HolyGround Christianity and wealth

8/20/12 7:55 PM
6/2/03
Posts: 10067
This thread is inspired by something Rev John said on another thread:

"a CEO shouldn't get over three hundred times what the average worker makes either. Jesus very clearly says you cannot serve God and money"

I am wondering who is to stop a CEO getting over three hundred times the wage of the average worker? Do those people voluntarily giving this wage to a CEO do something wrong? Does the CEO do something wrong in accepting what is freely given to him?
8/20/12 7:57 PM
6/2/03
Posts: 10068
Is it impossible to be rich without serving money (I assume that means letting it take over your life)?
8/20/12 9:24 PM
4/17/06
Posts: 4296
The matter, as with all things related to your faithfulness to Jesus, is what is in your heart? There is nothing wrong with earning 1000000000000000 x your employees if you use these resources - God's resources - to glorify God. That can mean an unlimited number of things, but if you hoard wealth and ignore the suffering of your hungry neighbor, then you are not serving God. Phone Post
8/21/12 11:57 PM
1/18/03
Posts: 16049
micmac - The matter, as with all things related to your faithfulness to Jesus, is what is in your heart? There is nothing wrong with earning 1000000000000000 x your employees if you use these resources - God's resources - to glorify God. That can mean an unlimited number of things, but if you hoard wealth and ignore the suffering of your hungry neighbor, then you are not serving God. Phone Post
THIS


You can be a slave of money, or make money your slave. Phone Post
8/22/12 9:28 PM
3/26/03
Posts: 13978
Not saying there is anything wrong with making a decent wage working. In our imperfect society, money is something that is needed to go about your business. But money easily can become your master, even when you think it's your slave.
8/23/12 7:14 AM
6/2/03
Posts: 10069
Money is merely a medium of exchange and a store of value. If you have something that lots of people value more than you value it yourself then you will naturally accumulate money in exchange for provision of that good or service.

How is this accumulation of money or things bought with money to be prevented without preventing people from seeking and gaining what they desire and what makes them happy? I suppose you could eliminate ownership, but in a world of limited resources that only leads to worse problems and allocation by queuing or by force or by political favour (i.e. force).
8/23/12 11:25 PM
4/18/02
Posts: 20818
This is a curious argument. I know this sounds like a joke, but is Tim Tebow going to hell for this reason?

Serious question...
8/23/12 11:33 PM
6/21/08
Posts: 4331
OneScoup, it's kind of a conundrum, because on the one hand some Christians would say Tebow is saved and will go to heaven if he has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. He evidences this belief in his life with his philanthropy and good works, and 'fruits of the spirit.'

On the other hand, well, he is rich and famous and probably keeps too much of his own money, so some would question whether he is really saved and just a part of the system of oppression that keeps down the poor and marginalized.

It's a question I have often asked on the forum: How much money is too much money? Where do we draw the line? Even the poor in American are luxuriously rich compared to the poor in Africa and Latin America and others parts of the Third World. Should the poor Americans give to the poorer people in other parts of the world?

I feel like those in the Bible who asked, 'Well, who is my neighbor?' I used to feel that once I became aware of a problem it was my responsibility to do something about it, even if it was sending cash or sponsoring poor children. When I didn't, I'd feel guilty about it. I'd feel guilty about having pizza and watching TV, or driving to work in my 5 year old used car, because you know, there were people who had no cars, or no shoes, and it was my responsibility to make sure they all had shoes or else I wasn't being a good Christian.

Oops, looks like my inner monologue has leaked out into my post. O_o Feel free to comment if you like.

Cheers!
8/24/12 12:58 PM
6/2/03
Posts: 10070
Grakman - OneScoup, it's kind of a conundrum, because on the one hand some Christians would say Tebow is saved and will go to heaven if he has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. He evidences this belief in his life with his philanthropy and good works, and 'fruits of the spirit.'

On the other hand, well, he is rich and famous and probably keeps too much of his own money, so some would question whether he is really saved and just a part of the system of oppression that keeps down the poor and marginalized.

It's a question I have often asked on the forum: How much money is too much money? Where do we draw the line? Even the poor in American are luxuriously rich compared to the poor in Africa and Latin America and others parts of the Third World. Should the poor Americans give to the poorer people in other parts of the world?

