Jesus vs. #AllLivesMatter

Jesus vs. #AllLivesMatter July 11, 2016

A couple of days ago I tried to make a point about #AllLivesMatter drawing on the Biblical prophets. Today, a Facebook friend made a similar point in relation to Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Plain in Luke’s Gospel. His point seemed to me to deserve to be turned into a meme, and so here it is:

Jesus vs. AllLivesMatter

On the one hand, the two messages might seem to be very different. Jesus seems to actually be saying that the poor matter more than the rich, the marginal more than the powerful, the hungry more than the well-fed, whereas #BlackLivesMatter has consistently meant only that “black lives matter every bit as much as those of everyone else.”

On the other hand, the reason Jesus singles out the groups that he does for blessings (or congratulations, if you prefer) is precisely because they have been marginalized, downtrodden, and oppressed.

And so there is a sense in which even a leveling of the playing field might be seen as bad news, as a reason for woes and lamentations, by those who benefit from the status quo. The thought of merely losing long-held privilege sometimes seems as though it will hurt every bit as much as actually having the situations completely reversed, and ending up oppressed rather than the oppressor. And of course, the fear at the heart of #AllLivesMatter is precisely the fear that what one has done to others will be done unto you.

What do you think? If the historical figure of Jesus had lived and preached in the United States in our time, would he have addressed racism in his beatitudes? Would he have said “Blessed are you who are black…but woe to you who are white”?


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  • John MacDonald

    It would probably depend on whether Jesus was Black or White.

  • Frank

    Of course when Jesus was speaking about the poor he was talking about the spiritually poor not the materially poor.

    • According to Matthew’s version. Not according to Luke’s.

      • Frank

        Proper hermeneutics results when two or more passages are similar but not exactly alike, the clearer one explains the others, the more explicit clarifies the less explicit. When we comparing we see that the Matthew account is the more explicit.

        Jesus was talking about the spiritually poor.

        • This way of defining “proper” hermeneutics is notorious. It is a method people use to flatten scripture, to silence many of its diverse voices, and in the very worst cases, to persuade oneself that there is a single clear and uniform teaching of scripture, which just happens to agree with one’s desires, which then choose the texts to which any that diverge and differ must be made to align themselves.

          • Frank

            You are welcome to opine that Jesus was talking about the materially poor but you would be incorrect. That’s not to say we are not called to care for the poor.

          • Have you actually read Luke’s version?

            http://www.sermononthemount.org.uk/Bible/Luke6v20_49.html

          • Frank

            Yes. Based on scripture as a whole Jesus was speaking about the spiritually poor.

            Once again though we are definitely called to care for the poor. But that’s not why Jesus came.

          • I am not asking you what you think the overall teaching of scripture is when you run it all through a food processor and harmonize it as you see fit. I am asking about the meaning of the words in the Gospel of Luke, in context.

          • Frank

            You are welcome to cherry pick to make a fallacious point. That’s your choice.

          • Interpreting texts in their original context is the very opposite of cherry picking.

            If you are so certain the text means what you say, why do you refuse to discuss its details?

          • Frank

            You are absolutely cherry picking. I dont know what to tell you if you cant see that. If you want to make a point about caring for the poor there are plenty of verses to use.

          • You can tell me that you are willing to read Luke 6, in the context of Luke’s Gospel, and then actually do so. Here is an excerpt from the relevant section:

            “Blessed are you who are poor,
            for yours is the kingdom of God.
            Blessed are you who hunger now,
            for you will be satisfied.
            Blessed are you who weep now,
            for you will laugh…

            But woe to you who are rich,
            for you have already received your comfort.
            Woe to you who are well fed now,
            for you will go hungry.
            Woe to you who laugh now,
            for you will mourn and weep…”

          • Frank

            And?

          • jonphillips

          • Cassie Devereaux
          • Frank

            How constructive.

          • Cassie Devereaux

            *shrugs* No moreso than inexplicably dismissing James as “cherrypicking” without explanation as a means to disengage the conversation and the conversation partner in a way that doesn’t demand rhetorical skill nor require one to interpret the text when confronted with an opinion other than yours and those you learned from. If being productive is to be the goal, I’d argue you’d at the very least need to explain to him why you’re using the term when he invokes Luke’s interpretation of the beatitudes. Naturally there will be disagreements when interpreting ancient scripture, but your dismissal doesn’t serve your point. It merely comes off as petulant. If you’re not willing to explain to him WHY invoking the Gospel of Luke is cherrypicking, and allow that notion to be interrogated…. well, we’re both wasting time on frivolities.

          • Frank

            It’s cherry picking because when scripture is taken as a hole Jesus mission and words were almost always for the spiritually poor not the materially poor. Picking out this one outlier inconsistency and staking a position on it is bad exegesis.

          • Then why can you not provide evidence for this? Why will you not discuss the Lukan beatitudes and woes? Why will you not talk about his saying about the camel and the eye of the needle? Why make it seem that you are just determined to believe what you have long assumed to be the case, instead of talking about the text?

          • Rick Garland

            It’s “whole”. And your exegesis is pathetic. Luke’s entire gospel reflects specifically these Beatitudes and their socially relevant context.

          • HumanNOS

            “when scripture is taken as a hole ” — A convenient hole to hide inconvenient truths?

