Matthew 25: 31-46

Many a modernist evangelical, still caught in the culture wars and small-god systematics, loves to pull out the sheep and the goats metaphor when judging others. They do so, most often, when they are discerning who among the visible flock are true believers (sheep) and who are the pretenders, the modern-day heretics, the goats of the church. There are, of course, appropriate times to judge. Jesus was, after all, concerned about right belief… – but this post is not about those times.

Some judge while others mock those they believe are too concerned for things we call “social issues.” When it comes right down to it, they say, it’s all about getting people saved… not about drilling wells, educating heathens, or fair wages. And to some degree they are right…

…yet it is interesting.

When Jesus spoke of the final judgment and upon what it would be based – he did not speak of right beliefs, of right morality, or the right kind of music… he spoke of giving drink to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, of clothing the naked. In the context of sheep and goat differentiation; having a heart for the poor, the oppressed, the least of these – is what allows us to discern the sheep. It is not about winning a culture war. It is not about fighting socialism. It is not about convincing homosexuals not to homo-sex. It’s not about ranting against liberalism. It’s not even about getting as many people as possible to repeat a sinners prayer.

As Tim Keller put it: “Jesus did not say that all this done for the poor was a means of getting salvation, but rather it was a sign that you already had salvation, that true saving faith was already present” (Generous Justice, pg. 53 [emphasis his]). The “test” for saving faith (in this case) was not a check-list of acceptable beliefs, or witnessing, or service within the church, or even the fruit of the Spirit… (all of which a vitally important). Instead he chose our attitudes toward and actions on behalf of the poor.

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This entry was posted on Friday, February 18th, 2011 at 10:49 am and is filed under Christian Living, Church and Society, Misuse of Scripture, Theology, grace. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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236 Comments(+Add)

1   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 11:21 am

Very well put. We are COMMANDED to do “social” things as an extension of the gospel, but we must be deeply wary of doing them to elevate a country or government, or to spend our energies attempting to get governments to act like followers of Jesus.

It isn’t about deficits, conservatives, liberals, illegals, welfare, abortion, or the entire laundry list of political issues. It isn’t even about “moral” issues. It is completely about Jesus.

2   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

This brings up an interesting question as to what should be a response and attitude of a follower of Jesus. If we consider teacher X to be teaching false doctrine (serious as it pertains to redemption), and if believer Y may not completely subscribe to teacher X’s teachings but he does not confront it (him), what should be our attitude toward believer Y?

I will openly admit to being conflicted about it.

3   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
February 18th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Rick,

Exactly what teacher would you like to see confronted here?

Thanks,
jerry

4   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 1:05 pm

#3 – That is tangential and would begin an entirely different conversation.

5   Neil    
February 18th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

re #2 – there are all sorts of false teachers that i have not made it my business to confront. what is you attitude toward me/that?

does that help?

6   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I am not refering to any teacher who has not been referrenced here. But you have identified an aspect of my issue. If you do not feel it your business to confront abvious and serious error, especially when it is attached to someone we have referenced, am I supposed to draw any inference from your reluctance? Or at least, even if I surmise that you do not agree with said teacher, do I feel like you are shirking a duty on some level or do I maintain a laissez-faire attitude about you?

I will admit that what I do feel is that your (or any) parameters about heresy/error are wider than my own. I also will admit to a level of frustration.

7   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Rick,
In this unique age, when one can reach a far larger audience that they were able to just a few years ago, this dilemma is more manifest.
Years ago, a pastor or an elder was responsible for their flock/congregation and those in their immediate community and sphere of influence. So the need to “warn” others in a community miles away of the “heresy” of a teacher even farther away was not even an issue.

Luther and Zwingli had a public debate in newspapers that became heated. And I’m sure there are others that were public before Al Gore invented the internet. That’s just the first one that comes to mind.

But now, someone with a keyboard and a link to the web can type whatever they want about anybody, and their audience can be larger than they even realize.

So to finally get around to answering your question, my responsibility, my sphere of influence is my wife and son. And there are others in my family who look to me for guidance. But other than them, since I’m not pastoring a church, yet, my need to confront teachers with whom I disagree is almost non-existent.

Does that make sense?

8   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Yes. Your responsibility is a smaller radius, however I do not understand any reluctance to address important truth issues when given the opportunity, even if the forum is very innocuous. So when Paggit insists (for example) that when a devout Muslim dies he may be given “another” chance, or when someone familiar to all of us says that all religions have a piece of Jesus and therefor are redemptive, I personally cannot help but comment to the error of those statements even though my audience is small.

My greater responsibility is to Christ and His Word regardless of how many people are listening.

9   Neil    
February 18th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

If you do not feel it your business to confront obvious and serious error, especially when it is attached to someone we have referenced, am I supposed to draw any inference from your reluctance?

i would say you should draw inferences slowly. some have been quick to equate silence with acceptance. and i suppose it is possible to operate from that perspective, but that only works when everyone is operating from this basis.

personally, when i have remained silent it has been b/c i was not sure i had all the information needed, even if what i saw did not look right.

i’ve remained silent b/c i just didn;t feel like getting into a subject or argument at that time.

and i’ve remained silent b/c i missed the issue all together.

to name just a few reasons.

does that help?

10   Neil    
February 18th, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I will admit that what I do feel is that your (or any) parameters about heresy/error are wider than my own. I also will admit to a level of frustration.

that may be the case, though i cannot think of any examples. i do know that we as a group of contributors have various width of parameters as well.

though i do not think anyone who contributes here holds any position that i would call heresy.

11   Neil    
February 18th, 2011 at 4:19 pm

So when Paggit insists (for example) that when a devout Muslim dies he may be given “another” chance, or when someone familiar to all of us says that all religions have a piece of Jesus and therefor are redemptive…

and i, for one, would say both those positions are wrong.

12   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

personally, when i have remained silent it has been b/c i was not sure i had all the information needed, even if what i saw did not look right.

This is a great point. Someone who is truly called to a discernment type of ministry will research and research and research and have editors and co-workers review their work for any error, and then they publish it. And even then, someone who is truly called to this ministry may see an area in which they erred or missed something previously. And they address that with honesty and humility.

13   Neil    
February 18th, 2011 at 4:29 pm

re 12: we ave seen far to many examples of that here – someone calls a movement “ecumenical” when it is not… or trash a biblical concept like concern for the poor… and the like.

i think it is mostly due to 1) sloppiness, 2) the need to be heard as fast as possible, 3) more sloppiness, 4) the desire to find something to bitch about and 5) sloppiness.

14   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
February 18th, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Personally, I’m not in any official pastoral position at the moment, so I don’t feel the need to guard my opinion as much as I have at other times in my life. I really don’t think pointing out everything I think is an error or labeling someone a heretic quickly is the best way to deal with these sorts of things anyway. I would much rather someone feel comfortable to ask me questions they may think are a bit heretical in nature than just keep them bottled up inside.

Ironically, I’ve found that churches that insist on a very tight dogmatic belief statement on everything have a lot of people with doubts in them too. It’s just that people don’t feel they can really talk about them. So a lot of times taking a position that is “strong on truth” simply forces people to lead double lives.

It’s not that I don’t believe there is well-defined core of beliefs that all Christians should have in common. I just think most of the charges of heresy that are thrown around have little to nothing to do with this core. They are somewhere circling around it, and there is value in discussing/debunking them, but they don’t rise to level of heresy.

15   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Good points, all. But there are some false teachings that almost demand confrontation regardless of any official ecclesiastical office. I do not subscibe to the relentless ODM attack and self righteous attitude, even when they may be foundationally correct.

But the office of “prophet” contains a substantive amount of shepherding and correction. And the priesthood is also looked to for the road to redemption.

Of course having the “list” completely accurate does not guarantee Christlike ness, but being somewhat benign about men who substantially compromise the core redemptive truths is careless and sometimes negligent.

16   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

It is a sacred duty to confront and reject all who deny the exclusivity of Christ, even those who skirt the issue by suggesting Christ will give an additional “alatr call” post mortum.

Unless the martyrs were fools.

17   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Rick, do you have access to Pagitt quote you referenced above?
Also, the

someone familiar to all of us says that all religions have a piece of Jesus and therefor are redemptive

quote would be helpful.

Thanks.

18   Neil    
February 18th, 2011 at 5:17 pm

i made the point that correct belief is not to be dismissed – that jesus clearly thought it important.

it struck me though (and the observation was not mine) that this in not what jesus chose when illustrating the difference between sheep and goats.

he chose the things that many evangelicals say are a waste of time, the things many odm’s call “not the gospel”, and the things some who comment here even mock.

19   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

#17 – I am not an ODM and I do not archive such things. I remember an interview with Paggit and I also remember a few quotes from the usual suspects. But I wanted to resist having the thread decompose into specific people and I only brought up the quotes as examples.

Hypothetically, (I can and will e-mail Ken for the quotes if you wish) if my quotes are accurate, those would be confrontable and render the authors as at least suspect?

20   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 5:38 pm

That’s fine, Rick. I was just not aware of said interview. I trust your memory. :)

21   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 5:54 pm

I have an observation that just recently has come into my thinking. Reading the gospels, I must admit that Jesus did many more humanitarian works among the masses than He did preach the clear gospel.

He did not just set up a stand and holler out the gospel. He seemed genuinely interested in people’s problems which obviously did not compromise or dilute the good news of redemption.

Anyone else see that?

22   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

So I just googled “Doug Pagitt Muslim.” The top half of the page is populated by Apprising articles. And then I found a rough transcript of an interview with Doug and Todd Friel. I must say that as I read it, it was very clear that both men were speaking past each other.

23   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 6:08 pm

The question was unamiguous. If a lost sinner dies (Muslim or otherwise) where does he spend eternity? Paggit dodged the issue with a rambling “I am not God” theme which must indicate an ambiguous theology as well.

Question: Where does a deviout Muslim go when he dies?

Rick Frueh: The Scriptures indicate he goes to the same place as do unregenerate Bapists. eternally separated from God.

24   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 18th, 2011 at 8:17 pm

“small god systematics”

I love it!

25   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 18th, 2011 at 9:29 pm

So if all I can afford is wal-mart great value coffee I am a goat?

26   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 18th, 2011 at 9:35 pm

13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

27   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
February 18th, 2011 at 9:44 pm

It’s interesting in that passage that John just cut and paste here that the things the Jesus mentions are show of “spiritual power” that could easily be turned around to be about the person performing them. He’s not condemning people performing truly selfless acts of service in any way. It’s funny to me that some people seem to want to conflate the two things in some way.

28   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 18th, 2011 at 11:20 pm

3 lbs of Folgers= 9.50
2lbs of Fair Trade= 23.95

Over the course of a year, @ 3lbs a month, 36 lbs = like $114 for ‘cheap’ coffee. The same Fair Trade Coffee (which, I doubt REALLY goes to the workers) =$431.10

I’ll take that $317 and give it to missionaries who I know are preaching the Gospel AND helping the poor with a variety of projects.

