The Worship of Mammon -- 1909 painting by Evelyn De Morgan. (from here)
The Worship of Mammon — 1909 painting by Evelyn De Morgan. (from here)

Rob Barkman is running a series on Revelation. His latest is an interesting post on the fleeting nature of riches. We are all familiar with the story of the rich young ruler who wanted to follow Jesus, but could not let go of his riches. Matthew (Matthew 19:16-26), Mark (Mark 10:17-31), and Luke (Luke 18:18-34) tell the story. What most people remember is this verse.

Matthew 19:23-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

23 And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Most of us read Revelation less often than the four Gospels, but that book is about Jesus too. Revelation has lessons for us too, and during the Tribulation there are still rich people who love their money and have trouble letting go of what they do not need in exchange for what they do need. And yet is that not the problem with every idol, whether it be about the love of sex, the love of government, the love of our self, or the love of stuff (that is, riches or money).

The Revelation Of Jesus Christ: “so great riches is come to nought”


Rev 18:17 – “For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.”

The rapid loss of the riches found in Satan’s kingdom, helps to illustrate the passing nature of the riches of this world.

Riches are fleeting…

Pro 23:4-5 – “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.  Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.”

Therefore to love riches, and live our lives in their pursuit, leads to a worthless, wasted life… (continued here)

Note that Revelation 18:11-24 “Warnings To Depart From Babylon (2)” considers Revelation 18:17 in context, and that is worth doing.

30 thoughts on “WORSHIP OF THE GOD OF STUFF — A reblog

      1. There was great criticism from American conservatives when the Pope preached on this passage and said true Christians should not be so concerned with wealth and give to others to the point of sacrifice.

        1. Great criticism from American conservatives? Yes, but why?

          There was great criticism from American conservatives when the Pope preached on this passage and said true Christians should not be so concerned with wealth and give to others to the point of sacrifice.

          In so as it goes, I have no problem with what you said. However, I suspect you are leaving something out. I have not read the Pope’s latest encyclical. Since it is long, and I am not one of his followers…… Nevertheless, I think that main criticism from Conservatives came from the fact that pope recommended public policy alternatives that his Conservative critics do not have a Biblical basis. Did the pope advocate government charity? You tell me. I am not really that interested in arguing with the pope.

          My problem is with Socialism. For charity to be honest, genuine charity, we each have to give to the needy of our own accord. That I can find in the Bible. Government charity? I cannot find government charity in the Bible. What I can find are examples of the failure of government charity. Whenever politicians start redistributing other people’s money, they inevitably start using that money so to buy votes. That looks too much to me like stealing.

          Here are a couple of links worth checking out.

          With appropriate regulation, government can give people an incentive to participate in HONEST commerce. Where people can voluntarily make deals and exchange good and services, almost anyone can thrive.

          Where does Christianity factor in? We remember the purpose of wealth. Those who love and obey God don’t gather wealth for its own sake. Instead, they use their earthly goods to store up treasures in heaven.

          1. I have read the document both in English and the Latin, the latter being the more authoritative when you get into the nitty gritty of ordinary magisterium.

            That term, ordinary magisterium, is what needs to be emphasized when looking at the criticisms. What this means–without going into a long an complicated discussion about the Church and her teaching authority–is that the Pope took what already existed in body of Catholic teaching called the Deposit of Faith and applied it to the context of the environment and the poor. It is sort of the equivalent of your pastor giving a sermon on something you already profess to be true but applying it to a different aspect of life. It really isn’t worth the trouble getting angry over it.

            The pope drew harsh criticism, some of which I address on my blog, for criticizing the inequality that occurs in capitalistic systems. Only the most blind people can say that there is no inequality in capitalistic systems worldwide and worldwide is the context the pope is speaking. I noticed he drew harsh criticism mainly from America not because Americans are capitalist but because we have a unique propensity to think everything is about us. The encylclical coupled with the pope’s visit to Latin America tell us everything we need to know about his view of economics. He has experienced first hand that welfare states don’t help the poor like they are supposed to and that trickle down economics relies too much on human kindness to go without regulation.

