Wealth and Poverty

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Pauley
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Wealth and Poverty

#1

Post by Pauley » Sat Jul 05, 2008 8:34 pm

This is an open question to all who care to respond.

I believe there is a God. However I don't understand some things about him. The major question I have is, "Why Does God favor the rich?"
I have noticed that the wealthy people of this world never have any problem so severe that they can't buy their way out of it and some never have any problems at all. I've met committed christians who have little or nothing but do more for the God they worship than the rich people of this world and most of the rich people don't care in any way about God at all, yet they are the ones who have all the money, luxury, ease and comfort in this world. They abuse their positions to amass more while the poor people suffer from one disaster after another, never getting ahead. The rich break the law and yet they either are allowed to go about their business without paying for their wrong doing or they serve a token sentence in an institution that more like a country club than a prison. Poor people are locked up and forgotten.
And what's worse, most people admire the rich no matter how they acquired their wealth.
An example: At one time I had been attending a church with a friend. One particular Sunday, the pastor stood in the pulpit expressing his gratitude to the congregation for the giant plasma screen TV they had purchased for him as a gift. While I sat next to my friend, whom I knew was going through a bankruptcy because of medical bills he was unable to pay. All he got from those people was a promise they'd pray for him. Why couldn't those people have used that money they spent on an expensive gift for an already overpaid pastor to help a member of their church who had a genuine need?
Another example: In this same body, I overheard the wife of a local banker describe something that had happened to her. She and her husband were building a new home and the bathtub she had picked out to match the decor in the master bath was no longer being manufactured. She had taken this "burden", (Her word) to the other ladies in the church for prayer and two days later, the contractor found the tub she wanted in a crate in the back of his warehouse. Apparently a previous client had ordered the same one and it had gone unclaimed and no one knew about it's existence until she offered up this prayer. Meanwhile, the friend I mentioned earlier had been out of work, with no income of any kind for six months because of his health. Yet God never once answered any of his prayers for a job or recovery of his health.
My friend, like many other poor people, doesn't have one calamity resolved before a disaster of another type descends upon him. But instead of helping my friend out of his problems, God goes out of his way to decorate a rich lady's
bathroom.
What is it about rich people? Does God love them more because they are rich? Or are they rich because he loves them more?

I am genuinely seeking to understand. After the second incident I described for you i quit attending and refused to return. My friend continues to attend, dedicated to serving God whether he chooses to help him or not.

What am I not getting? Why are the rich so much more special than everybody else and why don't the poor people of the church mind this favoritism?

Pauley

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#2

Post by Gman » Sat Jul 05, 2008 10:36 pm

Pauley,

I think I know where you are coming from.. First off, I can assure you in all my years of studying the Bible, God does NOT favor the rich. For that matter He does not favor anyone above another Acts 10:34-35. In fact there are numerous warnings in scripture about the accumulation of too much wealth.... Even the prophets in the old testament were for the most part poor people who walked around the country naked. As for Christ, did he come into Jerusalem in a beautiful golden chariot and white stallion? No.. He came into Jerusalem in humiliation on a donkey, much like driving into a modern day city in a VW bug.

To be perfectly honest with you, I see a lot of hypocrisies in Christian circles over wealth. There is a lot of greed and selfishness that I find extremely appalling. On top of that to see some of these large corporations get away with murder and raping our planet for profit makes me literally sick. But I certainly would not put that blame on God or the Bible. Unfortunately, there are many who distort His word for their own gains, but what we are taking about here are people. And where you find people, you are probably going to find some type of corruption no matter how far it has been sugar-coated.. To them God shall bring judgment...
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#3

Post by Pauley » Sun Jul 06, 2008 1:24 pm

Gman wrote:Pauley,

I think I know where you are coming from.. First off, I can assure you in all my years of studying the Bible, God does NOT favor the rich. For that matter He does not favor anyone above another Acts 10:34-35. In fact there are numerous warnings in scripture about the accumulation of too much wealth.... Even the prophets in the old testament were for the most part poor people who walked around the country naked. As for Christ, did he come into Jerusalem in a beautiful golden chariot and white stallion? No.. He came into Jerusalem in humiliation on a donkey, much like driving into a modern day city in a VW bug.

