It is no great secret that people have much invested in their religion of choice. It's usually best to not even broach the subject with anyone but the most informed or most open. So a "friend" (who may find herself minus one) decided to discuss a sermon given at her church last Sunday. Apparently the good reverend decided to discuss "debt" or something along those lines. Apparently he discussed people who have lexuses which "friend" has and was upset over being apparently singled out. There's an old saying that the one who bawl is the one pinched. or something along those lines. This discussion lead to one of my issues with many organized religions: prosperity preaching. Don't like it or it's implications. For those unfamiliar with, prosperity preaching is when one basically teaches that should you follow the Bible you will be rewarded with not only riches in heaven but also on earth. unfortunately a great deal of people who ascribe to this philosophy get to the point where they believe that riches are proof of "living right". Of course then, if one is poor or otherwise "struggling" then that person is "lazy", "doing wrong", etc. Now I'm not saying that said "friend" was of the type to think that, but I did level the objection with the example of Reverend Run the Hip Hop reverend.
For those unfamiliar, Rev. Run owns a rather "nice" home in Saddle River NJ. He has a rather "nice" Rolls" and he and his wife spend lavishly on home furnishings. The explanation given when people question this, is that as noted above, God blesses. Well OK.
I pointed out to "friend" Matthew 19:24. I'll extend the story since it's relevant:
16And behold, there came a man up to Him, saying, Teacher, what excellent and perfectly and essentially good deed must I do to possess eternal life?(C)
17And He said to him, Why do you ask Me about the perfectly and essentially good? There is only One Who is good [perfectly and essentially]--God. If you would enter into the Life, you must continually keep the commandments.
18He said to Him, What [d]sort of commandments? [Or, which ones?] And Jesus answered, You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,(D)
19Honor your father and your mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.(E)
20The young man said, I have observed all these from my youth; what still do I lack?
21Jesus answered him, If you would be perfect [that is, [e]have that spiritual maturity which accompanies self-sacrificing character], go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; and come, [f]be My disciple [side with My party and follow Me].
22But when the young man heard this, he went away sad (grieved and in much distress), for he had great possessions.
23And Jesus said to His disciples, Truly I say to you, it will be difficult for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven.
24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go into the kingdom of heaven.
25When the disciples heard this, they were utterly puzzled (astonished, bewildered), saying, Who then can be saved [[g]from eternal death]?
26But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.(F)
27Then Peter answered Him, saying, Behold, we have left [our] all and have become [h]Your disciples [sided with Your party and followed You]. What then shall we receive?
28Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, in the new age [the [i]Messianic rebirth of the world], when the Son of Man shall sit down on the throne of His glory, you who have [become My disciples, sided with My party and] followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel.
29And anyone and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for My name's sake will receive [j]many [even a hundred] times more and will inherit eternal life.
30But many who [now] are first will be last [then], and many who [now] are last will be first [then].
My point in bringing up this particular passage was that if one is claiming to be a follower of Christ, then the above applies. Now would Rev, Run put give up the Rolls, and mansion to "follow Christ"? I can't speak for him. In my opinion, since Jesus wasn't rich and rolled on a donkey (symbolic I know), then Reverends, Popes, etc. ought not to either. Sell the mansion and the rolls, get a nice modest home and a Honda Accord and put the rest of the money to charity. No, I don't think that Christians or anyone else for that matter ought to be broke, I do think that materialism cloaked in "holy-isms" is still materialism.
But this wasn't really the problem I had with the conversation. The actual problem I had with the conversation was that I was told that since I don't "believe" I was not qualified to have a "correct" point on the matter or any biblical matter. Excuse me? Not saying I had to be right, but since "friend" wasn't even familiar with the verse in question (supposedly) how does being a "believer" make anyone more "qualified" than anyone else? What counts is study. Period.
"Friend" had attempted to counter with Deuteronomy 28 namely:
1IF YOU will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.
Which I countered by pointing out that that was a historical document and was not a reference to YOU the individual but "You" the "Israelite" nation. The proof of that being played out in the rest of the old testament. Now some people choose to interpret that particular passage personally. That's their business and of course they are free to do so. That does not mean that the writing was not in fact written historically in reference to Israel. This brought up the issue of "interpretation". I was told that since I was a "non-believer" I was not qualified to "interpret" that passage or any other passage. Nor could I choose to throw out the Old Testament or parts of it to "suit myself." I pointed out that the Bible to which she ascribes to had already been "picked over" and that Bible Scholars all know it and so does any Reverend with scholarly credentials. She says that's Mans work and between God and them. So I said that apparently it's not that I can't "interpret" because I "don't believe" I'm simply not on the approved list of "interpreters." Then she asked if I read the "missing books". I had and told her much of them are available in the library.
At that point the conversation ended. I've said that I don't have a vested interest in any particular "interpretation" of Judeo-Christian" literature, because I don't get paid to do so. I don't have books to sell, offering plates to pass around. So really I'm a much better source than someone who needs to stay on a particular line for the sake of their livelihood.
Anyway. I'm going to have to stop being nice to my people. Next time someone tries to bring up religion I'm going to have to declare that if they haven't read the Book of Coming Forth by Day, the Husia, or familiar with Odu Ifa, that they are simply not qualified to have a conversation about religion with me. Some say 'respect my gangster" I say: Respect my intelligence.
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