Number of things He said about petitioning Caesar (i.e., the government) to take from neighbor A to “give” to neighbor B and considering it charity on your part: None.
Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is a professor and former President at Chicago Theological Seminary and she wrote the piece below. As I think you’ll see, it is more evidence that a seminary designation means nothing until you peel back the layers to see what people believe. She is a prime example of a false teacher.
Her premise is that in the passage in Luke 18 about the rich young ruler Jesus was telling us to redistribute wealth via the government. Here’s the passage in question.
Luke 18:18–30 (ESV) 18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
This was timely considering that at lunch today a non-believing friend asked me about the basics of giving from a Christian worldview. Now on to her analysis, which is basically the opposite of what the Bible teaches.
Jesus to the rich young ruler: “distribute the money”
She fails from the title onward. Jesus said for the young man to distribute his money, not someone else’s.
A deal President Obama struck with Republican leaders last week will extend tax cuts across the board including, controversially, to the richest Americans.
While it may indeed be “controversial,” is it that illogical that if tax cuts are extended then all who pay taxes would receive the same extension?
Some politicians argue that religious values should be reflected in the public square. Should this faith-based view of politics be applied to the economy? Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Right. He said, “Whatever you did to the least of these . . .” He didn’t say, “Whatever you asked Caesar to do by taking from others . . .”
Also, as we’ll soon see, Ms. Thistlethwaite is pro-abortion. I wonder how she reconciles that with her “least of these” theology?
. . .
Once a rich young ruler came to Jesus, wanting to know what it took to be “good.” ‘I’ve kept all the commandments since my youth,’ the young man said, bragging a little.
A little?! How about, “That was a spectacularly wild lie on his part.”
Well, Jesus replied, “there is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money.” But the young man, “who was very rich,” turned away. Jesus’ comment? “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18: 21-25)
Note how she stops at verse 25. If she would read the rest of the passage she would get a better idea of Jesus’ point: “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” He also answers the “Who can be saved?” question, which I assume that Thistlethwaite and similar false teachers ignore. After all, if Jesus answered who can be saved then that means some are unsaved.
All too true. It’s also easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a bill with the rich paying their fair share of taxes to get through Congress. Not gonna happen.
Was that Jesus’ point?
But that’s the moral thing to do. Our tax policies in this country are a way to help our neighbors who are the “least of these,” as Jesus also notes.
How outrageous of her. That isn’t what Jesus noted. He did say one thing about taxes in a separate passage, which was basically, “Stop whining and pay them.” Matthew 25 had nothing to do with taxes.
We “distribute the money” so that we can help those who are the most vulnerable like children, the sick, those with handicapping conditions, and the elderly. It’s a way to “distribute the money” to those of our citizens who want to work and can’t find it. We give unemployment benefits to people thrown out of work while they struggle in hard economic times to find another job. We pay taxes to educate our young, keep our bridges from falling down, and support our troops.
But that isn’t what Jesus addressed in the passage. If it was, why didn’t He force the rich young ruler to give? The young man walked away and Jesus let him. And Jesus didn’t go forward with a fundraising campaign or any lobbying of Caesar to get to the young man’s money. The passage wasn’t about taxes and “giving” the money of others.
Politicians love to pontificate on how we need to restore “Christian values” in the public square, but that’s mostly limited to denying equal civil rights for gay Americans, or controlling women’s bodies. When it comes to what the bible says about wealth and poverty, however, you’ll never hear that touted as morality in the public square. No, no. That’s “private.”
Note the multiple fallacies and her true religion: Liberalism. No one is denying civil rights for gay Americans. They are welcome to marry someone of the opposite sex. Whether they want to or not is their problem. Skin color is morally neutral; sexual behavior is not. She mocks black Americans with her civil rights blather.
And the “controlling women’s bodies” bit makes for a good bumper sticker, I suppose, but is easily disproven. Pro-lifers want to protect the bodies of females and males in the womb. Thistlethwaite thinks the mother should be able to have them crushed and dismembered. Got any Bible verses for that? It is a scientific fact that they are human beings and a theological fact that they were created by God. This isn’t science versus religion. Theological liberals oppose science and religion when it comes to life.
Baloney. The bible is filled with references to the religious imperative to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10) and “the worker deserves his pay.” (Luke 10:7)
Yep. What workers have not been paid? And yes, there are imperatives for believers to remember the poor with our money. It doesn’t say, “Remember the poor with your neighbor’s money.”
When Jesus went to Jerusalem, he “sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury.” (Mark 12:41) Jesus watched what people did with their money. He sees the money-changers in the temple charging pilgrims an exorbitant rate of exchange and he turns over the tables in anger, saying, “‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:13)
So? If this is going on in her church then the church should do something about it. What a non sequitur.
For those who have eyes to see, the real moral values in scripture are about loving God with our whole heart and our neighbor as ourselves, and that includes what you do with your money.
That includes what you do with your money. Is this so hard to understand? Your money, not your neighbors’.
Even though it’s harder for Congress to pass through the eye of a needle than to pass legislation that will “distribute the money” in a fair way, I hope and pray they will. That’s real Christian values in the public square.
No, that’s her politics disguised as religion.
And one more thing: I don’t want my grandchildren saddled with paying off a huge deficit caused by giving more tax breaks to the very wealthy.
Boo-hoo. I don’t want mine saddled with paying off Obama’s stimulus bill (mainly paybacks to his cronies) and his un-Constitutional health care bill, among other things.
If she wants to take the passage literally, why hasn’t she sold all her possessions and given the money to the poor?
And as Stan noted in his post, why do people like her ignore passages like this one:
I prefer to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord (Philemon 14).