WHAT QUALIFIES AS CHARITY AND WHO IS WORTHY OF OUR CHARITY?

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670) shows the Good Samaritan tending the injured man. (from here)
The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670) shows the Good Samaritan tending the injured man. (from here)

The Parable

In WHO IS MORE INCONVENIENCED, THE DETAINED OR THE DEAD?, some of the commenters in the discussion that followed insisted that Jesus would insist that our Christian beliefs obligate us to let refugees of all sorts into the United States. One even cited The Parable of the Good Samaritan to support his argument. Let’s examine what Jesus expected.

When we think of being charitable to our neighbor, most Christians do in fact think of The Parable of the Good Samaritan. What is important is that when we read this parable we suddenly realize that everyone is our neighbor. There is no one God does not expect us to love.

Luke 10:25-37 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?

27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’

28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Why a good Samaritan? The Jews and the Samaritans were notorious for detesting each other. The Jews still attempted keep the law, but the Samaritans had fallen away and intermarried with non-Jews. Thus, Jesus contrasted the behavior of a couple of Jews who knew the law and disobeyed with a Samaritan whose conscience guided him to obey the law.

The Lesson

So what is the lesson of the parable? When we look around the world, we see seeming endless numbers of people suffering. What does this parable tell us to do about that? Well, if we draw the wrong conclusion from The Parable of the Good Samaritan, we can become hopeless. What can we do? How are we suppose to love all the people in the world as we love our self? That’s not possible. Which of us can solve all of our own problems? How are we suppose to relieve the entire world of all its suffering? We cannot.

With dreams of Utopia and out of guilt, many of us call upon government to end human suffering.  These think of the immense power of large numbers of people working together. They think that if we can just get everyone to work together we can solve all the world’s problems. That is, for the sake of fulfilling a dream they deify (or make an idol of) the government. That misses the point of the parable. With this parable, Jesus calls upon each of us, not bureaucrats in some government, to care about each other. When the good Samaritan came across someone in trouble, he gave from his own resources what help he could. Does anyone actually think God will admit us into heaven just because we paid our taxes?

So it is the early church organized charities. Here are some examples.

  • Act 6:1-7 describes the organization of the first charity to help widows.
  • 2 Corinthians 8-9 speaks of a collection for needy Christians in Jerusalem and exhorts the brethren to be cheerful givers.
  • 1 Timothy 5:3-16 provides the guidance the Apostle Paul gave a protegé, Timothy, as to how a church should support needy widows.

Consider again the lawyer’s question. “Who is my neighbor?” Does it make a difference that the man the good Samaritan helped was a stranger? Yes. So long as we remain in this life Jesus does not expect us to treat our husbands, our wives, our children, our relatives, our friends, and members of our community the same way we treat complete and total strangers. That was the amazing thing about the good Samaritan. He actually helped a stranger.

What We Owe The Stranger

Consider that good Samaritan. He had other business to attend to.  So he did not stay with the injured man.  Instead, he gave the innkeeper two denarii and left the stranger he had helped in someone else’s care. The good Samaritan had other obligations that had a higher priority than the personal care of a stranger. Still, he did what he could.

Because we are all the image bearers of our Creator in one sense we are all neighbors. Nevertheless, we each have greater obligations to family, friends, and the people in our community than we do to strangers. Since the word stranger occurs over a 100 times in the NKJV, we can safely say the Bible makes a clear distinction.

Leviticus 19:33-34 New King James Version (NKJV)

33 ‘And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. 34 The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

That’s why the Bible calls upon us to allow the stranger who dwells among us to become one of us. Moreover, the Bible reminds us with some irony, to take care of our own.

Leviticus 25:35-38 New King James Version (NKJV)

35 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. 36 Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. 37 You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

Note, however, that when a stranger lived among the Jews, the Jews expected that stranger to conform to their customs. So over time that stranger became Jewish or he had to leave.

Strangers might receive sympathy, but they were not trusted.

Proverbs 11:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 He who is surety for a stranger will suffer,
But one who hates being surety is secure.

The Jews knew in fact that strangers could be especially dangerous.

Isaiah 1:7 New King James Version (NKJV)

Your country is desolate,
Your cities are burned with fire;
Strangers devour your land in your presence;
And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

Nevertheless, Jesus calls upon us to help even the stranger.

Matthew 25:37-40 New King James Version (NKJV)

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

How much should we sacrifice to help others? That’s a personal choice.

  • We have no right to sacrifice what belongs to others. We don’t starve our own to feed the hungry.  We don’t take the clothes off our children to clothe others. When we nurse the sick, we strive to avoid getting sick. When visit prisoners, we don’t stage jailbreaks. When we take in strangers, we don’t give up our own culture and beliefs or risk invasion and conquest.
  • Because we each belong to God, we have no business carelessly sacrificing our self. We must take care of our self so that we might serve as long as we can.

