Tuesday, August 10, 2010

339: Paul, Also a Socialist

2 Corinthians 5-9
"At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality..." - 2 Corinthians 8:14

In the first part of chapter 5 Paul tells us that we all long to be "clothed with our heavenly dwelling". Maybe I would long for that if I had any idea what Paul was talking about. He then rambles on for awhile about how he would rather be dead and with the Lord.

Paul then says we shall no longer regard anyone from a "worldly" point of view. He says that we once regarded Christ as worldly, but we should regard him this way no longer. Jesus wasn't a worldly man? I thought that was the whole point. In fact, Paul is the one that said Jesus had to give a worldly sacrifice for our sins.

Paul ends all this babble with "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God". Jesus has no sin, therefore he is sin, therefore we're righteous? What? I think Paul had a little too much to drink before he drafted this letter.

Chapter 6 begins with Paul listing all of his hardships (and presumably that of the church, because he says "we"). This includes beating/imprisonment/sleepless nights/etc. Does this mean to say that Paul is writing this after he's imprisoned? I think I've given up trying to put a time frame on these letters. Paul ends by saying that the Corinthians are withholding affection from him.

We then come to the quote Pat Robertson used in yesterday's news story. "What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?". Paul doesn't necessarily refer to marriage, he just says that people should not be "yoked together" with unbelievers. If this is referring to marriage, Paul is contradicting himself. And not only himself, but Jesus. After all, Jesus hung out with all sorts of "sinners". It's interesting that Paul compares unbelievers to "Belial" (a demon). Jesus did cast out demons, but he never "cast out" unbelievers from his company.

Paul spends the entirety of chapter 7 saying that he's glad his letter effected the Corinthians negatively. This is because (Paul thinks) it's made them better people. Paul says that "Godly sorrow" leads to repentance.

Chapter 8 is all about giving. Paul talks about the poverty stricken Macedonians who, even though they were poor, gave more than they could afford to the church. Paul says that he is not commanding the Corinthians to do the same thing, but he wants to test the sincerity of their love by "comparing it to the earnestness of others". Allow me to paraphrase: "The poor Macedonians are out-giving you. Therefore they love Jesus more. What the hell is wrong with you?". I'm still not sure why everyone is giving to Jerusalem. Couldn't the Corinthian church do just as much good with the money?

Paul then says that he doesn't want the Corinthians to have hardship while he gives their money to someone who isn't in need. He just wants everyone to be equal. Isn't Paul doing just that? What great need is the church of Jerusalem in? Paul continues talking about these imaginary "in need" people. He says that the Corinthians should give to them when they are in need, so that they may receive money if they are ever in need themselves.

Again Paul repeats that all of this is in the quest for financial "equality". If there is a difference between this and Socialism, I don't see it. Of course, the church of Jerusalem isn't actually in need, so this is more like theocracy.

Paul ends chapter 8 by saying that he's going to send Titus to Corinth. I'm still not sure why he's not going himself.

Chapter 9 is again all about giving. This time Paul lays on the guilt even more heavily. He says that he's been boasting about the Corinthians to the poor Macedonians. He then says that he fears that one of these Macedonians may come to Corinth and find that he's been lying. In which case Paul would be ashamed that he'd been so confident of the Corinthians. Again, allow me to paraphrase: "If you don't give us a bunch of money, everyone is going to be ashamed of you".

Paul tells the Corinthians that those who sow generously will reap generously. This is starting to sound like some bad Ponzi scheme. Is Paul really implying that the Corinthians are going to get back any of the money they're giving? Or maybe he's talking about "spiritual" rewards (even though this would contradict what he's said before).

Paul even has the gall to say "God loves a cheerful giver". If you buy that, you should cheerfully give me all your money. Of course, it's not me that wants you to give me your money, it's God. This is blatant exploitation of Jesus's order to give away all your money.

