiritual fruits in the Kingdom of God, in preparation for Christ’s return — they actually have NOTHING AT ALL to do with making material profits or managing money. Just ast the parable of the sower (in Matthew 13) HAS NOTHING AT TO DO WITH FARMING…but is also about bearing spiritual fruit. A parable is a metaphor, and is not to be taken literally. It would be understandable for someone who has not studied scripture to think of parables as “literal” examples, but that is not what they are. In fact, Jesus himself anticipated that the worldly-minded would not comprehend what he was trying to say in parables:
Matthew 13:10–13: “Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
Again, “more will be given” is referring to wisdom, insight, spiritual understanding, salvation, etc. Not money.
If you wish to understand the very parables you reference — and why they actually have nothing at all to do with worldly wealth or making a profit — then you need to let go of capitalist culture’s programming, study and meditate on scripture more carefully, and allow holy spirit to renew your mind. You should note, however, that many of the countervailing examples I provided are not parables, but direct teachings and demonstrated actions. IMO this is an important consideration when navigating the meaning of New Testament scripture: there is what is direct, plain and obvious (i.e. that material wealth and money are inherently problematic for followers of Jesus to have or pursue), and what is more nuanced and implied (that a Christian’s “riches” are spiritual in nature, and thinking otherwise is a corrosive distraction from our faith).
My 2 cents.
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