Other Views On The Parable of the Good Samaritan

  • The Good Samaritan (settledinheaven.wordpress.com): This post is a traditional verse-by-verse exegesis.  If you really want to dig into the parable, this is a great place to start.
  • What is the meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan (altruistico.wordpress.com): As its title suggest, this post seeks the meaning of the parable.  The focus here is on the concepts Jesus wants us to learn from the parable.
  • Go and do likewise (lifereference.wordpress.com): Here the author examines the last two verses from the parable, calling these lines the most fundamental of all of the teachings of Christ. Effectively, this is the minimum we must get out of the parable.
  • Love According to God-Part 1  (thei535project.wordpress.com): This post uses the The Parable of the Good Samaritan to emphasize God expects us to love everyone. This post fits the parable into the overall concept of Christian love.
  • Who Crosses Your Path? (secretplacesofelelyon.wordpress.com): This post explains how some can twist the parable into a guilt trip.
  • Syrian refugees and Christian values? (insanitybytes2.wordpress.com): This post deals most directly with the refugee issue. It also has the least to say about the parable, but it says more than enough to justify including it here.
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33 thoughts on “WHAT QUALIFIES AS CHARITY AND WHO IS WORTHY OF OUR CHARITY?

  1. Notice the good Samaritan gave what he had and was his to give.

    We borrow to give.

    That is not wise according to this proverb.

    Do not make a habit of striking hands, of going surety for debts. If you have no resources to settle them, why should your bed be taken from under you! (Proverbs 22:25, 26)

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @scatterwisdom

      When we spend our own money on ourselves, we try to spend as little as possible, and we do our best to get what we need. Government, on the other hand, involves politicians (not particularly trustworthy) spending other people’s money on other people. Politician are more interested in buying votes than they are spending as little money as possible. Hence they borrow money just to spend more. Politicians are also more interested in satisfying their donors than they are buying what the people they are supposed to serve actually need. Thus, government waste incredible sums of money.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When a person wastes his money, he or she is making foolish free will choices.

        When a government wastes money, the whole country becomes fools for making free will choice by voting for fools to waste the assets of both themselves and their country.

        Waste not, want not.

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Stephen

    ” The Jews still attempted keep the law, but the Samaritans had fallen away and intermarried with non-Jews.” Actually, they didn’t. They claim to be descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, two tribes that survived the invasion of the Assyrians and the annexation of Samaria.

    In terms of adherence to the Mosaic Law, both are nearly the same. If you recall the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well who tradition calls Photine, then the central conflict between Samaria and Judea was where the original sanctuary that was established during the time of Moses and Joshua. After the Babylonian Exile–an event that also saw the end of the old Assyrian Empire–the Samaritans and the Judeans were further dispersed. After the exile, both groups came back to Israel. The Samaritans went to Mount Gerzim while the Judeans went to Jerusalem. The Samaritan logic is according to Deuteronomy, 11:29-30, where Joshua read the law to the people and the ark rested on it. The Judean logic was that Jerusalem was the royal center of the nation and where the Temple stood in the time of David. Prior to that, the Judeans assert that the Ark was in Shiloh; the Samaritans assert that it was on Mount Gerzim. The Tanakh says that an altar was constructed on Mount Ebal, the other mountain upon which Joshua read the law, traditionally considered the mountain of curses while Gerzim was the mountain of blessings.

    The people Jesus uses in the parable are significant for other reasons. The priest cannot touch a bloody man or he will be unclean and therefore unfit for service in the Temple. The Levite has similar prohibitions. Both of these classes of people were considered not only the cream of society but also examples of a righteous life. The key to the whole passage i.e. the Two Greatest Commandments, that upon which the whole law depends. It was absent in the priest and the Levite because the law is not simply justice, it is mercy. “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”” The Samaritan, according to the Jews and to his own people, would find ministering to a Jew unclean and shameful. Yet, this man fulfilled the Law by showing mercy, the true aim of the law, to one whom all his life he was told to despise.

    The question that was asked, in order to justify himself, was “who is my neighbor?” Christ answers by saying it is the one whom social convention and the letter of the law forbids or discourages you to attend to. Just as one would not pull his ox out of a cistern on the Sabbath lest it die, neither should such considerations prevent us from giving mercy to another.

    “How are we suppose to love all the people in the world as we love our self? That’s not possible.” Then the entire incarnation and sacrifice of Christ was for nothing. What sort of God would give a command that was not possible? Virgins and women beyond their childbearing years have given birth; the Gospels attest to these signs that nothing shall be impossible with God. If we say that we cannot love all people as we love ourselves, then Christ coming to give us the grace to do exactly that was pointless. It is often said that God does not ask of us anything more than we can achieve. If this, one of the Greatest Commandments, is not achievable, then he is a cruel and sadistic God. Since we know he is not, then the command to love each person as we love ourselves must be possible.

    “With dreams of Utopia and out of guilt, many of us call upon government to end human suffering.” *Sigh* If a government of the people cannot see the civil necessity to alleviate the suffering of the weak and the vulnerable, then Sodom and Gomorrah shall stand in judgment of us on the last day. Suffering will not end until that day; BUT until then, we the people must do all we can to alleviate the suffering of others. It is called mercy.

    “That is, for the sake of fulfilling a dream they deify (or make an idol of) the government.” AND there are those who think that the state should be subservient to the needs of mankind rather than some almighty structure that either manages mankind or simply prevents mankind from doing anything. Either proposition, the socialist and the liberal–though some would call it “conservative”–outlook, deifies the state as some metaphysical structure beyond human tinkering in the “conservative view” or the collective manager of man. Either way, you end up with an idol, whether it be a piece of vellum with ink on it sitting in the Capitol building or a bureaucratic nightmare. Whether you revere the vellum or revere the agency, it is still idolatry since the central premise is the same: maximum human happiness can be achieved.