          • jcmchan

            And? Really? Well here goes…

            Those three blessings and three woes serve to contrast each other. The rich and poor, the hungry and fed, the ones laughing and weeping. From your perspective, poor means poor in spirit. As such, if that is who Jesus is talking about in Luke, then the first woe must mean that a woe is being pronounced on the rich ‘in spirit’. To be poor in spirit, you’ve alluded to being in some way lacking in their relationship with God and so the blessing is to inherit God’s kingdom and thus becoming “rich” in spirit. But then why does Jesus pronounce a woe to those who are rich? One cannot be taken to mean ‘in spirit’ and the other to be material. That would be improper exegesis and very much eisegesis.

          • Mike Smathers

            And you are dead wrong in your reading of Luke! Luke and Matthew simply say different things. I take that to mean that Jesus said both things. No amount of fudging can erase the differences in the two passages. Just as no amount of fudging can erase the two stories of Creation. They are both there for a reason, just as the different passages in Matthew and Luke are there for a reason.

          • John MacDonald

            The quote echoes Mark’s sentiment, also copied by Matthew and Luke, that “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25).” As Nietzsche said, it sounds like a trans-valuation of values whereby some poor people (Jesus and his friends) are demonizing the wealth and power of others that oppressed them, and that (the wealth and power) they could never gain.

          • Dennis Wilson

            The vast majority of those who followed Jesus, who accepted His teachings and who would believe in the Salvation offered to all were the poor and the downtrodden. These largely made up His audience in this passage in Luke.

            The rich, for the most part, then and today, reject Jesus Christ.

            ALL of mankind, both rich and poor, need Salvation from their sins.

          • Richard Worden Wilson

            Note what you leave out in your truncated excerpt.
            Luke 6:22
            Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.

            This is the spiritual context which sometimes gets ignored in justice focused hermeneutics.

            I’ll repost the comment I offered previously.

            James, I’m left wondering if you have given up all your possessions, or just why you mention this saying. I’d love to hear more about that.
            But for now, ISTM that what often gets minimized if not ignored in discussions such as this is that even in Luke’s version of Jesus the touchstone of every teaching about righteousness/justice is Jesus, the Son of Man. Too often discussions of what Jesus calls us to do and believe get detached from the larger context of the gospel(s) in which in every regard the authors consider the ultimate spiritual principle to be how one is relating to Jesus. For instance, has anyone in this blog comment section, or in your (James’) blog itself, referred to the importance of what in Jesus’ own teaching (as recalled by the gospel authors) the summary statements following the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount or Plain say:

Matt 5:11
”Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you, lying on account of me.”



            and
Luke 6:22
            “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil on account of the Son of Man”



            Both sermons culminate in explicit references to the disciples to whom the teachings are directed relationship to Christ. None of the teaching of Jesus regarding justice/righteousness should be abstracted from the overall context of the gospels in which every sense possible the relationship to Christ is considered paramount. This is where we ought to recall that the expense of a year’s wages in perfume is at least worth focusing our hearts and minds on the life and significance of Jesus our savior and messiah. Every act of justice apart from reference to the life and work of Jesus is mere lip service in reverse. Worthwhile, but diminished by the degree of substance to shadow.

          • This is a duplicate comment. Please refrain from spamming. I have replied to the other copy of it below.

          • Hillary Allen (aka Canuck)

            This guy ‘frank’ goes from site to site and refuses to partake in logical discussions… he throws around insults but never answers queries directly. He comes on the progressive secular humanist site and does the same sort of thing he’s doing here. We call him King of the Trolls. Cheers!

          • Thanks for letting me know!

          • Richard Worden Wilson

            It is undoubtedly the case that Jesus was concerned for and closely identified himself with the needs of the physically poor, and not just in Luke. Nevertheless, that doesn’t, or shouldn’t, diminish the overall emphasis Jesus placed on humility before God. Reducing even the gospel of Luke to a focus on meeting merely physical needs would ISTM to be the result of a somewhat exaggeratedly reductionistic hermeneutic.

          • Cdoring1

            Haha! That’s convenient. You can call yourself Christian, and still act like a sociopath! Best of both worlds. Look, applying linguistics to bolster your own personal interpretation is very clever, but it doesn’t make you correct. We all come to the teachings of Christ in our own way. You obviously need a core of irrefutable logic to bolster your faith, and that’s fine but you are practicing the Sin of Vanity if you insist yours is the only correct interpretation.

        • Catman Doo

          Boom

    • Dennis Wilson

      I agree with you. It is so silly to say the materially poor will inherit the Kingdom of God. That notion is false teaching pushed by false teachers.

      • I_LilyG

        It is obvious. But absurd things happen when you reject the authority of Scripture.