Fair Trade coffee is just another humanistic effort devoid of the Gospel.

29   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 18th, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Whats even worse than that is the situation, for example, in Wisconsin. The Union thugs/bullies have made contracts which are bankrupting the state and holding the educational system captive. The union system, while valid in its time, has become corrupt and is making the US non-competitive in education and manufacturing etc.

While paying a ‘fair wage’ is fine and right, the US union wages are unfair to the US workers who lose their jobs to other countries who do not have the same standards.

30   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 19th, 2011 at 12:28 am

#29 – Let the dead bury the dead.

31   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
February 19th, 2011 at 10:15 am

I don’t drink coffee. Tea, ah, now that’s a different story.

32   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
February 19th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Rick,

Has any one of the writers at this blog ever quoted Doug Pagit or said anything that resembles support or praise for his theology?

I think you seem to be suggesting that just because an author or preacher is quoted (admittedly out of context most of the time) that somehow that means everyone here supports the entire body of the quoted person’s work. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

But let me ask as fair question: does it matter where truth comes from?

I have a sneaking suspicion that you are thinking about some of the quotes that I put up here. Let me make a couple of points: 1. I don’t always agree with the quote I put up. 2. I sometimes put up quotes that are meant to stimulate conversation and nothing more. For me, quoting an author here is about learning how to think and reason so that when I am preaching again, I will be better able to answer questions people ask me. Writing for this blog is a learning experience for me. (And what you don’t know is that most of the time I agree with you, I just despise your condescending attitude and the way you go about disagreeing with others.)

3. I have never read or heard anything by Pagit. I have read one Rob Bell book (and I don’t like listening to him, although I do like Nooma videos). I don’t read Phyllis Tickle. I gave a very poor review of Steven Furtick’s latest book (precisely because it lacked orthodoxy and reinvented hermeneutics). I could probably go on if I had to. So, then, what I have read, I have criticized; what I have not read, I have not.

I’m also, for the record, highly, highly critical of my own ideas which are at times laced with doubt and fear. Someday, bro Rick, I may have it all worked out like you, but for now, I am content to be taking a journey with Jesus. I have just enough faith to believe that he is leading me where he wants me to go.

You are cavalier with your criticisms of others and what we should and should not do with this blog. I think you should generate a little doubt, a little fear, a little circumspection and remember that we are not all the same and that Jesus doesn’t expect us to be.

You are a very difficult person, but I understand exactly why I have such issues with you and why John H is fond of pointing out that there is a reason we go back and forth. I understand now.

jerry

33   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 19th, 2011 at 10:46 am

For the record, I was not referring to any of your quotes at all. You are somewhat paranoid. My questions on this thread were sincere and I thought worded carefully, not “cavalier”.

I understand that I have it “all worked out” and you are “highly critical of your own ideas”. You have reminded us all of how great an example you are and how I am a very difficult person.

For the record, I desired this thread to remain impersonal, however you have brought it back to resemble so many others. I remain content to take a journey with Jesus. :cool:

34   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I have an observation that…Jesus did many more humanitarian works…which obviously did not compromise or dilute the good news of redemption.

Anyone else see that?

Yes – LINK.

35   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

So if all I can afford is wal-mart great value coffee I am a goat?

troll [trohl] – In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response; or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

36   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
February 19th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

‘Cavalier’ refers mostly to your entire body of work here, not this thread alone.

You have provided in #33 a stellar example of how to avoid answering any questions that I posed at all in #32. Let me re-ask them in order to see if you can answer them.

1. Has any one of the writers at this blog ever quoted Doug Pagit or said anything that resembles support or praise for his theology?

2. But let me ask as fair question: does it matter where truth comes from?

I’m also, for the record, highly, highly critical of my own ideas which are at times laced with doubt and fear. Someday, bro Rick, I may have it all worked out like you, but for now, I am content to be taking a journey with Jesus. I have just enough faith to believe that he is leading me where he wants me to go.

That comment was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and I did not do a very good job adding appropriate smileys.

You may also have missed that part where I said that I mostly agree with your point of view, but that I despise the way you announce it.

Be that as it may, I apologize if I came across as one exalting my own doubt while disparaging your confidence. As I re-read my comment, I agree that it reads a bit pretentiously.

I am sorry.

37   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
February 19th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

If we consider teacher X to be teaching false doctrine (serious as it pertains to redemption), and if believer Y may not completely subscribe to teacher X’s teachings but he does not confront it (him), what should be our attitude toward believer Y?

So I guess, given what you wrote in #33, I wonder why you would ask this question after reading what was written in the OP. Your comment seems to have very little do with the OP.

Can you help me?

38   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I don’t drink coffee. Tea, ah, now that’s a different story.

fair trade tea is available as well.

39   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 12:53 pm

rick,

you asked about being silent. i answered this from my perspective in #9 and elaborated in #13.

in #28 pboy’s objections illustrate nicely what i meant about sloppiness and the need to bitch in my elaboration.

40   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
February 19th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Neil, #38, I have to confess that I really have no idea what the term ‘fair-trade’ even means.

Are John’s numbers in #28 accurate?

If they are, why would I pay more money for coffee or tea just because it is ‘fair-trade’? Is it better quality?

Also, I am sorry for interrupting the conversation by personally ‘attacking’ Rick F. I am sorry to you and to him. I was wrong to take this off point.

41   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Also, I am sorry for interrupting the conversation by personally ‘attacking’ Rick F. I am sorry to you and to him. I was wrong to take this off point.

thanks for this… i did think rick’s question was legit (though a bit off topic) and we had a nice conversation going.

42   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Are John’s numbers in #28 accurate?

accurate – maybe.
representative of the norm – no.

i suspect he just googled a bit, came up with a most expensive case scenario, then became all self-righteous about it.

then he proceeded to take it completely out of context with the whole wisconsin labor union thing.

43   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 1:05 pm

If they are, why would I pay more money for coffee or tea just because it is ‘fair-trade’? Is it better quality?

not necessarily better quality. in most cases you would be paying more for the same quality.

you can find more specific information HERE and more general information HERE.

44   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 1:16 pm

jerry,

the bottom line is, most americans never even think about the living and working conditions of those who provide things like coffee, tea, sugar and the like. in many cases (such as the haitian sugar-cane cutters i work with) it is only slightly better than slavery or involuntary indentured servitude.

fair-trade says we should be willing to pay a bit more for these things so we do not perpetuate the status quo.

as i said, most americans are just plain oblivious. it makes sense to pay the lowest price possible… until you see what that means to a farmer or harvester in latin america.

ignorance is one thing… but thinking it through (as pboy has) and deciding to be unwilling and even to mock the effort because it “is just another humanistic effort devoid of the Gospel” – is to ignore a massive portion of what it means to follow jesus.

45   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

our church only buys fair-trade coffe and sugar. here’s why:

…ministering to the needs of these people also means not contributing to their plight. Being the church of Christ means being the conscience of our society. Therefore, we only buy (as much as possible) coffee, tea, and sugar that carry the Fair Trade CertifiedTM label.

Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers are paid a fair price for their products and that farm workers receive fair compensation for their labor. But Fair Trade is about more than price. Fair Trade also develops direct relationships between producers and buyers and provides access to global markets. Evidence clearly shows that Fair Trade leads to greater economic stability and improved living and working conditions for farmers, farm workers, and their families. It is a model that strengthens communities, and it empowers people to take care of themselves and the land.

46   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 19th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Neil – the topic of my comments were spawned from your second paragraph.

47   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

understood.

48   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
February 19th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

You know Neil, I hear what you are saying. I appreciate it and respect your decision.

On the other hand, I really don’t see it or understand the relevance of buying fair trade stuff and Jesus’ words from Matthew that you cited.

I’m not being hard-headed. I just don’t see it. I think this may be a calling for some people, a ministry if you will. Maybe you will change my mind as the conversation develops.

What is the standard of comparison as it pertains to wages?

49   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 19th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I must sheepishly agree with Jerry. (I know that will cause Jerry chest pains. :) )

It is all about money and the economoy, and I think it might be a personal conviction, but I cannot see an entire church making it a policy.

There are MANY things we buy that support all kinds of sin.

50   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 19th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

And I still say it is devoid of the Gospel. Are the purchasers of fair trade products proclaiming the Gospel? Then good- I am all for it. I am all for outfits like CAMA
who do projects to solidify society like digging wells and providing people with means to make a good living (variety of cottage industries) while preaching the Gospel. They do this all while the Gospel is primary, but the service is not limited to Christians.

Fair Trade coffee/tea/sugar is just another economic effort devoid of the Gospel.

51   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
February 19th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Fair Trade coffee/tea/sugar is just another economic effort devoid of the Gospel.

Of course, because the is only some sort of spiritual band-aid that says nothing to the way we actually live and treat each now… :roll:

Buying or not buying fair trade coffee isn’t the end all issue, but I think that as Americans we consume to such a level that we rarely stop and think about where the products we are consuming actually come from. I watched a very challenging documentary a few months ago called Manufactured Landscapes, and in it the filmmakers visited a few different factories in China and Bangladesh that produce different consumer items for western markets. It’s was very convicting to me to see these workers doing this insanely monotonous work for items that people will buy, use for a little bit, and then get rid of. And then after we throw it away, electronic items are often shipped back to these countries where semi-precious metals are salvaged from them in very unsafe conditions.

Now, it’s not that I feel guilty, per se, it’s just that it’s so easy to feel separated from the consequences of our gluttony a lot of the time. It is sobering to realize how fallen the world is, and that people cannot help but oppress each other. So as Christians I think when we become aware of things that do oppress people, we should do what we can to change that. I don’t believe that the Gospel promise delivery from all trouble and oppression in this life, but it certainly does stand against it.

52   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 4:51 pm

rick & jerry,

i understand. i only offered fair trade coffee as an illustration of a greater point – jesus’ concern for the poor and social justice. that said, i’ll try and address some specific questions:

I really don’t see it or understand the relevance of buying fair trade stuff and Jesus’ words from Matthew that you cited.

it’s just one small way of minstering to the least of these. admittedly it is passive, it is not being part of the greater problem… as oppossed to other more active ministries. again, it was just an illustration.

What is the standard of comparison as it pertains to wages?

in the context of coffee farmers or (in my ministry context) sugar-cane cutters; it’s high enough wages to supply your family with food, clothing, and shelter. without having to choose between the three. it’s not as pboy says, so they can make a good living, it’s so they can make a survivable living.

…I cannot see an entire church making it a policy.

not everyone in the church does, that’s not what i meant. sorry for the confusion. what the church buys for sunday mornings and other events – that is fair trade certified. if we are going to collect funds to minister to the sugar-cane cutters, we also are going to make sure our money does not contribute to the problem.

There are MANY things we buy that support all kinds of sin.

i agree. but if you had a ministry to prostitutes, you probably would not buy your supplies from the store owned by their pimp.