            Ideally, and this is what I have gleaned from my own sources in the Vatican itself, the pope would like to see a return, within the Christian community most of all, to the community portrayed in the Book of Acts. Each person lives within his means and sells property to support the poor. The pope’s harshest criticisms in the encyclical were directed at the “throw away” culture. There is a disease in our modern culture that has us addicted to newer and better. We have an economy that desires to consume more than it desires to give. We consume at the expsense of the Chinese industrial serfs and the indigenous Bolivian tribes but we don’t care.

            The pope would see us return to that central principle of the Bible: God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son. The wonder of the Incarnation does not stop at the church door.

            So really all I am saying is that I am glad that the pope isn’t the only one upholding the Biblical principles of Charity in America because I am not seeing it much these days.

          2. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

            I have read the document both in English and the Latin, the latter being the more authoritative when you get into the nitty gritty of ordinary magisterium.

            Interesting. Where did you get a Latin version of the Laudato si’? From several sources, it was published in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.

            The Pope assembled a cadré of poor science advisors, including fierce anti-humanists, and with their advice he is advocating for a global government and return to very poor living standards, as well as the suppression of those who would rise to modernity. And he decries the free market, the most powerful force in the world for lifting people from poverty and misery. Yes, he has a South American pro-Marxist viewpoint; perhaps this is to be expected. But it doesn’t make him correct, and he certainly is not.

            Perhaps the Pope believes that jumping on the “global warming will kill us all” bandwagon will make him more relevant; it certainly has many previously anti-Catholic and anti-religious publications fawning over him. But he is jumping on board just as the wheels are coming off, and he is all-but-ignoring the massive slaughter and exile of Christians across the Muslim world.

            I am not impressed.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          3. @mastersamwise

            I don’t want to debate the quality of the the current Pope. I have no reason to judge the man. I just have no use for Socialism.

            Because we largely share the same beliefs, I do think Christians should work to together to spread the Gospel and to protect each other from religious persecution. So I have no interest in taking potshots at the Pope (or anyone else for that matter). That said, when the Pope takes a public position on a controversial issue, he will be criticized. Such is life.

            Jesus did not teach using the power of government to force people to be charitable. Because such schemes are not voluntary, they are not charity, and they produce unintended results. What forced charity does is empower devious politicians and those interest groups who feed off the government.

          4. Jesus taught that the will of the Father is to be our own will. No longer are we to live for ourselves or even for our monkey circle. But if we are truly his followers, we much emulate him and there is no greater emulation of Christ than to emulate him on the Cross. We are a stiff-necked people and we willingly harm ourselves as we kick against the goads. There are two options I see: Christians withdraw entirely from public life and survive in small communities or Christian go out and try to legislate laws that reflect a true understanding of man, creation, and existence itself.

          5. That is a false dilemma.

            1. We don’t have to withdraw from public life. In fact, the Great Commission demands that we spread the Gospel.

            2. We don’t have the right to use the government to force others to pursue our own definition of happiness.

            So what should we do? We should each individually exercise our right to pursue happiness. Consider that Aristotle thought happiness was to be found in virtue. If you can live a virtuous life and find happiness in it, I expect you will have many imitators. If you can give joyfully, others will try to copy you.

