Dave Ramsey posted a list of things the rich do that the poor don’t, which he entitled “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day”. Then, he writes about what Ramsey often does—the Prosperity Gospel. According to Ramsey, the Bible teaches capitalism, personal finance, that being rich is good, and a bunch of other things.
It is not something new. Right-wing American Christians have been singing the same tune for decades. This prosperity Christianity that is all about maintaining the American lifestyle of consumerism is one of the few things that truly makes me angry.
Well, the New Testament, which is a major part of the Bible, disagrees with this general mentality. Here is a list of things the rich should do according to the New Testament: Continue reading →
From Communism in the Bible by Jose Miranda (pg. 1-2):
For a Christian to say he or she is anti-Marxist is understandable. There are numerous varieties of Marxism, and it is possible that our Christian is referring to one of the many materialistic philosophies which style themselves Marxist without having much at all to do with Marx.
For a Christian to claim to be not only anti-Marxist but anti-Marx as well, it is probably owing to not having read all of Marx, and the repugnance is a symptom of simple ignorance. But when all is said and done I do not really care. I am under no obligation to defend Marx. Continue reading →
There was one text in the Bible that has been the most influential on my life. It was this text that really helped convince me to become a Christian, and it was this text that brought me into radical politics. The passage I am referring to is the Sermon on the Mount.
It was when I was in middle school that I was first introduced to this famous sermon, and it ignited my interest in the gospel. By reading its words, I fell in love with the man who spoke them, and I wanted to apply the sermon to all aspects of my life. It was a big reason that I became interested in left-wing and anti-war movements as well. It would be years later, when I read Leo Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is Within You, that I really started to realize just how much was packed into Matthew 5-7. Recently, a friend of mine who I know from both Young Anabaptist Radicals and MennoNerds, said, ”The Sermon on the Mount or Plain is the Christian’s constitution.” I think there is a lot of truth to that. Continue reading →
After Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, Jesus goes back to his hometown where he begins his ministry (Luke 4:14-16). Jesus goes to the synagogue, opens up a book from the Bible (Isaiah), and begins his first formal sermon in Luke’s gospel:
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21 NRSV)
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus picks a very specific passage from Isaiah to quote. It is a passage from Isaiah 61, and it is especially interesting in that it is an introduction to the Jubilee, which was a common prophetic theme in Hebrew tradition. The concept of a Jubilee goes back to the Law of Moses. It existed in order to ensure economic justice in ancient Israeli society; debts would be forgiven, land would be redistributed, the poor would be cared for, and there would be a time of rest (sabbath). Ched Myers describes the Jubilee and its relationship to Jesus and the prophetic tradition well: Continue reading →
My day job is at a store just up the road from me, and working there means that I run into a lot of people. Yesterday, a customer came in talking about the whole NSA controversy. I am not sure why he was talking about it, but he was. From this subject, he started ranting (to both my coworkers and other customers) about how Obama was such a horrible person. That was all bad enough as it is, but it just got worse. I think there are plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike the president, but this customer’s specific reason was Obama’s race.
From mentioning Obama, the customer then continued to talk about how horrible people of African descent are. He talked about how slavery wasn’t really that bad because the Africans were enslaving each other too. He also talked about how our town used to be economically prosperous due to the steel mills, but then the “blacks” moved in, causing the steel mills to leave. It wasn’t just the African American community that he felt the need to attack either. He also made sure to mention how our treatment of Native Americans wasn’t that bad because other nations did it too. Continue reading →
The fourth chapter of Luke starts with the very familiar story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. It is briefly mentioned in Mark, which only has this to say:
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. (Mark 1:12-13)
There really is not much to work with in Mark’s Gospel, but both Matthew (4:1-11) and Luke (4:1-13) have much more detailed—and very similar—versions of the story. Due to this similarity, many scholars think that the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is something borrowed from the hypothetical Q Document. In this blog, I will mostly be ignoring Matthew’s comparable account and will be focusing upon Luke’s. Continue reading →
I used to think that I wanted a progressive church, and when I first started out on my church planting endeavor, that was what I tried to do. I now realize that this is not what we should be doing as Christians.
One of the largest criticisms progressive Christians have of their conservative counterparts is that conservatives create boundaries. They define what it means to be Christian; they have an emphasis on orthodoxy. On top of this, when it comes to social issues, they feel that conservatives create barriers between people—barriers between races, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. However, I feel that progressive Christianity can create its own barriers as well, especially when one requires progressive Christianity on a congregational and denominational level. Continue reading →
The King James Bible is a Magna Carta for the poor and oppressed: the most democratic book in the world.
– Theodore Roosevelt
The King James Bible is the default Bible of my family. It has been for a long time. It is not that we are King James Onlyists, but that we tend to feel that the Bible should be beautiful to read. On top of that, the King James Version brings with it an oral history and language that others simply do not have. For example, I notice that when I pray, it is automatically in some form of quotation from the King James Version. So, still to this day, my grandfather has a giant KJV with our family history written in it, and the King James is passed down from generation to generation. In my bookcase, I have the King James Bible my mother grew up using, and my grandfather has a KJV my great-great-grandfather used, who happened to be a Presbyterian minister. The King James Version is something that my family holds desperately onto, just as we hold desperately to parts of Irish and Scottish culture that we brought with us to the New World. Why is it, that a family who vehemently opposed English authority, would adopt the Authorized Version of the English church and state?
The King James Version is an incredibly political translation. There was already the Geneva Bible, but because it was the creation of subversive Puritans, it was censored by King James and a new translation was created under his strict regulation. (You can see a documentary about the KJV’s creation here.) The KJV is full of bias and politicized translation choices. The KJV is a perfect example of how oppressive political institutions can use religion as a means of control, and from an Anabaptist perspective, the KJV is the perfect example of what the infamous Constantine helped do to the Christian Church. Continue reading →
Advice I sometimes give young folks: If you accept all of the seeming obligations society places on you, you won’t have the time for relationships or hospitality or justice. Having a mortgage, family, school loans, lawncare, car payments, 40+ work, bringing your kid to soccer, church commitments, etc. etc. etc. doesn’t leave time for welcoming strangers or challenging the problems in society.
Yet, when you start trying to challenge those commitments, you’ll quickly be called lazy or unproductive. You will probably be poor. And you will definitely seem odd.
You have to decide which is more important and stick with it. Because you can’t do it all.
This is only a Facebook post, but it is something that is very relevant to my life. On the one hand, I am a person who shares a radical Christian vision much like that of Mark’s, and on the other hand, I am a member of the “young folks” that Mark is addressing. In fact, I just turned 20 a couple weeks back. Mark’s post reflects a struggle that I face in my life currently.
Christianity is and should be extreme! The sleight of hand that fundamentalist Christianity has pulled is coming up with a theological vision that’s actually quite comfortable and un-challenging for middle-class Americans and then packaging it as something counter-cultural and offensive so that they can feel edgy without being pushed outside of their comfort zones. Fundamentalists come up with easy controversies to earn their salvation with. There’s nothing counter-cultural about being anti-gay, for instance. It’s perfectly in line with mainstream adolescent maleness. The real gospel is a lot more challenging than the self-congratulatory “family values” gospel. Jesus says things that are embarrassingly at odds with the needs of our social order like “Whoever does not hate their mother and father cannot be my disciple” or “My mother and my brothers are those who do the will of my father in heaven.” (Morgan Guyton, “We can do better than ‘mainline’”)