I feel like those in the Bible who asked, 'Well, who is my neighbor?' I used to feel that once I became aware of a problem it was my responsibility to do something about it, even if it was sending cash or sponsoring poor children. When I didn't, I'd feel guilty about it. I'd feel guilty about having pizza and watching TV, or driving to work in my 5 year old used car, because you know, there were people who had no cars, or no shoes, and it was my responsibility to make sure they all had shoes or else I wasn't being a good Christian.

Oops, looks like my inner monologue has leaked out into my post. O_o Feel free to comment if you like.

Cheers!

I don't see how someone keeping too much (how much is too much?) of their own money keeps down the poor and marginalised. Wealth is continuously being created. Having more money does not mean that someone else has less, provided that wealth was gained via mutually beneficial exchange rather than taking by force.
8/24/12 1:29 PM
6/2/03
Posts: 10071
Ridgeback -  The warnings of Jesus about people who thrive and prosper in this fallen world go well beyond merely saying "be careful if you want to be rich."  His warnings are much more dire and much more stern than that.  He appears to say that those who thrive under the "prince of this world" will find the Kingdom of Heaven to be a reality of suffering and torment because they have made themselves citizens of a fallen world marked by an ethic of power and self-love.  Hence the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

I'm struggling to see the reason behind this teaching. Is it ok if we try and fail, or only if we don't try at all? Wouldn't the world be a much worse place if people didn't accumulate capital and use it to create more wealth? Can't wealth be a good thing? After all if there is no wealth and we exist only in our original state of nature then what is there to give to the poor?
8/24/12 3:51 PM
3/26/03
Posts: 13984
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8/24/12 6:11 PM
6/21/08
Posts: 4333
Do you believe the Bible gord? If so how would you answer these questions:

How did Solomon get all of his wealth? Was he blessed by God or not?

How about Job, how did he become so prosperous? The Bible says that God had a hedge about him, and that Satan had to ask permission of God to attack Job and take away all of his earthly possessions. After all was said and done, the Bible says that God multiplied Job's blessings - more sheep, goats, land, children, etc, i.e. wealth - for remaining faithful.
8/24/12 6:15 PM
6/2/03
Posts: 10072
Is monasticism possible without a wealth generating culture to support it? If everyone turned to monasticism then the human race might cease to exist.

Religion is supported and maintained by culture. It is a cultural institution. Culture comes from capital and wealth generating potential.
8/24/12 6:54 PM
3/26/03
Posts: 13985
I hear ya Chance. I mentioned that I don't think everyone should be a monastic, nor do I advocate everyone should give away all their money. If they want to, that's great. If they don't then so be it. Monasticism is a special calling for those who desire it. It's definitely not for me! Using monasticism was just an example of the far end of the spectrum.

My main point is not the evils of wealth, but how it CAN hinder a person spiritually. That's all. I have no plans to give away all my money. My wife would kill me ;)

On a side note I would imagine a monastic community to be pretty self sufficient.
8/24/12 7:09 PM
3/26/03
Posts: 13986
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8/24/12 7:48 PM
6/2/03
Posts: 10073
Gord, I can't imagine how a monastic community could exist without the context of a society generating wealth and capital. When you are living in a cave and scraping a meager living from what nature provides I find it difficult to believe that there will be much time for rejection of what is worldly.

For monasticism and any other type of spiritual life, wealth creation is required. How then can wealth creation, which at base is about making the world a more habitable place for us to exist, be a thing that God disapproves of?
8/24/12 8:59 PM
3/26/03
Posts: 13987
You could be right. You probably are. I can't really disagree with you.

I don't know if we are really on the same page in this discussion. My viewpoint on this doesn't extend beyond a single person. You are looking at a more cultural/world view. I really don't think much beyond the here and now and what i can see before my eyes, for better or for worse.
8/24/12 9:26 PM
6/2/03
Posts: 10074
Is Christ telling us that we should strive to fail in material terms, that we should be poor at supporting our families, that we should not provide goods or services that other people want in return for what we want from them?
8/24/12 11:43 PM
2/23/11
Posts: 987
ChanceDuBois - Gord, I can't imagine how a monastic community could exist without the context of a society generating wealth and capital. When you are living in a cave and scraping a meager living from what nature provides I find it difficult to believe that there will be much time for rejection of what is worldly.

