GRACE AND THE CAPITALIST

I was looking for "Christian capitalists" on the Internet and came across a podcast sermon by I believe Pastor Dave McConnell of Bozeman United Methodist Church in Bozeman, Montana. The sermon is entitled, "Christian Capitalists. Scripture: Deuteronomy 8 & 24, Mark 10 from The Message." About 9 or so minutes into the podcast, he said that when Jesus said, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24), Jesus was not making an anti-rich statement but rather saying that a rich man enters Heaven by God's grace. Well, I stopped there. Here's why.

That's taking it completely out of context. Here's the context:

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

16-24

Context is everything. The man didn't turn around to say to Jesus that he wouldn't sell everything but that by God's grace he would enter the kingdom of God. God's grace upon him would have seen him doing exactly what Jesus told him to do. That would have been the sign of the grace of the LORD. There he was obeying the Commandments as he had been given to understand them, but yet he lacked the grace to turn toward becoming perfect, following after perfection, as God is perfect. Jesus said that to be perfect the man must sell everything for the sake of the poor. That's what was required then, and Jesus isn't lowering his standards to suit the temptations of the time. He came to raise the standard forever. Also, Jesus said very clearly, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. It means it's very nearly impossible. How could it happen? Well, if all were rich it would happen. Also, if someone were giving it away as quickly as he could as it came streaming in. Then who could find fault in it, depending upon the means to obtain the wealth.

What it is though is most definitely an anti-rich, anti-hoarding message. Also, there is a fuller context that is the entirety of what Jesus taught that when taken in its entirety, makes very clear that Jesus doesn't like the whole system that is money. He doesn't like money-changing. He doesn't like traditional banking that is lending for return. He doesn't like taxes. All of these things add up to money being unrighteous as he called it.

So, Pastor Dave, as with so many other preachers, mistakenly is being an apologist for capitalism. He's twisting scripture by taking it out of context and reading into it what he wants to hear and see. He's avoiding the implications of the real reading. Consequently, his flock is being misled into doing less than they ought to do, which is giving and sharing all together and with others as one heart and one soul. God bless all preachers with the truth to lead the flock out of serving mammon, which is capitalism.

Tom Usher

About Tom Usher

Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.