To be perfectly honest with you, I see a lot of hypocrisies in Christian circles over wealth. There is a lot of greed and selfishness that I find extremely appalling. On top of that to see some of these large corporations get away with murder and raping our planet for profit makes me literally sick. But I certainly would not put that blame on God or the Bible. Unfortunately, there are many who distort His word for their own gains, but what we are taking about here are people. And where you find people, you are probably going to find some type of corruption no matter how far it has been sugar-coated.. To them God shall bring judgment...

Thank you Gman for you response. But I have a few questions and responses of my own.
It does state in the Bible that God does not show favoritism, but the reality of our life here on earth displays otherwise. The rich get richer while living lives of comfort and luxury, avoiding the difficulties and problems that plague everybody else. Meanwhile, poor people suffer much more than everybody else. If God truly did not favor the rich, they would have as many problems as the rest of us and there would be a lot more equity among the people in the church.
And in spite of God's many warnings against the accumulation of too much wealth, wealth was exactly how he rewarded all of his favorite followers from Genesis on. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, David, Solomon, Joseph and on and on.... Anytime God decided that someone was more righteous than everyody else, his reward was to make them richer than all the others. There's one contradiction, in the Bible itself, between God words and his actions. And if God really was against the accumulation of wealth, why does he allow it within his church? Why aren't there commands against it?

Now concerning Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the donkey. It is my understanding, through my own studies, that the donkey was a colt that had never been ridden and Jesus', (being a direct descendant in the line of King David), action of riding into the city on a colt that had never been ridden was the equivalent of a king riding into his kingdom to claim his throne, which was also signified by the citizens greeting him with the palm fronds. These reasons were why it was called his "Triumphal Entry". So the colt which had never been ridden and the waving of the palm fronds were the equivalent to the western minds vision of a "Golden chariot and white stallion" the difference being that we think of the white stallion as a symbol of power, the colt was actually a symbol of humility. So you see, in that case he was showing to everybody that he had a rightful claim to the throne of Israel. Therefore, this event has little or nothing to do with Gods favortism of the rich over the poor.

But my question remains. Why does the church tolerate, and even support, this appalling greed and selfishness? and also, If God truly does not favor the rich over the poor, why does he not correct this?
The Bible likens God to a loving father. What kind of father would allow one child to prosper at the expense of his other children? These are not the actiions of a loving father but a neglegent and biased parent, obviously loving the more prosperous child while not caring for the other/s.

You say he will bring judgement. When? At the end of time when it no longer matters?

I'll repeat myself--Either God favors the rich or there's something I'm just not getting.

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#4

Post by Jac3510 » Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:32 pm

Pauley,

Gman has pointed out the fact that God does not favor the rich. However, you have rightly pointed out that, contrary to the Bible, it certainly appears that He does. Let me, then, offer a few Scriptures that could account for that fact.
  • For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Ps. 73:3)

    In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness. (Eccl 7:3)

    You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? (Jer 12:1)
Notice here that the Bible openly recognizes your question. As to why:
  • [God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt. 4:45)
The simple fact is that God has set up a world of order. Some people live in it righteously and prosper. Some live in it righteously and struggle to survive. Some live in it wickedly and prosper. Others live wickedly and struggle to survive. If you are the type who is willing to turn the other cheek, the chances are that you will be taken advantage of. If you are the type who is willing to lie and cheat his way to the top, then you have means to employ that "good" people don't, giving you a distinct advantage in this world.

And as it stands, God allows all of that for a time. There will, though, be a day of judgment. For the Christian:
  • we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5:10)
And for the non-Christian:
  • Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:11-15)
When Christ returns, God will set right all of the injustices that have ever been committed, and He will reward all His children who practiced righteousness.

God doesn't favor the rich. He doesn't favor anyone*. Those who keep His commandments will be rewarded in the next life. Yes, God may give some people blessings on this earth, and yes, He may judget some people's wickedness in this life as well. But by and large, He is content to let nature run its course, so to speak. That which the world itself doesn't take care of, He'll do Himself on Judgment Day, but I promise you this: there will be a Judgment Day. And the wicked will get theirs, whether rich or poor.

God bless

*For those protesting that God favors the humble and opposes the arrogant, note that I am speaking in terms of prosperity and temporal blessings, not His fellowship and approval.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#5

Post by Cross.eyed » Sun Jul 06, 2008 5:02 pm

Hi Pauley, welcome to the forum.