For monasticism and any other type of spiritual life, wealth creation is required. How then can wealth creation, which at base is about making the world a more habitable place for us to exist, be a thing that God disapproves of?

In the early Christian community as described in the New Testament the vast majority of Christians were indeed not living the monastic style. Even Paul of Taurus had to have some sort of trade to support himself - and he was still supported financially by others in the community when it came to his religious work. He mentioned in his letters about how he was going to come visit a church and bring along some money with him that was gathered from Christians in another church.

I don't doubt that some people are called to the Monastic life as some other people are called to serve in different ways - as written in Paul's letters. Even Jesus himself didn't appear to call everyone to leave behind their old life completely and follow him around as he did his preaching. For the women who was caught in adultery - he told her to simply go and sin no more. For Zacchaeus the tax collector he asked to eat at his home and afterwards Zacchaeus then pledged to return the money plus some to the people he cheated - I'm assuming he still continued to do his old job but only without his previous greed and corruption.
8/25/12 3:45 AM
6/2/03
Posts: 10075
All people freely giving all wealth away for nothing in return would lead to disastrous poverty and suffering on a huge scale and the collapse of civilisation, unless the rules of existence changed in some way. I understand that Jesus is promising a kingdom where everything does indeed change, but the message for Earth now with earthly limited resources seems destined to lead to misery
8/25/12 3:57 AM
6/2/03
Posts: 10076
Imagine a world where capital didn't accumulate, where investment didn't happen, and where the economy shrank persistently to zero.
8/25/12 5:11 PM
6/2/03
Posts: 10077
I think that people pooling capital and using it to build a hospital to run as a not for profit venture still requires the accumulation of capital in the first place, which requires normal mutually beneficial for-profit interactions.

I don't know anything about distributism, I will read about it.

I honestly don't see free market interactions as exploitative or selfish- they are by definition of benefit to both parties, otherwise they would not happen. What I do find exploitative and selfish is the exercise of political power for control of these free interactions via the threat of violence. Do you perhaps disagree with personal ownership of resources and the means of production?
8/25/12 9:23 PM
6/2/03
Posts: 10078
In terms of changing the reality of existence so that people did not die, get ill, or want for any basic thing then yes I can see that normal economics would not apply in many areas (food production for one). In this situation there would still be reason to accumulate capital however. For example in the creation of technologies like computers or cars which are incredibly useful and entertaining but not essential, not to mention simple interest, curiosity, and passion about things. People might still want to build amazing new structures, design fantastic new machines, or investigate how the world works. Does the reality of Jesus remove this desire from the minds of people? If not then how do people obtain their desires without first accumulating capital? Are all resources including land unlimited in the new world, or only those allowing basic survival?

I don't agree that a minority hoards the wealth of the world while an exploited majority toils to keep everything working because potential wealth is infinite and it is impossible to keep people from creating wealth for themselves unless you violently oppress them to quite an extreme degree. I do think that a minority holds an unjustifiable power in politics over the majority and that wealth does not provide the same kind of power as politics. Wealth is only the means to persuade people to do what you would like them to do. They still have to agree to do it based on the cost benefit calculation as they see it. Politics by contrast does not have this limitation.

I do not agree in any way with Malthusian warnings about limits to growth. These naturally come from people already wealthy and never from those who have less. They are nothing less than a call for trade barriers and always include severe government intervention. Human beings have always managed to overcome whatever technical limitations are put in front of them and I see no reason to expect this to cease. Wealth creation naturally includes technological work-arounds or material buffers (wealth) in the cases where solutions are stalled. People by their very nature exploit nature to make it more useful and comfortable to themselves. A purposefully shaped natural world is part of the extended phenotype of human beings, integral to the kind of creature we are.

The actions of western and dictator governments in Africa and the middle east are a great demonstration of the evils of government controlled economics. What could be more indicative of this injustice than our government deployment of actual soldiers (using tax money extorted from us) to mineral rich Afghanistan and the installation of a convenient puppet state? The government handing generous contracts to state supported corporations which are virtual extensions of government anyway is not an example of free markets at work that I recognise.
8/26/12 1:40 AM
6/21/08
Posts: 4336
Ridgeback's description of the world makes things seem horrible, and I suppose for many of the world's people, it is. Coupled with the Rev's view about the poor and the marginalized, it makes one wonder why God doesn't do something about it. I know that Jesus came to save the world, I know that we are supposed to change ourselves to change the world, I know the arguments about free will and so on... I know I'm probably just restating the problem of evil, nevertheless that's the thought that occurred to me while reading these posts.