53   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 19th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

. . . I think it might be a personal conviction, but I cannot see an entire church making it a policy.

No one is suggesting the chuch make it a policy. But I do believe it’s much more than personal conviction. I must first admit that I do not adhere strictly to fair trade. But when I read the words of Christ, “Do to others what you would have them do to you,” I cannot help but apply them to a fair wage for a day’s work. It’s pretty simple that as followers of Christ, the plight of others should move us. And sometimes the least we can do is support organizations who value human beings as human beings.

54   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Are the purchasers of fair trade products proclaiming the Gospel?

i purchase fair trade coffee.
i proclaim the gospel.
rarely at the same time.
not sure what your point is?

55   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 19th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Sorry Rick, I misunderstood your statement. After I posted, I read Neil’s response and saw that you actually typed “an entire” not “THE entire” church. So my first sentence can be ignored.
The rest, I stand by. :)

56   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I am all for outfits like CAMA
who do projects to solidify society like digging wells and providing people with means to make a good living (variety of cottage industries) while preaching the Gospel. They do this all while the Gospel is primary, but the service is not limited to Christians.

this is a false dichotomy of immense proportions.

57   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 19th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

What is also interesting about that passage is that Jesus does not say, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat while proclaiming the gospel, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink while proclaiming the gospel, etc.”

As the Tim Keller quote in the OP says better than I could, these things are more an evidence of a redeemed sinner living out a life of gratitude to his Redeemer.

58   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

And I still say it is devoid of the Gospel….Fair Trade coffee/tea/sugar is just another economic effort devoid of the Gospel.

the only effort needed is to look for the label, and pay a bit more. if this is too much for you – so be it.

but this attitude illustrates what i called small-god systematics. you have so immersed yourself into one aspect, one systematic, of god and the gospel that you cannot see that there are other aspects.

but your argument is not with me – it is with the the old testament prophets, with the father, and in this context – with jesus.

he is the one who offered (as you would call them) gospel-less activities as illustrations of what it means to believe.

take it up with him.

59   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 5:05 pm

As the Tim Keller quote in the OP says better than I could, these things are more an evidence of a redeemed sinner living out a life of gratitude to his Redeemer.

if a gospel tract is included… right? :)

60   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 19th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

” but if you had a ministry to prostitutes, you probably would not buy your supplies from the store owned by their pimp.”

Unless only pimps owned stores. In this hedonist culture almost everyone is a compromiser when it comes to money. I am sure Jesus and the disciples bought food from questionable sources.

If we spend time investigating every earthly source of our daily provisions we will starve. Even the Christian book stores sell all sorts of things with which they disagree doctrinally.

61   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 5:12 pm

rick,

i agree, and pimps don’t usually own stores – it was just the best i could think of off the top of my proverbial head.

i understand that it is impossible to seperate our dollars from the promotion of sin.

yet, in some cases it is easy b/c it is so obvious. i do not eat at hooters b/c i do not want to support the objectifying of women. you probably would avoid a movie that was rated nc-17, or an R rated movie if the trailer showed it was inappropriate. in both cases the issue of financial support is secondary – but it is still valid.

these things are not hard to avoid b/c they are obvious, or in the case of moves – labeled.

as i see it, it is no different with fair trade stuff. all ya need to do is look for the label.

62   Tim    
February 19th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Frankly, the resistance to such simple things like fair trade coffee is indicative of a much deeper problems much of the time. Choosing to spend your money where the profits will go towards something other than the profits of a multi-national corporation focused on profit for profit’s sake seems like a great starting point.

An even better next step would be to examine your lifestyle for signs of making consuming your god.

I always find it interesting that self-identifying “conservative” churches preach a whole lot about homosexuality to congregations where no homosexuals are found, but you can’t find a single line in a single sermon about how most Americans use their incomes in a way that is profoundly anti-gospel.

63   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 19th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Neil – I agee with you, however I find it to be a personal conviction, just like I avoid the movie theatres but I am well aware my dollars support other unpleasant causes inadvertantly. My only concern is that many times believers go into “crusade mode” about issues that are not gospel relevant. (i.e. gay issues, capital punishemnt, 24 hour creation day, politics in general, taxes, etc.)

64   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 19th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

#62 – Great points.

65   Neil    
February 19th, 2011 at 5:38 pm

re 63 – you are correct… and as i said before it is just an illustration of how I would apply the biblical command to care for the poor, to stand up for the oppressed.

66   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
February 20th, 2011 at 12:14 am

Neil,

Let me press the issue: is this fair-trade for the poor people who live in the USA? Or is it for poor people who live outside of it? Is there a fair-trade commission for poor people who live in our own backyards?

I’m not opposed to supporting the poor, standing up for the poor, etc. But, playing on Tim’s words above (which were, I hope, hyperbole), I find it interesting that a lot of self-identifying ‘liberal’ churches talk about things like feeding the poor, clothing the naked and suchlike, and then are utterly devoid of the call to repent of sin, probably, ‘not a single line’ about the blood of Jesus or sin in their sermons they preach to one another.

It would make for a good case study–ie. contrasting the two and studying the content of sermons from so-called conservative and so-called liberal churches.

I hope Tim doesn’t take my words personally, I just thought that his statement was a bit broad and generalized.

jerry

PS–I would advocate for fair-trade DVD rental…oh wait, I forgot about Redbox and Netflix and Video Pirates…who effectively put me out of a job. :-)

67   Tim    http://churchvoices.com
February 20th, 2011 at 12:25 am

Jerry,
It might be a bit of a broad brush but I’d wager what little I have that I’m far more familiar with conservative churches than you are of liberal ones. Add to it that conservative churches have often positioned themselves as the sheep to liberal churches goats (as Johnboy consistently does though in a more extreme way than most) and frankly, it doesn’t matter what the shortcomings of liberal churches are.

My ultimate point is that the average conservative church goer is happily in bed with businesses that profit by encouraging and exploiting the use of money in ways that are anti-Biblical. We can start with the large variety of Biblical commands against usury. When was the last time you heard an outcry from conservative churches, bloggers or preachers against the way the financial industry has conducted itself?

68   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 20th, 2011 at 7:27 am

” I’m far more familiar with conservative churches”

Yes, and I am far more familiar with “conservative” churches than all of you. In fact, I pastored them for decades. Tim is spot on, and to my shame, I was for many years a description of a conservative (we called ourselves fundamentalists) preacher who called out against all sorts of sins (homosexuals, Hollywood, drinking, and all the usual suspects), preached the orthodox gospel, preached a lifestyle of separation, and viewed humanitarian acts with extreme caution.

My churches borrowed money with usury, my members were in varying degrees of debt, many were storing up money for future personal consumption, and in general practice used money in a completely unbiblical way.

But we screamed (hated) about liberalism. I now view it as self righteousness and in direct violation of New Testament teachings. I truly wish I could do it over agin differently.

69   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 9:01 am

Let me press the issue: is this fair-trade for the poor people who live in the USA? Or is it for poor people who live outside of it? Is there a fair-trade commission for poor people who live in our own backyards?

when it comes to coffee and sugar it benefits those outside the US. quite frankly, there is no way corporations could enslave whole populations in the US like they do the Caribbean.

i would assume there are the equivalent organizations w/i the US – but the issues would be different – even if related they would not be the same.

70   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 9:05 am

I’m not opposed to supporting the poor, standing up for the poor, etc. But, playing on Tim’s words above (which were, I hope, hyperbole), I find it interesting that a lot of self-identifying ‘liberal’ churches talk about things like feeding the poor, clothing the naked and suchlike, and then are utterly devoid of the call to repent of sin, probably, ‘not a single line’ about the blood of Jesus or sin in their sermons they preach to one another.

no doubt. but just be/c liberal churches devoid of the gospel have a concern for the poor does not mean that true gospel churches should not… particularly given the passage i quoted above.

in fact, i’ll go so far as to say it is a scandal that we do not. the evangelical church has gutted the bible of a significant calling…

71   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 9:07 am

in the general sense (that is, not applying it specifically to jerry or rick since i do not know their hearts); i think tim was spot on in #62.

72   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 9:08 am

It would make for a good case study–ie. contrasting the two and studying the content of sermons from so-called conservative and so-called liberal churches.

this might be interesting, and i suspect we sould not be surprised by the results.

that said, what difference does it make what liberal churches preach, when it comes to us fulfilling the call to the poor and the oppressed?

73   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 9:12 am

we need to be careful that we do not delve too deeply into the building or strawmen.

when it comes to the topic of the op, it really does not matter what liberal churches preach compared to conservative churches.

what matters is how my/your church, how I/you, fair when examined with the criteria jesus provided in in goats and sheep metaphor.

74   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 9:15 am

re 68:

it comes down to balance. i do not think debt an absolute evil. it can be leveraged to good if handled wisely.

and i refuse to apologize for, or feel guilty b/c, i am an american and therefor rich by comparison to the rest of the world.

that said – tim and rick are both correct.

75   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 20th, 2011 at 9:37 am

in fact, i’ll go so far as to say it is a scandal that we do not. the evangelical church has gutted the bible of a significant calling…

Amen, we have. It has gone from preach the Gospel to every creature to buy expensive coffee/sugar/tea/hemp to make one’s present life more palatable. It has gone from “and you shall receive power to preach the Gospel” to buy Tom’s shoes to make sure kids have coverings on their feet.

Look, it is all about the Gospel. The concern for the poor is rooted in the Gospel and pours out of the Gospel and flows from the gospel .

The Gospel and concern for the ‘least of these’ are never mutually exclusive. It is just we are should be concerned with more than just fair and equitable wages.

76   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 20th, 2011 at 10:09 am

It is just we are should be concerned with more than just fair and equitable wages.

No one has suggested otherwise.

77   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 20th, 2011 at 10:21 am

I believe conservative churches significantly downplay social responsibilities because they believe it compromises gospel exclusivity. I was once one of them.

Getting caught up with avoiding certain economic issues because we feel they are unjust is like cleaning up only certain areas left by your dog in the backyard because you think they are the worst. Its the same thing as boycotting Disneyworld but going to Six Flags.

78   Tim    http://churchvoices.com
February 20th, 2011 at 10:37 am

You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. You can’t say that its a good, God-called action to care for the poor and oppressed then poor derision out on people who modify their behavior to come more in line with these oft ignored commands.

79   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 20th, 2011 at 11:52 am

I have no problem with people “modifying” theeir behavior to comply with their consciences. I have a problem with people who use their “compliance” as a measuring stick with which to judge others, or implying that their “compliance” has incontrovertible divine approval.

Jesus Himself approved of paying taxes which probably are the most compromised and sin supporting outlet of all. If I were jesus I would have endorsed refusal to pay taxes. Oh well. :cool:

80   Tim    http://churchvoices.com
February 20th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Rick,
I was not addressing you with #78. I have no problem if someone rejects this particular way to offset consumerism if they have some sort of objection to what it does or an opinion on a better way to accomplish the same thing.