As Jac has shown, you're in good company with your concerns: Asaph, Solomon, and Jeremiah.
Habakkuk also wondered about God's judgment; Hab. 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
So why do You tolerate those who are treacherous?
Why are You silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who is more righteous than himself?

God's answer in Hab. 2:4 Look his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith.
The Apologetics Bible Holman Publishers wrote: The prosperity and success of evil and treacherous people has long been an impediment to faith in God.
If God is just, it seems He would not permit that situation to continue.
....Because God is who He is, His righteousness is not measured by the complaints people bring against Him out of their personal circumstances.
We might not understand how God is righteous, and we can "bring a case" or demand an explanation(Job. 1:13) from Him. But since God is in charge of the universe, and not us, it is useless to suppose that any case we bring against Him will prove Him unjust.
I am the wretch the song refers to.

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#6

Post by Furstentum Liechtenstein » Mon Jul 07, 2008 4:48 pm

Pauley,

Gman, Jac & Cross.eyed have all given you good answers with Bible verses to back up their ideas. So, I won't add any more (but I would like to know if you feel that they have answered your original concerns.)

I have something to add from a totally different perspective:

My family income is slightly under $100,000 per year. I have a good friend who is CEO of a company with 4,500 employees across North America. I don't really know how much he earns, but I would estimate it at $100,000 per week...and that is probably a conservative estimate.

For many years before being Born Again, I couln't understand why Richard would want to be my friend. I could see him getting richer and richer, and I was just maintaining the status quo. Envy crept into me, I admit.

Fast forward to yestrerday. Richard and I are flying in his airplane to a distant airport, just for fun. We enjoy each other' company and I let him pay all the bills (gracefully!) We land at our destination and there we meet a couple of Richard's employees, purely by coincidence. (Higher-up employees.)

This is the first time I meet these people and I am imediately taken aback by their obeisance towards me. I am being treated like royalty, yet I am a nobody: I work as a stupid truck driver hauling refrigerators around...this is what I do. I even tell the employees, «look, I'm a regular guy...don't go out of your way for me!» It doesn't work; the obeisance continues until we leave. I thank them for their welcome, wish them well...we get into «our» plane and take off.

On the flight home, I ask Richard «Why do you think they kept treating me like royalty even after I told them not to?» His answer was telling: «It is because you showed up with the President.»

Indeed, it is because I showed up with the President. What a wonderful picture this is God's grace towards us. Though we are nothing, when we show up with Jesus as our defender at the Judgement, all is forgiven.

We are made in God's image, and yet so sinful. So, I am not surprised that we would pervert our admiration and give it to the man who is rich rather than to the God who allowed the man to be rich. And, had God made me rich and Richard a working stiff...what would have happened? I don't know...but I know that I do not have what it takes to handle great wealth.

God, in His wisdom, made the right choice. Do you understand?
Hold everything lightly. If you don't, it will hurt when God pries your fingers loose as He takes it from you. -Corrie Ten Boom

+ + +

If they had a social gospel in the days of the prodigal son, somebody would have given him a bed and a sandwich and he never would have gone home.