God is supposed to be the same today, yesterday and forever, but we hesitate to accept that in the Old Testament God's blessings seemed to mean physical wealth, lands, etc, as well as spiritual. If Israel followed God's commandments and kept the law they were blessed in all that they did, including war. If Israel strayed, God punished Israel by sending them into captivity, losing lands and wealth, etc.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons the Jews of Jesus day did not accept him as the Messiah, as in their view the Messiah would fix all the problems of the world mentioned in this thread. But in Christianity what we have instead is a shifting of blessings to the inner life and the after life.
8/26/12 10:44 AM
6/21/08
Posts: 4337
Ridge,
Lots of comments and questions, I'll try to answer them all without parsing your post.

First I'd like to go back to the point of this thread, which is about Christianity and wealth. When you say the wealthy are less giving than the poor, how do you define wealth? As I've pointed out before, even the poorest among us in the West live a life of luxury compared to those in Third World countries. You can be considered 'poor' in the USA and live in a home with air conditioning, drive an SUV, and watch the game or the fights on a big flat screen TV. Are these people part of the wealthy who do not give as much as the poor, or are they considered poor?

My point in citing the examples of Solomon and Job in the Old Testament is that it indicates to me that wealth in and of itself does not make anyone more of a sinner than someone who is poor. In some ways, the wealthy are vilified by those on the left like homosexuality is vilified by those on the right. This ties into the way I viewed Christian universalism in that we are not in control of where we are born, into what nation. By mere accident of birth in the United States I have vastly more opportunities than a child born in Bangladesh or some other Third World country. I will also be exposed to Christianity from birth and am far more likely to 'choose' Christianity as my religion than a child born in India or Indonesia or Afghanistan as well, thereby giving me a greater chance at salvation (under the Western Christian paradigm) than any of those children. How is that fair?

And you know as well as I Ridge that Christian universalism (CU) does not teach that there is no justice or refining period in the afterlife. The view of CU that I have always held is that ALL are judged in the afterlife for their actions while on earth, not because of original sin but their own deeds. CU teaches (as far as I know) that this period is not eternal, like the traditional Western view of Hell, but only as long as is necessary to purge the person of sin.

If the wealthy are sinners (apparently the worst kind to some)and Jesus came to save sinners, then the wealthy are included in his salvation the same as the murderers, rapists, fornicators, liars, adulterers, etc.

As far as putting 'cards on the table', it appears that you assume that because I can find points I disagree with in this thread that I must have answers to the questions and rebuttals to the remarks that have been made. This is like saying that a person can not critique a fight or a football game unless they're a fighter or a football player. I do believe in God because of the world I see around me, the order, the complexity of life itself. I don't see how it came to be all by itself. Now just because I believe that doesn't mean I have an answer as to why God doesn't intervene and make people stop hurting one another. I could say that it's all because of free will, or I could take the Muslim idea and say that everything we face is a trial given to us by God to see if we will keep faith in him no matter what happens. I could say that I believe in reincarnation, that earth is a form of purgatory in and of itself, and by being born here we are fulfilling some sentence based on acts committed in a prior life. Or a combination of all three. Any one of those would suffice to meet the need you have for me to put my cards on the table but the truth is I don't have all the answers.

On to another point. On the one hand you talk about moral progression, from the Mosaic law to the law of Christ; yet earlier in your post you describe a Hellish world filled with nuclear bombs, child rapists and sexual predators, wealthy who pray on the weak. And yet in the same post you say our reality is on it's way out and that all things are being made new. From the way you've described it, I'm not sure things have changed very much from the time of Moses til today, other than the inventions of advanced technology. Do you hold the view that mankind is progressing inch by inch to the establishment of the kingdom of God here on earth?

Lastly, as far as cards on the table, do you consider yourself wealthy? And by what standard do you say you are or are not wealthy? Do you feel that your actions are in accord with the beliefs and ideas you've espoused on this thread and others?