August 18, 2011
Our Culture of Acquisition
The influence of Judaism on Christianity is so complete that followers of the two religions have more in common with each other than with anything Jesus taught. It doesn’t occur to most mainstream Christians that the Savior’s ministry was meant to override much of the Mosaic Law and the behaviors it engendered. Rather, they embrace the Levitical standard as an absolute, and that—as I’ve said elsewhere in this blog—causes them to profess a faith that is far more Judeo than Christian. The impact is particularly evident in their views about material wealth.
Before I go on, I want to acknowledge my own personal fault in this regard. While I see a broad gulf between the ways the Old and the New Testaments view acquisitiveness, that’s not to say I live Christ’s teachings. At best, I’m a hypocrite, who has neither the courage nor the fortitude to live the gospel as Jesus intended. I can only wish I was good enough to do so. Nevertheless, there is such a clear difference between Christ’s teachings and the way most of His followers live that even a sinner like me can see it.
How do Jesus and Moses part ways on the topic of wealth?
Let’s take the Old Testament first. Genesis begins with the creation of the world, after which God gives Adam and Eve—and by extension, their posterity—dominion over all the earth. That’s quite a haul! And all they have to do is refrain from eating the fruit of a specific tree. Later God promises Abraham that his seed will number as the stars and that he’ll inherit a Promised Land “flowing with milk and honey.” It’s a promise that Abraham is so desperate to receive that he attempts to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, to insure its fulfillment. God subsequently commands the children of Abraham to take the Promised Land from a people who were already living there, and no one sees any impropriety in it. When Jehovah and Satan wager on the result of tempting a good man, Job’s righteousness is rewarded with flocks of sheep, children and other material rewards. These are just a few of the morality tales contained in the Old Testament that influence a culture and worldview in ways that recognize the acquisition of wealth as blessings from God.
Contrast this with the gospel. Christ said, for example, that it was nearly impossible for a rich man to enter into heaven. He encouraged His followers to sell what they had and give to the poor—to “take no thought of the morrow,” but to “seek first the kingdom of God.” In this way He asked His followers to pursue spiritual, rather than earthly, rewards and to share in each other’s burdens. His gospel—until it was corrupted by a politically ambitious orthodoxy—encouraged believers to share all things in common.
Now, I ask you: Which of these two worldviews is consistent with Christian culture today?
Posted by Alan Bahr