Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H
Gormley


Jesus and his request that you give up all your possessions 

If it sounds too good to be true then it is too good to be true.

Jesus promised an incredible reward for those who left their loved ones, children, land and/or property for him (Mark 10). They leave freely for otherwise there would be no talk of a reward. In those days of hardship and danger, that would have meant leaving the children in deep trouble. Going to another land meant you could not make it to their bedside if they were sick or dying. Travel was slow and arduous. If you wanted to be poor or poorer you left your home country. And there was no way to send money back to your family. Jesus said that their reward would be earthly in the form of getting new children, the converts they would minister to. This implies that those who leave all will get substitutes which they will be attached to as their own children. And houses will be their reward too. These houses will be gifts, not paid for, for they are rewards. Jesus expects people who cannot afford to have a house in the new land to go the land anyway which would probably entail never returning home for they would be too poor to. The message is that Jesus approves of poor men and women leaving their children and going into another land with not even a penny to their name. He is possibly not asking people to have no concern for the welfare of their children but to put them in Godís hands and go. In practice this is as bad as not caring about them anymore. It still proves that he was evil because we donít tolerate cultists doing this.

When the rich young man left Jesus because Jesus asked him to sell all his possessions for the poor, Jesus said that it was so hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven and that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved. Jesus did not say some rich men but implied he meant all. The disciples then said that nobody could be saved in that case. Jesus didnít correct them. Jesusí response was that only God who could do the impossible could save them. They knew he meant all rich men.
 
Most poor people are rich in a way. They could have the same attachment to material things as the rich and tend to more for they have less. This implies that when the God of the Bible makes out he prefers the poor that it is only a plot to make us unhappy and advance poverty. Telling the poor they had the best chance of Heaven the way the Church did was always useful for keeping people poor and subservient to the Church which grew rich from leeching off them. The Church guessed correctly that if people became rich they would lose their devotion to the Church. They would be less submissive.
 
The poor man will be more attached to what little he has than the rich man would be attached to the wealth he has for the poor man will have nothing if he loses what little he has while the rich man can survive big losses. The disciples sensed that Jesus was driving at this when they said that nobody could be saved if the rich are excluded from Heaven. Jesus unmistakeably agreed with them on this. The fact that Jesus or the gospeller did not make this clearer for the sake of the readers indicates that something has been cut out of the gospels. Something along the lines of, ďI tell you, do not think that the rich are those who have plenty only but also are those who have little and prefer it to the rule of God,Ē has certainly been excised by the greedy Church. The apostles would have been ashamed of Jesusí anti-property stance for they controlled the finances in Jerusalem when they ordered the Church to surrender its goods to them in the Book of Acts. But it is still there implicitly. The rich man episode proves that Jesus was opposed to private property. He gave moral grounds for his opposition. He said that material things prevent communion with God.
 
His words stand forever as a testimony and proof that the Christian Church has rarely cared about him when it has sought and won wealth and power.
 
He said elsewhere that actions speak louder than words so he had no time for anybody saying they did not care if they lost their wealth for God or not as long as God was content. The danger was that people might think they meant it and be wrong. And the danger was that people would love their wealth and lie and say they did not love it. And the danger was that wealth is a source of temptation and Jesus told us to pray that we would not be put to the test. Jesus was confident that God would look after his own if they dropped all they had for him so he saw anybody like the rich young man who did not trust enough to leave all for God as sinful.  