I was addressing Johnboy’s reaction to people who do endorse fair trade coffee, and his general “yeah but” attitude towards any sort of help for the poor.

81   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
February 20th, 2011 at 1:43 pm

It might be a bit of a broad brush but I’d wager what little I have that I’m far more familiar with conservative churches than you are of liberal ones.

OK. I’m not trying to make a contest out of this.

All I was doing, without reference to you personally, was playing on your words and turning the conversation around in order to understand how it might look from the other side (since terms like ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ are so often bandied about without any real reference point.)

In other words, I’m trying to see both sides of it. Some of us seem to be making this an either/or issue. I don’t think it is. I don’t think this is a matter of conservative/liberal; fair-trade/unfair trade; me/you or otherwise. As I said to Neil earlier, maybe my mind would change by the end of the conversation. But from some of the comments being written, I’m not so sure this is an area where I would change my mind.

I do sort of shiver at the idea that this is somehow a test of whether or not one’s faith is valid or not. To me, this is a matter of conscience and personal conviction.

If I choose not to buy fair-trade whatever (fair-trade denim pants, fair-trade books, fair-trade lima beans) that does not automatically mean I have disregarded Jesus’ call to help the poor. Nor does it mean I have no concern for them whatsoever.

There are other ways we can help the poor. Millions of ways we can help the poor. Billions of ways we can help the poor. Fair-trade coffee, while important to some, is meaningless to others. Especially those of us who do not drink coffee.

Maybe giving up the drinking of coffee altogether is a better solution than buying fair-trade coffee (you could save water, filters, packaging, shipping–the list is quite long). Then you’d have even more money to give away to the poor whom we will always have with us.

82   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

It has gone from preach the Gospel to every creature to buy expensive coffee/sugar/tea/hemp to make one’s present life more palatable.

you are speaking of things you know not of. and you are, once again, offering a false dichotomy.

83   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

funny how i asked for care in the building of straw men… and the second comment after that pboy offers a whopper of a straw man.

84   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Look, it is all about the Gospel. The concern for the poor is rooted in the Gospel and pours out of the Gospel and flows from the gospel .

yet you argue against one example of doing the gospel. if you don’t give e rip about the effect you purchases have on the oppressed – fine – you make you choices you deal with the consequences.

what i do not understand is why you think it necessary to argue against this particular example of applying the bible to daily life.

i have some theories – but they are simply that…

85   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

The Gospel and concern for the ‘least of these’ are never mutually exclusive. It is just we are should be concerned with more than just fair and equitable wages.

*sigh* – [sarcasm] thank you cap’t obvious… [/sarcasm]

i said this in the op, i repeated this in the comments… yet you offer it as some stunning revelation, or as if it counters any point i have made.

86   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I believe conservative churches significantly downplay social responsibilities because they believe it compromises gospel exclusivity.

exactly. this an guilt by association – since liberals are concerned, we should not be.

87   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I have a problem with people who use their “compliance” as a measuring stick with which to judge others, or implying that their “compliance” has incontrovertible divine approval.

if i have done this – i apologize. i do not believe this and do not mean to behave in this manner.

i do believe that jesus offers our attitudes and action toward the poor and oppressed as measuring stick of our faith – but not any one application thereof.

88   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 20th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Thank you, Tim.

89   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

re 81;

jerry, i agree. please see #87… fair-trade was only offered as an illustration as to how concern for the poor and oppressed could be manifested.

and to be frank – if that was all someone did i would say it was way to little.

buying fair trade coffee is way too easy to be seen as a significant step in-and-of itself.

90   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 20th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I do believe that the connection between redemption by faith alone and the ministry to human beings in their earthly situation is a mystery, but has a direct connection to spreading the good news. No one can be saved by human works, but many have come to salvation because human works spoke to their hearts.

91   Neil    
February 20th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

re 90: agreed… and it is telling that in the metaphor above, there is no hint of the redemption message, no hint of their response…

no one can be saved by/through works on behalf of the poor and oppressed, but those who are saved are expected to work on behalf of the poor and oppressed.

92   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 20th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Here is what I consider the problem form personal experience. The “orthodox” churches rebuke the liberal “social gospel” churches/theology rather than correcting their theology while embracing their behavoir as correction to their behavior as well.

I used their social gospel as a springborad for rebuke and ignored the ministry of the Spirit trying to correct my own theology. I believe that is commonly called self righteousness.

93   Tim    
February 20th, 2011 at 6:25 pm

You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you just have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too…[And he paused in the awkward silence.] But I guess that’s why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.

-Rich Mullins

94   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 20th, 2011 at 7:00 pm

How about:

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Of course these words need “interpretation” since they surely cannot be taken literally. God desires to bless our 401ks so we can see the world when we are old. :cool:

95   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I find that God’s exhortations and call for social justice is most evident in the old testament scriptures. Under the new covenant we are called to acts of charity but I don’t see calls to right social injustices there as we do see under the old covenant writings.

Is this significant? Does this mean I should not bec concerened about righting social injustices? I don’t think so because I believe the Old Testament scriptures were written for our instruction and example and I see a clear distinction between the moral and theocratic law under the old covenant. Therefore, when I read that God is concerned about honest scales, for example, or for the legal rights of widows and orphans and the poor, I see that as still applicable today, even under the New Covenant.

As a member of the religious right ;-0 I find it very concerning that my homies decry the politics of left wing union radicals and yet I see very little being said or done about socio/economic injustices, which if corrected, would alievate the perceived need for such unions.

Who speaks for the poor in my circles? [cue chirping crickets]

96   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Well, in answer to Mr. Mullins, I would posit that “you must be born again” has a universal applicaiton as born out by Jesus in other places and confirmed by the Apostles whereas Jesus command to the rich young ruler was given to him only (to address his specific stumbling block) and was nowhere else confirmed as normative in any other places in the Gospels or Epistles. It’s not a matter of picking and choosing.

97   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 2:53 pm

#94 – Rick, proverbs and the other books of wisdom literature have many exhortations to monitary prudence and fiscal planning. It does not show lack of faith to plan for the future. When a man does legitimate hard work for his money, invests wisely, is generous and gives to God’s kingdom what he has willingly purposed in his heart, it is God’s gift to him to enjoy the fruits of his labor with no guilt.

98   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 3:06 pm

In balance, obviously we cannot know the future and we should always have the attitude “if God wills” we will do such and such. And as recent economic events have certainly demonstrated we cannot depend on man’s economy and even our best made plans can (and have) come to naught. But yet, I think that prudence and wisdom dictate that we at least plan the best we can and with as much wisdom as we can. What happens next is not in our hands. There are evil greedy men in this world who don’t think twice about robbing from us normal folk.

In the end, as you say, we must depend on God. But a man with **no** resources in old age cannot help others and must himself depend on the charity of others for his own needs. This too is oustide of God’s perfect will.

Again, it’s balance. We are to have an eternal perspective, knowing this world is only temporary. We are to be aware that the love of the things of this world is a serious trap and deadly idol and avoid such double mindedness. We are to recognize that it is God who gives us the ability to make wealth. We are to have a generous spirit, give liberally to God’s kingdom, share our resources and to help others who are less fortunate. But one has to have “things” in order to be able to help others. Wealth is not evil in and of itself. It’s all about stewardship and understanding that God is owner of all and we are but his stewards.

99   Neil    
February 21st, 2011 at 3:43 pm

@ john hughs in 95

amen!

100   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 21st, 2011 at 4:09 pm

#97 – Then the sermon on the mount is not to be taken literally? Which sections are suggestions or metaphors and which ones are literal?

101   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 21st, 2011 at 4:15 pm

The verse talks about laying up for YOURSELVES treasures on earth. If a person accumulates wealth and uses it for the poor or even to help his children then that is different.

If a person saves up thousands upon thousands so he can travel the world when he is 70 then the unsaved person has every right to view our belief in eternal life as questionable. Jesus and the entire New Testament are filled with exhortations against accumulation of wealth for your own consumption.

Unless they are to be taken as metaphors.

102   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 21st, 2011 at 4:16 pm

“Balance” can often be nothing but “compromise”.

103   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 21st, 2011 at 4:27 pm

“But I guess that’s why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.”

-Rich Mullins

104   Christian P    http://www.churchvoices.com
February 21st, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Rick, I’m inclined to agree with you. But I’m not sure I do. I’m amazed at how some people that still have great wealth when they die had the heart to plan how that money will be put to use to help others and further the Kingdom of God. This is not always the case of course, but I think that at the least, it challenges the idea that stored wealth=compromise. I would not defend this tooth and nail, but I think it deserves consideration.

105   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 21st, 2011 at 5:01 pm

#104 – There surely are exceptions, however I contend that American believers significantly lean toward financial compromise.

106   Neil    
February 21st, 2011 at 5:13 pm

“Balance” can often be nothing but “compromise”.

it can, but balance can also be the avoidance of unhealthy extremes.

107   Neil    
February 21st, 2011 at 5:18 pm

i wonder if jesus really meant that we were not to save money for future use. in the biblical culture, when a person could no longer work, they relied on their families… in american culture we rely on our gov’t and savings. i’m bot convinced the scriptures prohibit the latter.

though i would agree that american believers lean toward financial compromise.

108   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 21st, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Let me add that I have significantly compromised financially. So i am not being an advocate based upon my impeccable record but what I sincerely believe the Scriptures indicate.

109   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Rick,

I just re-read the Sermon on the Mount. I’m not sure what specific verses you are referring to or which ones contradict my points.

Please advise.

110   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 21st, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Several, but specifically:

Matt.6:19-34 – Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

22The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek :) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

111   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Rick,

Like a good Baptist I tithe on my gross (cheerfully :-) ), support other ministries, specifically help the poor in both money and time. Explain to me why should I feel guilty about taking a vacation or setting aside money for me and my wife in our old age?

112   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 5:53 pm

20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

I thought one was laying up treasures in heaven by giving to the kingdom (in financial support to the local church and evangelical efforts, for example) and giving to the poor, etc.

I understand these verses to be warnings about making money your god, loving money in general, or worrying about what you are going to wear, etc. When I was layed off in my past these verses comforted me in that God knew my families’ need for the basics of life and would provide my needs. He did indeed do that and the means He used was by eventually providing me with a new job so I could work. In the meantime we leaved off our savings (oh the horrors) and taking menial jobs to fill in the gaps until God provided a job suited to my education and experience. The point I got out of all this was not to worry (I learned not too), God would provide our basic needs (He did) and that we could get along with a lot less (we did).

113   Neil    
February 21st, 2011 at 5:54 pm

this is why i think it is an issue of attitude more than an issue of saving for retirement or not.