    “So long as we remain in this life Jesus does not expect us to treat our husbands, our wives, our children, our relatives, our friends, and members of our community the same way we treat complete and total strangers.” Actually, that is completely untrue. The Samaritan not only treated him like one of his own kind, but treated him like he was family. You see, to bind someone’s wounds was one thing; that is basic tribal loyalty and it was given to someone who was not only foreign to the tribe, but hostile to it. To pay for his lodging was beyond tribal loyalty and going into family loyalty. The guy gives two full days pay for the wounded man’s upkeep and then he leaves. Why is this significant? Why leave when he has already shown such kindness? Because then the Jew would have no knowledge that a Samaritan, a man who’s contact would make him unclean, touched him. The Samaritan sacrificed his livelihood and time to keep a single Jew alive and unaware of who helped him. It means he was not only sensitive to the man’s physical needs, but his spiritual ones as well.

    Your interpretation of Leviticus 25:35-38 is wrong. There isn’t a lack of trust there. God is telling them that they must apply the same laws regarding usury among Jews to the stranger. Furthermore, God contradicts your previous statements about personal responsibility to the poor. “If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.” When God said “brethren,” the word used is closer to kin. To the Israelites, this meant anyone in the Twelve Tribes. So here God gives a general commandment that all Israelites are to help the poor. So if anything, strangers are given the SAME treatment as native Israelites.

    Your interpretation of Isaiah takes the verse entirely out of context which is an admonishment against Israel for abandoning God.

    “We have no right to sacrifice what belongs to others.” If private property was an absolute right, then God had no right to give Israel to the Babylonians. BUT if all material things belong not solely to us but ultimately to God, then our possessions are for his purposes, not ours.

    “We don’t starve our own to feed the hungry.” No one said you should, but that which you own but do not need belongs to the poor. This is what Christianity has been saying for the past 2000 years and we have the free will to choose it. It is only liberals who say we have the free will to nickle and dime the poor with what is, by Divine and Natural right, their’s.

    “When take in strangers, we don’t give up our own culture and beliefs or risk invasion and conquest.” I had to resist the urge to mock this sentence with impunity. I will settle with saying I found it amusing and certainly the perspective of someone who a) live so remotely from where these strangers actually do/would reside that the reality of their situation is shrouded by the propaganda; b) thinks that America has a distinct culture that is somehow incompatible with their’s; and c) thinks that there is somehow a possibility of invasion from people who couldn’t even defend their own land.

    “Because we each belong to God, we have no business carelessly sacrificing our self.” Yes, because that whole “take up your cross and follow me” and “no greater love is this than for a man to die for his friends.” You seem to be under the impression that self-sacrifice is optional in Christianity and that the sacrifice of Christ was something not to emulate.

    “We must take care of our self so that we might serve as long as we can.” Right, because that is what the Apostles did. They hunkered down, didn’t go anywhere dangerous, and just hung around their safe spaces so that they could continue to live. “Whosoever seeks to save his life will lose it.”

    Frankly, this just seems like a long excuse for you not only to do absolutely nothing but actively support preventing anyone from doing anything. If your material goods and you life are this valuable to you, perhaps Christianity isn’t right for you. You have used the texts like the priest and Levite to say, “I do not need to help this person; I need to keep myself clean.” In the end, all you have done is profaned. And for what? What is so important that it demands that women and children remain in refugee camps? Fear is the only logical answer. How can one fear if they are doing what the Lord commanded them? I have seen in history many instances where the wicked were given their comeuppance. I have not seen where a person was abused for doing the right thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Stephen

      When you write these long detailed comments, I appreciate the effort, but I still wonder where you come up with the stuff you write.

      After Solomon died, Israel split into the northern and southern kingdoms. Here is what Jeroboam, the first of the northern kings did to secure his rule.

      1 Kings 12:26-33 English Standard Version (ESV)

      26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David. 27 If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” 28 So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” 29 And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 Then this thing became a sin, for the people went as far as Dan to be before one.[a] 31 He also made temples on high places and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. 32 And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. 33 He went up to the altar that he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month that he had devised from his own heart. And he instituted a feast for the people of Israel and went up to the altar to make offerings.

      I did not give Leviticus 25:35-38 the interpretation you claim I gave it.

      What I said about the verse from Isaiah is fairly obvious. God did not protect Israel from strangers because they abandoned Him. If the peoples of other lands were not dangerous, why would Israel need protection?

      Anyway, I think I have demonstrated how flawed your logic can be.

      I just have a question for you. Are you married?

      The Bible uses marriage as a model for how we should love God. Try as I might I cannot love my lady as much as I should. I can only try. A stranger on the other side of the world? Someone I have never met. Someone whose language I do not know. At best I can only imagine what he might be like. What he needs I can only guess. I just know giving politicians money doesn’t seem to help anyone very much.

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      1. Stephen

        “…but I still wonder where you come up with the stuff you write.” Well, the bit about the Samaritan/Jew conflict came from a paper published in a Methodist theological school, but it gelled with what I had read from Biblical scholars from Oxford, the Gregorian, and time immemorial. The Samaritan Torah is a good read by the way. It is derived from a text that is about as old as the Masoretic Text.

