Friends Don’t Let Friends Do Calvinist Eisegesis

A reader writes:

The notion that the rich man is being punished for something he did (or did not do) to Lazarus is completely fanciful. Lazarus hung round the gate so that he would get fed the leftovers from the rich people. There is no reason in the actual text of the parable to assume the rich man never gave Lazarus anything. In fact he most likely did as he actually knows Lazarus’ name. This assumption by Catholics tells me they are reading something into the Bible story that is not there. It is not fair to say the rich man “should have done more” either. While first century Jews realized their obligation to the poor, they were not obligated to go above and beyond. No one hearing Jesus tell the story would have said, “that nasty rich man should have invited Lazarus in for supper.” Egalitarian ideas are a later development, Also fanciful is the idea that the rich man “failed to notice” Lazarus. In fact nowhere in the parable are we actually told why the rich man is suffering torment, the “social justice” Catholic just jumps to his own conclusions with no biblical support and imports his own interpretations in to the text. This is a problem it seems most American clergy suffers from, a complete lack of Biblical knowledge, high-jacking the real gospel in order to make a man-made paradise on earth.

The problem is the modern Catholic “religious” writer is bound and determined to make the relationship between the rich man and Lazarus the focal point of the parable without any actual textual evidence. Then, having imposed the false relationship idea on his unsuspecting listeners (or readers), the modern Catholic religious writer draws his imaginary lesson from the parable that the rich should feed the poor.

Actually,the parable isn’t interested in the particulars of Divas or Lazarus’ lives, or some assumed relationship, but the contrast between them and the contrast of their fates in the afterlife. Bad men are punished, good men are rewarded. Plain and simple. The assumption was in those times, that rich men were being rewarded here on earth by God, and poor men were being punished for their sins or the sins of their fathers. Jesus turned that upside down. The message is that eternal judgment is final and cannot be changed. That is the lesson of the parable, and not the hot air flowing from Catholic bishops and other scribblers who can’t understand much less interpret Scripture.

It’s really good to have a Magisterium. Here are a few Catechism references that reference the parable of Lazarus and the the Rich Man and our bleedin’ obvious duty to the poor in Scripture:

2831 But the presence of those who hunger because they lack bread opens up another profound meaning of this petition. The drama of hunger in the world calls Christians who pray sincerely to exercise responsibility toward their brethren, both in their personal behavior and in their solidarity with the human family. This petition of the Lord’s Prayer cannot be isolated from the parables of the poor man Lazarus and of the Last Judgment.

1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.592 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul—a destiny which can be different for some and for others.

1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven—through a purification or immediately,—or immediate and everlasting damnation.
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.

Abp. Chaput summed things up pretty succinctly: “If you neglect the poor, you will go to hell.”

"I do. Most days. But the vindictive accusing culture warriors are a trial. Maybe it ..."

How I spent the an afternoon ..."
"Boy. You sure got me. I *totally* failed your Purity Test. I must be up ..."

How I spent the an afternoon ..."
"Wow. So I guess the collection of organs I call my son who suffers with ..."

How I spent the an afternoon ..."
"Wow. You and I are very different. When one doctor told my sister her baby ..."

How I spent the an afternoon ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Dave G.

    “If you neglect the poor, you will go to hell.”

    Well, we don’t know that.

    • We know it at least as well as we know any cause for going to hell. Have you read Matthew 25.31ff?

      He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

      Sounds like, “If you neglect the poor, you will go to hell” to me.

    • Dan C


    • chezami

      Actually, we do, per the parable of the sheep and the goats. Of course, the parable, and Chaput, are presuming sufficient knowledge and freedom–a *willed* neglect, not mere ignorance.

  • HornOrSilk I think is the best answer to the reader’s nonsense.

  • Sherry

    If we are blessed when we feed the hungry, when we clothe the naked, then when we ignore the poor, the hungry, the naked, we are damning ourselves. Jesus is telling this story, that makes a difference! Jesus wants us to know the names of the poor, to know they need, and to open ourselves to loving beyond our own wants and needs and desires. If you note, we don’t know the rich man’s name, but we do know Lazarus. The rich man asks for intersession, and at least to warn his family, but if we cannot see God’s face in the face of the poor, then we will not see God’s face when we die. It’s pretty straight forward, even for a little house frau like me.

  • Dan13

    Who writes these e-mails? Was he or she sick the day they taught Catholicism at Catholic School/CCD/RCIA?

    • HornOrSilk

      Well, I think this one was actually a comment box comment a few weeks back. I seem to remember it, though maybe an e-mail version gave more details.

      • Dave G.

        That person was Catholic if I remember, not Calvinist.

        • The Deuce

          “Calvinist” appears to have become Mark’s go-to epithet for insinuating that a person hates poor people. I’m sure he’s got some kind of rationale behind that, but I don’t know what it is.

          • Matthew

            Yes, an obvious rationale: some strains of Calvinism consider one’s material state here in this world to be a manifestation of one’s spiritual state. Hence they say if you are healthy and wealthy that is a sign that you are in a state of favor with God. If you are sick, poor, or some tragedy befalls you it must be because you have sinned. So yes, a Calvinist of this school does in fact hate the poor or at least consider them to deserve their poverty and suffering which amounts to the same thing as hating them.

            • The Deuce

              You sound like you’re describing “prosperity theology,” but that movement is almost entirely among charismatics and pentecostals, who are arminians.

          • sez

            No, Mark has used other ways to describe those who refuse to help the poor. “Heartless” comes to mind.

            So I agree that the exegesis given is very Calvinistic: that our salvation or damnation is predestined, and there’s nothing we can (or should) do about it.

        • Dan13

          I don’t know if it is Calvinist, but it is certainly not Catholic.