« When Did Lying To Congress Become Okay? | Main | Strategic Clarity »

God and Mammon

Did you know that making the Bush tax cuts permanent is one of the top ten legislative priorities of Tony "Justice Sunday" Perkins' Family Research Council? It's quite the coalition the GOP is operating over there. I believe it's in Acts somewhere where the good book says, "thou shalt not taxeth dividends or other income derived from wealth."

April 24, 2005 | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8345160fd69e200d83440ef1353ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference God and Mammon:

Comments

Shouldn't that be derivedeth?

Posted by: poputonian | Apr 24, 2005 1:32:17 PM

Have they managed to breed that miniature camel - small enough to pass through the eye of a needle yet?

Posted by: abb1 | Apr 24, 2005 2:04:31 PM

What happened to the "human life ammendment", outlawing abortion, called for in the republican party platform?
It seems like they are taking their legislative marching orders from the whitehouse instead of the evangelicals they claim to represent.

Posted by: chrisg | Apr 24, 2005 2:18:18 PM

JESUS: You cannot serve both God and Mammon.

[Robertson, Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Ralph Reed, etc., all lift their heads from the Mammon trough]

R,F,L,R,&c [IN UNISON]: And your point is...?

Posted by: mds | Apr 24, 2005 2:23:17 PM

Render unto Caesar...

Charlatans, all of 'em.

Posted by: def | Apr 24, 2005 2:27:46 PM

They carry around their Bibles, thump on them from time to time, yet you wonder if they really understand what Christianity entails...

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr | Apr 24, 2005 3:30:08 PM

That's not really what this suggests at all. The FRC argues for tax cuts that support families. Getting those tax cuts required (and usually requires) entering into a coalition with those who have other goals.

Perhaps if the Democratic party weren't so hostile to policies that support traditional families--such as the items in the Bush tax cut program that the FRC alert singles out for attention--then the Democrats would win more elections.

Posted by: Thomas | Apr 24, 2005 4:08:26 PM

Re: The FRC argues for tax cuts that support families.

By creating a vast debt, with interest, for our children and grandchildren. Yes, very family friendly!

Posted by: JonF | Apr 24, 2005 5:05:53 PM

The FRC argues for tax cuts that support families.

The "for the children" defense is getting old. Next we will hear, "The FRC is in support of secret indefinite detentions because it protects families."

Posted by: Constantine | Apr 24, 2005 5:11:26 PM

A few points - the idea of "easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle" was not that rich people were all damned.
Rather, the point was that even the best people cannot hope to enter Heaven by their own efforts. In Jewish society around the time of Christ, it was thought that wealth indicated that one was blessed by God and approved of by God. Therefore, most people assumed that richness = moral superiority. Jesus' point was that even the best people - or the people whom society thought to be the best - were not good enough to get to Heaven by their own works.

Posted by: Glaivester | Apr 24, 2005 5:29:58 PM

Glaivester,
The context of Christ's words doesn't support your argument.

Posted by: WillieStyle | Apr 24, 2005 5:36:18 PM

Perhaps if the Democratic party weren't so hostile to policies that support traditional families...

beat that strawman! beat it good!

Posted by: cleek | Apr 24, 2005 6:29:21 PM

Glaivester,
The context of Christ's words doesn't support your argument.

Actually, it doesn't matter even if the context does support that argument. Glaivester's argument still damns Pat Robertson, D. James Kennedy, and various other Calvinistic figures in the theocratic crowd, since they preach a prosperity gospel that equates moral superiority and wealth. (Well, except for George Soros and Warren Buffett.)

Now, the other statements of Jesus, such as to the young ruler, the statement about "the least of these my brethren," etc, etc, actively discourage hoarding wealth. I await with bated breath the FRC's demands that helping the poorest among us be as much of a legislative priority as abolishing the estate tax. Which, of course, primarily affects ordinary families and their children. Will no one think of the children?