+ + +

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#7

Post by Gman » Mon Jul 07, 2008 9:13 pm

Nice post there Fürstentum...
Pauley wrote:Thank you Gman for you response. But I have a few questions and responses of my own.
It does state in the Bible that God does not show favoritism, but the reality of our life here on earth displays otherwise. The rich get richer while living lives of comfort and luxury, avoiding the difficulties and problems that plague everybody else. Meanwhile, poor people suffer much more than everybody else. If God truly did not favor the rich, they would have as many problems as the rest of us and there would be a lot more equity among the people in the church.
Yes, but we also have to remember that we live in a fallen world... Believe me, if we truly lived by the standards of the Bible, our world would be a different place to be living in...
Pauley wrote:And in spite of God's many warnings against the accumulation of too much wealth, wealth was exactly how he rewarded all of his favorite followers from Genesis on. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, David, Solomon, Joseph and on and on....
Some of these followers did have much wealth, that is true, but not all the followers of God. You simply can't paint it with a broad stoke.
Pauley wrote:Anytime God decided that someone was more righteous than everyody else, his reward was to make them richer than all the others.
Boy, I'm sorry, I have to disagree with that... When God speaks of riches I believe he means spiritual riches... Wisdom is far more greater than all the rubies of the world Proverbs 8:11. Which raises other questions.. Was Jesus rich? And yet we see him pay taxes to his own creation...
Pauley wrote:There's one contradiction, in the Bible itself, between God words and his actions. And if God really was against the accumulation of wealth, why does he allow it within his church? Why aren't there commands against it?
Are churches guilty with the accumulation of wealth? Absolutely, but are all churches guilty of it? I don't believe so... Most of the homeless organizations in my area are run by certain churches. This isn't just a meal here or two either. This is 7 x 24 hour support for the poor. In fact it is the duty of Christians that a certain amount of alms be distributed to the poor.
Pauley wrote:Now concerning Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the donkey. It is my understanding, through my own studies, that the donkey was a colt that had never been ridden and Jesus', (being a direct descendant in the line of King David), action of riding into the city on a colt that had never been ridden was the equivalent of a king riding into his kingdom to claim his throne, which was also signified by the citizens greeting him with the palm fronds. These reasons were why it was called his "Triumphal Entry". So the colt which had never been ridden and the waving of the palm fronds were the equivalent to the western minds vision of a "Golden chariot and white stallion" the difference being that we think of the white stallion as a symbol of power, the colt was actually a symbol of humility. So you see, in that case he was showing to everybody that he had a rightful claim to the throne of Israel. Therefore, this event has little or nothing to do with Gods favortism of the rich over the poor.
Again, I would disagree with your statement.. If we study the cultures around Jerusalem (like the Romans, Egyptians or Babylonians), kings were adorned with great wealth and great status. Jewish customs were completely different in that case. Actions like riding into Jerusalem on a colt or donkey, were expressions of humiliation instead of expressing pride and power. I believe it does reveal how God expresses himself and how he relates to all people... And that is the same way.
Pauley wrote:But my question remains. Why does the church tolerate, and even support, this appalling greed and selfishness? and also, If God truly does not favor the rich over the poor, why does he not correct this?
Why can't God end world hunger right now or stop all wars? I think it gets back to our free will living in a fallen world...
Pauley wrote:The Bible likens God to a loving father. What kind of father would allow one child to prosper at the expense of his other children? These are not the actiions of a loving father but a neglegent and biased parent, obviously loving the more prosperous child while not caring for the other/s.
Not to be rude, but does prosperity only depend on how much wealth one accumulates?
Pauley wrote:You say he will bring judgement. When? At the end of time when it no longer matters?
I think judgment can also start right now... With us. We can either complain about it or actually do what the Bible tells us to do about it. :wink:
Pauley wrote:I'll repeat myself--Either God favors the rich or there's something I'm just not getting.
I think there is more about it that you might have over looked... IMO. But you are correct that certain Christians do not follow God's word about it. That is for certain...
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#8

Post by Daniel » Mon Jul 07, 2008 10:45 pm

I think the short book of James has a lot of good things to say on this topic. In addition to several other passages regarding wealth in the book, we read in James 2:1-4 that the body of believers is not to show favoritism to those of wealth. "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet", have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"

This passage came to mind when I read your story about the pastor thanking his congregation for buying the plasma TV while your friend struggles to pay his bills. I became a little angry when I read that story, truth be told. Such actions are pure discrimination, and damage the cause of Christ. James 2:15-16 reads: "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?"

I recommend you read through this book. It is my favorite book in the Bible other than the gospel of John, and has really taught me a lot about the mindset that true devotion to Christ (as opposed to the prosperity gospel we see in televangelists or even in some of our local churches) entails, and a lot of what is in there are not easy pills to swallow.

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#9

Post by Pauley » Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:47 pm

Thank you all for your replies. There is much there for me to study and think on.

fl, you asked if jac and cross-eyed answered my original concerns. Their responses addressed those concerns, I'm not certain that they answered them. Their responses don't answer why God refuses to help my frined with his health and financial crisis, yet reponds right away to a wealthy woman's demand for a tub to match the decor in her new home. Nor do they satisfactorily explain why the lives of the rich are free of problems if God does indeed cause the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the wicked and righteous alike.

