Skip to comments.Christian Atheism
Posted on 06/28/2008 9:38:51 AM PDT by annalex
The title for this post sounds like an oxymoron, and, of course, it is. How can one be both an atheist and a Christian? Again, I am wanting to push the understanding of the one-versus-two-storey universe. In the history of religious thought, one of the closest versions to what I am describing as a “two-storey” world-view, is that espoused by classical Deism (the philosophy espoused by a number of the American founding fathers).
They had an almost pure, two-storey worldview. God, “the Deity,” had created the universe in the beginning, setting it in motion. He had done so in such a way that the world could be described as directed by His Providence, but not in any sense interfered with after its creation. Thomas Jefferson produced a New Testament, wholly in tune with this philosophy. He expunged all reference to miracle and kept only those things he considered to have a purpose in “moral teaching.” The creator had accomplished His work: it was up to us to conform ourselves to His purposes and morality - which were pretty indistinguishable from natural law. If you read the writings of the period it’s much more common to read Providence where a Christian might put God. Many modern evangelicals mistakenly read such statements as Christian.
Functionally, other than having some notion of an original Creator, Deists were practical atheists. The God Who created had completed His work. Ethics were as much a matter of scientific discovery as any other principle of physics. They believed in something they called “God” or “Providence” but only in a very divorced sense. It would be hard to distinguish their thought from that of an atheist except that they clung to an idea of God at least as the initiator of all things.
I have here introduced the notion of “practical atheism,” meaning by it, that although a person may espouse a belief in God, it is quite possible for that belief to be so removed from everyday life, that God’s non-existence would make little difference.
Surprisingly, I would place some forms of Christian fundamentalism within this category (as I have defined it). I recall a group affiliated with some particular Church of Christ, who regularly evangelized our apartment complex when I lived in Columbia, S.C. They were also a constant presence on the campus of the local university. They were absolute inerrantists on the subject of the Holy Scriptures. They were equally adamant that all miracles had ceased with the completion of the canon of the New Testament. Christians today only relate to God through the Bible.
Such a group can be called “Biblicists,” or something, but, in the terminology I am using here, I would describe them as “practical atheists.” Though they had great, even absolutist, faith in the Holy Scriptures, they had no relationship with a God who is living and active and directly involved in their world. Had their notion of a God died, and left somebody else in charge of His heaven, it would not have made much difference so long as the rules did not change.
I realize that this is strong criticism, but it is important for us to understand what is at stake. The more the secular world is exalted as secular, that is, having an existence somehow independent of God, the more we will live as practical atheists - perhaps practical atheists who pray (but for what do we pray?). I would also suggest that the more secular the world becomes for Christians, the more political Christians will become. We will necessarily resort to the same tools and weapons as those who do not believe.
Christianity that has purged the Church of the sacraments, and of the sacramental, have only ideas which can be substituted - the result being the eradication of God from the world in all ways other than theoretical. Of course, since much of modern Christianity functions on this ideological level rather than the level of the God-Who-is among-us, much of Christianity functions in a mode of practical atheism. The more ideological the faith, the more likely its proponents are to expouse what amounts to a practical atheism.
Orthodox Christianity, with its wealth of dogma and Tradition, could easily be translated into this model - and I have encountered it in such a form. But it is a falsification of Orthodoxy. Sacraments must not be quasi-magical moments in which a carefully defined grace is transmitted to us - they must, instead, threaten to swallow up the whole world. The medieval limitation of sacraments to the number 7 comes far too close to removing sacraments from the world itself. Orthodoxy seems to have declared that there are 7 sacraments solely as a response to Western Reform and Catholic arguments. In some sense, everything is a sacrament - the whole world is a sacrament.
However, if we only say that the whole world is a sacrament, soon nothing will be a sacrament. Thus the sacraments recognized as such by the Church, should serve not just for pointing to themselves, but also pointing to God and to everything around us. Holy Baptism should change all water. The Cross should change all trees, etc. But Baptism gives the definition: water does not define Baptism. Neither do trees define the Cross. Nor does man define Christ. Christ defines what it is to be human, etc.
The more truly sacramental becomes the Christian life, the more thoroughly grounded it is in the God-Who-is-among-us. Such a God is indeed, “everywhere present and filling all things.” Our options are between such a God - as proclaimed in the New Testament - or a God who need be no God at all for He is removed from us anyway.
