Thursday, May 29, 2014

Billionaire Jesus, Pt 2: Bling, Bling, Bling And More Bling!

Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered (Proverbs, 21/13)
Was there a "prosperity gospel" in the first century? Of course not. So what would happen if today's priests/ministers/bishops of "bling" met with the first Christians? Would they meet the same fate as Ananias and Sapphira, who withheld property from the communal group led by the apostles and were struck down?

I don't think "Bishop" Eddie Long wants to see God (or the Devil) just yet.

In these days of Billionaire Jesus, the BLING counts. And while lavish homes and lifestyles have been frowned upon by pope Francis, the Christian Right of America clings to the advantages of capitalism with a fevered grip: extravagant estates, cars and expensive jewelry are "gifts" from God never to be questioned. Greed has been replaced by "belief" (as in "Word of Faith") and the outward show of "belief" is prized above all else.

Where Jesus Christ's poor is in all this "belief", however, is another matter.

James 2:1-4 (ESV)

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
The struggle to paint Jesus - as a capitalist totally against shared wealth can get pretty thin - ergo WND's argument:
“Someone in the crowd said to Him [Jesus Christ], ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?’”In just one verse, we see that God rejects the left-wing “Jesus Christ supported socialism” heresy. When Jesus was asked to support redistribution of wealth – to tell one brother to share the family inheritance with the other – Jesus refused.
Did Jesus actually refuse to support "distribution of wealth"? Refusing to be a judge is not refusing to support, but WingNutDaily advocates would have you think otherwise. For every "capitalist" verse, there are a dozen verses supporting the poor and championing compassion.

Blessed Be The Bling

As religion may be considered the opiate of the masses, bling might be considered the opiate of the needy and greedy. Consider this: the trappings of wealth signify release from need, the big sigh after winning the lottery, realizing that the one thing you worried about all your life - money - was no long a worry. Every diamond ring, every luxury car, signifies that the owner is not in need. And the easiest way to achieve that sublime status of non need is through greed.

But bling is a blessing! "He must have done SOMETHING right" is the oft-elicited response when confronted with a person showered with bling. Goodness!/Greatness!/Righteousness! in life must be rewarded! Surely there must be SOME good in greed! (see John Stossel's lame take on it here).

Put God to work for you and maximize your potential in our DIVINELY ORDAINED capitalist system. -Norman Vincent Peale

The End May Be Nigh

The Housing exemption case

(RNS) A federal judge has ruled that an Internal Revenue Service exemption that allows clergy to shield a portion of their salary from federal income taxes is unconstitutional.

Billionaire Jesus is in trouble: as with bishop's congregations, communities are starting to take a dim view of opulence and it's not all Francis' doing. The "greed is good" gospel is wearing thin as the gap between rich and poor widens in America. The above ruling cites the "unfair advantage" some preachers have in housing (not having to pay for a large portion of it). Even "compassionate" ministers like Steven Furtick have to answer for their excesses (see below). Many ministers (and some priests) are a part of America's ONE PERCENT and the public is getting more wary of them with each perk.

Proverbs 14:31 (ESV)Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

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