Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Turning to a different gospel

From Mark Shea in reference to an observation by Rebecca Weiss: 

My reply:

Jesus did not tell the rich young man to deal with the evil in his own heart before dealing with the evils in society. He told him to go and sell all he had, give it to the poor, and then follow him. (Unsurprisingly, this is a saying that conservative American MAGA antichrist religion takes enormous pains to minimize, downplay, deny, avoid, and piously reject with precisely the “work on yourself first” stuff that, in fact, does not exist in the gospel.)

Speaking of other gospels with no bearing on the Gospel we are to follow. 

No, Jesus does not specifically say go and work out all your problems before doing His will, since He doesn't seem to put working out our own problems and doing His will as two conflicting commands.  Likewise, Christ did not say 'I have not come to call sinners to repentance, but rather to inspire them to fix the socio-economic problems of the Roman Empire as first priority."

If I had ever heard anyone make the argument they rebut then perhaps I could see it.  But I've heard this preached on many times in all three major Christian traditions - Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox - and in my limited experience, I have never heard a single individual suggest the narrative's lesson is that we should avoid helping others until we become pure and perfect.  Despite Mark's insistence to the contrary, I've just not heard it, and until this, it had never entered my mind as a possible interpretation of this text. Heck, I've never heard a person make the argument that we should focus on making ourselves pure before helping others no matter what biblical passage was in question. 

I would suggest to Ms. Weiss and Mr. Shea that if they think the Gospel call is for us to not concern ourselves with the evils in our own hearts as we continue to sin and sin boldly, so much as fixing the socio-economic and political problems of the world (no doubt from a political unbiased perspective), it might be time to go back to RCIA. For the rest of us, when you see people twisting the teachings of the Faith the way Perchik did to fit his Marxist ideology in Fiddler on the Roof, it's a good bet you should avoid listening to them where issues like salvation and our eternal destinies are concerned.  Just saying. 

Oh, and just for the record, I'm being charitable here. I'm hoping they're not rebutting the Christian teaching that our ultimate problems in the world are our separation from God and the sin of our hearts.  I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming they aren't embracing the very secular and anti-religious idea that society's problems are all about failure to adhere to infallible policies and political solutions as put forth by particular political activism and ideology.  I'm leaving my take as it being merely their disastrously bad exegesis of Scripture. 


  1. I'm sorry, I must be confused. Do Catholics not have Matthew 7 in their Bible?

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

    Gee, that sure does look to me like "WORK ON YOURSELF FIRST" stuff there, in a freakin' gospel!

    Maybe we should send some Bibles to Shea's house because he's clearly never read one. Yet has somehow convinced people he's some kind of person worth listening to when it comes to Christian religion.

    1. I'm not sure that passage counts. Of course they could argue that only applies to cases where the need to judge others should cause us to self-reflect. But the idea that the two are in some form of opposition to one another, that I either work out the sins of my heart *or* I proceed to feed the hungry or clothe the naked is foreign to any approach to the biblical passage I've ever heard, not to mention basic Christian teaching in general, despite what Mark says.

      And I didn't even get into the fact that a person could be forgiven for seeing their take as an excuse to ignore my own sins altogether in deference to getting my salvation the old fashioned way, by earning it.

    2. True, but it's just like Jordan B. Peterson has pointed out too - how easy do you think it's going to be to get the world in order if you can't even clean your own room? Or "How are you going to get the town funds to feed the poor if you can't balance your own chequebook?"

      Besides like I said, look at Shea's own words. I'll cut out the fluff:
      [T]his is a saying that conservative American MAGA antichrist religion takes enormous pains to . . . reject with “work on yourself first” stuff that, in fact, does not exist in the gospel.

      And that's just not true. That stuff is, in fact, in the gospel.


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