Gman - The material I have studied concerning the "Triumphal Entry" indicate that riding into the city on a colt was, indeed, a symbol of humility and not humiliation. Jesus could've claimed the throne and had the wealth you described, many of his followers desired that he do just that and in one event recounted in the bible states that at one point a mob attempted to force him to take the throne. Jesus chose not to. He turned it down because he didn't desire it. His "Triumphal Entry" was to show that he was the fulfillment of prophesy. And because it was a symbolic gesture, again I submit that it has nothing to do with the topic being discussed here.
Now, about your question about whether prosperity depends only on accumulation of wealth. Look it up, that's what the word means. According to Merriam-Webster, Prosperity: The condition of being successful or thriving; especially: economic well-being.

One response I've gotten, consistently, throughout my search for an answer to this question is that God will address these issues at the end of time. Why after life on Earth is over? What is preventing God from addressing these inequities now when people could see that he genuinely does care about the problems faced by the poor people here?
If God can't be trusted to take care of my needs here on Earth, how can I trust him with something really big like my very soul?

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#10

Post by Cross.eyed » Tue Jul 08, 2008 3:56 pm

Pauley wrote:Thank you all for your replies. There is much there for me to study and think on.
You are welcome and yes there is much to study and think on.
fl, you asked if jac and cross-eyed answered my original concerns. Their responses addressed those concerns, I'm not certain that they answered them. Their responses don't answer why God refuses to help my frined with his health and financial crisis, yet reponds right away to a wealthy woman's demand for a tub to match the decor in her new home. Nor do they satisfactorily explain why the lives of the rich are free of problems if God does indeed cause the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the wicked and righteous alike.
WE can't respond directly to your friends troubles because we don't know how God will respond. Isa. 55:8
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. His knowledge and wisdom far surpasses our own (just to make an extreme understatement.)
One response I've gotten, consistently, throughout my search for an answer to this question is that God will address these issues at the end of time. Why after life on Earth is over? What is preventing God from addressing these inequities now when people could see that he genuinely does care about the problems faced by the poor people here?

God often addresses particular issues for us in this life too. He answers prayer, blesses people, and sometimes we can see where He has taken evil and turned it to His good. It is possible (and even probable IMHO) that he may do this with your friend.
Our lives here are very short-Jms.4:14Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. Eternal after life is forever.
If God can't be trusted to take care of my needs here on Earth, how can I trust him with something really big like my very soul?
This is a disturbing statement, I can't understand believing in God and yet not trusting Him.
Our faith in God naturally demands we trust that our lives are safely in His hands. Ps. 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.
If you will, think on this; perhaps it isn't Gods will that the lady at church got a fancy tub but rather it was the exercise of the involved people(s) free will. The same thought might apply to the Pastors giant T.V. also.
Certainly it is not Gods will that your friend suffers. It is not in his character.

It is my hope and prayer that God helps your friend overcome his troubles
I am the wretch the song refers to.

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#11

Post by Pauley » Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:49 pm

Cross.eyed wrote:
Pauley wrote:If God can't be trusted to take care of my needs here on Earth, how can I trust him with something really big like my very soul?
This is a disturbing statement, I can't understand believing in God and yet not trusting Him.
Our faith in God naturally demands we trust that our lives are safely in His hands. Ps. 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.
If you will, think on this; perhaps it isn't Gods will that the lady at church got a fancy tub but rather it was the exercise of the involved people(s) free will. The same thought might apply to the Pastors giant T.V. also.
Certainly it is not Gods will that your friend suffers. It is not in his character.

It is my hope and prayer that God helps your friend overcome his troubles

That's the point isn't it. I believe that God exists but I have no faith in him and from where I stand there's no reason why I should.

I'm always told that God loves everybody and shows no favoritism, yet the lives of the rich flow smoothly without difficulties while the lives of the poor are one catastrophe after another. That's the very heart of the question. If he really doesn't want my friend to suffer, why doesn't he help? Why doesn't he step in and level off the playing field for the rich and poor alike? He could make things right if he wanted to, but he doesn't.