Posted by: mds | Apr 24, 2005 7:43:51 PM

Thomas: The specific measure to which the FRC refers -- increasing the family tax credit from $500 to $1,000 -- was not part of the initial Bush tax cut proposal. It was added at the insistence of the Democrats and I'm not aware of any Democrats who oppose making that measure permanent.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Apr 24, 2005 7:48:09 PM

In Jewish society around the time of Christ, it was thought that wealth indicated that one was blessed by God and approved of by God.

I really don't know where you got that idea. If you have to speak generally, Jewish society at the time was quite skeptical of worldly power - see the developing apolyptic literature, the renouncing sects (Essenes, the John the Baptist community). Luke is obviously preaching a gospel to the marginalized with great skepticism toward the rich and powerful. Revelations is all about the evil of the rulers of the world and the damn Roman Empire getting theirs.

In the story in Mk 10.17-27, the "eye of the needle" saying is surrounded by a story of Jesus telling a rich man to give all his possessions away, and concludes with the famous "many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."

Posted by: Mikael | Apr 24, 2005 9:22:51 PM

"I'm not aware of any Democrats who oppose making that measure permanent."

The Dean for President campaign was bizarrely in favor of repealing it, but almost all other Democrats were and are opposed.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 24, 2005 9:44:20 PM

Matt, I appreciate your attempt to reclaim the FRC constituency for the Democrats. But, you're wrong on the facts:

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/resources/where.they.stand/#economy

According to the CNN report, Bush proposed doubling the child tax credit from $500 to $1000 when running for the presidency in 2000; his opponent opposed raising the child tax credit.

Posted by: Thomas | Apr 24, 2005 11:51:40 PM

"Actually, it doesn't matter even if the context does support that argument. Glaivester's argument still damns Pat Robertson, D. James Kennedy, and various other Calvinistic figures in the theocratic crowd, since they preach a prosperity gospel that equates moral superiority and wealth."

Well, I've never supported the "health-and-wealth 'gospel'" myself. I'm also not a Calvinist. And I have called Jerry Falwell a "big fat opportunist."

As for the wealthy man, the point was not that it was wrong to be wealthy, but that he wasn't willing to totally obey God. His wealth was more important to him than Jesus, which is what his sin was.
And you are right that Jesus did not associate wealth with righteousness, but when he told his audience that "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle," their responses clearly showed that they thought that the wealthy were righteous.

"Those who heard it said, 'Then who can be saved?'" (Luke 18:26) In other words, "if the rich can't be, can anyone possibly be?"

I think that Jesus was not against wealth so much as he was against having it replace Him as the ccenter of one's life. The man was unwilling to follow Jesus and chose instead to base his life on himself, his works, and his wealth.

Posted by: Glaivester | Apr 25, 2005 2:27:34 AM

Glaivester - no, not good enough. You are not getting into the kingdom of God - end of story. Forget it.

Posted by: Jesus | Apr 25, 2005 6:17:59 AM

Well, I've never supported the "health-and-wealth 'gospel'" myself. I'm also not a Calvinist. And I have called Jerry Falwell a "big fat opportunist."

I certainly approve. And I am not asserting that the "wealth = evil" equation is correct. I was saying that even by your take on it (e.g., the love of money is the root of all evil), most of the leaders of the FRC, Focus on the Family, Christian Coalition, etc--in short, everyone doing all the sanctimonious shouting right now--don't measure up. And yes, the tax credits that had to be shoehorned into the high-end tax cuts, even though the President had supported them as a candidate, were good. But the entire slew of tax cuts taken together have been bad for the budget, which means passing the bill to our children, and are being paid for in cuts in services to the poor (see MY's previous post about Missouri). So we can spar back and forth over the $500 -> $1000 provision, or we can note that the FRC asserts:

The tax relief provisions passed in 2001, 2003 and 2004 must be made permanent.

and includes estate tax repeal as a top priority as well. Yeah, because that hurts families so much. Especially the ones being thrown off of Medicaid thanks in part to such grinning, vicious, hate-filled hypocrites as Tony Perkins. So excuse me for seeing that these guys are serving Mammon while pretending to serve God.