        We know from prophets that preached in the Kingdom of Israel such as Elijah that there were a number of Israelites who remained faithful. Obadiah is said to have hide 100 prophets from persecution. The Samaritans claim descent from these.

        “I did not give Leviticus 25:35-38 the interpretation you claim I gave it.” I only have your words.

        “What I said about the verse from Isaiah is fairly obvious. God did not protect Israel from strangers because they abandoned Him.” Yes, that doesn’t mean we should distrust the stranger.

        “If the peoples of other lands were not dangerous, why would Israel need protection?” Well, the context is rather clear; those “strangers” happened to be the Assyrians and the Babylonians, which subsequently plundered their lands. The verse highlights the need of Divine Providence and a trust in God over the material strength of men. Israel’s “protection” was a result of their fidelity to their covenant, not a geopolitical necessity. God promised them peace and prosperity if they did obeyed him and rack and ruin if they did not.

        “Are you married?” Yes.

        “A stranger on the other side of the world?” I have often found it a sad fact that there is no marriage in heaven i.e. my wife and I will not be married to each other there. Marriage is, after all, the sign of the Divine Love of God and the expression of that love through the union. It highlights, however, that the love that I have for my wife and children are not my own, but come from God and are God’s. As Paul said, “Not I but Christ through me.” Therefore, if I cannot express the same love to another human being even knowing that they share the same image and likeness of my wife and children i.e. God, then do I really have love?

        Christ died once and for all, that is he only died once to redeem all mankind so that we could have the grace to accept the salvation he offers. If I can only love my wife as Christ loved his Church or as God so loved the world, then how am I to say that I am loving as Christ commanded? It is not written, “Love those closest to you;” even the unsaved can do this. No, the true expression of Christ’s love is to crucify oneself and say, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In much more simple terms, if I am to love as God loves and God loves infinitely, then I too must love infinitely. Now, this is not possible except through grace for nothing shall be impossible for God.

        “What he needs I can only guess.” No, you can know. All men need food, water, clothing, shelter, health care, freedom from captivity, and a proper burial. Do this to the least people i.e. the people most in need, and you have done so to Christ.

        ” I just know giving politicians money doesn’t seem to help anyone very much.” Because current approaches fail to integrate private industry, remove the responsibility of the local communities, and treat issues with a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @Stephen

          I think it is safe to say Jesus endorsed the Old Testament we use, not some other one.

          As to Leviticus 25:35-38, I just think it is kind of funny you are applying what I said about Proverbs 11:15 to that passage, but you are right. You only have my words.

          No doubt you think your commentary about love high and lofty, but it misses the point. This is not heaven. We have to love each other as we are, not as we might wish we were.

          Jesus died on the cross for us because WE ARE SINNERS. Hence, whenever we go about solving a social problem, we must take that fact of life into account. There is nothing noble about trusting strangers without cause or need.

          Do you lock up your home when you leave? Your car? But don’t you just love everyone?

          It is in fact irresponsible and just plain lazy to needlessly trust strangers, and the Bible says as much, which perhaps explains your fervent desire to overlook Proverbs 11:15.

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        2. Stephen

          “I think it is safe to say Jesus endorsed the Old Testament we use, not some other one.” Well, no. It is complicated but the OT we use is not based on and single text but various Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Aramaic, and other texts and fragments of texts. The Samaritan Pentateuch shows a slightly different perspective from a historical point of view and I was referencing it to refute your claim that the conflict between Samaritans and Jews was because the former had abandoned the Law.

          “This is not heaven. We have to love each other as we are, not as we might wish we were.” So the command, “Be thou perfect as thy Heavenly Father is perfect” was just for giggles?

          “Jesus died on the cross for us because WE ARE SINNERS.” And to remain so is an insult to his sacrifice.

          “Hence, whenever we go about solving a social problem, we must take that fact of life into account.” Sure. But that doesn’t mean “do nothing because doing something could possibly lead to doing evil.”

          “There is nothing noble about trusting strangers without cause or need.” In this case, however, there is a cause and a tremendous need.

          “Do you lock up your home when you leave? Your car?” Are you saying that a home and a nation are directly comparable? Because I can find some comparisons based on that line of thinking you certainly disagree with.

          “It is in fact irresponsible and just plain lazy to needlessly trust strangers, and the Bible says as much, which perhaps explains your fervent desire to overlook Proverbs 11:15.” But there IS a need as evidenced by, I don’t know, the thousands of people dying? Typically, people would consider that a need.

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    2. devary sh'maya smart

      “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”
      Ghandi

      Stephen, you make me, a Jerusalem-born jew raised by a devoutly christian grandmother, less distressed about the poverty of mercy among your fellows.

      Citizen Tom, your choice of byline says it all. You seem more preoccupied with your status as a citizen than your christian obligation to scour your soul. Beware of the mind in love with its own arguments. Love needs no argument. Acceptance needs no apologetic. Mercy needs no forensic defense. Only the resistance to these better angels of our nature need bolstering with well-phrased excuses. You might study less and pray more, as you seem to go to great lengths to defend your instinctual desire to protect your own and villify the rest of us.