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#12

Post by Gman » Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:34 pm

Pauley wrote:Gman - The material I have studied concerning the "Triumphal Entry" indicate that riding into the city on a colt was, indeed, a symbol of humility and not humiliation. Jesus could've claimed the throne and had the wealth you described, many of his followers desired that he do just that and in one event recounted in the bible states that at one point a mob attempted to force him to take the throne. Jesus chose not to. He turned it down because he didn't desire it.
Clearly he turned it down to display humiliation and his servanthood. But he did not turn down his kingship, nor the fact that he was the messiah, it's just that the people had a different idea of what being a king was..
Pauley wrote:His "Triumphal Entry" was to show that he was the fulfillment of prophesy. And because it was a symbolic gesture, again I submit that it has nothing to do with the topic being discussed here.
Sorry. I disagree... Even though it was a fulfillment of prophesy, it doesn't nullify the point that Christ's "Triumphal Entry" was a display of humiliation. Again, I made that connection with the poor because if Christ would have shown up in a Mercedes Benz, that would have been a display of arrogance. A true leader doesn't need to show off wealth to gets people's approval, and that is exactly what Christ did. Christ was born in a dump and left this world beaten to a bloody pulp.. A true servant.
Pauley wrote:Now, about your question about whether prosperity depends only on accumulation of wealth. Look it up, that's what the word means. According to Merriam-Webster, Prosperity: The condition of being successful or thriving; especially: economic well-being.
I'm sorry, just as you have shown prosperity may mean being successful or thriving, "especially:" economic well-being, but not "only" economically. The point I was making earlier is that wealth is not by any means reaching the top... If someone has all the money in the world. Who cares? When a rich person dies, he can't take all that junk with him.. Being materially wealthy means very little, being spiritually wealthy means much much more...
Pauley wrote:One response I've gotten, consistently, throughout my search for an answer to this question is that God will address these issues at the end of time. Why after life on Earth is over? What is preventing God from addressing these inequities now when people could see that he genuinely does care about the problems faced by the poor people here?
If God can't be trusted to take care of my needs here on Earth, how can I trust him with something really big like my very soul?
Pauley, I think we have addressed your question pretty well. Of course we don't have all the answers, but God did not make this world perfect. It is a fallen world and God is hardly in the picture anymore... We also have free will to contend with, and God doesn't always overstep that boundary. He did not make robots.. Also I would add this, that God can deal with problems faced by the poor people via other people. In other words your hands could be God's hands. :wink:

Does your humanly father give you money for everything you have or do you have to earn or do it on your own? Which makes more sense and which is more meaningful?

Just a thought...
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#13

Post by Jac3510 » Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:38 am

Pauley wrote:fl, you asked if jac and cross-eyed answered my original concerns. Their responses addressed those concerns, I'm not certain that they answered them. Their responses don't answer why God refuses to help my frined with his health and financial crisis, yet reponds right away to a wealthy woman's demand for a tub to match the decor in her new home. Nor do they satisfactorily explain why the lives of the rich are free of problems if God does indeed cause the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the wicked and righteous alike.
Let me clarify:

1. God isn't necessarily in the business of helping people with health and financial crisis. I say "not necessarily" simply because God does help certain individuals at certain times, often in answer to prayer, but there's no clear criteria on how that is to happen, and that for a reason: God isn't a cosmic vending machine, meaning that we can't just pray the right prayer, say the magic words, and "poof," we get the thing we request. While it is true that sometimes God will answer a prayer immediately, it is more true that we have to pray over and over consistently for a very long period of time, and sometimes, even then, the answer is, "No. My grace is sufficient for you."

I have a message I teach titled, "Why Bad Things Happen to God's People," in which I point out much of what has been pointed out in this thread, but the cash value is this: we grow in Christ through our suffering. Sometimes God lets us have hard times precisely so that we will grow closer to Him.

2. I don't believe that God ever "reponds right away to a wealthy woman's demand for a tub to match the decor in her new home." If I wealthy person wants a matching tub and she purchases it, we can hardly say that God did it. There is a sense, of course, in which everything belongs to God and is under His control. But it is also true, as I pointed out earlier, that we are free agents with a will of our own. If a woman through the natural course of life obtains a large some of money and, by her own free will, chooses to buy an expensive tub and let those around her suffer, that is up to her, not God. She is perfectly capable of doing so.

3. Regarding the statement that God causes the sun and rain to fall on both the righteous and the wicked, I think you took that metaphorically when Jesus meant it literally. The "sun" doesn't represent "good times" and the "rain" doesn't represent "hard times." Jesus meant literal sun and literal rain. In other words, both good people and bad people (oh, we could have FUN with those words!) all live in the same world. God isn't going to interrupt the natural order of things because good people deserve a leg up.