Posted by: mds | Apr 25, 2005 8:23:50 AM

You must remember, God will not saddle us with more of a burden than we can bear. So we need not fear passing the burden of debt onto our children. They will either be able to handle it without difficulty or, if the burden is too great, the Lord will return to redeem them. The reason liberals are so opposed to Bush policies is that they do not place complete trust in God to use all things for His greater glory.

Posted by: jeb | Apr 25, 2005 10:21:53 AM

"the love of money is the root of all evil"

It should be noted that the bible doesn't actually say this. It says "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." This is completely different. If you want to look at the root of all evil, the biblical reason is Pride. Feel free to convict the FRC and conservative Evangelical groups of pride since it is definitely appropriate.

Oh and just after Christ's camel-through-the-needle comment, He said that only through God can the rich be saved. For those not schooled in theology, this is the exact same as poor people.

In biblical terms, wealth increases temptation and empowers iniquity. However, (also biblically) it can also do the opposite by empowering you to do good and removing idle financial cares. It depends on how you use it and what type of person you are.

Posted by: Jeff the Baptist | Apr 25, 2005 10:38:10 AM

I would also note that in Acts, the early Christians practiced a communitarian form of lifestyle. Everyone would pool their incomes together and share and share alike. In fact, one couple was struck dead by God for not sharing with the others.

Excerpt from Acts:
"The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.

There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. . .

A man named Ananias, however, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property. He retained for himself, with his wife's knowledge, some of the purchase price, took the remainder, and put it at the feet of the apostles. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart so that you lied to the Holy Spirit and retained part of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain yours? And when it was sold, was it not still under your control? Why did you contrive this deed? You have lied not to human beings, but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last, and great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men came and wrapped him up, then carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours, his wife came in, unaware of what had happened. Peter said to her, "Tell me, did you sell the land for this amount?" She said, "Yes, for that amount." Then Peter said to her, "Why did you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen, the footsteps of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." At once, she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men entered they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. " (Acts 4:32-35; 5:1-11) New American Bible

Posted by: lou | Apr 25, 2005 11:20:37 AM

"For the love of money is the root of all evil:"
--1 Timothy 6:10 (KJV)

What you're quoting is from the New International Version, which some Baptists, including Reverend Mohler of "Justice Sunday," are disinclined to use; I'm not surprised that they want to fudge this, to provide a loophole for prosperity theology.

Darby's translation (favored by C.S. Lewis):
"For the love of money is root of every evil;"

Now, Young's Literal Translation does produce a slightly different sense:
"for a root of all the evils is the love of money,"

but it's the exact opposite of the NIV crowd, since it says that although love of money isn't necessarily the only root, it is one of the roots of all evils. This also correlates with Luther's translation.

It is interesting, though, that the further we move into the twentieth century, the more watered down the verse seems to become.

All this is beside the original point of the post, however, which is not that wealth is wrong. Covetousness is wrong, yet providing enormous tax breaks to the estates of multimillionaires is a top priority of the FRC. All of this shilly-shallying at most demonstrates that Jesus didn't necessarily say that one couldn't have wealth; it does not follow from this that Jesus encouraged putting the pursuit of wealth ahead of concern for the poor.

Posted by: mds | Apr 25, 2005 11:26:35 AM

What you're quoting is from the New International Version, which some Baptists, including Reverend Mohler of "Justice Sunday," are disinclined to use; I'm not surprised that they want to fudge this, to provide a loophole for prosperity theology.

Sorry, bad use of pronouns. I meant that the NIV folks want to fudge this. But then again, even when using the King James Version ("Hey, if it was good enough for Jesus..."), Reverend Mohler and his pals are perfectly willing to fudge this. Can't wait to see the new HCSB Southern Baptist translation.

Posted by: mds | Apr 25, 2005 11:30:56 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.