        • You seem to be pretending to be unaware of the great many things that Jesus said that most or perhaps all Christians reinterpret or simply ignore. Luke 14:33 presents him as saying “none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.” I would have thought it ought to be possible to agree on what Jesus said, and discuss what he might have meant. But apparently those who find the plain meaning of his words too uncomfortable (as I presume we are intended to) prefer to pretend that he didn’t talk about the poor inheriting the kingdom and wealth making it as hard to enter as for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

          • Richard Worden Wilson

            James, I’m left wondering if you have given up all your possessions, or just why you mention this saying. I’d love to hear more about that.
            But for now, ISTM that what often gets minimized if not ignored in discussions such as this is that even in Luke’s version of Jesus the touchstone of every teaching about righteousness/justice is Jesus, the Son of Man. Too often discussions of what Jesus calls us to do and believe get detached from the larger context of the gospel(s) in which in every regard the authors consider the ultimate spiritual principle to be how one is relating to Jesus. For instance, has anyone in this blog comment section, or in your (James’) blog itself, referred to the importance of what in Jesus’ own teaching (as recalled by the gospel authors) the summary statements following the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount or Plain say:

            Matt 5:11
            “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you, lying on account of me.”

            and
            Luke 6:22
            “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil on account of the Son of Man”

            Both sermons culminate in explicit references to the disciples to whom the teachings are directed relationship to Christ. None of the teaching of Jesus regarding justice/righteousness should be abstracted from the overall context of the gospels in which every sense possible the relationship to Christ is considered paramount. This is where we ought to recall that the expense of a year’s wages in perfume is at least worth focusing our hearts and minds on the life and significance of Jesus our savior and messiah. Every act of justice apart from reference to the life and work of Jesus is mere lip service in reverse. Worthwhile, but diminished by the degree of substance to shadow.

          • I think you are reading the emphases of Paul and John into Luke here. But even within Luke, I don’t think that being hungry and mourning are the same, and so why should being persecuted be treated as though it is the catch-all beatitude which changes the meaning of the others?

            I do not believe or do everything that Jesus said. I think the appropriate thing to do is to acknowledge that, rather than to attempt to change the meaning of Jesus’ words into something else so that I can boast of my accomplishments rather than repent of my shortcomings.

    • Mike Smathers

      That is not the case in Luke. To say that is to read into the text something that is not there. Moreover in the Beatitudes he says blessed are the meek. Who do you think the meek were?

    • shediac

      Wow you were there? Did you see the ‘eye of the needle’ it was really there right? And and Jesus never gave away food right? He was demanding a Visa or American Express card right? Darn I knew it!

  • charlesburchfield

    Thanks for this!
    ‘The thought of merely losing long-held privilege sometimes seems as though it will hurt every bit as much as actually having the situations completely reversed, and ending up oppressed rather than the oppressor. And of course, the fear at the heart of #AllLivesMatter is precisely the fear that what one has done to others will be done unto you.’

    This is the piece that I needed to hear this morning. Feeling compassion for whom one has judged inferior is complicated by groupthink. IMHO when one’s socioeconomic present & future is at stake based on superior weaponry this precludes the wisdom of loving others & doing for them as you would have done & sets a dynamic trajectory of terror that will conclude in civil war. After the blood bath a new narration of reconstruction. So it goes… =(

  • Thanks for another post worth sharing, Dr. McGrath!

  • Tammy Jenkins

    poor
    po͝or,pôr/Submit
    adjective
    1.
    lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society.
    “people who were too poor to afford a telephone”
    synonyms: poverty-stricken, penniless, moneyless, impoverished, low-income, necessitous, impecunious, indigent, needy, destitute, pauperized, unable to make ends meet, without a sou; More
    2.
    worse than is usual, expected, or desirable; of a low or inferior standard or quality.
    “her work was poor”
    synonyms: substandard, below par, bad, deficient, defective, faulty, imperfect, inferior; More

  • BrotherRog

    Amen!
    Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Samaritan lives matter.”

    Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Children’s lives matter.”

    Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Gentile lives matter.”

    Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Jewish lives matter.”

    Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Women’s lives matter.”

    Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Lepers’ lives matter.”

    Even though Jesus loved everyone, even to the point of dying for their
    sins, he went out of his way to intentionally help specific groups of
    people — the alienated, mistreated, and those facing injustice.

    So saying “Black Lives Matter” is one of the most Christ-like things we can do.” —Stephen Mattson

    (speaking poetically, not literally, but still truthfully)
    https://www.facebook.com/KissingFishBook/photos/a.188695787826500.54678.188533647842714/1360025920693475/

  • Volucre

    Stop using religion to promote a secular partisan agenda. Jesus didn’t say that the poor were “marginalized” by the rest of society and that the government should therefore redistribute money to them. He said they were “blessed” because their poverty and suffering encouraged them to seek consolation in God, and that their reward would be Heaven.

    • If you think that Jesus rejected the Year of Jubilee, even though he used a text that alludes to it, feel free to make your case. But you seem to be mistaking the fact that early Christianity emerged in a context in which the early Christians did not control what the government did, and mistaking that for approval of that situation as though it were ideal. Using the comfort offered to the poor in the Bible as though it justified leaving them with no other hope is truly despicable indeed.

      • Volucre

        I wouldn’t cite the Beatitudes to justify or condemn the redistribution of wealth. They are reminders that the sorts of earthly things people seek after can easily serve as distractions from our ultimate spiritual ends, and that those who lack earthly things have an advantage in avoiding such distractions.

        If anything, the obsession of both the left and the right over how the pie of wealth is to be distributed — rather than fostering a good and moral and altruistic citizenry — is a symptom of our unhealthy politics. Having Christianity take sides in that secular materialistic conflict will only worsen matters by unnecessarily alienating half the population.