      I have read the old testament in Hebrew. I speak modern Hebrew. I read the new testament and walked the hills of Jerusalem with my grandmother for all my childhood. Jesus’ change to the notion of tribe was to open the tribe of his followers to all the people of the world. He wanted us, jews, to start interacting with all of you as if you were insiders, to erase the distinctions of nation or identity and embrace the experience of human-ness and love of god. “Am” in Hebrew means nation. “En” means there isn’t any.

      god will grace us all as the sun shines, irrespective of our merit. I have lived for 50 years so far. That is a short time but I have noticed one thing. It is the religious, the indignant, and the ones who chant for rules and punishments, who are the most tempted by their own darkness. They assume all are like them. They imagine being generous, turning the other cheek is as hard for everyone as it is for them. They mistake endurance for weakness and the willingness to suffer pain, in order not to inflict it, a great sacrifice. It seems they cannot conceive of a person formed in the other direction, one for whom harming another to benefit himself is neither option nor temptation.

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      1. @devary sh’maya smart

        Beware of the mind in love with its own arguments. Love needs no argument. Acceptance needs no apologetic. Mercy needs no forensic defense.

        Well, you don’t have any arguments, just a boatload of senseless platitudinous nonsense.

        Stephen and I are not debating whether we should love our neighbor. We are debating how it should be done and the role of government.

        You say love does not need an argument. I don’t disagree. However, loving someone does not excuse us from the consequences of our actions. If I walk up to Julia and Sally, and I see that Sally has more cookies, is okay if I take some of Sally’s cookies and give them to Julia so they both have the same amount? After all, because I love Julia, I don’t want her to feel bad just because Sally has more cookies.

        You say mercy needs no defense. Is it okay to feed Christians to lions just because the lions are hungry? It worked for the Romans.

        You say acceptance need no apologetic. Just think about all the demons out there. A demon supposedly has much greater intelligence than a man, but they have this need to possess a person. Don’t you think you ought to accept a demon? After all, accepting one would help you get past those lonely spells everyone suffers, at least without a demon to rip your life and heart apart.

        Love requires wisdom.

        Proverbs 4:5-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

        5 Get wisdom! Get understanding!
        Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
        6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
        Love her, and she will keep you.
        7 Wisdom is the principal thing;
        Therefore get wisdom.
        And in all your getting, get understanding.

        Mercy is useless to those who will not appreciate it. Mercy that is not mercy in truth is not mercy.

        Proverbs 3:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

        3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
        Bind them around your neck,
        Write them on the tablet of your heart,
        4 And so find favor and high esteem
        In the sight of God and man.

        No good comes accepting evil into our midst. We must judge the nature of the company we would keep.

        1 Corinthians 5:11 New King James Version (NKJV)

        11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.

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      2. Stephen

        If I am merciful, then it is merely Christ’s mercy. I think you come down pretty harsh on Tom though. I can see where his approach to Christianity may rankle you based on your perspective, but I must confess that I thought much the same as he did not too long ago. Theosis is a difficult climb and one of the most common greases on the rungs of Divine Ascent is the propensity to look down at someone at a lower rung and scoff.

        Like

  3. Tony

    I would find it hard to top Stephen’s post above on how the interpretation of the Gospel that you have given in your article seems to rationalize away what most of the major Christian denominations (including Catholics) consider Jesus’ basic thematic message of love, mercy and sacrifice with regards to accepting the stranger in distress. Without the interpretation of Scripture into such a theme culminating with the words, the sacrifice and the redemption offered to us by Jesus, we would all just naturally rationalize scripture legalistically to fit our own preconceived prejudices, just as Jesus’ questioner tried to do in the Good Samaritan story.

    There are of course often some theological and philosophical differences when we try to apply Jesus’ message of love and mercy to indifividual facts and issues. There are also pragmatic realities to be recognized and debated. This fallen world is difficult and complex. If we are applying Jesus’ very difficult law of love with self righteous dogmatism and absolutism to such obviously ambiguous dilemmas where virtues and vices often compete, then we have probably missed the message. Only the demagogue claims absolute black and white solutions. In the case of immigration and refugees, only demagogues would self righteously claim the clear answer is to wall out the desparate or to let in everyone, even the criminals and terrorists.

    However, there is little argument among the various denominational contingents of the Body of Christ over the basic compassionate theme and how it should pragmatically be apllied with regards to the stranger and the refugee. Here is a link to a article from US Conference of Catholic Bishops (hardly a left wing liberal organization) that sets out how scripture should be applied to immigration:

    http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/churchteachingonimmigrationreform.cfm

    One thing that I can add to what Stephen and this link has already put forth so much more authoritatively than I can is my dismay at why you think Christians should consider government’s application of justice or injustice to the immigrant (or on any issue that involves mercy and justice) something that Christians as individuals and as a body should not be actively involved with. As Christians, we can certainly argue about wheter certain government action is just or not. We can argue over whether government pragmatically is the better vehicle for just action than, for example, the nongovernmental community or individual private actions. However, your feeling that government is and should be a realm that Christian virtues of tolerance, compassion, love and charity should not ever practically be applied to seek more just solutions seems antithetical to so much of what is said in scripture about how a godly people should “govern” themselves from Moses to David, from Solomon to Paul.

    You seem to think that, because a democracy did not exist yet during the New Testament where Christians could actually chose to virtuously apply their priniples to the tool of governance, now that Christians can do so with tolerance and love using the tool of the modern democratic state, that we should not. You simply have yet to make a convincing scriptural argument here as to why our Christian responsibility to make government and our corporations and every realm of “community” act as much as possible with universal Christian virtuousness is some magically different from our duty as individuals or as chuches and charities.