114   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 6:00 pm

25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

So I have learned “not to take thought” i.e., not to obsess over where I am to get food and drink because I know God will provide. I don’t think that means I shouldn’t save a portion of my income for like Joseph having Pharoah set aside the extra harvest for 7 years, God did provide by giving Joseph the wisdom to do so.

But in balance, as we all have seen in the past couple of years one cannot depend on stored up wealth in 401ks for example. One must ultimately depend upon God for provision. But as we can’t see the future I believe in doing what other scriptures say to do as at least in my own past God has used my personal savings to get my family through some rough times.

115   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 21st, 2011 at 6:00 pm

While I do believe these verses warn against making money your god, I still contend that the are to be taken literally. I also contend that our understanding of these teachings has been tainted by the Industrial Revolution and the influence of our culture.

It is an issue of attitude as well as obedience. I know many people who love Jesus and whose committment is much greater than mine who disagree with me.

116   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 21st, 2011 at 6:02 pm

BTW – For a $100.00 seed faith gift I will send you my teachings on the subject! :cool:

117   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 6:03 pm

#112 Ok my spelling and grammar was atrocious but I was in a hurry. Oye vey. Embarrasing. Sorry about that slaughter of the King’s english.

118   Neil    
February 21st, 2011 at 6:07 pm

119   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 6:08 pm

#115 – Rick I sympathize, but in my world view all Scripture has to harmonize and when one follows the Holy Spirit’s instructions regarding the making of wealth in the Old Testament it tends to alleviate worry and fret. So if we let Scripture interpret Scripture where does that leave us.

And the “Red letters” don’t trump the black because they are all equally inspired and Jesus only spoke what He heard the Father speak.

120   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Neil,

#118 – Going down that road will drive one crazy. I don’t see a middle ground. I don’t see that the Scriptures call us to a life of poverty where we give all away. Maybe I’m wrong. (not to say you are suggesting that). There is a time for every purpose under heaven — a time to give and a time to take. There may very well be a season when God wants an individual to give away literally **everything** they possess, but I don’t think a vow of perpetual poverty is scriptural or normative.

I guess my best advice is to be available to the Holy Spirit’s promting in the issues of giving with the full assurance God will provide all our needs and to learn to be content in both riches or poverty.

121   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
February 21st, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I know plenty of people who’ve taken vows of poverty – they’re called Liberal Arts majors…

122   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 6:20 pm

A husband was obsessed with his wealth and was determined to take it with him in the next life. On his death bed he made his wife promise to put all his money in his casket with him.

The preacher noticed she placed a box in his casket right before his burial. He asked her what was in it. She explained her promise to her husband and that she had honored his last wish and buried all his money with him.

“You didn’t” cried the Pastor!

“I most assuredily did” replied the wife, “but I did write him a check.”

123   John Hughes    
February 21st, 2011 at 6:21 pm

121 – Oh, You mean “those” people?

124   Neil    
February 21st, 2011 at 7:58 pm

#118 – Going down that road will drive one crazy.

my point exactly…

125   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 21st, 2011 at 8:05 pm

#118 Schindler understands nothing of grace. So much like the churches who set standards of righteousness like buying fair trade coffee.

You don’t understand. You cannot do more. The more that you do earns you nothing and does not earn or gain more approval from God for you. The Love you have for God should be shown to people, yes. But you will never do enough. The minute you start patting yourself on the back for doing so much you begin to be self righteous.

Preach and live the Gospel. Give all the glory to God.

126   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
February 21st, 2011 at 9:50 pm

No one here is saying that we earn anything by doing good works as far as I see. I do believe, though, that Christians should be drawn to make a difference when we know we can. We will be judged according to our works and our works will be judged. I don’t believe this should be something we fear, but it should be something that gives us some pause. We have been given many gifts in this life, and how we use and invest them shouldn’t simply be an afterthought.

127   Neil    
February 21st, 2011 at 10:19 pm

#118 Schindler understands nothing of grace. So much like the churches who set standards of righteousness like buying fair trade coffee.

welcome to “Adventures in Missing the Point” – in tonight’s episode we find pboy in familiar territory, having just made yet another statement in which he argues against a point NOBODY is making…

128   Neil    
February 21st, 2011 at 10:21 pm

You don’t understand. You cannot do more. The more that you do earns you nothing and does not earn or gain more approval from God for you. The Love you have for God should be shown to people, yes. But you will never do enough. The minute you start patting yourself on the back for doing so much you begin to be self righteous.

apparently you missed the part where i said:

As Tim Keller put it: “Jesus did not say that all this done for the poor was a means of getting salvation, but rather it was a sign that you already had salvation, that true saving faith was already present” (Generous Justice, pg. 53 [emphasis his]).

although i do not for a minute believe that you missed it. i believe you ignored it. i believe you like to troll. so i’ll point out the fact you are arguing against a point nobody made and leave it at that. no reason to feed a troll.

129   Neil    
February 21st, 2011 at 10:26 pm

We will be judged according to our works and our works will be judged.

and according to the metaphor jesus used when describing the final judgment, at least one criteria that will be used was how we dealt with the poor and oppressed.

130   Tim    
February 22nd, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I find it interesting that the command to the rich young ruler and the teaching given to Nicodemus are viewed as being fundamentally different. Both are given to individuals, in fact, and both are essentially the same teaching:

131   John Hughes    
February 22nd, 2011 at 2:18 pm

#130 – How do you determine what is normative vs. individualistic?

Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

“Unless one is born again” gramatically and immediately moves this from the specific individual to a universal application.

Contrast this with Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler:

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

There is **no** universal application indicated. It was a unique command to this individual which one would assume by the context was the one thing that prevented him from following Jesus. Futher, the selling of his possessions gained him “treasures in heaven” not salvation as the 2nd part of the command was to then come and follow Jesus which would have lead to his salvation.

When you look at these verses in context it is obvious to me we are dealing with two separate senarios.

132   Tim    
February 22nd, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Good job, you just figured out how to cut out big chunks of the Bible, and you didn’t even have to use a scissors.

BTW, this is why your answer to Rich Mullins’quote is so lacking. That was exactly the point he was making. You can ignore the bits of the Bible you want to ignore all you want, but it doesn’t change that its in the Bible. His sarcastic response that that’s why God gave us highlighters drew from you getting out yet another highlighter.

133   Tim    
February 22nd, 2011 at 2:28 pm

BTW, in terms of universal application the only way you can avoid the lesson the rich young man was given by Jesus is by claiming that salvation comes to him in a unique way, a way in which it doesn’t come to us.

134   Neil    
February 22nd, 2011 at 2:46 pm

i tend to think the conversation with nicodemus is more universally applicable.

but this is just in comparison to the rich young man passage.

i by no means would say the latter was individualistic and therefore it is not applicable… particular to the average american.

so i would disagree that one is universal and the other unique and individualistic.

i would also argue that both are universal – not to the same degree.

135   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
February 22nd, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Well, the Rich Young Ruler’s problem in the text wasn’t the fact that he owned stuff and had money, but rather that he loved money. I do believe it is possible to operate in the economy, fallen as it is, and still not love money. It’s pretty obvious that not all in the early church took the idea away from that we all need to be ascetics. I think it just shows the dangers of wealth and the trappings of it.

136   John Hughes    
February 22nd, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Tim and Neil, so I assume you are saying this passage applies to you and you have sold all your possessions and given them to the poor and I should follow your example?

137   John Hughes    
February 22nd, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Time: Good job, you just figured out how to cut out big chunks of the Bible, and you didn’t even have to use a scissors.

Tim, that is silly. I have made a very cogent argument based on context and grammar. Feel free to point out any fallacies in my logic, but please address my logic.

Using the same logic as your rebuttal I could argue that Jesus’ command to Peter to walk on the water is universal in its application.

138   John Hughes    
February 22nd, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Phil #135. Exactly.

139   Neil    
February 22nd, 2011 at 6:01 pm

re 136 – if that is what you think i am saying – so be it… i’ll not bother discussing it if that’s the approach you are going to take.

140   John Hughes    
February 22nd, 2011 at 6:15 pm

139 – Fair enough. So to what extent is that passage universally applicable? 90%? 50%? 10%?

And since this passage is universal and I sell all and follow Jesus does that mean I don’t work after I do that?

You have to extrapolate these things out to their logical conclusion.

The women that supported Jesus’ ministry – did He tell them to sell ALL?

More pointedly, did He tell the other Apostles to sell all? If He did Peter was certainly disobedient because he certainly had a fishing boat to go back to after the resurrection.

Did he tell Paul to sell all? If He did Paul was disobedient because Paul kept his day job in order to support himself.

Did He tell Lazarus to sell all? If He did he was disobedient because he and Mary and Martha maintained posession of their grand estate.

There is not one shred of evidence in other passages that this was proscriptive for all believers. No, the love of money was an idol for this young man and was keeping him from Christ. Jesus provided this man the solution to his problem. We all can learn lessons from it, but it is not necessarily applicable to all believers.

141   John Hughes    
February 22nd, 2011 at 6:18 pm

i by no means would say the latter was individualistic and therefore it is not applicable… particular to the average american.

Neil, in all fairness how is one supposed to understand and apply your statement?

Jesus’ command to “Sell all, give all to the poor” is absolute.

142   John Hughes    
February 22nd, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Tim,

Your application of this passage is adding a work to grace. This is simply a situation where this man had an idol in his life that was keeping him from God. A radical solution was required which Jesus gave him. Much like Jesus saying it is better to cut off your hand if that is keeping you from heaven.

The lesson is one must remove any idols in their life before they can (by definition) come to Christ. This particular idol was definately specific to this man (and perhaps to the majority of the rich in general). But it is definately not universal in scope.

The universal application is that one must remove any idols in their life that prevent them from coming to Christ. You can fill in the blank on any particular idols in your life.

143   Neil    
February 22nd, 2011 at 7:36 pm

john, you say tim is adding works to grace yet i don’t see where he said anything about salvation being at stake – plus it was jesus who leveled this command on the young man – not tim.

144   Neil    
February 22nd, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Neil, in all fairness how is one supposed to understand and apply your statement?

in all fairness? cf #139.

145   John Hughes    
February 22nd, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Neil: don’t see where he said anything about salvation being at stake

Tim:
BTW, in terms of universal application the only way you can avoid the lesson the rich young man was given by Jesus is by claiming that salvation comes to him in a unique way, a way in which it doesn’t come to us.

Tim: I find it interesting that the command to the rich young ruler and the teaching given to Nicodemus are viewed as being fundamentally different. Both are given to individuals, in fact, and both are essentially the same teaching:

How else is one to interpret Tim’s comments?

Being born again (the Nicodemus passage) is the quintisential passage on salvation and universal in its application. Tim says the rich young ruler passage is equally universally applicable. What am I missing?

Tim could you clarifiy please?

Also, still waiting on how either of you have applied the young ruler passage to your own lives.

146   neil    
February 22nd, 2011 at 8:13 pm

i see tim asking if there was a different standard for the young man than for nicodemus. is there? i guess we’ll just have to wait and see what tim says about what he meant.