At the Divine Liturgy, before approaching the Communion Cup, Orthodox Christians pray together:
I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ the Son of the living God who camest into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. I believe also that this is truly Thine own most pure Body, and that this is truly Thine own precious Blood. Therefore, I pray Thee: have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, committed in knowledge or in ignorance. And make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Thy most pure Mysteries, for the remission of my sins, and unto life everlasting. Amen.
There is not a single hint of a distance between us and God. At this point, having prepared for communion, having confessed our sins, we stand at the very center of the universe, before the God Who Is, before the God with Whom Moses conversed on Mt. Sinai, and we receive His true Body and Blood.
Such realism of a first-storey character makes bold claims about the nature of the God whom we worship and how it is that we relate to Him. It’s removal from the “end of miracles” deism of some Biblicists could not be more complete.
There is a dialog that may take place between Christians and atheists. But there is, prior to that, an even more important dialog to be had, and that is with the practical atheism of Christians who have exiled God from the world around us. Such practical atheism is a severe distortion of the Christian faith and an extremely poor substitute for the real thing.
Richard John Neuhaus has written frequently of returning the Church to the public square. I think the problem is far deeper. In many cases we have to speak about returning God to the Church. In cases where practical atheism is the faith of a goup of “believers,” their presence in the public square makes no difference. Who cares?
But within the Orthodox faith, God cannot be exiled from our world no matter how men try. He has come among us, and not at our invitation. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He is already in the Public Square as the Crucified God who is reconciling the world to Himself, whether we like it or not. The opposite of practical atheism is to do the only thing the Christianity of the first-storey can do: keep His commandments and fall down and worship - for God is with us.
My spiritual life has the same limitations I describe generally in the American middle class.
God bless us, everyone.
I have enjoyed reading your observations of Fr. Stephen’s comments since you both come at faith and religion from a different place than he does, or I do for that matter. There is very little similarity between Post Enlightenment (not necessarily Post Reformation) Protestant thinking and that of Orthodoxy. Three hundred million Eastern Christians, at least, think about the role of The Faith in individuals and society in a way that the Founders as products of the Enlightenment would never recognize. From an Orthodox point of view, they were indeed “practical atheists”. Let me give you one example, in Orthodoxy the concept of a God ordained Emperor is firmly entrenched. This isn’t to say that Orthodoxy is incompatible with democratic principles, by the way. The Founders would never accept the spiritual or social acceptability of a God ordained Emperor.
“I believe it is a very interesting piece and the part that annalex highlighted speaks volumes about current iconoclast tendencies and the limits put on the Holy Trinity by many Christians who rebel against the Church.”
The old heresies and quite a number of new, soul destroying ones, have spread epidemic like since the Enlightenment and now its an even bet if they will destroy Western culture. The Evil One is the greatest liar. He has convinced the West that he doesn’t exist and at the same time has also convinced Westerners that government or individuals within it, sua sponte, can save or destroy the culture, which, to me at least, is absurd.
True. There is really no practical difference between a pantheist, a deist, and an atheist. Exponents of monism (a kind of pantheism) sound like raving atheists most of the time. Deists sound like raving atheists when they talk about religion. In this regard it is interesting to examine the history of theology in 19th century Britain. We see Christians slowly giving up their Christian identity, and adopting the phraseology and posturing of deists and monists. And in some cases ridiculing "old-fashioned" stuff like piety and devotion Why? I suppose they wanted to seem hip with the times. Monism and Deism were identified with a new hip scientifically enlightened attitude. Miracles were out, chemistry and the periodic table were in. Forget the 10 commandments, we have Boyle's law. Science, scientists, and those who talked like scientists were the new idols and prophets. The 19th century was certainly one of the darkest eras of theology and human thought in general. We are inheritors of their problems.
“In this regard it is interesting to examine the history of theology in 19th century Britain. We see Christians slowly giving up their Christian identity, and adopting the phraseology and posturing of deists and monists.”
Yet there were also, in those days in England, great theologians, patristic theologians really, bishops like J.C. Ryle, who likely would have agreed with your observation, btw.
As for reaping today what was sowed then, I think you are exactly right, but our problems in the West go back further than the 19th century, to the enlightenment at least.
I concur with your observation and the author’s regarding Deism vs. atheism.
I also assert those who lay claim to deism come closer to supporting an antiChristian belief, in its early stages than simple faith alone through Christ alone.
I suspect there was a time when many freemasons were Christian and sought to perform good works with fellow brethren, and this was possible still through faith in Christ. Today, I know very few masons whom even associate outwardly with Christ, and most are vocally antiChristian.