          6. Your objections are inherently linked. If we believe that true happiness is found in God or virtue, and we know this to be something that must be spread–see the Great Comission–then naturally the work of the Christian/Aristotelean is to ensure that God/virtue is the definition of happiness for a given polis. If not, then both God and Aristotle say that the polis will be deviant to the point that tyranny is not only possible, but inevitable. I think we are in agreement for the most part. I am not entirely serious about forced Charity though I think, in a truly Christian nation, it would either be the law or such an established norm that no one would question or even notice.
            One book think would explain my modus operandi is Thomas More’s Utopia. I am not so much giving clear solutions, but challenging the “solutions” of the age in light of what is known. Truly, the law to impose Charity is only possible in Utopia or the New Jerusalem. In other words, no where or the coming kingdom.
            I have often been told I look toward Heaven so much I am useless on earth. On the contrary, I think it is the duty of the Christian to have Heaven as a frontlet before their eyes and a seal upon their right hand. In all we see, we see through the light of God. Whatever we do, we do for the completion of his will.

          7. You cannot impose charity. Period.

            You can take people’s money and property; statist tyrannies do this all the time. And perhaps you can call it “charity” — as statist tyrants often make statements that they are imposing their tyranny for the good of the public, as true for the later Cæsars as it was for Hitler and now for Obama.

            Charity is one’s own property freely given. You propose taking money by force. There is no connection, other than what you might contrive for public relations purposes.

            America has always been a generous nation. This is being eroded by statists — “progressives” is the word used for the past 125 years — deciding that government should take property from producers and give it to the polis to buy votes, all under the guise of “general welfare.” Grover Cleveland fought this in the 1880s.

            Teddy Roosevelt jumped completely on board, giving speeches in which he proposed deciding whether or not someone had rightfully earned his property in a way that he felt was for the good of the people. If that person had, TR would let him keep (most of) it. Otherwise, it would be taken. TR explicitly said that money made through investments was to be forfeited; only money earned through a simple wage was “earned” in his view.

            Progressives had already been engaged in a war on free enterprise for decades, and it accelerated not long after TR launched his Progressive Party.

            What you propose, no matter how benign “charity” sounds to you, is tyranny. We have seen how that inevitably goes. And such tyrannically-imposed redistribution of wealth does not produce virtue, any more than mechanically animating a corpse produces life.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          8. Without Charity, everything is tyranny. It is a funny paradox you have set up. You say you cannot impose Charity because it would be tyranny but without Charity it is all tyrannical anyway.
            Charity is the Divine Love of God. Let’s not kid ourselves. If you are a Christian, Charity is already mandated. It is a precept of the Divine Law. Why can’t the laws of men reflect the laws of God? Without Charity, the laws of men are hollow, without any purpose or meaning.
            Consider the cross. Christ had everything. He had no reason to give himself except to fulfill the Divine mandate. Oh how tyrannical the redistribution of grace is!

          9. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

            Without Charity, everything is tyranny.

            Demonstrate this.
            How is a distant star tyranny?
            How is a fish swimming in a pond tyranny?
            How is a man living by himself on an island tyranny?
            How is the same island, with two people on it who are pleasant to each other but do not interfere with the other’s life, tyranny?

            In fact, how is anything tyranny except coercing other people to behave in the manner you think is appropriate?

            Your notion seems to boil down to “God is Love, so we [sam]wise government masterminds will punish you unless you give us your money.” That is simple and obvious tyranny regardless of your pretensions to noble motives. Semantic games about paradoxes do not enter into the equation at all.

            And if your position is that it’s okay because Jesus was forced to sacrifice himself, thus making force permissible, then I think you’ve just undercut all of Christianity.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          10. I do not need to. St. Paul’s arguments for the necessity of Charity are sufficient to answer all objections. Without Charity, that star will cease existing, causing the solar system it supported to fall into absolute chaos. Without Charity, the fish will die, polluting the pond. Without Charity, the man on the island will never know himself. Without Charity, those two men will never come to know each other or God. Chaos is tyranny. Selfishness is tyranny. Both are the tyrannies of disorder over order.

            No, we will punish you if you do not love. Money is merely an obstacle to be overcome.

            On the contrary, because Christ offered himself freely then an Christian nation would demand of its citizens the same radical offering.

            You seem to favor the Divine Law so long as it can be kept in the bushel basket in your home and church. That is sad. Shouldn’t the Gospel, the light by which all truth is illuminated, pervade every aspect of human existence?