      • Ben Welliver

        FWIW, there’s no evidence that the Jubilee was ever actually observed by the Jews.

  • Kathy Bramley

    OK, I’m not black but that seems too much, in that format. Because it equates “the poor” and blackness, while not trying to erase the oppression narratives it doesn’t do a lot to alleviate them or look at the other sets, it erases the complexity. Black people matter and not just as poverty porn.

    • Thanks for making this point. The aim in the meme was to show that Jesus singled out an oppressed group just as BLM does, not to suggest that the two groups are equivalent economically or in other regards.

  • Gregory Bowen

    What do you think? If the historical figure of Jesus had lived
    and preached in the United States in our time, would he have addressed
    racism in his beatitudes? Would he have said “Blessed are you who are
    black…but woe to you who are white”?

    Based on his interaction with the Canaanite woman, I’m not sure Jesus was as enlightened on the question of race as he was on economic injustice.

  • Ellis Keyes

    Mythological Jesus is an object of worship that glorifies human suffering and death, The anti-christ, abomination of desolation, an other worldly heaven. Setting the deception of religion aside we find universal rights common to all founded in the enlightenment ” unalienable rights, Life, Liberty. etc. . . So Law is our religion and equal rights are the only way to understand freedom and duty. It is important to recognize the archaic systems like Christianity how it undermined human rights. For example if you compromise ethical moral belief by accepting that the mythological God of creation was sacrificed-tortured-murdered, than you have sold out your own value of life and that of anyone else, that is what makes the religion so dangerous, evidenced by history.

  • Jonathan LaRiviere

    If we read this passage in context, and check other areas of the Bible, we find that Jesus probably wouldn’t have agreed with either side. Here are some texts:

    Luke 6:20a “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said…”

    Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

    John 17:9 “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.”

    From those texts we learn a few things.

    The beatitudes in Luke 6 were to his disciples, not the world. The beatitudes in Matthew 5 may have been to the world, yet we know that most of those phrases can only be achieved by or applied to God’s elect. For example, the “pure in heart” will not be unsaved people, as that can only be given by God to one who is born-again. So this is not about the societally marginalized, but about those who are suffering on behalf of Christ. Luke 6:22-23 affirms this.

    Romans 8 tells us that the good that is done (including justice) is ultimately to the benefit of God’s elect, not to those who are secularly advised. God still hates injustice in any case, even by society or the government, but even that is used to the benefit of his elect.

    John 17 tells us that Jesus is interceding for God’s elect, not the world. So, although injustice is something God hates, we know his focus is set on those whom he has called.

    So “All Lives Matter” is true because God uses all lives to accomplish his purpose. God seems to care far more about the salvation of souls than he does about human on human injustice. This is because human on human injustice is nothing compared to the human on God injustice.

    • Crystal

      You are absolutely wrong, Jonathan. God wants Christians to socially activise for justice on behalf of the oppressed just as much as he wants them to believe correct doctrines. I’m appalled that you could care so little for your fellow humans. Jesus was a social revolutionary as much as a spiritual saviour and it’s time you checked out the story of the Good Samaritan. Also reading at a blog like Samantha Field’s Defeating the Dragons – I highly recommend it. I don’t mean to be cruel however it is something that must be said: you speak from well-intentioned ignorance.

  • I_LilyG

    “…for theirs is the kingdom of God.” -Matthew

    “…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” -Luke

    Even this tiny bit of context illuminates the meaning: spiritual, not physical

    • John MacDonald

      But, as Dr. McGrath pointed out, doesn’t Luke 6 contrast:

      (1) Blessed are you who are poor

      with

      (2) But woe to you who are rich

      Surely if “rich” is not meant in a spiritual sense, then neither is “poor.”

      • I_LilyG

        So you remove part of the text (“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”) in the first segment, because the second cannot possibly be intended spiritually also?

        • arcseconds

          Maybe the people involved are also intended in the spiritual sense, so it’s all about the parallel heavenly realm, and has nothing to do with earthly beings at all!

          • “EH is certainly intellectually dishonest, but I think this is just the
            normal kind of intellectual dishonesty: he has views he wants to support
            and doesn’t want undermined, so he interprets evidence in a way that
            enables that. He does not expose his ideas to risk, or critically
            self-examine his methods. This is common enough, and I doubt he’s aware
            he’s doing it: he’s simply not that self-reflective. To be sure, this
            sometimes seems incredibly dumb, but it’s not more than we see with
            other motivated thinkers, I don’t think.”

            -arcseconds, I must disagree. I am one of the most intellectually honest and open people I know, whether in real life or online. Obviously, I have views I support and don’t want undermined, and obviously I interpret evidence in the way that best makes sense to me. But I’m far more self-reflective than you think: if I didn’t want to expose my ideas to risk, would I even bother arguing with you? Take a good look at my reading list:

            https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8ZCCfC0yMSOTjBPei1FbEpOcTQ/view?usp=sharing

            I add some people when they’re interesting, and remove others if they say something really stupid, but that’s about it.

            Usually, I get to my present beliefs by testing the waters: make a pretty anti-conventional sounding statement which goes a bit beyond the point I actually think. If somebody can refute it, I backtrack. If nobody can refute it, it’s probably true, so I accept it. Thus, my increasing support for genetic determinism.

