Racism Against Whites – My Personal Experiences

 

In recent years, we often hear liberal black Americans say publicly, “We need to have a conversation about race.” Yet, what I always find is they want to dictate what the rest of us think about race; they don’t want to hear about our experiences, too. Well, I think it’s time that changed. Here’s my two cents:

During the #BlackLivesMatter riots over the killing of George Floyd, Stephen Colbert interviewed Charlamagne – who calls himself a deity (but it’s against my religion to call him that). Steven asked Charlamagne about his experiences with racism growing up in South Carolina. Charlamagne replied, “I never really experienced overt racism. I think I experienced more covert racism.” In other words, his entire obsession over “smashing white supremacy” comes from what he “thinks” in his imagination. He was raised to be obsessed with anger over slavery and has always been taught that discrimination against blacks is out of control. Now, he demands repayment from white people for something they, as individuals today, never did and that he never experienced.

Well, where he lacks experience, I have some. That’s because, being born after the civil rights movement, I’ve lived in a world where racism has reversed. Yes, I know Democrats will cite some wealth or unemployment disparity numbers to claim otherwise. They choose, however, to ignore the impact that a black violent crime rate three times higher than other races has on business investment in such neighborhoods, or how those who have committed such crimes are unattractive to employers. But for black Americans who avoid crime and try hard, there has been an abundance of affirmative action, race-based aid, and race-based programs over the past 50 years that give them significant advantages over low income whites who go out into the world empty-handed.

And that’s where I come in. I grew up in a white, predominantly Pennsylvania Dutch area, about 45 miles northwest of Philadelphia. My dad worked in a factory 15 miles away with quite a few black coworkers. As a blue-collar guy, he was on the same level as they were. Prior to attending college, myself, I had never known anyone socially (not counting school teachers, etc.) who had a college degree – not my extended family, their friends, nor my friends’ families. In public school, my friends and I learned about civil rights, and not a single one of us kids spoke against it, not even personally. I specifically remember my black 4th grade teacher repeatedly condemning prejudice, saying that people should never be pre-judged according to their race. It made perfect sense. I remember saying aloud in class that treating someone worse because of skin color would be just as dumb as treating someone worse because of eye or hair color. My racial values came straight from black civil rights proponents. Based on the message at the time, I thought they thought racism was wrong. Today, I know they think racism was right, but was just pointed in the wrong direction.

After my first year of commuting 25 miles a day to the Berks campus of Penn State in the fall of ‘86, when I had a GPA of 3.92 and was voted officer of two clubs, I knew I had the credentials for some performance based scholarships. I would need this extra money to transfer to the main Penn State campus for years three and four, despite having worked 16 to 35 hours per week in a restaurant my last two years of high school and my first two years of college. The aid office directed me to their scholarship list. At first, I was thrilled to see that I met the requirements to apply for most of the 30 or so scholarships listed. But then I noticed the special requirements column to the right. Every single scholarship had a race requirement – black, Hispanic, and, in one case, Hawaiian. I would have to drop out after year two, knowing that the son of the black family that had just moved in across from my parents would someday be able to take advantage of race-based scholarships like these, despite his parents earning twice what mine did. While I and many other white students needed to drop out or go part time, I never knew a black student who needed to (although I realize that may have changed in recent years, with the cost of college having gone far higher).

Then, between years one and two, I was appointed to a hiring committee, as student government vice president. It was for an administrative faculty position. When we kicked off the search, the chief hiring administrator from the main campus told us, “We want you to hire a black or Hispanic woman.” I was a bit shocked. I expected an equal opportunity mandate, not a mandate to discriminate. Naturally, most of the applicants we brought in were black and Hispanic females. I was appalled that just about every one of them volunteered the fact that their greatest passion would be giving special attention to black/Hispanic (depending on the race of the applicant) students. That’s right, they openly said they would discriminate in favor of their own race – first hand proof that systemic racism by minorities against whites is prevalent and goes unchallenged. However, they also balked at our $19,500 annual pay, which was low for a position that required a Masters, even for 1987. All of them declined requests for a second interview, because they had better paying opportunities at other schools, who were tripping over each other to hire minority candidates. We wound up having to choose between two white males who were the only ones desperate enough to take such a low paying job.

Now, here I was, never having yet applied to a single full-time job, going into the world empty-handed, knowing that, as a white male, my resume would go to the bottom of the pile for every professional job I sought. After six years of physical labor jobs, the most professional jobs I ever got were telemarketing and door to door sales.

One of those sales jobs was at RCN, where I saw a white coworker give his two weeks’ notice, which was not against company policy, only to see his Hispanic boss return to his desk two minutes later and say, “You’re fired. If you don’t wanna be here, we don’t want you here.” He fired him for spite, because he didn’t like him. Around that same time, a black sales rep parked his car in a residential driveway without permission when he was making his door to door sales rounds. The resident was parked in and was 1 1/2 hours late for work. They came to RCN for compensation. Yet the black employee could not be fired out of fear of a lawsuit. I remember the director of sales saying to the black man’s manager, “Make sure you get all of this in writing from the customer. And this is only strike one. He would need three strikes in order to be fired.” That’s quite a racial double standard.