          11. You are basing all of this on your badly reasoned understanding of a mistranslation of 1 Corinthians 13?

            King James’ committee was not omniscient; they changed meanings when it suited them or was politically needful. Thus they did not suffer the fate of their predecessor Tyndale. The word from which we get “caring” was translated to “love” early on, but to “charity” by a church interested in donations. They even retranslated the word “church.”

            And speaking of love,

            No, we will punish you if you do not love. Money is merely an obstacle to be overcome.

            On the contrary, because Christ offered himself freely then an Christian nation would demand of its citizens the same radical offering.

            I do not care what your rationale is for crucifying or robbing an entire population, whether you think you can force “love” or force “charity.” Your theology is strange indeed, and dangerous.

            Shouldn’t the Gospel, the light by which all truth is illuminated, pervade every aspect of human existence?


            Nor have your fancy words about St. Paul demonstrated that your peculiar notion of “charity” makes any sense at all.

            Paul knew what he was talking about. Show that you do.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          12. What words you place in my mouth! First of all, I would sooner trust the Vulgate than the KJV. St. Jerome, though irascible, had less of an agenda.

            Second, the word for love in 1 Cor 13 is, of course, agape. That word is much stronger than mere monetary donation. Christ uses it in John 3:16 to describe the love God had for the world. He uses it again when asked about the Shema Yisrael and the love we are commanded to have for God and neighbor. Yes, the KJV committee was indeed flawed. Especially when they glossed over the word charitos, describing the free grace given by God. Properly understood, Charitos is the favor that proceeds from God for the salvation of man while Agape is the love which God, according to John, is.

            I find it strange you talk about crucifying and robbing when I said no such thing. I merely pointed out that, to a Christian, money should not be an obstacle to expressing the same self-sacrificial love as Christ. Thus, laws should exist that encourage such self-sacrifice and punish selfishness. What goodness is there is storing up great wealth? Is hoarding wealth greater than living modestly while giving the greater share to the poor? Why give tax breaks instead of simply increasing those tax breaks for charitable donation? And if a rich man, with a great amount of wealth and is in no danger of poverty, does not give to the poor, isn’t that an injustice? You will say no because he deserves his wealth. I say to you as Christ did: all things come from God for the glory of God, not for our own exaltation. If you do not believe this, you reject Christ. But if you believe in Divine Providence as it is revealed in the Scriptures, the rich man has no more right to his riches than the poor man for all of it belongs to God. Therefore, the rich man is compelled, by the Divine Law of God, to give what he has to the poor. If not, he will burn and all his wealth will not bring him the satisfaction that Lazarus enjoys.

            I daresay Charity doesn’t make sense in a purely wordly sense. But taken in light of the cross, it makes perfect sense. If we are to bear the name of so great a redeemer and not emulate him in every respect and in every aspect of our lives, we deceive ourselves of our salvation and, like the lukewarm, will be spewed forth from God’s mouth.

          13. @mastersamwise

            Sometimes I think you behave like a most peculiar troll. Who is this we who will punish someone if they do not love? How would the government even know whether someone loved or not? If we pay our taxes, doesn’t the government think us most loving? But is that love?

            It seems that not even God can force us to love Him. Yet God is the most deserving being of all. We should have no trouble loving Him. Yet we struggle, but He does not force the issue.

            If God chooses not to force anyone to love Him, what make you think we have the right — or the wisdom — to do what God does not do?