            You think I came to my present views on race by not looking at the evidence? Far from it! What would the world look like if there was no “structural oppression” at all, but only gene (and occasionally, culture)-based mean differences between races? Far more similar to the presently existing world than if the only thing holding the Black man down was some White “structural oppression”!

            The fact is, the Black man/White man median income gap will stay constant over the next fifty years, with no significant improvement or deterioration.

            Japan will stay a technologically advanced society, without a rival to be found in the Black-majority countries.

            China’s average economic growth rate over the next 15 years will be much larger than that of Brazil and Mexico.

            The Arab migrants that arrived in Germany will have a higher mean fertility rate and an IQ lower by 2/3 of a standard deviation than the average native German over the next three decades.

            Jews will still have disproportionate control over the nation’s basketball teams in 2060.

            BTW, virtually everything you said about Hillary and the Democratic primaries is wrong. The 2008 ones were far less civil, with Hillary winning the overwhelming majority of the White vote (unlike this year, when she lost it). Hillary is genuinely crooked and probably dangerous (though Kerry may well be more dangerous than Her), more so than the present President. Fortunately, I expect Trump to win, as this election will be a romp in the park for any self-respecting GOP politician.

          • “what appears to be going on is that he’s replying to me on a
            different blog… but deciding to swear at everyone here to announce the
            fact he’s replying.

            (how anyone but me was supposed to work this out, I have no idea.)”

            -I think the swearing was sufficient for everyone to understand I generally disagree with your comment.

            BTW, there are some truly nutty comments by self-unaware Hillbot harpies over at Slacktivist. It must be a wonder how you manage to deal with them -or how any man could ever deal with them in real life!

            If Hillary were a man, she wouldn’t have won half the states she did (but would still have likely won the nomination purely due to the Black vote, though the race would have been much closer).

        • Kingdom of God is not an otherworldly concept. I realize that some people reading in English sometimes get confused by the variant rendering of it as “kingdom of heaven” if they never do any research on the topic, not realize that this is the same expression, just with direct reference to God avoided out of reverence, as was common in some Jewish literature.

          But surely taking a message to comfort the oppressed – the kingdom of God belongs to you – and using it to justify doing nothing to address that oppression – is unconscionable, and is to place oneself against those to whom the kingdom belongs, and against the values of that kingdom itself?

          • I_LilyG

            “Out of reverence” claim is indefensible. Matthew uses God’s name 4 times in that same chapter. In the same sermon, to the same audience. 51 times, actually, throughout his gospel.

            I never said the bible excuses us from addressing social justice issues. Loving our neighbor and caring for the poor and outcasts are good godly things. Let’s get that straight up front. But to distort Christ’s primary mission from the gospel and the inauguration of His kingdom through Christ, and deny the”already not yet” tension of the two kingdoms to justify some social gospel to the dishonor of Christ and his mission is shameful.

          • John MacDonald

            There is a similar sentiment concerning the rich in Luke 6 to be found from the author of 1 Timothy:

            “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.… (1 Timothy 6:8-10).”

          • I_LilyG

            Ok, but let’s deal with the texts in question first.

          • John MacDonald

            Would you say “rich” in Luke 6 has a monetary or spiritual meaning?

          • I_LilyG

            Spiritual, of course

          • John MacDonald

            So what do you interpret this passage from Luke 6 to mean?: “But woe to you who are rich,
            for you have already received your comfort”

          • I_LilyG

            I understand the entire segment to be a logical spiritual sequence, illustrating the depraved man regenerated and realizing his utter spiritual poverty and complete lack of any righteousness (truly in recognition of our depravity, we are poor in spirit). …The mourning for sin, the hungering and desperation for a true alien Righteousness. (“For they shall be filled!”) The “poor in spirit” is the foundation for everything else.

            Conversely then, the “rich” in spirit are those sovereignly passed over in their depravity. Arrogant and boastful, “rich” in self-righteousness, comforting themselves in the absurdities of a godless world, unable to see their true spiritual state.

          • John MacDonald

            And the “well fed” in the next line – what spiritual meaning does this have? And, what is the spiritual meaning of “go hungry”?:

            “Woe to you who are well fed now,
            for you will go hungry.”

          • I_LilyG

            Again, filled up in their self-righteousness. They will not receive the true Bread of Life.

          • John MacDonald

            What, in your interpretation, does “will go hungry” mean?

          • I_LilyG

            Re-read my comment. He will not receive the true Bread of Life. Put another way, he won’t be filled with the only true Righteousness, found in Christ.

          • John MacDonald

            Sounds like your interpretation of Luke is awfully fatalistic. According to you, those “filled up with self righteousness” will not turn their lives around, but are destined to not receive the true “Bread of Life.”

          • I_LilyG

            Not fatalistic. But indeed, I am Calvinist.

          • John MacDonald

            Calvinism always sounded somewhat unjust to me. If, as a teacher, at the beginning of a school year I read my students’ files and based on that designated ten students in my class who would fail regardless of how they performed during the year, I think my principal would have a few choice words for me (before firing me).

          • Ryan

            Calvinism doesn’t rule out the requirement of man to make a free-will decison to believe in the redeeming work of Christ (John 3:16-18). Instead, the Bible portrays God’s sovereignty in salvation alongside man’s responsibility to believe.