    A Christian “community” should as much as possible, given our flawed natures in a flawed world, exemplify Christ and act with tolerance, mercy and compassion, whether it be as church, a nongovernmental organization, a corporation, a town, a city, a state, a nation or a world. There are no such human boundaries in Christ.

    And before you say it, the argument here is not that we should have a theocracy that forces individuals to accept any given religion’s dogmas. Authoritarianism is obviously not what Jesus did. And it would not be acting with tolerant Christian virtue for us to be religiously authoritarian. I know that you can find examples where a Christians have set up such authoritiarian governments, but I would argue that there is something inherently unchristian and oxymoronic about an authoritarian Christian government. It’s apples and oranges.

    That said, we are not imposing our peculiar denominations on anyone to expect our government to act justly and with virtue, including the universal virtues of acceptance, compassion and charity that Jesus taught us to embrace. We are also not imposing our peculiar religious values on anyone when we expect our government “not” to act without virtue or to actually foment and promote our worst, most selfish materialistic greediness and xenophobic fears. To think that Christian values are not values universal and applicable to all peoples basically denies Jesus’ loving sacrifice for the redemption of “all” men and women, no matter what their denomination, race, language or ethnicity. When we nationalistically wall ourselves off from the needy and proclaim “America First”, we certainly are not protecting our “Christian culture” as there is nothing “Christian” or thematically scriptural about xenophobic isolationism.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “In an ideal world, migration should be driven by choice, not necessity.”

      In reading your suggested link, the above statement in my opinion, is
      the core root problem of immigration. While I do not basically disagree with the intent of their report, I commend the Bishops for standing up for the vows they took to serve God.

      However, not everyone in our country and the world choose to take the same vows, including namely, to serve the poor, and live in poverty, and chastity.
      So, what is the solution?

      In my opinion, we need to begin to enforce and welcome only those who migrate to the USA by choice, not necessity. Why? Because a very large majority of USA if far from having the morals, or inclination, to commit to taking the same vows as the being an ideal country as the devout Bishops. They are living examples of how an ideal world could be, but unfortunately is not, because the USA is frankly not as moral as the Bishops standards.

      Why? Frankly, to begin with, because the USA does not teach in public schools, the same morality standards as do Catholic or other religious denomination schools. Why? Because most Americans cannot afford to pay both taxes and high tuition, the morals and all the problems such as drugs, crime, and anarchy will only continue to worsen in the USA.

      For example, as religious schooling decreases in number, there are less students being influenced to hear the call to take the same vows as the Bishops.

      Are religious schools using propaganda to influence students to take moral religious vows begs the next question? Are secular public schools using propaganda to influence students to live morally?

      Between the two types of propaganda, which propaganda will lead more effectively to an ideal country or world?

      What is an ideal world beginning you might wonder?

      In my opinion, we should start with teaching students the Ten Commandments, especially “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” Why that One. Because not teaching that it is immoral to kill will never lead any country to living in an ideal world.

      As for the Bishops advice, I pray they will begin to focus on uniting all religions to agree to end using religious teaching, or propaganda, to influence terrorists to kill. The sooner, all religious leader agree, the sooner the possibility of world may focus on other root causes that will lead closer to ever begin to achieve an ideal world.

      For example, if interested read these link.

      https://rudymartinka.com/2017/01/30/king-solomon-simple-solution-to-end-terrorism/

      https://rudymartinka.com/2017/01/21/king-solomon-chicago-violence-school-vouchers-post-four/

      Regards an goodwill blogging. .

      .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tony

        I do appreciate your sentiments Rudy. You are, like Tom, apparently in that camp who believes that all problems ultimately stem from and can be solved by public education reform. Perhaps, but I simply don’t know enough about a great many things to advocate for changing too drastically our current institutions and traditions.

        What little actual knowledge that I possess is the grateful creation of both the public schools and the private Catholic school experience. It would be unfair to blame them for my youthful rebellions, but the closest that I ever came to becoming an atheist was after my exposure to one year at a Jesuit Liberal Arts College. My Law Degree comes from a major regional Baptist University, but I would not have considered most of my professors or my education there as particularly religious.

        Aside from that, with all due respect, I have as little expertise on the complex systemics of modern education, religious or otherwise, as our new Education Secretary. Therefore, for now at least, I will just demur on that discussion and focus my limited contributions here to the morality of the more basic immigration issue at hand.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Tony

    Tom –

    Even though we may disagree on moral interpretation, your efforts here to present an authoritative scriptural argument and your eloquence in presenting it here are to be applauded. Thank you.

    Like

    1. @Tony

      You cannot top Stephen’s post?
      😦

      Well, it does seem that you tried. Nevertheless, please read my reply to him.

      Your reference to the “Catholic Church’s Position on Immigration Reform” is interesting, but I think the bishops largely misguided.

      Do we have an obligation to help the poor in other countries? Yes. However, that is not the job of our government. If we literally let in everyone who wants to come in, we would have chaos. Who would that help? If you want to help the poor in other countries, there are plenty of private charities who need money and volunteers. NOBODY is stopping you.