Granted, not all companies take such precautions, like Comcast, who in late 2013 fired my black manager. He was a go-through-the-motions guy who got poor results. He was not the aggressive or deceptive kind of guy middle management liked, but he did nothing officially wrong, either. Therefore, they gave a bogus official reason for firing him. My manager sued for racial discrimination, despite there being no evidence of it, and he won. Around the same time, they gave me fewer daytime calling hours (which are important for a business to business sales job) than all other reps. I got only one hour of inbound calls per day versus 2 1/2 hours for the people at the very bottom of the stats (normally, reps got at least three daytime calling hours). This kept me from hitting my numbers, and I lost my job. Rather than be given a bogus reason, I was given no reason, because it was a secret who made the schedule. I think they didn’t like that I, as a Christian, refused to tell some of the lies they told us to tell customers. Had I been black, however, I could have sued and won, too. Instead, I got nothing but unemployment.

I’ve also experienced discrimination on the personal side. In 1993, I got my first apartment in a black neighborhood in Nashville, TN. It was a studio apartment building, mostly comprised of single black men. One day, a black guy downstairs whom I had had several friendly conversations with, said he was going away for a couple of days, and he needed something like $40 badly, and that he would pay me back when he got paid the next week. He even gave me stereo speakers as collateral, which he claimed were of such high quality, I could profit by getting $80 for them at the pawn shop. Since he was the pawnshop expert (always hocking and buying back his own personal items – one of the numerous ways in which I’ve seen black Americans impoverish themselves), I took his word for it and gave him the $40. A week later, I learned that he had moved out permanently. He scammed me all the way. As for the pawn shop, they offered $10 for the speakers. This was, most likely, racial targeting. To the best of my knowledge, he did not scam any black tenants in the building. Regardless, I have never, and all my years in white neighborhoods, had a white person do this to me, nor have I ever seen a white person do it to a black person.

As a small business Rep for RCN, in 2004, I was invited to the black Chamber of Commerce in Easton, PA. Our GM was supposed to speak, but he never got a chance, because the mayor of Easton spoke first. It’s not that he was long-winded; it’s that black business owners took up the whole meeting hounding him for more and more handouts. I remember thinking that I could use some grants if I wanted to start a business myself, since I went into the world with no assistance, but I would get no help, because of my race. As the speaking concluded, several black folks converged on me, trying to sell me stuff. Direct solicitation is not how chamber events are supposed to work. Nonetheless, I gave in to a couple of them. One took my money and never sent the product. The other sent the product, and then used my card number for fraud. Again, this never happened to me at any of the regular Chamber of Commerce events, and more importantly, I never knew a white chamber member, or an RCN coworker, to scam a black person.

In 2007, I had a licensing class in a conference center on a highway outside of town, whose main room was used that day for a large black church event. As I returned from lunch, I realized, after walking about 50 feet from my vehicle, that I might have forgotten to lock it. So, I pointed my remote back at the car and pressed the button, but could not see if the parking lights blinked to show that it was locked. I wanted to go back and check whether it locked, but there were about 10 young black churchgoers on their lunch break, standing near my car. I was afraid I would look like a racist for not trusting them if I returned to make sure it had locked. So, what did I find when I returned to my car, later? You guessed it. They cleaned out and vandalized the inside of my car. Perhaps, this church was too busy preaching how horrible the white man is to have time for “thou shalt not steal.” Again, I spent decades going to predominantly white churches. Never did anyone break into my car, nor did anyone break into the car of a black member or visitor.

Most of my experiences with anti-white racism come from selling merchant services and point of sale systems to businesses, mostly restaurants and mini markets, in and around Philadelphia, through my company’s partnership with Restaurant Depot, from 2011 to 2013. We had a special program for small business owners with bad credit in which we would withhold 10% of all credit card transaction revenues until a $1500 reserve was attained, and then the money would be held for three years in case the owner defaulted on the lease. Otherwise, the money was returned after three years. This enabled lots of low-income business owners and start-ups to have a system without having to pay high risk rates on leases.

This program resulted in about half my business coming from black business owners, as many had bad credit, in North and West Philly. As I sold, installed, and trained employees on these systems, the black business owners and employees were totally nice to me. And some black business owners were real with me about the dangers, such as one guy saying, “It’s not safe for you to park three blocks away and walk. So call me when you get here. I have a parking space saved for you in the back.” Now, I’m sure he didn’t tell his black customers it wasn’t safe for them to walk to the store, or he would have had no business. I was a target because I was a white guy wearing a tie.

Of course, he wasn’t telling me anything I hadn’t already experienced. It was quite common for me, when walking to or from my car on a business appointment while wearing a tie, to get what I call the threat-stare. That’s where a black man would stare me down with a glare so hateful that I don’t think I am capable of replicating it. When I looked away and then looked back half a minute later, the guy would still be glaring at me. When I turned the corner and looked back one last time, he’d still be at it. I assumed this was racism. And most of the time it probably was, because I even experienced it riding my bicycle on the Schuylkill River trail when I was not wearing a tie.