Also, still waiting on how either of you have applied the young ruler passage to your own lives.

considering the attitude you took with me, you will have to continue to wait. i expect such treatment from some – not from you.

147   John Hughes    
February 22nd, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Neil,

If I have offened you I’m apologize. I’m passionate about this because I see at worst adding works to salvation or at best placing unbiblical burdens on Christians. To require everyone to sell ALL and give all to the poor in untenable which a universal application of this passage mandates.

148   John Hughes    
February 22nd, 2011 at 9:45 pm

i see tim asking if there was a different standard for the young man than for nicodemus. is there?

The answer is both yes and no. the “yes” (universally applicable) is that one cannot come to Jesus if he has an idol between them. The answer is “no” in that this person’s particular idol was his riches something that is not universally applicable. The universal lesson to be learned is to become aware of any idols in your life and get rid of them which will allow you to follow Christ.

I also bring to your attention again that in his discourse with Nicademos in addition to personalizing His statement “You must be born again.” Jesus expanded it to also say “one must be born again”. Something He did NOT do with the rich young ruler. I contend this is central to the arguement of applicability.

I would urge everyone to re-read John 3 with this in mind. It would be gramatically impossible to argue John 3 did not have universal application. The same cannot be said for the young ruler passage.

149   Neil    
February 22nd, 2011 at 9:58 pm

thank you john… i think the issue is the distinction between universal application and literal application.

in the words to nicodemus you want to apply it universally but not literally – which, of course, was nicodemus’ issue as well.

yet in the words to the young man, you argue against applying them literally.

universal and literal applications are two different issues.

i do not think tim was advocating that the application must be literal… i certainly did not.

150   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 22nd, 2011 at 10:33 pm

In order to define the gospel narratives we must go to the epistles which teach us. When you approach the narratives (such as the rich young ruler) you maust have a concerete understanding of salvidic doctrines.

Otherwise you end up with a works salvation.

151   Tim    
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:15 am

John,
I kind of doubt you understand the teachings of Christ concerning the rich young ruler. If you did understand there’s no way you could ever have twisted what I wrote into a works salvation.

This is a perfect example of why I’ve become so suspicious of self-proclaimed conservative churches/pundits. I’m the one being attacked because I’ve dared to opine that the entire Bible should be of equal weight. That the highlighters need to be put away and the whole of scripture should be considered. In fact, what’s got the so-called “conservative” panties in a bunch are quotes from Christ. Oh right you used “cogent arguments”, “grammar” and “logic” to do so. Congrats again, you managed to redact the scriptures without attending a single Jesus Seminar.

152   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 23rd, 2011 at 3:21 am

Anyone who has a working knowledge of the New Testament realizes that salvation comes only through faith in the Lord Jesus. That being said, we must not dismiss the words of Jesus to the rich young ruler.

Regardless if it was a test, it still revealed on some level how the Master viewed the “importance” of money.

153   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 8:50 am

Tim,

I sense a lot of bitterness in you. I am truly sorry you have been brought to this position by us so called self proclaimed concervatives. Truly.

154   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 23rd, 2011 at 8:59 am

It’s interesting, John, that you accuse Tim of adding works to salvation. But you said, “The lesson is one must remove any idols in their life before they can (by definition) come to Christ.”

Do we really expect lost sinners to remove idols without the power of the risen Christ in their lives? That is like going to spring break and telling the partiers to “Stop sinning.”

155   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 23rd, 2011 at 9:02 am

May I publicly proclaim that no one who either writes or frequents this blog believes in a works salvation.

156   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 9:07 am

I’m the one being attacked because I’ve dared to opine that the entire Bible should be of equal weight.

2 Timothy 4:13
When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.

3Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one s born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

OK. You be the judge.

157   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 9:13 am

151 – Tim I have lessend or weakened the words of Christ at all. Heaven forbid.

I have shared how I have applied that passage to my life (as an example to examine ones life for idols and forego them, first in the areas of finance and then to a more wider application). Again I ask. How have you applied it to yours?

158   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 9:24 am

154. You could ask the same thing of Jesus in this instance. No one can come to God on their own. (john 6:44) They must be called. Jesus in the flesh was calling this young ruler. His love of money was keeping him from following the Lord. Jesus issued the call. The power to respond (i.e., the presence of the Holy Spirit or the Lord Himself with the call on his heart) was present and yet he had to decide.

So to answer your question, the call must come first. But if something is standing between the sinner and God (an idol) the person must remove it themselves by a choice of their will. The power (freedom) to do so comes from God (i.e., the Gospel is the power of God for salvation – Rom 1:6) but they must appropriate it. Indeed it is the spirit of God that illuminates and exposes the idol. The last idol that must go is self.

159   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
February 23rd, 2011 at 9:26 am

Fair enough, John.

160   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 am

i still contend that john is looking at the two passages with two different approaches.

he is either ignoring or missing the distinction between universal application and literal application.

in the words to nicodemus john wants to apply it universally but not literally – which, of course, was nicodemus’ issue as well. and in this we all agree.

yet in the words to the young man, john argues against applying them literally. which no one is advocating as far as i can tell.

he is trying to compare universal application with literal application…

universal and literal applications are two different issues.

i do not think tim was advocating that the application must be literal… i certainly did not.

161   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 23rd, 2011 at 10:16 am

I believe the problem centers around two unbalanced approaches. Some “liberal” churches tend to blur the line between works and faith and they use the rich young ruler as an example. Some conservative churches almost ignore the principles about ministering to earthly needs and they compartmentalize narratives like the rich young ruler as merely a test without any level of principle.

I used to be one of those.

162   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 10:17 am

Neil,

How could you infer that I would not think John 3 is not to be taken literally?

For the Young Ruler I argue the passage does not apply literally to all people, only to those who have this particular idol in their lives. It most certainly has a universal figurative application. There is a lesson to be learned by all (warnings against idolotry), but all should not go out and sell all their possessions (Unless this is what is keeping them from Christ). It parallels Jesus’ saying it is better to cut off your hand if that is keeping your from heaven and go through life maimed instead of missing out on salvation. Or what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his life. If your riches are keeping you from Christ, sell them all. He’s not telling every one to sell all their possessions. This particular passage is not even a good proof text for helping the poor. Its central thought is not about helping the poor. It’s about getting rid of something that stands between you and God which just happend to be money in this man’s case.

163   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 23rd, 2011 at 10:21 am

There are many teachings from Christ that have at their core a principle and not to be taken literally except as a literal metaphor/simile. And may I reiterate my long standing position that the epistles serve as interpretation for such things.

164   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 10:22 am

And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and (T)YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

There. Reader’s dDgest version.

165   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 10:25 am

#163 – Exactly.

166   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 10:46 am

How could you infer that I would not think John 3 is not to be taken literally?

sorry, the double negatives have me a bit confused. do you mean to ask how i infer that you do not take being born again literally? b/c i am very sure you do not take it literally… i have never met anyone who does.

167   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 10:48 am

For the Young Ruler I argue the passage does not apply literally to all people, only to those who have this particular idol in their lives. It most certainly has a universal figurative application.

which is exactly what i have been saying… as what i believe tim means as well.

168   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 10:50 am

There are many teachings from Christ that have at their core a principle and not to be taken literally except as a literal metaphor/simile. And may I reiterate my long standing position that the epistles serve as interpretation for such things.

i think you meant literary metaphor, not literal metaphor… assuming that i say:

exactly indeed… and being “born-again” is one such metaphor.

169   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
February 23rd, 2011 at 10:56 am

It’s interesting, John, that you accuse Tim of adding works to salvation. But you said, “The lesson is one must remove any idols in their life before they can (by definition) come to Christ.”

Do we really expect lost sinners to remove idols without the power of the risen Christ in their lives? That is like going to spring break and telling the partiers to “Stop sinning.”

You see, this is why I still consider myself an Arminian. I think Wesley was essentially correct in his description of prevenient grace. If Christ is asking us to do something, I fully believe that the grace needed to do that has been laid before us. So when Jesus tells the Rich Young Ruler to sell his possessions and follow him, it was certainly within the man’s power to do so.

The one universal thing about human nature is that if we want to do something badly enough, we will do it, or we will die trying. So when Jesus calls us to follow Him, the question is simply will we or won’t we. I’d have to say it’s a decision I have to make everyday, and some days I do and some days I don’t. I don’t think my decision changes the Lord’s love for me, or it negates my salvation.

I always think one difficulty in dealing with passages like these is the fact that they can’t be boiled down to a rule. If they could, I think it would be much easier. Instead, I must listen to what Christ is telling me to do everyday. What do I love more than Christ. Am I willing to lay it down to follow him?

170   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 11:09 am

phil, so, regarding the classic passages tat calvinists use, such as “no one comes to the father unless the father draws him…”

would you say through prevenient grace all are being drawn… at least enough to respond if they want to?

171   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
February 23rd, 2011 at 11:21 am

would you say through prevenient grace all are being drawn… at least enough to respond if they want to?

Yes, I basically would say that.

172   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 11:33 am

#171 as would I. The Gospel is the power of God. It has a self contained power pack, so to speak, via the Holy Spirit, which empowers one to accept Christ if they so choose. That is what the Calvinists miss, I think, in their world view where they believe regeneration must come before belief.

173   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 11:39 am

#166 – I lost you Neil. Jesus correct Nicademus. He made it very clear that He was talking about a spiritual re-birth and not a natural one. The requirement for a spiritual re-birth is what is to be taken literally.

174   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 11:43 am

Neil,

Tim quote Mullins favorably:

But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you just have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too…[And he paused in the awkward silence.] But I guess that’s why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.

and then defends it rigorously.

I belive Mullins was wrong in this comparision and the application of this passage which blatantly adds a work to grace.

I do not see where Tim has clarifed his stance on this.

Tim?

175   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 12:29 pm

re 173… and that is why i say you are looking at the two passages differently.

you jumped on me asking if i have sold everything… yet you never asked if i ever entered my mother’s womb a second time…

so you are looking at the words to nicodemus as having a universal non-literal application.

and you are looking at the words to the young man as having a universal non-literal application.

although somewhere along the lines you sought to inquire if we applied the latter literally.

that was my point. wanting consistency.

176   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I belive Mullins was wrong in this comparision and the application of this passage which blatantly adds a work to grace.

you are making an assumption, then calling it obvious. and this is the danger of snippet quotes.

is mullins advocating that selling possessions and giving to the poor are a means of, or a requirement for, salvation? maybe. but i doubt it.

i think mullins’ point was to show how we like to apply certain parts while ignoring other parts.

quite frankly, no one does this more (among those who post and comment here) than pboy. he has repeatedly demonstrated what i believe is mullins’ critique.

177   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 12:56 pm

mullins point was to show how we like to apply certain parts while ignoring the other parts.