      All the Democratic Party is trying to do is manipulate our immigration policies to import a bunch of Democrats. That may help some dishonest politicians get elected and for a time soothe the consciences of the guilt-ridden, but it really won’t help anyone. That will just help to destroy our nation. Contrary to the absurd assertions of some, America does have a unique culture. You have been out of the country. You know that.

      All the Republican Party is trying to do is find cheap labor for corporate donors. What troubles the Republican Party is the rank and file members don’t want America to become a bilingual nation. Hence, most Republicans officials find the issue difficult. They can’t decide whether to please donors or voters.

      Hordes of unskilled immigrant laborers hurts unskilled American laborers. It makes it difficult to get that first job. So Democrats just turn our poor into prison kings and welfare queens. That’s not compassionate.

      Have I made a convincing scriptural argument? That would satisfy you? Obviously not.

      You want a convincing scriptural argument. Put one together yourself. Why don’t you try studying the Bible. The Catholic Catechism, by the way, is not the Bible.

      Do I think our constitutional republic something special? While it lasts, yes. I just don’t want foolish people to wreak it.

      I suggest you read this post. =>
      https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/wisdom-in-a-nutshell/

      Like

  5. Tony

    “Do we have an obligation to help the poor in other countries? Yes. However, that is not the job of our government. If we literally let in everyone who wants to come in, we would have chaos. Who would that help? If you want to help the poor in other countries, there are plenty of private charities who need money and volunteers. NOBODY is stopping you.”

    OUR government IS solely responsible for who we let into our country. Who is making the impractical argument that we should let “everyone” in? Certainly not the US Catholic Bishops and not me. It seems that when you lack a moral basis for your argument, you like to make up hyperbolic straw men to debate.

    “Contrary to the absurd assertions of some, America does have a unique culture. You have been out of the country. You know that.”

    Indeed I do. Are you really arguing that your patriotic obligation to our supposedly superior culture is greater than your Christian obligation to God and to all men everywhere? What makes our culture so unique IS that it is pluralistically welcoming, or at least we struggle with trying to be. In so far as we actually are a Christian culture, it is only in how much we actually act as Jesus modeled, as individuals, and by our loving participation in every form of community, including government.

    “You want a convincing scriptural argument. Put one together yourself. Why don’t you try studying the Bible.”

    What difference would it make when you mock the authority of those who have studied scripture and know it far better than you? No matter how well it fits into a worldwide multi-denominational and scholarly tradition of scriptural theology that goes back 2000 years, would Pope Tom of the Church of Tom still have his own interpretation? When does one know if they are cherry picking scripture in a legalistic manner just to worship at the alter of some new materialistic, nationalistic or party ideology? I think the answer to that question comes from which interpretation is more compassionate and more thematic to the actual words and actions of Jesus Christ.

    Jesus was not only the culmination of all of scripture, His sacrifice redeemed us to something completely new. Do you really think that Jesus lived, suffered, died and resurrected just so we could make up rules to wall out desperate men, women and mostly children from coming into our idolized country and from sharing our stuff? And this unamerican and unchristian cruelty is rationalized because they are somehow different? Any interpretation of scripture that is anthetical to Jesus’ message of compassionate sacrifice and love is by its very nature a misinterpretation, no matter who tries to rationalize it otherwise.

    Like

    1. @Tony

      Why do I have to prove what is self-evident? I have been paying attention to politics since I was in high school. Even JFK would not recognize the today’s Democratic Party. More and more our political establishment is becoming nothing more than men and women engaged in a contest, a naked quest for power.

      The Democratic Party advocates open borders; it just calls it something else. You pointed to a naive front groups like the US Catholic Bishops. At the same time those bishops are suppose to be fighting against the killing of babies, abortion, they are working to guarantee Democrat victories at the polls. I don’t have to mock the authority of those men. They do it themselves.

      What the US Catholic Bishops want is effectively a second immigration amnesty. SECOND immigration amnesty. We need a second one because the last one worked so well? For whom?

      We have always had controlled immigration into this country. Now it is far more difficult. What is different now? People can travel more easily, of course, but what is crucial is our health, education, and welfare programs. Need I say the obvious? Democrats are eager to use these programs to buy the votes of gullible immigrants.

      At every turn Democrats fight to bring as many immigrants in the country as they can. The poorer the better. When anyone calls such activity foolish, all you do is call people names. Tom doesn’t care about the suffering. Tom is a meanie bigot. If the suffering of those people breaks your heart, why do you have to bring them here? What is stopping you from helping them there?

      Is the problem warfare? State terrorism? Drug lords and gangs? You want to invite that here? If the sufferers are from south of our border, there is no shortage of Spanish speaking nations down there. Muslims? Has anyone noticed a shortage of Muslim nations where Muslims can go? You mean the Muslims don’t want them? And the Hispanics don’t want Hispanics? Go figure.

      When it will be more work for the sufferers to adapt to our culture, why do you have to bring them here? So you can give them freebies — what rightfully belongs to someone else? That is not a good enough reason.

      When you don’t believe Jesus lived, suffered, died and was resurrected, why do you try to use that argument on me? You don’t understand Bible. You don’t want to believe it. The Old Testament contains the Mosaic Law. Much of that Jesus set aside with the new covenant. Much of it He did not. What the law did is demonstrate we are sinners. We have borders for a reason. Unless we give new immigrants time to assimilate — insist they assimilate — we won’t share enough the same beliefs to make any kind of government workable. We won’t even be able to talk to each other. Therefore, you are not solving anything. You are inviting chaos.