But the first time it happened, I told the banker who had sent me on the appointment about it, and she said, “They think you are one of the feds.” I didn’t even know what a “fed” was, but apparently they think you’re some level of law enforcement. Eventually, I heard the same from a black man in his 20s, leaning up against the wall with his friends on Wayne Ave, about a mile South of Roosevelt Blvd. As I walked by, he said, “How are you doing today, officer?” To which I laughed a little and replied, “Oh, I’m not an officer.” He then erupted on me, yelling as loud as possible in a heavy metal, drill sergeant style, flailing his arms wildly and rapidly. I don’t remember a word he said. I kept walking, looked straight ahead, afraid to even look back out of fear that he would either shoot me or tear me limb from limb, which he was clearly muscular enough to do. Again, not only has no white person ever given me the threat-stare or blown up on me just to randomly intimidate me, but I certainly have never seen a white person, out of all those I have ever known, do anything to intimidate a black person. Furthermore, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, I can’t help but think what it must be like to be a new police officer and receive this kind of hate and intimidation day in and day out from day one onward. And if it’s only blacks who treat them like this, it’s no wonder some of them become racist, even if they had never been racist a day in their lives before joining the force.

So, those are my personal experiences.

I could tell you some other people’s experiences, such as my cousin teaching school in the inner city and having black kids tell him that their parents said they need not to listen to a white teacher (which is yet another way in which African Americans impoverish themselves). But this article is already long enough. I’ll bet that few black Americans who live and work in white communities receive this level of racism in such a short period of time from whites. In fact, Charlamagne never experienced it in his whole life. Likewise, I’ll bet there are very few white Black Lives Matter supporters who can tell this many stories about how their white friends and coworkers mistreated and discriminated against blacks; most can only tell you what they have been taught by the political world. So, I think my experiences are significant evidence that racism has reversed from what it was prior to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

These experiences are why I cringe when I hear, “I need to be scared to go into a white neighborhood,” when blacks murdered whites at 11 times the rate at which whites murdered blacks in 2018. I cringe at hearing, “There is systemic racism,” when blacks openly discriminate against whites on a mass scale, perhaps trying to offset an anti-black conspiracy scheme that is mostly imaginary. I cringe at hearing, “We demand reparations,” when black Americans have received hundreds of billions of dollars of reparations over the last 50 years in the form of scholarships, small business grants, affirmative action hirings, and protection from at will firings.

What we need now is to change direction and complete the equality movement. For over half a century, new generations of white Americans have been raised on the value of judging others “not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character (MLK).” And they’ve done an amazingly good job of it. Now it’s time for African Americans to do the same. No longer should they mockingly stereotype whites, target whites, discriminate against whites, demand race-based special treatment, or accuse America of racist discrimination for holding black Americans to the same standards and laws as all other races. It’s time to #EndAllRacism with an #IndividualEquality movement intended to create a #PostRacialAmerica. And the first step is to teach all people from little on up to no longer place their identities in their races, but to identify as individuals in the human race.

 

– K. Scott Schaeffer

Rebuttals of 18 Pro-Abortion Arguments

Below are several pages of short anti-abortion arguments that I wrote during the COVID-19 stay-at-home crisis. I encourage you to print these and distribute them to anyone you know FREE of charge, either in their entirety or by picking the ones you like best (you may also include them in literature you create yourself, although citing my name on the quote would be preferred).

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: As a man, who are you to have an opinion on abortion?

Anti-Abortion Response: I am a former fetus who thinks my life and my relationship with my mother are far more valuable than my mom having had the right to kill me. (And, personally, I am a former fetus born to a 15-year-old mother, four years before Roe v. Wade. The illegality of abortion at the time may have saved my life!)

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: Stop calling us pro-abortion. We are pro-choice. We think abortion is a terrible thing, but we believe that having one should be the woman’s personal choice.

Anti-Abortion Response: Apply this reasoning to any other terrible thing, and it’s clear how bad this reasoning is. For example, “We think drunk driving is a terrible thing, but we believe that killing someone with the car should be a driver’s personal choice” is an argument hardly anyone would accept. It should never be anyone’s personal choice to kill or hurt someone else, especially children. Terrible things like drunk driving are illegal, because those of us who might be victims have a voice, unlike the children in the womb.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: You are being deceptive by calling fetuses children.

Anti-Abortion Response: Merriam-Webster includes fetuses in the definition of the word “child” ( i.e. the phrase “pregnant with child”).

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: It’s my “right to choose.”

Anti-Abortion Response: “Choice” is not more important than the well-being of those your choices hurt.
In fact, nearly every legislative debate pits one person’s right to choose against another person’s right to choose. Two decades ago, the debate was over the right for people to smoke cigarettes wherever they chose vs. other people’s right to not breathe that smoke. This is even true when it comes to more obvious crimes, such as the right to choose whatever car you want vs. the right to not have your car stolen by someone who wants it. To simply proclaim your right over and over without giving any consideration to those your rights might harm is pure selfishness.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: Abortion opponents hate women and their rights.

Anti-Abortion Response: Most single-issue anti-abortion voters ARE women! Many of these women are staunchly anti-abortion, because they felt something special when pregnant – that the fetus was alive. They are not anti-woman. In fact, half the fetuses they long to protect are female.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: What gives men the right to legislate our bodies?

Anti-Abortion Response: Voters! And half of those voters are women! That’s how a representative democracy works. To say a male representative cannot regulate a woman’s reproductive area is like saying that a female legislator cannot vote to punish men for sexual assault, because that would be a woman legislating a man’s reproductive area.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: Government cannot tell women what to do with their bodies.

Anti-Abortion Response: An abortion ban would not tell women what to do with their bodies. Rather, it would prohibit doctors, both male and female, from intruding upon a woman’s most private area with cold, hard instruments and crushing or tearing apart her child. There are many procedures that doctors have been prohibited from performing, even at the patient’s request. That’s why Dr. Kevorkian was convicted of murder for complying with patients’ requests for suicide assistance. The main difference between assisted suicide and abortion, of course, is that aborted children never asked to be killed.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: How would men like it if the government told them what to do with their bodies?

