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Featured Giving up everything you own

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Vouthon, May 5, 2018.

  1. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Good post!

    Thanks in no small measure to their notorious reputation (or "bad rap", you could say with more charity) in the New Testament, the word 'Pharisee' has become a byword for smugness and judgementalism in societies with a Christian heritage . A term of abuse, really.

    And yet if one studies an extra-biblical historiographical source from the first century A.D., like the Antiquities of Josephus, it does become evident that the Pharisees were by no means - as a class - quite so morally reprehensible as many modern Christians assume.

    As such, to 'exceed their righteousness' as Jesus commanded, actually demands a higher standard of ethics than one might expect if reliant upon the careless, popular stereotypes.

    On the authority of Josephus, we learn the following with regards to the "righteousness" of the Pharisee sect:


    The Pharisees simplify their standard of living, making no concession to luxury. They follow the guidance of that which their doctrine has selected and transmitted as good, attaching the chief importance to the observance of those commandments which it has seen fit to dictate to them. They show respect and deference to their elders, nor do they rashly presume to contradict their proposals...

    Because of these views they are, as a matter of fact, extremely influential among the townsfolk; and all prayers and sacred rites of divine worship are performed according to their exposition. This is the great tribute that the inhabitants of the cities, by practicing the highest ideals both in their way of living and in their discourse, have paid to the excellence of the Pharisees.


    –Antiquities 18:12-15, c. 90 CE.

    Taking this into consideration, it becomes apparent that Jesus was holding his disciples to a uniquely rigorous ideal of personal morality, when he instructed them to surpass the Pharisees in virtue.

    In terms of the monastic vocation requiring celibacy of its postulants, I would argue that this is of a piece with "going the extra" and exceeding the Pharisees in their lifestyle, which aimed to "make no concessions to luxury" as Josephus explains in the above. Renouncing sexual pleasure, the possibility of parenthood and the companionship of the marriage bed demands genuine sacrifice for the sake of leading a life of simplicity and self-mortification, so that one can be completely dedicated to the greater good of salvation. Hence why Christ himself lived as a celibate man and stated that some people would, like him, forgo sexual intercourse (i.e. become "eunuchs") for the sake of the Kingdom:


    "For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake."

    (Matthew 19:3–12)

    It is also the reason why the Apostle Paul refrained from getting married and even encouraged celibacy as a way of life, if one freely chose it:


    1 Corinthians, Chap. 7 - “Now concerning the thing whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. But for fear of fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband… But I speak this by indulgence, not by commandment. For I would that all men were even as myself [unmarried]: but every one hath his proper gift from God; one after this manner, and another after that. But I say to the unmarried, and to the widows: It is good for them if they so continue, even as I…"​
     
    #41 Vouthon, May 8, 2018
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
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  2. Samantha Rinne

    Samantha Rinne Resident Genderfluid Writer/Artist

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    From what I learned working at the library, helping the poor:

    This is not actually what this approach is about. If you have nothing, you are in no position to help anyone. Not that you should be rich either. The point is, the passage in context.

    Luke 14:1-33

    All of these people allowed their possessions to possess them. What Jesus wants is not a nation of paupers (he wasn't claiming people's offerings) but for people to leave those things behind and put his teachings first. Not to leave one's family, but to do so only if they actively turn their back on God.
     
  3. spirtual-philosophy

    spirtual-philosophy Well-Known Member

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    David Bentley Hart claims that this is exactly what Jesus taught and meant, and what the early church believed, and what the New Testament teaches. That wealth is an "intrinsic evil".
     
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