          • John MacDonald

            How do you understand Predestination in Calvinism, and what does it mean for who is saved and who is not?

          • Ryan

            The Bible is very clear in two parts of this topic, but it never fully resolves the two together. Romans 9 and Ephesians 1 solidify that God selects those to have compassion on, that He is the potter, and that He chose us before the foundation of the world. I believe it is errant to focus on those scriptures without considering John 3’s “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God is, was, and always has been. He knew of the fall of mankind before he ever created us, just as he knows (how few) hairs are upon my head. His sovereignty aligns with His omnipotence over all creation to the point that His predestined children are “chosen” based upon their free-will decision. God already knew our hearts and our decisions before the world was formed, and that knowledge allows Him to elect His children.

            If you knew tomorrow’s lottery numbers today, don’t you think you’d choose them?

          • John MacDonald

            Regarding God knowing the past, present, and future, the bible is ambiguous about whether God is omniscient or not.

            (1) Example in favor of the omniscience of God: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).”

            (2) A counter-example denying the omniscience of God: In the book of Job, God had no prior knowledge of Job’s suffering that Job was about to experience, to the extent that Satan MOVED God to give Job suffering that God had never even considered before Satan had caused him to do it: “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou MOVEDST me against him, to destroy him without cause (Job 2:3).”

            So as you can see, you have to proof-text certain passages in the bible to claim God is omniscient (knowing everything in the past, present, and future), while ignoring and suppressing other texts that speak against God being omniscient.

          • John MacDonald

            Apart from the example I gave from Job, there are many biblical passages that suggest God is not omniscient.

            As has been discussed elsewhere on Patheos, there is an interesting tradition found in many biblical texts that affirms that Yahweh, the God of Israel, genuinely consults with others and considers their voice despite the fact that he is eminently more powerful and knowledgeable than they. This is especially evident in those texts where Yahweh reasons or dialogues with a prophet and, at times, even changes his intended course of action after hearing their argument(s) and opinion(s). As one example, consider Exodus 32.7-14 (NRSV) which records a dialogue between Yahweh and Moses after the people of Israel–whom Yahweh had just powerfully delivered from the land of Egypt–worshiped and offered sacrifices to a golden calf:

            The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” ’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.

            But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, ‘O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, “I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.” ’ And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

            Here Yahweh is depicted as very angry with Israel and intends to “consume” them and to raise up a “great nation” from Moses instead; but Moses pleads with Yahweh to “turn” from his anger and to not destroy the people of Israel since the Egyptians would deride the situation, and because Yahweh had made special promises to Israel’s progenitors.

            Consider further Isaiah 38.1-6 (NRSV), which reads:

            In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’ Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord: ‘Remember now, O Lord, I implore you, how I have walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

            Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: ‘Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and defend this city

            Here the prophet Isaiah prophesies in the name of Yahweh that the king of Israel, Hezekiah, will die. However, after Hezekiah entreats Yahweh, Yahweh spares his life and again sends Isaiah to change his original prophesy.

            Consider also Gen. 18.20-21 (NRSV):

            Then the Lord said, ‘How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.’

            Here it is stated the Yahweh must descend down from his heavenly abode to determine whether or not to inflict judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah based on the report that he has received.

            Further, in the famous chapter of Genesis 22 where we read the story about Abraham’s intention to sacrifice his son Isaac upon an altar according to a commandment that he had received from God, we read verses 9-13 (NRSV) that:

            When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering instead of his son.

            Here it is stated that only after Abraham raises his arm to perform the deed does Yahweh truly know that he (Abraham) fears God.

            Thus although it is clear that some biblical passages state that God knows our thoughts (consider, for instance, 1 Chronicles 28.9, which reads “And you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart; for the Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought.”), it is also clear that some biblical passages, such as those discussed above, also portray God as genuinely learning and changing his intended course(s) of action.

            So, as I said, you have to arbitrarily pick and choose which bible verses to focus on in order to make your argument that God is omniscient (and to ignore the parts of the bible that imply God isn’t omniscient).

          • John MacDonald

            At times, Jesus certainly thought the future was open, not determined for an omniscient God, such as we see in the terrified prayer Jesus makes in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus petitions God to change his plan so that Jesus wouldn’t have to die: ” ‘Abba, Father,’ He said, ‘all things are possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.’ (Mark 14:36).” Here Jesus does not seem to think God is privy to a predetermined future.

          • I know that wealthy modern Christians have so thorougly reinterpreted the early Christian message, which had implications that were not merely individual in its original time and context, that we can genuinely believe that a recovery of the gospel’s social aspects is a distortion of the gospel.

          • Ryan

            The reference to God “having no prior knowledge” is that God had never known the darkness of Satan’s curse that was coming down upon Job.

          • Ryan

            Oops! Wrong thread.

          • John MacDonald

            What do you interpret this passage to mean?: “thou MOVEDST me against him, to destroy him without cause (Job 2:3).” It seems to be saying that Job never would have suffered if Satan didn’t incite God to move against Job. Further, it also seems to be suggesting that God didn’t know that Job would suffer until Satan incited God to move against Job.

    • tricksterson

      Why don’t you just say what you mean, namely “Jesus doesn’t give a shit about the poor while they’re alive and neither should we.”?