Anti-Abortion Response: Millions of men did not like it very much when “the government told them what to do with their bodies” by drafting them into the wars in Japan, Germany, Korea, and Vietnam. These men’s bodies were placed in the way of enemy bombs and bullets, as they witnessed the horrors of death for days, months, and years on end. Women, on the other hand, have had the privilege of never having had their bodies forced into harm’s way by the government.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: How would men like it if the government made them get vasectomies?

Anti-Abortion Response: Unlike an abortion ban, mandatory vasectomies would be a true example of the government forcing a medical procedure upon citizens. It would force all men, regardless of their behavior, to suffer pain and risk medical complications (it would also make Americans go extinct). Likewise, mandatory immunizations (which are a good thing) are yet another example of government-forced medical procedures on our bodies. An abortion ban, on the other hand, forces no medical procedure on anyone. Rather, it just allows nature to take its course and complete a process the pregnant woman already initiated.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: If we make abortion illegal, it’s only fair to outlaw masturbation and birth control, too.

Anti-Abortion Response: Masturbation and birth control do not kill humans who have their own separate DNA, as children in the womb do. Rather, they kill sperm cells that will die anyway if not used within a few days.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: Why don’t you leave pregnant women alone and hold the men who impregnated them accountable?

Anti-Abortion Response: States do hold men accountable by requiring that they pay child support, while counties employ entire teams of people to enforce the collection of it. The men are not given a second chance to undo their mistake, like women are by means of abortion. This double standard sends the message that women are less capable of taking responsibility for their actions than men are.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: Banning abortions won’t end abortion; it will only end safe abortions.

Anti-Abortion Response: This is about the only good argument legalized abortion advocates have, because it actually shows concern for people rather than simply advocating the selfish right to kill a child.
In the 1960s, prior to the legalization of abortion, approximately 200 American women died annually from illegal and self-induced abortions. However, the U.S. did not have WIC and crisis pregnancy programs, like it does today. These programs should eliminate the financial reasons for abortions. So, in the event that abortion were made illegal again, the only women risking their lives by means of illegal abortions will be those who have embraced the teaching that career and societal status are of far greater importance than bearing, raising, and loving human life.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: Abortion is okay, because a fetus is not a baby. It is not conscious; it does not know it exists; and it feels no fear or pain.

Anti-Abortion Response: Likewise, according to neurologists, once babies are born, they are incapable of conscious thought prior to five months of age. And even after that, they still lack fear for a few more months. Therefore, from the perspective of the child’s experience, there is little practical difference between that of a 2nd trimester fetus and that of a 2-month-old baby. Neither one has any clue that it exists as an individual.
If you were to place a handgun to the forehead of a 2 month old baby, it would have no thoughts or fears; and if you were to pull the trigger, the pain it suffers would be over much faster than if it had been killed in an abortion procedure. Yet somehow, we live in a society that will jail a mother for decades if she kills her baby, while punishing no one at all for killing her baby while it is still in the womb.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: Nearly 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriages. So, what does it matter if women have abortions?
Anti-Abortion Response: That’s like saying, “Exactly 100% of human lives end in death. So, what does it matter if people commit murder?” The sin of murder is not that you cause someone to experience death, which they will eventually experience, anyway. The sin of murder is that you “choose” to take away the life of someone whose natural time to die has not yet come. That’s why abortion counts as murder, too.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: An abortion decision should be between a woman and her doctor, because health care is a personal issue.

Anti-Abortion Response: Killing is not health care. It is the opposite of health care. Likewise, pregnancy is not an illness, injury, or disease; therefore, no cure is needed.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: Stop forcing your religion on me.

Anti-Abortion Response: Abortion need not be a religious issue (the Bible never mentions it, specifically). Abortion opposition makes logical sense to anyone who believes that no individual should ever have the right to take away the life of another individual for any reason other than self, public, or national defense. If you are glad your mother didn’t abort you, it’s hypocritical to support the legalized abortion of others.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: How can Christians call themselves pro-life and turn away refugee children?

Anti-Abortion Response: Indeed, many Christians have made the mistake of closing their hearts to refugees, simply because the Republican Party taught them to do so. The truth is that neither Democrats nor Republicans are truly pro-child. And that’s why we Christians should never let left or right teach us right from wrong. The Bible alone should be our moral guide.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: Why do anti-abortion activists falsely accuse us of wanting to legalize third trimester abortions?

Anti-Abortion Response: Because anyone who argues, “My body, my right,” effectively advocates the right to abort a child until the moment of birth.

 

Pro-Abortion Argument: Behind millions of successful women are abortions they do not regret (from a sign at the Women’s March).