In other words, and here's the bottom line: Christians, even good ones, don't get special treatment from a temporal, materialistic perspective. We have exactly the same obstacles to obtaining health and wealth that the evil person does. In fact, we have more obstacles, because there are certain behaviors we are not allowed to engage in to help us achieve those goals, behaviors that are not off limits to the wicked of this world.

Finally, remember that this life is temporary. This entire world is temporary. God is going to create a new heaven and new earth that He will personally reign over for all of eternity. The things we do here and now affect our status in that world to come. So, if a Christian suffers successfully, he or she will be rewarded greatly in the next life, eternally. Wicked Christians will receive no such reward. God will judge everyone at the last day according to how they lived their lives here, and so, He lets us live our lives here as we see fit. Some choose to use their wealth to buy matching tubs while good people around them suffer and die. Others never get enough wealth to help a single soul beyond themselves, and that only barely. But you have both good people and bad people in both camps.

God bless
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#14

Post by Pauley » Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:48 am

Gman wrote: I'm sorry, just as you have shown prosperity may mean being successful or thriving, "especially:" economic well-being, but not "only" economically. The point I was making earlier is that wealth is not by any means reaching the top... If someone has all the money in the world. Who cares? When a rich person dies, he can't take all that junk with him.. Being materially wealthy means very little, being spiritually wealthy means much much more...

Does your humanly father give you money for everything you have or do you have to earn or do it on your own? Which makes more sense and which is more meaningful?

Just a thought...
You are absolutely right when you state that a rich man can't take all of that junk with him when he dies. None of us can take anything we have with us, but money is, without a doubt, necessary for existence while we are here.

As far as my humanly father is concerned, he doesn't give me money for everything I have, I earn my own way. But both of my parents have always been there to help and support me when I've fallen on hard times just as I have aided my daughter and her husband when they have had financial crises.
I love my friend, we grew up together, but he is getting nothing from the government, the insurance companies, the church nor responses from God. I'm all he's got and I'm not a rich man by any stretch of the imagination and the help I'm giving him is starting to strain my finances and my marriage. I can't keep it up nor can I turn him away.

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Re: Wealth and Poverty

#15

Post by Jac3510 » Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:21 am

Pauley wrote:One response I've gotten, consistently, throughout my search for an answer to this question is that God will address these issues at the end of time. Why after life on Earth is over? What is preventing God from addressing these inequities now when people could see that he genuinely does care about the problems faced by the poor people here?
If God can't be trusted to take care of my needs here on Earth, how can I trust him with something really big like my very soul?
I know this wasn't addressed to me, but let me offer a suggestion.

There are several ways to divide Christian thought, but one of the ways to do that is to do so from the way people think about God's purpose for the world's existence. There, we have two basic systems of thought. One is called dispensationalsim and the other is called covenant theology. I'm not going to go into too much detail with these, so please understand that I'm simplifying them for the sake of your question (although this will still be a little on the longer side), but I think this will help you with your problem.

In dispensationalism, the purpose of God is to display and vindicate His glory to creatures like Himself. In covenant theology, the purpose of God is more brutely to simply display His glory. Taking the latter first, God made a covenant within Himself (between the Father, Son, and Spirit) to save and damn certain people. Therefore, before He created the world, He chose for Himself who would be saved and who would be damned. Based on that decision, He declared that humanity would be allowed to fall into sin so that His power in this salvation would be displayed. And based on that decision, He declared to create humanity. And based on that decision, He created the world.

Put simply, for the covenant theologian, God created the world as something like a garden: it exists simply and solely to grow saved and damned people. The idea is that, in the next world, God's power will be on public display, because He was able to accomplish so great a plan.

I have several problems with this system, one of which is the issue you've pointed out. I don't think it gives us a rational reason for God to allow suffering in this world. He could just as well promote the saved in this life to physical prosperity and condemn the damned to suffering even in this life. It wouldn't change the fact that the saved would be saved and the lost would be lost. For all the huffing and puffing and theologizing covenant theologians do on this matter, any answer they give must necessarily be arbitrary.

Very well, so that doesn't work. But consider dispensationalism, which not only allows suffering in this life, but requires it as part of its basic system.

In this view, the first thing that happened was that God declared to create the world. He then declared to create human beings. He then declared that these humans would have a choice: they could submit to His will freely or they could choose freely to follow their own devices. Finally, He declared, knowing that they would choose to follow their own ways, to save those who in this life would trust Him (as they should have done in the first place).

