Monday, September 7, 2009

Christianity is so Communist

Masaccio, The Death of Ananias from the Brancacci Chapel, c.1425 - 1427, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence

My brothers, believing as you do in our Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns in glory, you must never show snobbery. For instance, two visitors may enter your place of worship, one a well-dressed man with gold rings, and the other a poor man in shabby clothes. Suppose you pay special attention to the well-dressed man and say to hm, "Please take this seat," while to the poor man you say, "You can stand; or you may sit here on the floor by my footstool," do you not see that you are inconsistent and judge by false standards?
Listen my friends. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? And yet you have insulted the poor man. Moreover, are not the rich your oppressors? Is it not they who drag you into court and pour contempt on the honored name by which God has claimed you?

--James 2:1-7

The whole body of believers was united in heart and soul. Not a man of them claimed any of his possessions as his own, but everything was held in common, while the apostles bore witness with great power to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. They were all held in high esteem; for they had never a needy person among them, because all who had property in land or houses sold it, brought the proceeds of the sale, and laid the money at the feet of the apostles; it was then distributed to any who stood in need.
For instance, Joseph, surnamed by the apostles Barnabas (which means "Son of Exhortation"), a Levite, by birth a Cyriot, owned an estate,which he sold; he brought the money, and laid it at the apostle's feet.
But there was another man called Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, who sold a property. With the full knowledge of his wife he kept back part of the purchase-money, and part he brought and laid at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, how was it that Satan so possessed your mind that you lied to the Holy Spirit, and kept back part of the price of the land? While it remained, did it not remain yours? When it was turned into money was it not still at your own disposal? What made you think of doing this thing? You have lied not to men but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he dropped dead; and all the others who heard were awestruck. The younger men rose and covered his body, then carried him out and buried him."

-- Acts 4:32 - 5:6

And now a man came up and asked him, "Master, what good must I do to gain eternal life?" "Good?" said Jesus, "Why do you ask me about that? One alone is good. But if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." "Which commandments?" he asked. Jesus answered, Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not give false evidence; honor your father and mother; and love your neighbor as yourself." The young man answered, "I have kept all all these. Where do I still fall short?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to go the whole way, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and then you will have riches in heaven; and come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away with a heavy heart; for he was a man of great wealth.
Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you this; a rich man will find it hard to enter the kingdom of Heaven. I repeat, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." The disciples were amazed to hear this. Then who can be saved?" they asked. Jesus looked at them, and said, "For men this is impossible; but everything is possible for God."
At this Peter said, "We have left everything to become your followers. What will there be for us?" Jesus replied, "I tell you this; in the world to be, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne in heavenly splendor, you my followers will have thrones of your own, where you will sit as judges of the twelve tribes of Israel. And anyone who has left brothers or sisters, father, mother, or children, land or houses for the sake of my name will be repaid many times over, and gain eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

--Matthew 19:16-30

Sorry about The New English version of the Biblical quotes. I don't have a King James at hand, and I don't know koine Greek.

Does God favor the rich and the fortunate? Certainly not. They don't need any more special favors. Does God specially favor the poor? Yes, they need the help.
Does God hate the rich? Of course not. God is probably the only one who loves them despite their wealth.
So who owns what? In the end, we leave the world with the same as what we had coming into the world, nothing. Everything we have, even our own souls and bodies, is ultimately on loan. When we give our prosperity to God, we are only returning what already belongs to Him.
Whatever much or little we have is there to be used to "love our neighbors as ourselves," and for God's greater glory.

This is a hard thing for us Yanks to hear, brainwashed as we are into thinking that wealth is a sign of divine favor (how pagan!).


June Butler said...

It's a hard thing for us Yanks to hear, but nevertheless, it's true. The Gospel is not for the faint-hearted.

Anonymous said...

Have you gone to You can look up verses in several different translations there, in many different languages. They have the KJV available.

Oh, and pagans don't necessarily think that wealth is a sign of divine favor. Long story. Won't bore you with it here, tho.

Counterlight said...

I would say that the idea that wealth is a sign of divine favor is an ancient idea, so ancient that even the Pagans don't believe in it anymore.

I used the term mostly to piss off fundies.

Anonymous said...


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

The New English version generarlly does not invent new distortions as the Dynamic Equivalence ones, but reiterates the high medieval socially disciplining Scholasticisms of the late 12th century Parisian Versio vulgata, but "murder" is one such late Modern distortion. It's Do not kill, full stop. War, and murder and Torture are still covered...