Anti-Abortion Response: The word “successful” is rather subjective. If you think that bringing life into this world is success, then you will never kill your child, even in the womb. On the other hand, if you believe that having degrees, prestigious titles, and power over others is success, then you will kill the child in your womb if its life stands in the way of your goals.
One’s definition of success is determined by where one’s values are rooted. And the values of corporate success are rooted in greed and pride – two things the Bible repeatedly condemns. Meanwhile, the values of motherhood are rooted in love. But even if we set aside values and look at this from a practical perspective, motherhood is still the better choice.
Motherhood: Your children and their children will miss you long after you’re gone.
Career: Corporations will quickly forget about you and move on.
Motherhood: Bearing children usually results in loyal, lifelong relationships.
Career: Corporations will replace you with a machine if it saves them a dollar.
Motherhood: Raising children gives nearly all women something to be successful at (and feel good about).
Career: Corporations offer “success” to few women (and men), because there are not enough prestigious job titles to go around. Most jobs are menial. So that leaves most women with little “success” to get excited about. And even if you do have a prestigious title, it won’t make people love you. Your subordinates are more likely to resent you than admire you, especially if you talk down to them. And if you expect your peers to praise you for being better than they are because of all you’ve accomplished, you will be the one they love to hate. So, unless you are an entertainer, most people won’t care about your career successes 1/100th as much as they care about their own mothers.

– by K. Scott Schaeffer

Jesus – The Original Opponent of Israeli Nationalism

Most religious and politically-minded Americans know that much of the Evangelical church has had unwavering support for the nation of Israel, regardless of how badly Israel behaves. And, now, the Republican Party they enthusiastically support seems willing to go so far as to instigate war against the predominantly Muslim nations surrounding Israel.

When many of us oppose these acts of aggression, call out the sins of the Israeli government, or simply admit that Israel’s discrimination against the Muslim people who grew up there is wrong, the Religious Right often attempts to override our concerns with some sort of line about how Israel is God’s chosen nation – that, because of who their ancestors were, they get to abuse and neglect their Muslim residents.

The truth is that if you think a people group deserves preferential treatment over another group, simply because of which long-dead people they are descended from, you’re not only thinking in a racist manner, but you also have failed to comprehend an essential part of Jesus’ message – that our ancestors don’t determine our worth; our personal behavior does.

Here are a couple Jesus quotes that have inspired this point, the first of which he uses to answer a local resident’s question about whether or not only a few will be saved, and the second to express how impressed he is with the faith of a non-Jewish Roman centurion.

Luke 13:28-30, “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from the east and the west and north and south and will take their places at the feast on in the kingdom of God. Indeed, there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

Matthew 8:10-12, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Those “subjects of the kingdom” are the descendants of Abraham who think they are God’s chosen people, simply because of their ancestral lineage. Jesus makes it clear on multiple occasions that your ancestors earn you no special privileges in the day of judgment. Rather, any welcoming we might receive into God’s family will result from our behavior, as we see in the next passage:

Matthew 48-50, “He [Jesus] replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Through Jesus, God expanded Abraham’s descendants to include all those who shared Abraham’s faith in the one God who is. When Revelation, the Bible’s final prophetic book, refers to future Israel, there’s a good chance it’s not talking about the genetic descendants of the Jewish race, but rather every theological descendant who has come to know and obey God through Christ. Therefore, today, the nation of Israel (in a spiritual sense) may include millions of people worldwide, throughout history, and not just be limited to Jews who live in the modern nation-state of Israel.

But if I’m wrong, and it really is about genetics, then the land belongs to modern Muslims every bit as much as it does modern Jews. Not only have the ancestors of Palestinian Muslims lived there for over 400 years under the jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire, but also many Muslims are descended, at least in part, from Ancient Israel. Remember that the Jews are just 1 of 12 Israeli tribes. Ten of the other tribes were taken into captivity by the Assyrians in the 700s B.C. and were scattered across their vast empire that now constitutes nations like Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Later, the Jews were taken into captivity by the Babylonians (now Iraq) in the 500s B.C. And even after the Persians (now Iran) conquered Babylon and permitted the Jews to return to Judah, many thousands of them remained in Babylon or dispersed throughout the Persian empire. All of these areas today are predominantly Muslim; therefore, most of Israel’s descendants today are Muslim. So, if we make genetics the determinant of who gets to live in the lands of the ancient Israelites, then today’s Muslims are just as deserving as today’s Jews.

 

-K. Scott Schaeffer

Trump and the Six Satanic Sins

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Seven Deadly Sins. And if you follow social media, you’ve probably seen memes showing pictures of Trump living out the Seven Deadly Sins. These memes are indeed accurate. He has stated, himself, that he is “greedy, greedy, greedy;” he has expressed envy (such as his envy of Barack Obama’s inauguration crowd size); he inflicts wrath by means of Twitter on all who criticize him or stand in his way; he has been gluttonous, not only for fast food, but for all wealth and pleasure; he is slothful, in that he works less than any president in history; he has lusted for additional wives, playmates, and pornstars to the point of having sexual affairs with them while married; and, most of all, he is proud of all his sins to the point that he shuns repentance and, instead, doubles down on them.

It doesn’t stop there, however. Trump is the embodiment of something worse than the Seven Deadly Sins. I call it the Six Satanic Sins. You see, six of the Seven Deadly Sins are what you might call animal sins. These are things that animals do. But we often take these fight-or-flight/be-fruitful-and-multiply survival instincts too far to the point that we hurt others. That is indeed sin. But long overlooked are the sins that are the essence of Satan himself, sins that the animals do not commit to survive, but that people commit for love of sheer evil.

The first of these is pride, which is one of the Seven Deadly Sins and is the root cause of most other satanic sins. It’s the desire to exalt oneself above others. Trump, of course, has made a career out of exalting himself, claiming to be better than others, placing his name on buildings, and, as president, demanding praise from the populace.