Based on that plan, mankind did indeed choose to follow their own ways rather than God. So God set a plan in motion to save those who trusted Him, but not only that, but to demonstrate to those He would save that their choice was the right one. He began testing man as a whole through what are called dispensations. There are seven of these, and in each dispensation, mankind is given a test. They are simply asked to follow God's command, and they get to decide whether or not to pass it.

The first test was simple: don't eat the forbidden fruit. There was nothing beyond their own desire to keep them from failing it, and yet, Adam and Eve failed. The next test is what we call conscience. God gave humanity a conscience (since we now understood good and evil) and told us not simply to follow His arbitrary command, but to follow our conscience--just be good! And we didn't. The world got SO bad that God had to hit the reset button with a flood that would wipe out everyone but Noah and his family. The next test was human government. We now had God's commands, our conscience, and the government to keep us in check. And yet mankind still failed. The first government rebeled against God at the Tower of Babel, and therefore God judged again and dispersed the people throughout the world by confusing their langauges.

The fourth test is called "promise." Here, God took a single man, Abraham, and promised to make him a blessing to all the world. Everyone who treated Abraham rightly would be blessed, and everyone who treated him poorly would be cursed. All who followed Abraham's God would be saved. All those who rejected Abraham's God would be condemned. So now man had God's command, their conscience, the government, and now a promise, all to motivate them to do follow Him. And man still failed. The world rejected Abraham and his children, and the land of Egypt instead enslaved them. Therefore, God judged that nation and established a new people called Israel, the children of Abraham, and He began a new dispensation: the new test is called Law.

This is the Old Testament Law we're all familiar with. Now God was dealing specifically with Israel. They had God's command, their conscience, the government, the promise to their forefather Abraham, and now the very Law of God, complete with physical blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. And guess what? The failed. God judged them in 70 A.D. and dispersed them throughout the world, leading to the sixth dispensation that we are now in: Grace. At the end of the dispensation of Law, Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the Law. He did everything that Adam, and all of humanity after him, was supposed to do and followed God perfectly. Yet He was rejected and crucified. God raised Him from the dead and declared that everyone who believes in Him will be saved (remember that part of the original plan). And so now, man has a NEW test--believe in Jesus. That's it. That's the test. Despite God's command, our conscience, human government, God's promises to Abraham and Israel, and the Law we cannot fulfill that only Christ did, we have one test: believe in Jesus. And the world is failing. It will fail. Humanity can't even do so simple a thing as that. Therefore, God will judge us for failing this test, a judgment which will come at the end with the antiChrist and all the other things you read about in the book of Revelation.

But then mankind will be granted one final dispensation: the seventh test will be the reign of Christ Himself on earth. For 1,000 years, all of humanity will live in a perfect paradise. No sickness, no death, no injustice. Every case will be tried justly, and everyone will have immediate, visual access to Jesus Christ. Even Satan himself will be bound for the 1,000 years so that he can't tempt anyone to evil. All humanity will have to do is accept the rule of this perfect ruler.

And we will fail. The Bible says that mankind will fail even THAT simple test. At the end of the 1,000 years, the world will rebel against Jesus, marshall their armies, and rise up against the King. It is only then that the tests will be complete. At that time, this world will end. God will say, "Enough!" At that point, all the evil people of the world from Adam to the last day will be judged and cast into Hell for eternity. All those who believed God through the generations will be saved for eternity. God will stand vindicated: He will say, "I told you the Truth. You need me."

God will have proven that we are absolutely incapable of living life our own way. We always rebel, and always prefer evil. No matter how easy God makes it, we always choose evil over good. It's our nature. God is vindicated. But to prove this case, God has to grant us free will. He has to let humanity run its course. He has to let the wicked have their way for now. Oh, He may help the good from time to time as it directly accomplishes some particular purpose He has in this life, but the whole plan is to let humanity have our own way.

THAT is why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. God let's it happen so He can point to that on Judgment Day and say, "See! I gave you every chance and you always acted wickedly." And we who believed in Him, we who believed that we need Him, who suffered for Him, will likewise be vindicated in OUR faith. But all that requires suffering today.

And the reward? Eternal happiness. We will live in paradise forever with our God whom we chose to follow, just as Adam should have done so many years ago.

OK, so long, I know, but that's the dispensationalist's answer :)
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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