Despite the fact that his disciples were living in a turbulent country and needed money to make a new life somewhere else if war broke out the Luke Gospel version of Jesus Jesus demanded that they surrender all their possessions. He said in Luke 14 that no king going to war sends his men out without making sure that they can stand up to the enemy so in the same way nobody can be his disciple without giving up all his possessions. In other words, you have to go to war against what is around you to follow Christ. Note the violent imagery: it shows that the battle is going to be just as tough as real war. You have to give up your possessions to prepare for the war so that you might win it. There can be no doubt that he is not just referring to detachment from possessions here, having them but them not meaning much or anything to you. He is saying they must physically be abandoned to prepare for the battle. Detachment is what you are fighting for, itís the goal of the war so that you will be attached only to Jesus. You must painfully and agonisingly part with everything so that you have a chance of really being detached for giving up possessions does not mean you donít love them any more. You give them up so that you can stop loving them. That is what Jesus is saying. Jesus is also saying that nearly the whole of Christianity is a fake for they ignore his directions. He said that nobody is a disciple of his unless he gives up everything. Jesus said that he who was not for him was against him and you need to be a disciple of his to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Obviously then there is no salvation for anybody who does not abandon all he has. Jesus did ask his disciples to do that Ė they were called just to drop everything and follow him. He told Matthew just to leave his job and follow him for example. So all must be forsaken for Jesus Christ. A wife can be more dangerous than material things for all materialists are unhappy and it is easier to prefer your wife to Jesus than your money so by implication Jesus is advocating celibacy as well. This kind of morality indicates an extreme fanaticism in this version of Jesus, his followers and his fans. Like many fanatics they might have been able to hide it well just like somebody acting normally doesnít mean they are sane.

The Luke Gospel causes problems for the stupid idea some scholars have that the more difficult to believe parts of the gospels must be true for they are embarrassing. It is embarrassing to have a Jesus who rails against property and sexuality. The Luke Jesus does just that even though Paul long before the gospel was dreamed of did have property, worked and said he had the right to these things and the right to a wife! St Paul didnít forsake all for Jesus. Though Lukeís gospel is influenced by Paulís thinking it certainly makes no effort to stick to his version of Jesus. But Paul came before the gospel so his Jesus who did not make the demandís Lukeís did is the one that should be taken most seriously. The Luke Jesus is fantasy, perhaps based on a life-story stolen from some Jewish saint but fantasy all the same.
 
That people listen to Jesus' condemnations of wealth or any attachment to it being read in the Catholic liturgy and then take religious leaders seriously is astonishing for it makes it plain that the leaders only pick and choose what they like out of Jesusí teaching and then claim to be his honest representatives! 

The Christian theologian FF Bruce defends the doctrine that Jesus forbade us to keep anything and wanted us to part with all and give it to the poor in chapter 46 Sell what you have Hard Sayings, FF Bruce, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1983.

 Just because something is big and dramatic and difficult doesn't make it unreasonable. Jesus asked a rich young man to give away all he had to the poor (Matthew 19). At that time, Jesus hadn't founded the Church yet or risen from the dead to show he was the Prophet predicted by Moses. His asking the young man to part with all his wealth indicates his belief that it was just good sense for somebody who called themselves good to do that. Jesus was not asking him to trust him and therefore to give it away. He was asking him not as God or as Prophet or Messiah but as a teacher of sound spiritual insight (it is a matter of opinion that he really was that!). This is very important. It refutes the allegation of the Church that Jesus was calling him to a vocation of poverty - a vocation to which not all are called. The young man said he observed all the commandments that Jesus quoted. But Jesus had only quoted a few so one cannot assume the young man wasn't falling in other things. Besides Jesus never said he agreed that the young man had kept them all. Quite the contrary. The young man said he kept the commandment to love neighbour as oneself which is impossible for anybody to keep (Matthew 19:18-20). Not surprisingly, Jesus told him that there was only one more thing he lacked and that was his failure to give all he had to the poor.  The young man forgot about God's commandment to look after the poor. This clearly indicates that wealth or property is sinful for Christians. Jesus then said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved but then he added that nothing is impossible with God. He clearly meant that it is impossible to be saved as long as you are rich but God can work on you to make you abandon your wealth for him. The apostles were astonished that he said the rich man cannot be saved and said that if that is the case nobody can be saved. This indicates that they knew that he meant anybody with any property by rich man including them. The same story can be read in Mark 10 and Luke 18. There is no hint in the texts that the requirement for poverty was an extra and not a commandment necessary for salvation. The context is about commandments that need to be obeyed to be saved. Acts over and above one's duty are not mentioned. Jesus condemns Vatican wealth.  He condemns all religions of money.