          14. I admit I have been immanentizing the eschaton more than I should if I want to be taken seriously. But that is the peculiar nature of Christianity isn’t it? We know that lack of love WILL be punished and believe it perfectly rational for it to be punished, but we are loathed to punish it ourselves. We do not punish adultery anymore, even in the 21 states that statutorily forbid it. Is not that a lack of love? Murder certainly would lack love as would domestic abuse. But why do we prohibit these things? Is it out of love, or social convention? That is how American law works. It has created moral maxims separated from their original contexts. Gay marriage is a prime example. According to American philosophy, there is little argument prohibiting it. It does not really harm anyone, and actually provides more income for the state and a greater tax burden taken from others. In terms of general self-interest, it is actually a favorable proposition. But if you were to insert love into the equation, the proposition would be practically cruel, allowing people to believe a lie and live in constant unhappiness for the rest of their lives.
            One need not look father than the cross to know the definition of love. It is the outpouring of the self. It is denying yourself anything and everything due to you by right for the sake of something greater than your self. It is submitting oneself to another’s will, forsaking your own will and even your own judgment.
            What I cannot understand is how you continue to think of law as force. Certainly God has laws just as men do. God uses his own ways to goad us toward lawfulness just as men do. So what is the difference? Would not the best laws, the most just laws, the least tyrannical laws be those that reflect the laws of God?

          15. Without love, the form we call agape, we will see tyranny. If people only hate, or worse, are indifferent to each other, they will tyrannize each other.

          16. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

            Charity is the Divine Love of God.

            Demonstrate this. One may be an example of the other, but they are not equivalent.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          17. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

            If you are a Christian, Charity is already mandated.

            Demonstrate that this is to be accomplished by coercion rather than encouragement.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          18. It was hard for Paul to kick against the goads, was it not? What is Grace except God’s attempt to coerce his creation toward the good? For some Christians, it is irresistible. One need only read St. Augustine’s Confessions to know that God coerces us all the time. Encouragement would be a rather flat word to describe the trans-formative power the Divine Life of God.

          19. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

            Without Charity, the laws of men are hollow, without any purpose or meaning.

            Demonstrate this. Show that a law not to commit murder, in a non-Christian society, is without any purpose. Show that this law is without any meaning.

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          20. Simple: why is homosexual relationships wrong?

            Abortion is considered not to be murder by changing the definition of a person. Doctor assisted suicide is not only considered morally conscionable, but actually imperative.
            In truth, our prohibitions against murder merely stem from the idea that to allow it would engender chaos. Once it can be proven statistically, as with marijuana, that most people would not commit murder, then we may live to see it decriminalized. Again, moral maxims devoid of their contexts lose all meaning. If you don’t believe me, perhaps Nietzsche can convince you. He certainly convinced the modern world.

          21. @mastersamwise, who wrote:

            Consider the cross. Christ had everything. He had no reason to give himself except to fulfill the Divine mandate.

            Are you asserting that Jesus was forced, against his will, to do this? And do you assert that being forced against your will to do something is charity?

            Oh how tyrannical the redistribution of grace is!

            You may be fond of that word “redistribution,” but I have never seen asserted anywhere that there was a fixed amount of grace in the world and in order to be “fair” it must be taken from some and given to others. That is what your assertion implies.

            It seems to me, instead, that one creates grace in the world by behaving in a manner that earns it.

            I also note, as an aside, your odd habit of using proper case consistently for the word “Charity” but not bothering with this for the word “grace.” Is grace less important to you?

            I suppose I should be happy that you did not similarly elevate “redistribution.”

            ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          22. I asert that Christ was compelled by the Divine Law of God to act according to Love, not self-interest. Indeed, if his agonies in the garden were any indication, it was not his will that was done, but the Father’s.

            You talk of how fond I am of the word but I have only used it perhaps twice in our entire discourse. How strange it is that you seek to put words in my mouth while ignoring the lion-share of what I say.

            I admit, my comment about the “redistribution” of grace was entirely sardonic. That is exactly what I meant to imply in the most sarcastic way possible.

            “It seems to me, instead, that one creates grace in the world by behaving in a manner that earns it.” Are you a Pelagian? That would explain some things.

            As for the use of capital letters–a point so minor I wonder seriously why you bring it up–it is a simple case of my phone auto-correcting.

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