      Read this => https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+11%3A1-9&version=ESV

      For thousands of years people have seen the obvious truth in the story of The Tower of Babel, but Democrats refuse to see. Why? Perhaps this post will help you to understand => https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/51155/posts/1327268306

      You want to help those people? Then you have to do it where they live.

      Like

  6. Tony

    What the Catholic Bishops are arguing for is “mercy”. Why do you think that demonizing Democrats or the Catholic Bishops (few of which would normally vote for Democrats) or immigrants somehow helps your Christian argument? Your having to resort to such divisive and rabid tribalism speaks volumes about the moral and spiritual poverty of your argument.

    The Tower of Babel? Seriously? Do you think that the Apostles spoke only one language and that it was English? It is the compassionate message of Jesus that unifies Christians, not any given perfect language, race or culture.

    You point out difficult practical problems and simply surrender because there are no perfect solutions. What is wrong with doing the best you can? Taking half a loaf and sharing half a loaf when that is all you have? Jesus did not offer us easy black and white solutions by His sacrifice. Jesus SUFFERED. If these problems called for easy moral solutions, we would not even be having this discussion. We are supposed to struggle for the most just answer.

    Like

    1. @Tony

      You may vehemently disagree, but where is the argument that justifies your position? Is mercy your argument? I have not condemned mercy. I have condemned your arrogance. You ignore obvious problems. You needlessly risk the lives of your family, friends, neighbors, and countrymen.

      God gave the apostles the gift of tongues. When did He give it to you? He did not? Then you remain as tribalistic as I, perhaps more so.

      Did I just point to practical problems and not offer a solution? No. I just offered a solution different from the one you demand.

      What did the apostles do with their gift of tongues? They obeyed Jesus Christ.

      Matthew 28:16-20 English Standard Version (ESV)
      The Great Commission

      16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

      The apostles followed their calling. They did not wait for the nations to come to them. They went to the nations. Given there does not seem to be any way we can all live in peace in Jerusalem, it was a lot less disruptive that way.

      Like

      1. Tony

        Tom- And under your theory of migration policy, those Apostles would have be banned from migrating to America today. (You know Saint Paul came from Tarsus, which is pretty close to present day Syria).

        “Arrogance”? Perhaps, as I have said, self satisfied pride in the invention of my own ideas has often been one of my many sins. I try to counter this sin by listening and learning from the more authoritative voices of the Christian tradition. Nothing I have told you here is my own brilliant idea. Do some research on the public migration policy of all the major American Denominations, including Jewish and Muslim organizations.

        Ironically, perhaps no one has ever united American Jewish and Muslim groups more than Donald Trump. Even the usually fractious conservative and liberal Jewish organizations who rarely agree on anything are unanimous in condemnation of Trump’s EO. Ivanka’s conservative synagogue where she sends her kids to school has issued a statement against the EO. The chief executive of the Jewish Anti-Defamation Leage recently said that, if Trump imposed a Muslim registry, “this proud Jew will register as a Muslim.” (Did you know that there are more than 36 references in the Torah for welcoming the stranger? Did you know that, after exhausting great effort and money trying to come here, Anne Frank’s family was ultimately denied entrance into the US in 1939? I didn’t). Like you, FDR also justified turning away desperate refugee Jews by sighting security concerns about supposed hidden “saboteurs” in their fated ranks.). Adding fuel to the fire of universal Jewish condemnation was the Trump administration’s tone deafness in issuing the ban on Holocaust Rememberance Day.

        So who is really the “arrogant” religious outlier here Tom?

        Like

        1. @Tony

          Your arguments depend upon misrepresenting your opposition and making inflammatory statements.

          And under your theory of migration policy, those Apostles would have be banned from migrating to America today. (You know Saint Paul came from Tarsus, which is pretty close to present day Syria).

          The apostle Paul was an educated man with a useful occupation. Paul was a tent maker, sort of a housing contractor in those days. Undoubtedly, with the gift of tongues Paul could of spoken English better than you or I.

          Would I have opposed the Apostle Paul’s immigration? After he was properly vetted, I hope I would have at least supported giving the man a visa to visit, but what about your party? Given what Democrats think of Paul’s Biblical writings, is it not likely that his religious beliefs would have stirred up Democrats like a nest of hornets? Really, it would be hilarious to do a satirical post on that.

          As it is, the number of Christian refugees who have succeeded in immigrating from the war torn Middle East is surprisingly small, and that is not funny. Those people really do have something to fear from religious persecution.

          FDR was bigot? Well, I was not there, but some say so was Woodrow Wilson, renowned for his league of nations. Racial bigotry is not that unusual. In fact, given the way the leaders of today’s Democratic Party cannot see past race, sex, and creed……

          Did you know that there are more than 36 references in the Torah for welcoming the stranger?

          Did you know that Christianity starts wars? I learned that in public schools run by members Democrat leaning labor unions.

          The Bible says to love our enemies. The Bible says to return good for evil. What the Bible does not endorse is taking stupid risks. When people tried to kill the Apostle Paul, for example, he generally tried to avoid being killed, hiding and running when necessary.

          Paul did die as a martyr, but he did so because that was the only way he could persuade the people who killed him to become Christians. That’s your excuse? I don’t think so.

          Like

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