      • I try to make my blog appropriate for people of all ages, and aim to keep the level of discourse high and serious. And so kindly refrain from using expletives. Thank you.

  • Ryan

    This misrepresentation of the “poor” can be expertly summed up in Gary T. Meadors article THE “POOR” IN THE BEATITUDES OF MATTHEW AND LUKE available at https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/ntesources/ntarticles/gtj-nt/meadors-lukepoor-gtj-85.pdf

    “The conclusion to the whole matter, if one is faithful to the religious ‘sitz im leben’ of pietistic Judaism, is that regardless of the ‘ipsissima verba’ (the actual words) of Jesus, the ‘ipsissima vox’ is the same. The ‘ptwxoi’ are the Anawim. In the case of the Sermon the ‘ptwxoi’ are the disciples as a class of followers. In Luke 6:20 it designates a group; it does not describe a social state of being. A social state of being may be attendant (cf. Luke 6:21-22), but it is not the focus of the term ‘ptwxoi.’ If it were merely a social state of being, then
    all of those who are in such a state would ‘own’ the kingdom (6:20c). This would be soteriological universalism. Guthrie rightly cautions on this point, “since possession of the kingdom of God is the consequence of this ‘poverty’, it seems to suggest a spiritual element, for the ‘kingdom’ cannot be understood in any other way.”

    • John MacDonald

      Then why is Luke pairing “You who are poor” with “you who are rich” in Luke 6? “Rich” here seems to be merely a social state of being.

      • Ryan

        Reading further the article I linked to, you will find that the pairings are a contrast, with the “poor and rich” contrasting the “righteous and wicked/evil.”

        “The language is also contrastive. It utilizes poetic extremes: hunger and full, weep and laugh, hate and admire, and poor and rich. It is thoroughly semitic. Psalm 37 is an OT example (cf. Isa 61:1-3 also) of the reversal of the poor and rich under the rubric of wicked/evil and righteous. The language in reversal genre is categorically symbolic. Poor and rich in Luke 6 are first of all categorical. The social situation behind the language is real but not foundational. The close of the sermon in Luke 6:46-49 illustrates this principle well from a different perspective. The houses and their fate are symbolic of one’s response to truth.”

        • Luke 6:46-49 and its eqivalent in Matthew is explicit and unambiguous that the imagery refers to those who do not merely accept theoretical truths, but put Jesus’ teaching into practice. “Whoever hears my words and does them.”

          • Ryan

            I think the author’s quote changed the angle a little for what we are discussing. Luckily, if you continue reading through verse 47 you can see that “he who does them…. is like” and then it pea into the solid rock example. The author only connects to this passage to further illustrate the spiritual by connecting the image to physical comprehension.

  • John Crane

    Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the peace makers. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.

    Black lives matter, white lives matter, blue lives matter, all lives matter,

    • Everyone already knows that wealthy American Christians prefer the Matthew 5 beatitudes to those in Luke 6.

      • I_LilyG

        And you seem to reject Matthew 5 to attempt to make your point. How do you reconcile his “poor in spirit”? Was he wrong?

        • I don’t think that Matthew’s reinterpretation of what Jesus said is so far from the mark. Luke doesn’t appear to have understood Jesus’ words to mean “how much money you have, and nothing else, determines your standing with God.” But he is very explicit that it is relevant, in ways that cannot but make American Christians uncomfortable. So too with Matthew’s hungering and thirsting for justice. One may not be hungry, but can nonetheless stand with and struggle on behalf of those who are, or if that is not possible, hunger or long for change.

          • I_LilyG

            “So far from the mark”?

            I think you should just admit you reject Matthew as fallible.

          • Of course Matthew was fallible! But only a fundamentalist would say that what people have to say ought to be rejected simply because they are human.

          • I_LilyG

            I didn’t mean the person, but the gospel of Matthew. Is the gospel of Matthew infallible?

          • I_LilyG

            Yes. Alright. Well we certainly won’t get anywhere if you believe the bible errant.

          • I know that deifying the text of the Bible is a popular if sinful way that fundamentalists try to pretend that it is possible to bypass our human frailty and need to rely humbly on God. But it still saddens me every time I see the detrimental effect this false teaching has on those who hold it. If someone doesn’t accept your view of the Bible as a premise, you don’t know how to converse meaningfully with them and seek to make a reasoned case for your viewpoint – even though the Bible itself provides examples of how to go about it!

          • I_LilyG

            Alright. Anyway, truly I am sorry for wasting yours and my time.

          • Oh, yes, even more reprehensible than inerrantism is Calvinism, which leads people to ignore the example of all the major figures depicted in the Bible, and to respond to disagreement by leaving, considering the person they are talking to as someone destined for hell by God – even though even according to Calvinist teachings, one cannot presume to know this, since God could work to change a person’s heart. But most of the heartless twisted Calvinists prefer to use their warped theology as an excuse for avoiding conversations that might persuade others, or better still, might lead them to learn something themselves.

            I wish you wouldn’t run away. You need your theology challenged, not least by things that the Bible says which you are ignoring.

          • I_LilyG

            We have no common basis for any meaningful theological discussion if not scripture as the final, infallible rule of authority.

            No thanks.

          • So before you will even discuss theology with someone, they have to assume that your idolatrous view of the Bible is correct?