The second is lying. As Jesus said, Satan is the “father of lies.” Not all lies are equal, of course. We’ve all lied (or deceived by omitting facts) to save our skin when in danger of getting in trouble for something, making ourselves look as innocent as possible when recounting what happened. That might be a survival instinct. But there are others who “love and practice lying,” as Revelation 22 says. Trump, of course, lies at a level no other president ever has, denying outright things that he recently said or did and making up events and numbers that have no basis, whatsoever, in reality.

The third is rebellion. Satan rebels against the one who has authority over him (God) and encourages others to do the same. Many who voted for Trump hate government, because they hate having authority over them (Paul wrote in Romans 13 that Christians should respect and obey the secular government “authorities” – all of them -not just the king or president). Likewise, Trump himself lashes out at all “authorities” in our republic who have the power to stop him from doing whatever he wants. He is a thoroughly rebellious person who loves to exert his power over others but will never willingly submit to those who have power over him.

The fourth is leading others into temptation, or as Jesus put it, “anyone who causes one of these to sin.” Of course, Satan’s first act was to lead Adam and Eve into sin. It’s a huge part of who he is. Likewise, Trump has tried to tempt many women into committing adultery with him, and he has enticed other men to copy his behavior by bragging to them about his exploits. Yet, what many of us overlook is that false teaching also leads others to promote and practice sin. Trump and the media that supports him encourage millions of us to hate and fear outsiders and the poor by misrepresenting what kind of people they really are, and they condemn programs and laws that would help or protect these people by falsely teaching that doing so is bad for everyone. He also encourages those who are greedy and dictators who are ruthless. Trump praises those who love sin (especially his sins) and directs his wrath toward those who condemn sin and call for righteousness (including the press).

The fifth is cruelty. Granted, there’s no Bible quote saying Satan is cruel. But if Satan tries to lead people away from God and toward punishment in the afterlife, that makes him cruel. Plus, many of the sins he wants us to commit are harmful to others and to ourselves. Satan especially loves cruelty when it’s inflicted on the innocent. Likewise, Trump loves cruelty inflicted on the innocent. He practices what I call lord-it-overism, where he loves to lord it over others and use his power to cause pain – from the pain of a contractor not being paid for all the work they did, to the pain of dreamers being shipped away from the only home they’ve ever known, to the pain of refugee children separated from their parents, to the pain of women who didn’t want him to kiss them, grab them, or see them naked in their dressing room.

And finally, the sixth satanic sin is unfaithfulness. Satan was unfaithful to God. Apparently, God gave him and all conscious beings life, thus making them family, in a sense. And in family relationships, parties on both sides have a responsibility to support one another. Yet, Satan abandoned God and tried to lead others against him. Likewise, Trump has been unfaithful to his wives, who were family. And, on a political level, he has been unfaithful to those who risked their reputations to support him, like Chris Christie and Jeff Sessions. He welcomed their support when it helped him and encouraged the nation to turn against them when he hated them.

So why am I relating the Six Satanic Sins to Trump’s behavior?

What right do I have to judge Trump? (That’s a question I’ve been hearing quite a bit from the Religious Right.)

My right to judge Trump comes from the authority given to me and to all citizens by the Constitution of this representative democracy in which we live. Just as a church’s council members or elders individually have the authority to each make a case to one another for or against firing, hiring, reprimanding, or instructing a church employee, so do we U.S. citizens have the authority to use our freedoms of speech, press, and assembly to make cases to one another as to whether we should vote for or against an incumbent or candidate, pressure our leaders to behave differently, or be wary of words, actions, and policies of leaders that will bring harm to others as well as to ourselves.

Our politicians are called representatives for a reason. They represent us! They work for us! We are their “authorities” that must be respected and obeyed. This isn’t an empire, like the one Romans 13 was written in. This is a democratic republic with a system of checks and balances accountable to voters. If the religious right doesn’t like it, perhaps they should relocate to a dictatorship. In the meantime, if they choose to remain in America, they should cease trying to silence us with guilt trips, and instead, preach against the sins of the Bible, most of which are embodied in the President they call “God’s chosen.”

– K. Scott Schaeffer

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Flaunting your body – how it’s harmful to others

 

Flaunting your body – how it’s harmful to others.

Nothing says Christmas like America erupting over Miley Cyrus wearing a revealing outfit on the Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live. In fact, the outfit wasn’t just revealing; it was absurd. Nobody in public wears a coat with no shirt underneath. You wear a shirt first, then, if it gets cold, you add a coat. Obviously, Cyrus didn’t dress this way for the warmth. She dressed this way to create controversy and to turn people on sexually. It’s yet another case of flaunting sexuality to earn oneself undeserved money, fame, and glamour that one’s talent alone (or lack, thereof) could never attain.

While Cyrus’s antics appear obviously wrong to some of us, many others, particularly feminists, support her move, as they have for so many other body-flaunters in the past. They usually say things like, “She’s a woman who should be free to do what she wants,” or “What’s wrong with showing the beauty of the female body?” or, “She isn’t hurting anyone, so stop restricting her.”

The truth, however, is that she and other body-flaunters have hurt a lot of people. No, not by means of physical violence, but let’s not be simpletons about this. Sometimes, you need to look a little deeper to see how people are hurt emotionally, and we need to do that right now. Here are a few groups who are hurt by women who flaunt their bodies sexually in public.

