Camels and Needles

in Deep Dives2 months ago

If you've ever learned anything about the Bible, you'll immediately know what camels and needles have in common: they're bot in one of the Holy Book's most famous quotes.


source: YouTube

Jesus was a socialist. Or rather, he would be a socialist if socialism had existed during His days. The quote from the Bible concerning camels and needles is found in no less than three verses, Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25 and Luke 18:25 and says: "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." The Bible also contains, in 1 Timothy 6:10, which says: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." All this seems to clearly position Christianity against the excessive accumulation of wealth.

But what's more important is the way Jesus lived, helping the poor and destitute whenever he could. And the only times Jesus got mad, was out of empathy for his people, when he saw that adherence to rules was prioritized over caring for people, when harm was done to children, or when people had ulterior motives and selfish ambitions. He couldn't stand selfishness. He was an egalitarian. He got angry at people doing things, right or wrong, for selfish reasons. And what's even more important for this article;

Most commonly, Jesus got mad at the religious leaders because really, they were just religious phonies. They pretended to be good, but in reality, they were just as messed up as everyone else. But they refused to admit and acknowledge their own sin.

Jesus famously calls out this hypocrisy by saying they wash the outside of the cup but ignore the inside (Matthew 23:25-32). They cared more about what people thought of them, that they would appear to be righteous. In doing so, they ignored the dirtiness of their heart. In other words, they ignored what was more important for the sake of appearances.

It’s important to note Jesus wasn’t mad at them because of their sin. He was mad because they pretended they were better than they were. Jesus came for the sinners and the sick, but he got mad at those who were self-righteous.

source: Rethink

How then, do we explain the televangelists who preach the "prosperity gospel"? How do we explain the evangelical Christian nationalists who go against God's command to take care of the sick and welcome strangers, while declaring Trump a New Messiah? How can they equate Christian faith with material and financial success for themselves and not for others? How do American conservatives, whose ideology is based on the idea that individual wealth-accumulation is an inherent good, square that circle? How can anyone, in the light of what Jesus, his life and his word represent, call themselves a libertarian and a Christian at the same time? I found some interesting answers to these questions in a book review of Law Reed's book "Was Jesus A Socialist?"

Reed takes some of the chapters from the Bible that clearly explain exactly what I've explained in the opening paragraphs of this post, and interprets them in creative ways to show that Jesus was in fact a libertarian. He bends the words of his Holy Book in ways that show the Holyness of the Legal Contract. He interprets Matthew 20:1-16 the parable of the workers in the vineyard, which closes with another famous quote, "so the last will be first, and the first last," for it to mean that The Kingdom of Heaven is governed by a private land-owner who contracts volunteers, paying them the wages he decides are worthy of their individual contributions. This is diametrically opposed to the way this parable is usually interpreted, namely as evidence of God's grace and egalitarianism because he treats all workers, no matter how long they've worked, with the same gratitude and dignity. Reed takes it to mean that the owner pays all workers whatever he wants, calculating hourly wages and assessing supply and demand. Ridiculous, of course.

Reed also thinks that the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son show "the critical value of the solitary individual," when in fact they celebrate the rejoining of these individuals with the loving community they are part of.

As Reed moves on to treat the “values” of Jesus, his book becomes progressively more dishonest. For example, he discusses chapter 15 of Luke’s gospel, which comprises three famous parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son, all of which are part of Jesus’s response to the charge that he associated with sinners. The first parable tells of a shepherd who loses a sheep, tirelessly searches for the lost one, and celebrates with his neighbors once he’s found it; the second tells of a widow with ten silver coins who loses one and does the same as the shepherd; the third and most famous is the story of a young man who demanded his inheritance, spent it all, and was nonetheless welcomed back by his father with a great feast. These parables, Reed says, “emphasize the critical value of the solitary individual.” I invite readers to glance through these parables themselves and decide whether that is a tenable reading.
source: Current Affairs

Read the entire article; it's really good. If I was a Christian, I'd steer clear of any religious leader who preaches the prosperity gospel, Christian nationalism, or claims that homosexuals and abortion are works of the Devil. Jesus was a kindhearted, forgiving man who preached that sinners are to be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven and that riches are to be redistributed to the needy and that strangers are to be welcomed. Camels don't fit through needles. Period.

Why the “prosperity Gospel” is bankrupt

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