The largest impediment in the builder’s craft/art has been to succomb to their works independent of faith in Christ alone, but instead upon their own works and brethren’ first. While in its initial stages with the Founding Fathers, such a system might seem humanly good, it ostentatiously reveals its lack of divine good in its later stages of degeneracy.
A person doesn't have to look any further than the Constitutions of the original States to understand the mood of the people as a whole and how much they believed in state's rights. That is why there is so little mention of Christianity in the Federal Constitution.
Here is some samples with just a little bit of digging on the net. If I can find this info, how come no one else seems to have a clue? Maybe it is because they know they have to get rid of God to get rid of those pesky God given rights in the Constitution!
" I, A B. will bear true allegiance to the Delaware State, submit to its constitution and laws, and do no act wittingly whereby the freedom thereof may be prejudiced."
And also make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit:
" I, A B. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration."
And all officers shall also take an oath of office
XVIII. That no person shall ever, within this Colony, be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping Almighty God in a manner, agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; nor, under any presence whatever, be compelled to attend any place of worship, contrary to his own faith and judgment; nor shall any person, within this Colony, ever be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or any other rates, for the purpose of building or repairing any other church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right, or has deliberately or voluntarily engaged himself to perform.
XIX. That there shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this Province, in preference to another; and that no Protestant inhabitant of this Colony shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right, merely on account of his religious principles; but that all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect. who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government, as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature, and shall fully and freely enjoy every privilege and immunity, enjoyed by others their fellow subjects.
XXXII.(5) That no person, who shall deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.
XXXVIII. That all persons and religious societies who acknowledge that there is one God, and a future state of rewards and punishments, and that God is publicly to be worshipped, shall be freely tolerated. The Christian Protestant religion shall be deemed, and is hereby constituted and declared to be, the established religion of this State. That all denominations of Christian Protestants in this State, demeaning themselves peaceably and faithfully, shall enjoy equal religious and civil privileges. To accomplish this desirable purpose without injury to the religious property of those societies of Christians which are by law already incorporated for the purpose of religious worship, and to put it fully into the power of every other society of Christian Protestants, either already formed or hereafter to be formed, to obtain the like incorporation, it is hereby constituted, appointed, and declared that the respective societies of the Church of England that are already formed in this State for the purpose of religious worship shall still continue incorporate and hold the religious property now in their possession. And that whenever fifteen or more male persons, not under twenty-one years of age, professing the Christian Protestant religion, and agreeing to unite themselves In a society for the purposes of religious worship, they shall, (on complying with the terms hereinafter mentioned,) be, and be constituted a church, and be esteemed and regarded in law as of the established religion of the State, and on a petition to the legislature shall be entitled to be incorporated and to enjoy equal privileges. That every society of Christians so formed shall give themselves a name or denomination by which they shall be called and known in law, and all that associate with them for the purposes of worship shall be esteemed as belonging to the society so called. But that previous to the establishment and incorporation of the respective societies of every denomination as aforesaid, and in order to entitle them thereto, each society so petitioning shall have agreed to and subscribed in a book the following five articles, without which no agreement fir union of men upon presence of religion shall entitle them to be incorporated and esteemed as a church of the established religion of this State:
1st. That there is one eternal God, and a future state of rewards and punishments.
2d. That God is publicly to be worshipped.
3d. That the Christian religion is the true religion
4th. That the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are of divine inspiration, and are the rule of faith and practice.
5th. That it is lawful and the duty of every man being thereunto called by those that govern, to bear witness to the truth.
And that every inhabitant of this State, when called to make an appeal to God as a witness to truth, shall be permitted to do it in that way which is most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience. And that the people of this State may forever enjoy the right of electing their own pastors or clergy, and at the same time that the State may have sufficient security for the due discharge of the pastoral office, by those who shall be admitted to be clergymen, no person shall officiate as minister of any established church who shall not have been chosen by a majority of the society to which he shall minister, or by persons appointed by the said majority, to choose and procure a minister for them; nor until the minister so chosen and appointed shall have made and subscribed to the following declaration, over and above the aforesaid five articles, viz: "That he is determined by God's grace out of the holy scriptures, to instruct the people committed to his charge, and to teach nothing as required of necessity to eternal salvation but that which he shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved from the scripture; that he will use both public and private admonitions, as well to the sick as to the whole within his cure, as need shall require and occasion shall be given, and that he will be diligent in prayers, and in reading of the same; that he will be diligent to frame and fashion his own self and his family according to the doctrine of Christ, and to make both himself and them, as much as in him lieth, wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ; that he will maintain and set forwards, as much as he can, quietness, peace, and love among all people, and especially among those that are or shall be committed to lids charge. No person shall disturb or molest any religious assembly; nor shall use any reproachful, reviling, or abusive language against any church, that being the certain way of disturbing the peace, and of hindering the conversion of any to the truth, by engaging them in quarrels and animosities, to the hatred of the professors, and that profession which otherwise they might be brought to assent to. To person whatsoever shall speak anything in their religious assembly irreverently or seditiously of the government of this State. No person shall, by law, be obliged to pay towards the maintenance and support of a religious worship that he does not freely join in, or has not voluntarily engaged to support. But the churches, chapels, parsonages, globes, and all other property now belonging to any societies of the Church of England, or any other religious societies, shall remain and be secured to them forever. The poor shall be supported, and elections managed in the accustomed manner, until laws shall be provided to adjust those matters in the most equitable way.
III. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship ALMIGHTY GOD, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding, regulated by the word of GOD; and that no man ought, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any minister, contrary to the dictates of his conscience; nor can any man who professes the protestant religion, be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right, as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiment, or peculiar mode of religious worship, and that no authority can, or ought to be vested in, or assumed by, any power whatsoever, that shall, in any case, interfere with, or in any manner controul, the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship: nevertheless, every sect or denomination of people ought to observe the Sabbath, or the Lord's day, and keep up, and support, some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of GOD.
SECTION IX. A quorum of the house of representatives shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of members elected; and having met and chosen their speaker, shall, each of them, before they proceed to business, take and subscribe, as well the oath of fidelity and allegiance herein after directed, as the following oath or affirmation, viz.
" I ____ do solemnly swear, by the ever living God, (or, I do solemnly affirm in the presence of Almighty God) that as a member of this assembly, I will not propose or assent to any bill, vote, or resolution, which shall appear to me injurious to the people; nor do or consent to any act or thing whatever, that shall have a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and privileges, as declared in the Constitution of this State; but will, in all things' conduct myself as a faithful, honest representative and guardian of the people, according to the best of my judgment and abilities."
And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz.
" I ____ do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Diverse, the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the scriptures of the old and new testament to be given by divine inspiration, and own and profess the protestant religion."
And no further or other religious test shall ever, hereafter, be required of any civil officer or magistrate in this State.
SECTION XXVIII. That no person, shall be capable of holding any civil office, in this State, except he has acquired, and maintains a good moral character.
SECTION XLI. Laws for the encouragement of virtue and prevention of vice and immorality, shall be made and constantly kept in force; and provision shall be made for their due execution; and all religious societies or bodies of men, that have or may be hereafter united and incorporated, for the advancement of religion and learning, or for other pious and charitable purposes, shall be encouraged and protected in the enjoyment of the privileges, immunities and estates which they, in justice, ought to enjoy, under such regulations; as the General Assembly of this State shall direct.
SEC. 15. That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
SEC. 16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.
More clarification as to why ministers were more important as teachers of the gospel then to be in government.
XXI. And whereas the ministers of the gospel are by their profession dedicated to the service of God and the cure of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function, therefore no minister of the gospel or public preacher of any religious persuasion, while he continues in the exercise of his pastoral function, and for two years after, shall be eligible either as governor, lieutenant-governor, a member of the senate, house of representatives, or privy council in this State.
You will have a hard time finding a hint of deism or atheism in these people but it does show how well the brainwash media and education system has worked that few if any will ever hear of this..
I had to laugh when I found a site that stated that all of these mentions of Christianity only showed just how intolerant the founders were while trying to say we aren't a Judaeo-Christian nation..
The Western Civilization took a wrong turn about 500 years ago, with the Plague, the Reformation, and the abuses of absolute monarchy. We shall have to backtrack and find the right direction out of the Middle Age, I think. XIX c. was a mixed bag: for the root of the decay one has to go deeper back, and for the worst manifestation of the rot XXc was scarier.
Do you think that at any point out of the Middle Ages the Lodge was intentionally Christian?
I cannot speak for others, but I am certainly fully aware of the fact that "separation of Church and state" is a legal fiction from late 20c. Nevertheless, there is a two-storey mentality that permeates the Protestantism: the idea that man can be a good Christian by being a better cobbler. This is what Luther suggested when asked the question directly, -- what should a cobbler do to be saved?
Once Luther was asked by a shoe maker, Dr. Luther I am but a humble cobbler but I am grateful to God for Christs justifying work on my behalf what should I do in light of Christs great redemptive work?