Other Women: Who gets most upset about women flaunting their bodies? It’s not men; it’s women! Many women, especially those who are married, feel they should not have to compete for their husbands’ attention, sexually. These women have a righteous jealousy, because their husbands belong to them. Therefore, they become frustrated when other women in public media, such as television, movies, music, and mainstream magazines endlessly invite their husbands to lust for them instead of their wives. Not only are wives emotionally hurt by the mental attention their husbands devote to these other women, but they also fear the body-flaunters will cause their husbands to become dissatisfied with their wives’ aging, expanding, or otherwise imperfect bodies and seek a woman who can provide for them the raw sexuality that body-flaunters bombard them with.

When I’ve shared this reality with feminists online, the response the feminists usually give me is that those women have no right to be insecure and need to get over it – if they can’t keep their husbands satisfied, that’s their fault, not the fault of women who flaunt their bodies. I find this ironic, because I thought feminism was supposed to be pro-woman. It turns out that this particular brand of feminism actually hates women and is nothing more than selfishness and rebelliousness disguised as a noble cause.

Wives are not the only women hurt by the body-flaunters, however. Even single women who are looking for a man have expressed significant frustration with their antics. Women who possess integrity seek to attract a man by appealing to his heart and mind, and they feel it’s cheating when other women, who lack integrity, go right for the guys’ crotches.

Adolescent Boys: Regardless of what feminists and conservative Christians might tell us, it’s a psychological, biological fact that most men are visually attracted to women and their bodies. That’s normal. However, that visual, physical attraction is to go hand in hand with relationship. Blending physical attraction with a personal relationship keeps everything in balance. But what happens to adolescent boys in America today (and for the past half century) is that before they’re old enough to date and have those personal relationships, women on TV, the internet, and the magazine rack are calling for them to lust for their bodies while offering no possibility of relationship. These women promote themselves to these young men as mere sex objects, since they have no interest whatsoever in even getting to know them, personally. This causes a distortion in a man’s sexuality and leads him to overemphasize lust for the physical body in his mindset toward women. Granted, not all men are affected by this. Some have fewer hormones than others, while some have no interest in women at all. Nonetheless, the public body-flaunters serve no good purpose in a young man’s sexual development.

Young Girls: While enjoying New Year’s Eve at a friend’s house a couple years ago, my friend called me into the room where the TV was and said, “Scott, look at Mariah Carey. She’s got her a** hanging out. Doesn’t she care about the impact she’s having on young women?” Now you might think that my friend is some sort of devout Christian prude. That’s not the case. First, he’s not religious. Second, we went through puberty together and he was very interested in women’s physical bodies displayed in the public media, as was I. Today, however, he’s the father of two daughters who will soon reach the age where they might be tempted to expose their bodies sexually in public, especially if they want to be like the entertainers they idolize. Mariah Carey wearing a thong-swimsuit-dress (another absurdity) on New Year’s Eve in Times Square, where temperatures were in the 40s, can have nothing but a negative influence on young women.

You would think that in the age of #MeToo, where we condemn the pressuring of women to do what they do not want to sexually, we would rebuke those who create environments that pressure young women to flaunt their bodies in order to be accepted. Many of them, when they first do it, are uncomfortable, but they feel that they must, not only to compete with other body-flaunters in attracting men, but also to impress women who only respect sexually-rebellious behavior. Women like Miley Cyrus try to make it cool to flaunt one’s body in public and, by doing so, simply add to the pressure these young women face.

Grown Men: Believe it or not, many men, especially religious men, would rather not be tempted to lust after women they can’t have. They would prefer to limit their sexual focus to their wives. One might say to them, “If you don’t like it, then don’t look at it.” And that approach would work if visual sexual temptation were limited to strip clubs, magazines wrapped in plastic, and adult videos hidden in a store’s back room. But when the sexuality is inserted into non-sexual places, like a family TV show or a grocery store magazine rack, its lure is unavoidable, and the men are then forced through a form of mental torment that’s too strong for most women to understand, since their sexuality is not constructed the same way.

I’ve encountered numerous feminists online who say that women in the public eye have every right to flaunt their feminine parts to make themselves “feel beautiful” (as if you can’t feel beautiful without flaunting them), and if the men get turned on by it, it’s the men’s fault; the man must control his thinking. The truth is that while the man has some responsibility to control his thinking and behavior, it is never right to try to tempt somebody to think what they shouldn’t. No one would say it’s right to hold a biscuit in front of a dog, whose body has a physical drive for hunger, and then refuse to give the biscuit to the dog, and instead, beat him for looking at it. That would be sheer cruelty. Likewise, it’s equally wrong for a woman to present her body in a sexually-enticing manner to a man, when a man has a physical drive for sex, and then deny the man and blame him for his desires. To paraphrase what Jesus said, “Sin is going to happen. But woe to the person who causes others to sin. It would be better for that person to have a millstone hung around their neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea than what is going to happen to them on judgment day.”

Now I know feminists who read this will accuse me of saying that men have the right to rape women who flaunt their bodies. In no way have I or the Bible ever said this. We live in a civilization where, if somebody does something wrong, it’s OK to tell them that it’s wrong, and it’s OK to have laws in which our legal system punishes them for their wrongs. But it’s never OK for us to take the law into our own hands and punish people, ourselves. And it’s obviously not OK in the Bible to have sex with anyone other than your spouse. Thus, we Christians do not promote what feminists call rape culture. We simply are willing to call out the sins of both sexes equally, rather than pretend that only men can sin sexually. The truth is that both sexes sin equally, even though the sins may manifest themselves in different ways for a woman than they do a man.

