A friendly commentary on the Bible from an atheist

Friday, May 06, 2005


"Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother." And he said, "All these have I kept from my youth up." Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me."

Luke 18:20-22.

This quotation is one of the allegedly "Leftist" quotations from Jesus and I have already discussed them previously -- see here and here.

I also thought, however, that the following comments from Australia's famous Father Rumble were rather good. They are taken from Radio Replies: 1588 Questions and Answers on Catholicism and Protestantism (Rockford, Illinois. TAN Books and Publishers, Inc. 1979 [originally published: 1938 by Radio Replies Press Society, St. Paul, Minnesota]) page 105. In my youth the good Father was simply referred to as "Rumble" and his columns defending Catholic doctrine were carried in many newspapers. They were much discussed.

474. He commanded the rich young man to sell all, and give it to the poor.

This was not a command, obliging in conscience. It was a special invitation which the young man was free to accept or reject. If the possession of goods as such were evil, Christ would have been recommending the young man to cause evil in the very ones who bought or accepted possession of his goods. But you have misunderstood the passage. The rich young man said to Christ, "What must I do to be saved?" Christ replied, "Keep the commandments." Thus He specified what was necessary for salvation. But hearing that the young man had kept them, He went further: "If you desire not only to be saved, but to be perfect, then do more than is of obligation. Sell all and follow Me." The young man turned away sad, for he had not the generosity of character required. But the Gospel does not suggest that he was lost. No man is lost who loves God enough to keep all the commandments. Meantime, in the Catholic Church, thousands of Priests, Brothers, Nuns have renounced all worldly possessions and have vowed poverty for the love of Christ, giving up the right to possess or administer anything in their own name. Thus the invitation of Christ is fulfilled in the Religious Orders of the Catholic Church.

473. Was not Christ poor, and did He not forbid the hoarding of treasure on earth?

Christ Himself set the supreme example of poverty, although, as I have said, Judas carried the purse containing money for His use, and for the needs of His Apostles. But Christ never commanded that His followers should adopt actual and absolute poverty. God had sanctioned the right of private property when He gave the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal." The right to private property is therefore just and not sinful. Christ did forbid men to make earthly goods their only treasure to the exclusion of their spiritual welfare. In fact, He warned those who have mammon or wealth, not necessarily to give it up, but to make it their friend by giving alms to the poor.

475. Christ said that a rich man could not enter Heaven.

He did not. He said that the rich would encounter special difficulties in the matter of salvation. But this is not because they are rich. It is because rich people are in danger of being so attached to their earthly goods as to forget God. The same Christ said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." A rich man can be poor in spirit by being at least sufficiently detached from his worldly goods that he would not for all of them offend God.

This page is powered by Blogger.