Luther response, Make a better shoe.
Now, we can argue a long time on the merits of Luther's response, -- it has merits -- but it is demonstrably anti-Christian, because Christ taught the exact opposite. Well, He did not tel us to make bad shoes, but he told us that making shoes is a wrong preoccupation if you eye is on the Reward. The scriptural examples are too numerous to mention: "let your economic life be like the birds'"; "put your hand to the plow and don't look back even to bury your father"; "give what you havde to the poor and come follow me" (paraphrasing them all). Christ taught a one-storey life -- the Reformation created a two-storey one.
I don’t know about the Middle Age lodge and if it was intentionally Christian.
Interesting facet of faith is that one can state all the peripherals of faith while not being in fellowship, resulting in one simply further scarring their thinking processes in worldly counterfiet systems to what He provides.
Also pertinent to the discussion is to recognize the Adversary has well stated in his 5 “I wills” recorded in Isaiah 14, that he fully intends to make himself out to be God himself. Accordingly, if somebody states they are worshiping God, but refuse to worship Him through the only name provided by God Himself, for man to have a relationship to Him, then their God might very well be a counterfeit.
Meanwhile, a true believer through faith in Christ, might be immersed in any environment and still persevere in faith, being uncognizant of the intentional deception around him, and still perform good works through faith in Christ. It isn’t what goes into a man which defiled him, but what comes out of him.
The Templars were an order formed in secrecy to remain loyal and faithful to the Cross. Many may not have understood the significance of placing faith in worldly systems above faith in Christ, while others may have remained loyal to Christ in their actions although used as pawns in worldly systems.
In regards to the separation of Church and State, the phrase actually evolved several hundred years prior to out Declaration of Independence or Bill of Rights, Constitution, or Amendments thereof. I’ve traced it to a letter from a Lord to Queen Elizabeth I, which expressed it more in terms of the Enlightenment.
Much philosophy at the time began with definitions of parties, and here they were the “State” and the “Church”. It was recognized that different men became sanctified through faith in Christ in a continueing process, but different men began at different points in the sanctification process.
A question came to mind regarding how to govern justly when dealing with ‘good’ men. It was recognized that unbelievers would be criminal regardless their ethic if for no other reason than they rejected righteous Law. The Law then was understood to have come from two sources, one Divine and the other Man-made or Civic. The question was based upon identifying a situation where a ‘good’ man would seek to not only abide by the Law of God, but also by the laws of man. Whereas the Law of God was divinely inspired, the law of man was made to contain order amongst believers who may have begun their sanctification processes from differing points, hence plenty of room for difference in opinions.
It was recognized that a good man would seek to abide by both manmade and divine law. Yet it was conceivable that a conflict might arise by such a good man attempting to abide by both, but if they were inconsistent with one another, a question evolved as to how the discrepancy could be resolved in a manmade legal system. Hence the policy of Separation of Church and State.
The State, a system of manmade law, could not encroach upon the domain of Divine Law, while likewise the Church could not encroach upon the domain of manmade Law.
The object of the policy nevey admitted any right associated with any unbeliever. On the contrary, the entire emphasis of the policy was to recognize the true rights of a righteous man seeking to abide by both Church and State laws without being labeled criminal by either.
For example, since Scripture is quite clear regarding the criminal nature of homosexuality, the State would not have any authority to decriminalize such behavior, if for no other reason the separation of Church and State.
This is quite different that 20th century misinterpretation of the Constitution, beginning from an assumption that unbelief has more authority than belief in God’s Provision, thereby allowing a misidentification of privilege as right.
The Separation of Church and State extends back into the sixteenth century and arguably earlier.
The Separation of Church and State extends back into the sixteenth century and arguably earlier.
Agree on both. I would add that in American jurisprudence the non-establishment clause of the Constitution governs, and the separation of Church and State was a hypothesis put forth by Jefferson that never had a force of law. The American system was that religion -- primarily Protestant but with admixture of other faiths, including the Lodge -- was to inform the people who then, fortified in the knowledge of the moral law, would produce the civic law. The idea that people without faith would go into government was abhorrent to the Founding Fathers.
Strict separation of Church and state was more of a European radical idea.
Oy. Was this in the original piece? I printed it up and don’t remember reading the portion about Caesar and so on. I must be losing it it it was there.
I don’t think I can disagree with what he has put forward here. I admit I fail miserably at remembering our commission to share the good news.
Of course, if were only a perfect world....