*News*
We have yet another person saying I can't possibly understand the bible, because I don't believe:
These days it seems that every time you turn around you hear another nonsensical leftist "interpretation" of the Holy Scriptures. Where is all this hermeneutical wackiness coming from? Maybe from people who literally cannot grasp God's written message. I'm using the term "disbeliever" here to mean someone actively opposed to the Biblical Jesus, as distinguished from someone without Christ but not openly hostile to Him.
Incidentally, "nonsensical leftist interpretation" is exactly the way I would describe Paul's letters.
The Bible is a big book, and people who aren't interested in hearing what God has to say aren't likely to take time to read the whole thing. But quoting a verse without knowing its context is like the squawking of a parrot. Polly can mimic the sounds of speech, but you can't carry on a conversation with her. The disbeliever can copy and paste verses, but the meaning is opaque to him (though he insists he sees it perfectly).
My favorite part of finishing the bible will be never having to hear this argument again. Not to give any credence to the argument. Reading the bible all the way through, admittedly, is a rather momentous task that most people just don't have the time (or the patience) for. So all Christians have to do is say that you have to read the entire thing to make sense out of even one small portion, and they can "win" any biblical argument. This is, of course, terribly intellectually dishonest, but it doesn't keep nearly every Christian I've ever met from using it.
When such a bird lights upon a sentence like, "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities" (Romans 13:1a), he's likely to create an instant doctrine: "Shut up and pay your taxes." He doesn't know that the Apostle who penned those words was executed for disobeying the governing authorities.
Wait, what? That passage had nothing to do with paying your taxes. The point of that passage is that God appoints the rulers, so to disobey the ruler is to disobey God, which will bring "judgement" upon you. And Paul was imprisoned because he was falsely accused of breaking Jewish law (not the Roman government's law). Talk about taking something out of context. I decided to try to Google how Paul died, just to make sure he didn't somehow rebel against the Roman government before his death (after all, I haven't read that far yet), and I found this on Wikipedia:
Neither the Bible nor other history says how or when Paul died. According to Christian tradition, Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero around the mid-60s...
How can I be taking something "out of context" when it's not even in the bible?
I could write a letter to my cat, including the word "TUNA" in great big letters, and he probably wouldn't respond at all. Some human-feline communication is possible (or so I've been told), but this isn't the right approach. Communication must be adapted to the species.

Disbelievers are the wrong species to get a written message from God. To think about it from the other perspective, God would be sending Morse Code to turtles if He tried to get a complex message to scoffers. The disbeliever is still Man, Version 1.1. — the model with the Fatal Error. The believer is Man, 2.0. "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17) — he is a new kind of being.
If critical thinking is a fatal error, then yes I'm full of errors. This is another argument that attempts to avoid obvious biblical contradictions. If someone says "in order to understand my holy book, you have to first believe with all your heart that everything it says is true" then run away. Nothing honest and "obviously" truthful should ever require that you already believe it.
In His terrifying way, as He did when He hardened Pharaoh's heart, the Almighty is honoring the disbeliever's wish for God to "go away," by solidifying that decision. The scoffer waving the Bible is claiming knowledge that he has pointedly refused: the knowledge of God. That's what the Bible gives. That's what the disbeliever will not, and therefore cannot, have.
How can someone wish for something he/she doesn't believe in to "go away". In fact, if God exists he has my personal invitation for tea at my place whenever he'd like it. I tend not to have ill will towards things that don't exist.
Someone will say that I'm proclaiming a "Secret Decoder Ring" theology. And in a way, that's true. No competent General announces his plans to the other side. But God in His goodness and love has given each human being a decoder ring. You have one, believer. You have one, too, unbeliever. Disbeliever, you have the very same secret decoder ring I do.

That ring is your will.

All you have to do is turn it.
I've seen people using this decoder ring. I think all the decoder ring does is blind people to obvious contradiction. Sorry, changing my will would require that I have evidence a change is necessary.

4 comments:

  1. Wow, I had no idea televangelism had such a solid foundation in the Bible...

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  2. As I said yesterday, 2 Corinthians is a composite document, made up from fragments of 5 or so other ones. Today's reading has parts from all 5.

    2 Cor 5:5: "Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge" [NASB]. God sent the Spirit as a demonstration of his intention to give us eternal life? What about Jesus? Why no mention of God having sent him to show us?!

    1 Cor 5:16: "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer."

    Note that Paul is talking about how his (or their) way of viewing everybody has changed, not just Jesus. When did he regard Christ from a worldly perspective? Before he became a Christian?

    Note that throughout chapters 5 and 6 Paul is changing the meaning of "we," at some points including the Corinthians and at others excluding them, and also switching between "we" and "I." Is he using the "royal we" here? It's hard to say.

    2 Cor 6:9: "beaten, and yet not killed." It's interesting that in the list of persecutions that Xians have endured, he makes no mention of anyone having actually been killed; in fact, he seems to rule out that possibility. Is he in denial over Stephen? Has he blotted out the other people he supposedly killed? Or were those accusations in Acts an exaggeration?

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  3. I think I got a decoder ring like that in my cereal once...

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  4. I read the bible a few years back, when I was a believer. One of my favorite things to say in an argument is "How much would you like to bet that I've read more of the bible than you have?" It's great ammunition.

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