That may be the case, but even with a charitable reading his correlation is still wrong on many levels IMO not the least of which is the creation of a false dilemma.

178   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:02 pm

assuming his point is NOT works salvation but selective application; i don’t see why it is wrong on any level.

179   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:07 pm

so you are looking at the words to nicodemus as having a universal non-literal application.

No I am not. You must be born (spiritually) again is universal and literal. Jesus did not say anthing about being physically reborn again. That was Nicademus’ erroneous assumption. I take the words of Jesus here both literally and universal in their application.

I take the words of Jesus to the young ruler as literal to him. Jesus was not ** necessarily ** addressing anyone else and by extension He was not necessarily addressing me. Jesus was addressing me in the John 3 passage by his use of the phrase “one must be born again”. He did not say “one must sell all their goods”. The difference is real and significant. That in no way means I do not have something to learn from the Young Ruler passage. In deed there is much to learn from it, but not about the need to help the poor. That is tangent to the narrative. Getting rid of an obsticle to coming to Christ was the heart of Jesus statement here. People making feeding the poor the central message have their own agenda they are promoting, noble as that may be, that misses the point.

180   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Well, I think I was agreeing with your one premise, John, but I think I’d part ways with you a bit now. I don’t see anything wrong with Mullin’s quote. You don’t have to look very hard to see people appropriating certain parts of Scripture for their own purposes, but putting aside others they don’t like.

I don’t see helping the poor as an option for Christians. It shouldn’t be something we should be unsure about. Jesus announced blessing to the poor with the advent of the Kingdom, and being Kingdom people, we should demonstrate those blessings. I see that sort of demonstration as part and parcel with the proclamation of the Gospel.

181   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:23 pm

When Jesus was speaking to the Rich Young Ruler, he was exposing him by the law to his need. He exposed this one rich young ruler that He loved money- more so than God. He trusted his wealth and his possessions more than he trusted God. He was exposed in the area of the 1st, 2nd, and 10th commandment at the very least. He needed a new heart, he needed to lay it all down and follow Christ.

The universal application is that there is at least one area of the law we have all failed in. We are therefore guilty of it all. We must be born again to have our lawbreaking forgiven, our sins washed clean.

It does not happen simply by purchasing fair trade coffee. You would really need to be a rich young ruler to do that consistently.

182   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Jesus was a Lutheran – who knew?

183   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I don’t see helping the poor as an option for Christians. It shouldn’t be something we should be unsure about. Jesus announced blessing to the poor with the advent of the Kingdom, and being Kingdom people, we should demonstrate those blessings. I see that sort of demonstration as part and parcel with the proclamation of the Gospel.

Phil, I agree 100% but the Rich Ruler passage is not about the need for charity and Mullins for one is guilty of eisegeting instead of exegeting in this one instance. It’s not an either / or. There are plenty of other places in the Bible which speak to the issue of helping the poor (cf. Matt 24:31-46) and I agree there are many evangelical bodies that are woefully lacking in this regard. I can gladly say that my local church is not one of those and that we have an entire ministry with paid staff whose primary function is to share Christ by meeting physical needs.

184   Tim    
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:47 pm

John,
You can’t possibly claim that the teaching of Christ in Luke 18 is universally applicable and then claim its only applied to people who have that particular sin issue. Its a dodge. The same dodge that RM is addressing directly.

There’s plenty of other passages we could reference that demonstrate that a Christ follower owns nothing. We don’t own our time, money, or even our own bodies. But, not to worry, those passages don’t apply to us, we’ve used cogent arguments, logic and grammar to make sure of it.

185   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I understand that Rich Mullins lived basically a voluntary life of poverty. I can respect him for living out his beliefs and in challenging others to get their actions more in line with scripture.

186   Tim    
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:50 pm

It does not happen simply by purchasing fair trade coffee. You would really need to be a rich young ruler to do that consistently.

Sounds like you love your money more than the poor.

187   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:51 pm

You can’t possibly claim that the teaching of Christ in Luke 18 is universally applicable and then claim its only applied to people who have that particular sin issue. Its a dodge.

Again, Tim have you sold all your possessions and given them to the poor?

188   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:58 pm

21And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

22When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Tim this is all about a lack in this young man — what was keeping HIM from Christ. It is not an admonition from Jesus to feed to poor as noble as that is, and is indeed commanded in numerous other places in Scripture.

The lesson is the dangers of idolatry. The general lesson is universal in its application. The specific of selling all one’s goods is specific to this individual and perhaps anyone else with this same idol in their lives.

If you are going to take this literally then you are foced to sell ALL. There is no inbetween if you are going the literalist / universal route. Sell ALL.

Have you sold ALL Tim?

189   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 1:59 pm

You are welcome to come by and look at my checkbook.

190   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:05 pm

186 Tim – Sounds like you love your money more than the poor.

Wow. How can you make that statement of PB? How do you know how much PB gives away?

And what made the purchase of fair trade coffey the hallmark of a true believer?

191   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:10 pm

You must be born (spiritually) again is universal and literal. Jesus did not say anthing about being physically reborn again. That was Nicademus’ erroneous assumption. I take the words of Jesus here both literally and universal in their application.

ok, this argument is as funny as it is trivial. in making your claim that you take the text literally, you insert a parenthetical word so we know it is spiritual, not physical birth.

that is sorta like saying jesus said “i am the (spiritual) door…” and i take him literally.

the text quotes jesus as saying “you must be born again.” nicodemus took him literally and was thoroughly confused.

192   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:15 pm
It does not happen simply by purchasing fair trade coffee. You would really need to be a rich young ruler to do that consistently. – pboy

Sounds like you love your money more than the poor.

tim, he’s just being a troll.

193   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:19 pm
You can’t possibly claim that the teaching of Christ in Luke 18 is universally applicable and then claim its only applied to people who have that particular sin issue. Its a dodge. – tim

Again, Tim have you sold all your possessions and given them to the poor? – john

seriously john? AGAIN, you take the word “universal” and insert the meaning “literal.”

or in princess bride terms: “‘universal’” – you keep using that word… i do not think it means what you think it means.”

194   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:21 pm

And what made the purchase of fair trade coffey the hallmark of a true believer?

just re-read this thread…

i used it as an illustration, and ever since pboy has used it to troll for reactions… arguing against a point NO ONE has ever made.

195   Tim    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:27 pm

That statement is rather easily made. He clearly thinks that paying an additional $1 per 12 ounces of coffee to take care of coffee farmers instead of padding the bottom line of multinational corporations instead of poor coffee farmers.

This is by far the easiest thing you can do to, not even give charity to the poor, but to give them a fair wage for working. And Johnboy can’t even bring himself to do that. Instead he pours contempt on those that do.

196   Tim    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Again, your highlighter is out. This isn’t about a lack in a single young man. it is about the universally applicable principle that if you follow Christ you own nothing. But get our your highlighters again, this is only about that one guy, and maybe one or two people today.

197   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:32 pm

tim,

i think pboy has a concern for the poor.

but he cannot, or will not, a) overcome his impulse to ridicule those who do not share his methods and b) get past his modernist systematic.

the two become self-feeding.

198   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:36 pm

This is by far the easiest thing you can do to, not even give charity to the poor, but to give them a fair wage for working. And Johnboy can’t even bring himself to do that. Instead he pours contempt on those that do.

I just prefer to take the savings and give it to organizations like CAMA who share the Gospel and help the poor with wells, buildings, and work that they can do to earn a fair wage.

Helping the poor does not save you or them. It is evidence of a saving faith.

199   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:40 pm

pboy, your comments are often one line… one thought too long. not that you final thoughts are wrong, they are just grandstandingly irrelevant.

involvement in organizations like CAMA is great, and i would never mock it.

200   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Neil,

I have explained my position the best I can. Sorry we can’t get on the same page. At the end of the passage Jesus had established that He was speaking of things spiritual and had corrected Nicademus’ misconception. So when I say this should be taken literally I am looking at the whole passage in which again Nicademus misconception was corrected. The discourse between the two had a beginning, middle and end which make up a whole. “You must be born again” is to be taken literally understanding the application is in the spiritual realm.

I cannot state my position any clearer.

It is interesting to note that Tim is given a free pass on his ability to look into someone’s heart (PB’s) when others would be met with “who made you the Holy Spirit?” under similar circumstances, PB’s trolling aside.

Also Tim’s refusal to answer the question “have you sold all” speaks volumes. He is the one promoting a literal interpretation universally applicable.

Your quibbeling over the definitions of universal and literal ignore the issuse that such matters are not so black / white /absolute and that there are different nuiances at play in the application of such concepts (i.e., it is possible to be universally applicable [there is a lesson or application to be gained in some form or manner for all] while only having a literal application to a select few).

201   Tim    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:48 pm

That’s not what you said before Johnboy. What you said is that you have to be a rich young ruler to support poor working farmers in this way. Clearly that’s not the case at all. But don’t let reality get in the way of a good hate.

202   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:54 pm

This isn’t about a lack in a single young man. it is about the universally applicable principle that if you follow Christ you own nothing.

Tim, you may be surprised to know that I happen to agree with your premise, it’s just that IMO you cannot legitimately arrive there from the story of the rich young ruler. You can from other scriptures, but not that one.

203   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:59 pm

i think pboy has a concern for the poor. but he cannot, or will not, overcome his impulse to ridicule those who do not share his methods – Neil speaking of PB

I think Tim is exhibiting the same type of prejudice and distain for those who do not support his pet charity, just from the other end of the spectrum.

204   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I cannot state my position any clearer.

i understand you position. and it is a trivial disagreement… but i disagree that you can say you take jesus’ words literally when, you yourself, insert a word that he did not say – and you do so to make the distinction between literal birth and spiritual birth.

but this is all very tangential to the real discussion.

205   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 3:08 pm

It is interesting to note that Tim is given a free pass on his ability to look into someone’s heart (PB’s) when others would be met with “who made you the Holy Spirit?” under similar circumstances, PB’s trolling aside.

he was not given a free pass – i addressed his comments.

206   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Your quibbeling over the definitions of universal and literal ignore the issuse that such matters are not so black / white /absolute and that there are different nuiances at play in the application of such concepts…

i think it more than quibbling that i object to you inserting the meaning of literal into universal.

i saw where tim argued for it being universal… has he said it needed to be applied literally?

207   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I think Tim is exhibiting the same type of prejudice and distain for those who do not support his pet charity, just from the other end of the spectrum.

tim has not repreatedly mocked an illutrative application of the op text. nor has he repeatyedly trolled for reactions by arguing against points no one is making. further, has tim even mentioned a specific charity?

no, there is no comparison between someone who argues a point and someone who mocks.

208   Christian P    http://www.churchvoices.com
February 23rd, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I’m going to interject here because I’m confused. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been more confused in a conversation on here than I am now. I’ve been following this thread (more closely than I normally follow threads) and it appears that John is trying to have an earnest conversation and that he’s being condemned for it.