Maybe if our government and leaders didn’t consider it “wacko” to do what we Christians do, we’d be a little more bold. Look at all the flack Bush received for saying that he listened to God and spoke to God, as if he were hearing voices similar to someone mentally unstable.
One can say any word in existence. Cursing is ubiquitous and accepted as the norm. But just say the precious name of “Jesus” and see what happens.
I think God uses the politics of the world for his purposes and so while Caesar will always be Caesar, that doesn’t mean we can’t work with or for Caesar to God’s good end (think Joseph and Pharaoh).
Annalex, you have this all wrong here.
When Luther responded that the cobbler should make a better shoe, the point was not that the cobbler’s eye would be on the shoe, but on how he could glorify God by using his God-given gifts to God’s glory. God is not a God of chaos, disorder, or ugliness. Thus, when we do our very best, we are honoring God and His gifts.
As for giving to the poor, what good is it for a man to give all his money away and then just sit up on a mountaintop or go into a monastery? What kind of blessing is that? I want to be self-sufficient and be able to HELP other people, not have it the other way around so that I am a drain on people.
And, for whatever it’s worth, I just visited a lovely exhibit here in Cleveland, “Vatican Treasures.” It is a nice grouping of antiquities and other art, as well as vestments, miters and other ornaments that were worn by various popes, etc. It was excellent, but if the Catholic church were to take the scripture you just quoted so seriously “give what you have to the poor and come follow me,” the vast treasures of jewels and such would have been sold long, long ago. I am not sure that is even what God wants. I don’t think the Church should have kept so much though. I have been to the Vatican and was somewhat aghast at the mountains of stuff. Why they don’t sell SOME of it is beyond me. However, Christ himself said the poor would always be among us so even if the Church sold everything, we’d end up right back where we are.
This is very complex and you know it (I know you know it because you are a deep thinker).
Christian and atheism are oxymornic.
Can’t exist, in my opinion.
If you go to the source, following the article there is a discussion. I reproduced parts of it at my post #10.
I cannot have it all wriong because I acknowledged that Luther has it partly right. Indeed it is a good idea to seek glory of God in what you do. But it is not all. Jesus answered the same question very differently. Let's listen:
17 ...a certain man running up and kneeling before him, asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may receive life everlasting? 18 And Jesus said to him, Why callest thou me good? None is good but one, that is God. 19 Thou knowest the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, bear not false witness, do no fraud, honour thy father and mother. 20 But he answering, said to him: Master, all these things I have observed from my youth. 21 And Jesus looking on him, loved him, and said to him: One thing is wanting unto thee: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. 22 Who being struck sad at that saying, went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.Sure the cobbler has an obligation to his wife, children, and aging parents; this is something he "has observed from his youth". Therefore, unless independently wealthy, he has to make a better shoe. Further, he can elevate his shoemaking into a oblation to the glory of God. But "one thing is wanting unto him": a complete surrender and singleminded dedication to the charity in the name of Christ. That is "one-storey" living. To be a cobbler Monday to Saturday and a Christina on Sunday is two-storey living.
29 ...Amen I say to you, there is no man who hath left house or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 Who shall not receive an hundred times as much, now in this time; houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions: and in the world to come life everlasting. (Mark 10, similar Luke 18)
It is meant to be provocative.
I continue to disagree with you on this. You are reading way too much into it, a common mistake among thinkers. And don’t forget that charity is not the only thing God asks of us. Again, as I said before, if one gives up everything to follow Christ, then how is he going to help anybody?
If my husband and I gave away everything we owned to the poor, who would feed and clothe us? If this happened and we had to become dependent on somebody for our care, how on earth would we be able to much of good for anyone?
I continue to strongly disagree with your point. I think it is foolish. I don’t think this is what our Lord meant. He knew what was in this man’s heart. Some people are so attached to their possessions that they are worthless to God, but, likewise, if one has nothing, he would have to become a nun or priest in order for “someone” to care for him; or be a beggar. Besides, if I gave up all I have, then I would not be a good wife to my husband and he would not be a good husband to me if he did the same. Remember, charity begins at home and there is also scripture that affirms that a man who does not take care of his family is worse than (my words) “pond scum.”
I am not implying in any sense that I am wonderful in this area, but I wonder if you own your own, or have a bank account with savings, or own a car and so on? If so, why have not you sold it all?
The point behind the scripture you cite regarding the righteous young man who refused to give up all that he had was that he was bragging that he was, in effect, sinless. Remember what his response was to the Lord, he said that he had done none of the things that were sins, but we know this cannot be true as no man is sinless.