            Gosh.

            Here’s a question that I hope you will reflect on even if you do indeed decide not to comment here any more: of the people who speak to others about theology depicted in the Bible – Jesus, Paul, or even the Old Testament prophets who had messages for the nations and as yet no Bible, infallible or otherwise – do any of them ever refuse to talk to others because those others do not share their assumptions about scripture?

            Of course, none of the figures I mentioned shares your view of scripture, but all of them viewed what part of the Bible they had in their time as important. And yet they were able to talk to foreigners who did not share their assumptions or even know those texts.

            And so I can only hope that perhaps you will be willing to reflect on the question: why aren’t you willing to do what they did, and what does it tell you about how your faith/religion/worldview/assumptions are different from theirs?

          • I_LilyG

            Obviously I disagree that Jesus and the apostles did not view supremely the Word of God and appeal to its authority constantly. If we don’t have the sola scriptura debate squared away, we have different final authority appeals. We’d get nowhere. But then, I’m sure you’ve heard it all before.

            There are other reasons I’m bowing out. I see (here and elsewhere) you are not one for arguing in good faith. That makes things very difficult.

          • John MacDonald

            Can you give an example where, according to you, Dr. McGrath is not arguing in good faith?

          • I_LilyG

            A specific example I’m thinking of is his recent dialogue under his Facebook blog link, “the 71% heresy,” specifically with Paul Manata.

          • John MacDonald

            Specifically, what about this made you think Dr. McGrath was not arguing in good faith? And, what do you mean by the phrase “not arguing in good faith.”

          • I_LilyG

            Do a simple Google search on “arguing in good faith.”

          • John MacDonald

            There are nuances in semantics when you compare different people. I was asking in what sense you were using the phrase?

          • I would very much like to know what about that conversation leads you to make the complaints that you do. I felt that the remarks from the other individual were aggressive, snide, and belittling from the outset, and so I am surprised to hear that anyone would comsider me to have behaved inappropriately, and if so, in what way. I genuinely want to know, since sometimes when we are attacked we respond in ways that are inappropriate, without even realizing we are doing it.

          • I_LilyG

            I’m not going to rehash what was pointed out to you already in the thread.

          • John MacDonald

            Dr. McGrath processes an enormous amount of text in a day. It would probably be helpful if you indicated what offended you – unless you don’t want a positive resolution.

          • John MacDonald

            I would note, though, that the problem Lily has with the way you handled the Paul Manata incident wasn’t even an issue for her here on this thread until you mentioned to her that you didn’t believe scripture was inerrant. Before that she was dialoguing with you freely here.

          • I_LilyG

            It was certainly an issue. And I fully admit it was foolish of me to engage.

          • John MacDonald

            If you can be forgiven for being “foolish” to engage, why can’t you forgive Dr. McGrath for being “foolish” in the way he behaved (if he did indeed do what you said he did)? Can’t we all just get along? lol

          • This was a discussion on Facebook in which the individual in question (who said his name was Maul Panata, not Paul Manata) simply jumped into a discussion without introducing himself; then he said he has forgotten more about epistemology than I’ve ever known; then when I pointed out that I actually teach in philosophy and religion, he claimed that he already knew that; then he called me an oaf and other colorful names. I’m sure there were moments at which I could have responded to his incessant meanness and aggression with greater kindness than I did, but if I let my disappointment at his nasty approach to other human beings become visible at times, I’m not sure how that equates to “not arguing in good faith.”

      • John Crane

        Your point being?

        • My point being that you chose to quote Matthew’s version rather than deal with what Luke’s version says, which is the version quoted in the meme.

          • John Crane

            It wasn’t really a quote, I was just rattling them off from memory. I don’t think which version or which translation is important, but rather that the article took one beatitude from a longer list and portrayed people as taking offense because not everybody was included in that one beatitude, but the list is more inclusive once all the beatitudes are considered.

            But, there is a difference, not everybody fits into one of the beatitudes, but everybody has a life, and that life matters.

            As for being a “wealthy American Christian”, I have no idea where you got that.

          • Please read the beatitudes and woes in Luke 6 and then let me know if you feel the same way about the meme, as you did when you reacted based on your memory of Matthew’s version.

  • Richard Worden Wilson

    Wow, blog conversations sure move beyond the starting points. So, please see my comments below. But to answer James’ question, no, I don’t think Jesus would have blessed non-whites and cursed whites, even rhetorically. The haves of riches, power, and position in society in contrast with those who don’t is present and starkly evident in Jesus awareness of his societal context; that is trans racial.

  • Bob

    you apparently don’t understand either one, Jesus or blacklivesmatter

    • That may perhaps be – but merely asserting that does not make it so. Would you care to make a case for your viewpoint?

      • Bob

        Jesus was not addessing our wealth but our spirit and soul. The bible is one cohesive unit. It is too long a discussion for this forum but the HS will give you understanding if you ask in earnest. blacklivesmatter is obviously nothing but lawless, militant, thugs. Obviously!

        • Do you really think that stating things that are false, and then saying “obviously,” will make your falsehoods seem like truth? Do you not fear that by associating the Holy Spirit (referred to in a disrespectful way as “HS”) with your dishonesty and bigotry, you may blaspheme the Holy Spirit?