Tim, I liked some of your initial posts, but you haven’t explained them very much. Maybe you shouldn’t have to, but it would help me understand better if you did.

About the John 3 passage, the Greek translated “again” also means “from above.” Obviously Nick understood it to mean “again” and this is why it is translated as “again.” However, Jesus condemns him for not being able to understand even after Jesus explains that one has to be born of the water and the Spirit. There’s quite a bit more word play going on in this passage that I don’t have the technical ability to parse. I think John’s point is valid that in the context, Jesus’ command here is to be taken literally. We are all to be literally born of the Spirit. It is a literal spiritual rebirth.

209   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Neil,

I am not defending PB’s behavior just for the record.

Neil: Tim and the coffee co-opt thing.

Tim I think you have been mocking and distaining to PB if not to the same degree and your support of the coffee thing borders on the extreme IMO.

210   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 4:01 pm

i saw where tim argued for it being universal… has he said it needed to be applied literally? – Neil

I find it interesting that the command to the rich young ruler and the teaching given to Nicodemus are viewed as being fundamentally different. Both are given to individuals, in fact, and both are essentially the same teaching:

BTW, in terms of universal application the only way you can avoid the lesson the rich young man was given by Jesus is by claiming that salvation comes to him in a unique way, a way in which it doesn’t come to us.

211   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Tim I think you have been mocking and distaining to PB if not to the same degree and your support of the coffee thing borders on the extreme IMO.

i agree that tim mocked pb’s trolling… and although i did not “call him on it” i did offer correction.

as for the fair trade – all i did was offer it as an example. and even then it was in the title of the post, it is never mentioned in the body. jerry and rick did not see the point of it, so i offered follow up explanations and motivations.

at no time have i offered it as something that must be done to earn salvation – as pboy has trolled…

at no time have i even said it is something that believers must do to prove their faith…

in fact, i even went to so far as to say it was insufficient if that was all believers did.

to me it is just an illustration of something simple and effective.

212   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 4:17 pm

john,

we’ve gotten way to deep into a tangent, and it’s probably best we not argue over what someone else means… particularly when they are part of the conversation themselves.

if you take jesus literally when he says “you must be born again” – then i can see why you would look at tim’s use of the rich young man the same way.

though even in your tim quotes in 210 i do not see him even implying that he thinks it should be literally applied today.

perhaps introducing the mullins quote was a mistake by tim – particularly when the quote is probably more about selective application of scripture than it is about riches or salvation.

213   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 4:20 pm

#208 – Hurray. At least one other person can follow my logic. I’m not totally crazy. :-)

#211 – at no time have i offered it as something that must be done to earn salvation – as pboy has trolled…

Neil, I have never said you have indicated you believe this. I only stated with was the logical extrapolation of Tim’s comments not yours.

I have found you to be very balanced and ever the gentleman. I was just puzzled you could not understand my position, or follow my logic, even if you disagreed with it. :-)

214   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 4:24 pm

i follow your logic, i just do not agree with it… nor do i find it a natural extrapolation of tim’s comments.

215   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
February 23rd, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I like Pop-Tarts!

216   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Fair enough.

217   John Hughes    
February 23rd, 2011 at 4:41 pm

215 – Me too! Blueberry. No frosting.

218   Neil    
February 23rd, 2011 at 4:54 pm

seriously john? no frosting? everyone knows it is the frosting that makes it.

219   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 23rd, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Is there any such thing as fair trade pop tarts?

220   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 24th, 2011 at 5:13 am

I eat anything I should and many things I shouldn’t. However, I never ask where it came from or how it was harvested/made for conscience sake. :cool:

Pop Tarts = Love em’ but shouldn’t eat em’. (diabetes and all that jazz)

221   John Hughes    
February 24th, 2011 at 11:27 am

In all seriousness I think Tim is to be commended for his concern for the poor and the avenue(s) he has chosen to become directly involved. I think we could all take a riff off of Paul’s statement that he did not care what the motive was for preaching Christ, just that Christ was preached. In the same way we all (hopefully) have our favorite charities. May we not disparage anyone for their choice but rejoice that our each other’s faith is being put into action. And may we all reassess our giving in light of God’s word and act accordingly as the Spirit directs.

Being living proof of a loving God to a watching world.

222   John Hughes    
February 24th, 2011 at 11:32 am

Tim,

Although we may disagree on some things I apologize if I ever crossed the line in any of our discussions. Hey, on the bright side I got to use the word for the day “cogent” in a legitimate sentence.

223   Tim    
February 24th, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Tim, you may be surprised to know that I happen to agree with your premise, it’s just that IMO you cannot legitimately arrive there from the story of the rich young ruler. You can from other scriptures, but not that one.

This is not about one man’s lack. The command Jesus gives to him is found no where in the Old Testament. The OT commands the poor should be taken care of, forbids usury, as well as several other broad categories of favoring the poor, but no where does it command selling all and giving it to the poor.

If you want to take the view that Jesus saw what he wouldn’t give up and attacked exactly that you run into a few problems. The first being that you don’t see Jesus departing from the teaching of scripture in order to lay burdens on people anywhere else in scripture (not to mention the general problems such an action by Jesus would bring with it). Usually you see Jesus returning to scripture to lift burdens from people, but even when he gives a strong rebuke to the Pharisees over their careful tithing of seeds while overlooking justice and mercy he doesn’t depart from scripture in order to lay a bigger burden on them.

However, if you take the view I have advocated, that this is really about separating the sections of your life into “God’ and “me” categories it makes more sense. There’s a plethora of scriptural admonitions about God not wanting sacrifices but wanting hearts. The command Jesus gives to this young man fits into these sorts of admonitions. He has kept the law (at least in his own mind) but has reserved the rest of his life away strictly for himself, away from God. Similarly to an attitude that says “well I gave my 10%, I gave God that hour on Sunday, now I’m spending my money and time how I want”.

BTW, I just started a new position so my time online is very limited, which is why my postings will usually be once or twice daily.

224   Tim    
February 24th, 2011 at 1:46 pm

JH,
Concerning fair trade coffee I wrote earlier:

I have no problem if someone rejects this particular way to offset consumerism if they have some sort of objection to what it does or an opinion on a better way to accomplish the same thing.

I was addressing Johnboy’s reaction to people who do endorse fair trade coffee, and his general “yeah but” attitude towards any sort of help for the poor.

Frankly, I was responding to foolishness with foolishness. We all know that he can’t resist knee jerk response that is the polar opposite of whatever a writer here writes, and so I simply took his response literally instead of relying on the subtext that we’ve all come to know and love to illustrate how stupid that response he left was.

I would note, also, that Johnboy for all his complaints has yet to address how consumerism should be dealt with, a one off donation to a charity of your choice does nothing to address the disease of stuff.

225   John Hughes    
February 24th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

This is not about one man’s lack.

In one way it is. However, in the context of the story Jesus expands it to the rich in general. The rich are all susceptable to this particular idol of having faith (trust and reliance) in their money instead of God.

The command Jesus gives to him is found no where in the Old Testament.>

But neither is it found anywhere else in the New Testament and it’s absence from the Epistles is significant. As a general rule important biblical doctines are repeated. That this one was not tends to support my view that this is a very narrowly honed admonition on the first level, but which does have a wider application in the general admonition against idolatry of any kind.

The first being that you don’t see Jesus departing from the teaching of scripture in order to lay burdens on people anywhere else in scripture

First, this is a command to this young man. You cannot escape that. 2nd, in the final analysis Jesus is attempting to lift a burden off this man not add to them. Given that this requirement is no where repeated in Scripture it cannot be considered universally proscriptive, except perhaps for the rich in general as is discussed in the same passage. It is in the same family of sayings such as when Jesus advised that it would be better to cut off one’s hand if that was keeping you from Heaven and go through life maimed than miss out on an eternity with God.

226   John Hughes    
February 24th, 2011 at 5:17 pm

However, if you take the view I have advocated, that this is really about separating the sections of your life into “God’ and “me” categories it makes more sense. There’s a plethora of scriptural admonitions about God not wanting sacrifices but wanting hearts.

I really agree with this statement, but again, at best, I think this particular Scripture is tangent to the support of that concept and has another more direct message of addressing the idols in one’s life, i.e., the dangers of idols is Jesus main thrust and the example at hand just happens to be the idol of a rich young man.

P.S. Bonus points for accurate use of the word “plethora”. :-)

227   John Hughes    
February 24th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Tim,

Congratulations on your new position and for being employed! I sneak in breaks. I’ll go for days and not really reply to things and then go on a binge.

228   Neil    
February 25th, 2011 at 12:35 am

i suppose a vigorous debate on the meaning of a passage can be fun and instructive. assuming it ends, as this one is, with everyone being “friends.”

the bottom line is that god’s concern for the poor and oppressed is a major theme throughout the bible… enough so that jesus used it as illustrative of the mark of a believer.

229   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
February 25th, 2011 at 8:40 am

Consumerism is not a sin, it is evidence of a coveteous heart. It is unregenerate men doing what unregenerate men do. If a person who claims to be a Christian is still worshiping stuff, and other brothers are in want, he is not evidencing Christ very well is he?

230   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 25th, 2011 at 9:18 am

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.

The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

I suggest that one who lays up treasures is not rich towrd God. That is my reading of that verse (and others)

231   Neil    
February 25th, 2011 at 11:14 am

Consumerism is not a sin, it is evidence of a coveteous heart.

the difficulty is defining “consumerism.” a person cannot survive without consuming… when does it tip to consumerism?

232   Neil    
February 25th, 2011 at 11:18 am

If a person who claims to be a Christian is still worshiping stuff, and other brothers are in want, he is not evidencing Christ very well is he?

according to the parable of the sheep and goats – no, he is not. that was my point from the beginning.

that and pointing out how often the whole goat thing is applied, not towards someone’s lack of advocating for the poor and oppressed… but toward someone’s teaching and style.

i would add, the parable does not limit the behavior to just “other brothers [who] are in want” – as if we are only responsible to those w/i the flock. they are our first priority, but certainly not the only concern.

233   Neil    
February 25th, 2011 at 11:52 am

I suggest that one who lays up treasures is not rich towrd God. That is my reading of that verse (and others)

is this absolute or relative? is it a prohibition against savings accounts and ira’s – or a warning regarding attitude?

234   Tim    
February 25th, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I think the -ism on the end of consumer defines it. Consuming becomes a way of life, the reason for working and earning, and the ultimate dream for what you do you run into idolatry.

235   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 25th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Additionally, consuming necessities is different than consuming things that appeal to the flesh.

236   Neil    
February 25th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Additionally, consuming necessities is different than consuming things that appeal to the flesh.

true, but i would not say that “consuming things that appeal to the flesh” is always bad either.

unless by “flesh” you mean “sinful nature” – so that the phrase would be “consuming things that appeal to the sinful nature.” then i would agree.

but i think there more options than “necessities” and “sinful nature desires.”