Upon being made aware of the millions of people who are hurt emotionally by women who publicly flaunt their bodies, many feminists still act as though they are somehow the victims when others discourage them from doing it. They seem to think that their rights are being suppressed while everyone else’s are being recognized. They’re failing to recognize two things:

First, they are flaunting their bodies without “consent” – the focal word of the #MeToo movement. If a man exposes his man-parts to those who have not consented to see them, he is labeled a pervert. If a woman does it, especially through mass media, she’s a star who no one is permitted to criticize without receiving the wrath of today’s feminists. That’s a double standard, and double standards are always evil. Feminists might argue that its different for the woman, because the man has evil motives when he does it. Indeed, his motives are most likely that he thinks he will turn the woman on sexually, or that he will make the woman feel uncomfortable. Whereas, when a woman does it, her motives are most likely that she will turn men on sexually, that her exposure will make others uncomfortable/offended, that she will show she is more beautiful than other women (“who’s the fairest of them all”), that she will show society that no one can tell her what to do (rebelliousness), or that she will receive lots of money and celebrity worship for her behavior. In either case, none of the motives are righteous.

Second, dressing appropriately requires virtually no sacrifice whatsoever on their part. It’s not as if they are in any kind of pain, are forced to make a strenuous effort, or are forced to shell out extra money for the sake of others’ emotional well-being. All they have to do is cover their boobs and butts, just like 99% percent of the women most of us see on a daily basis. When it comes to loving your neighbor as yourself and putting others’ interests on the same level as your own, it doesn’t get any easier than that.

– K. Scott Schaeffer

 

 

 

 

Revelation’s Beast – Where the Religious Right Gets it Wrong

If you’ve spent many years of your life in or around conservative Evangelical Churches, you’ve heard plenty of speculation about who the Beast is in the Book of Revelation. Usually, you’ll hear them say it’s a person, like Barack Obama or the Pope, or that it’s an entity, like the U.N. or the Roman Catholic Church.

I say the Bible points to none of these and that the Religious Right simply uses such accusations to justify their nationalist condemnations of the outside world, when, in reality, Revelation’s criteria for the Beast actually points to their own world.

Why does any of this matter?

It matters, not because we need to determine the time of Jesus’ return, but because the Bible sternly warns us Christians that “those who worship the beast and his image” will have an exceedingly bad afterlife (Revelation 14:9-12), to put it mildly. So it’s of great importance that we not give the beast and its image a religious level of reverence and devotion, nor should we let it be our teacher of what is right and wrong.

Before we get started on examining each of Revelation’s criteria for the Beast, let’s clarify a couple things:

First, the Beast and the anti-Christ are two different things. The anti-Christ is a person who gets no mention in Revelation. And 1 John 2 says there were many anti-Christs who already existed in John’s day. So it’s questionable as to whether there is one official Anti-Christ just before the end of days.

Second, the Beast is not a person; it is a kingdom. And it’s not just any kingdom, it’s the world’s most dominant superpower. The concept of the beast originated in the Old Testament book of Daniel, chapter 7. Daniel had a dream about four beasts, each with a bizarre appearance. He didn’t understand it until “one like a son of man” whose “kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” said to him, “The four beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.” Most scholars believe that the beasts were Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Rome, the 4th beast, is said to be the most terrifying, to the point that it would “oppress the saints (Dan 7:25).”

That’s where John, the writer of Revelation, comes in. He resurrected the Beast concept, once the promised “oppression of the saints” had begun. He introduced two beasts – the first “coming out of the sea;” the second “coming out of the earth [Rev 13].” The first Beast is most likely Rome, the world superpower at the time of writing, since Revelation 17:9-10 says, “The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while.”

The 2nd beast appears to lie in future, after the first beast had fallen. It’s likely to come along near the end of civilization, since it apparently has the technological ability to “make fire fall from the sky (Rev. 13:13)” and “control who can buy or sell (Rev. 13:16).” And, naturally, it must come along soon (if it hasn’t already), since our technological advances are quite capable of annihilating us any time, now. Thus, the chances of the 2nd Beast existing in today’s world are high.

(Another possibility is that the final Beast is not made up of just one nation. In fact, Rev 17:12 explains, “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the Beast.” So maybe each age has its own beast – a world superpower who preys upon the innocent. If so, perhaps no single superpower matches all the criteria for the 1st Beast or the 2nd. Maybe it takes all the beasts & kings collectively to fulfill all the prophecies.)

That being said, let’s move forward by examining the criteria for the 2nd Beast and then seeing how it matches up with each of the major Beast candidates.

Criteria for the 2nd Beast:

Revelation 13:11: “Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon.”

If you know the Bible, it’s likely you know the horns represent rulers, the lamb represents Christ or Christians, and the dragon represents Satan. What’s open to debate is whether the number two is literal or symbolic. I had learned in my New Testament History class in the early 90’s that, in Jewish apocalyptic literature, two was the number of witness/testimony, such as those who go about in pairs sharing the faith. If that’s the case, then the 2nd beast is a kingdom whose ruler(s) professes Christianity, but speaks like the devil, who Jesus called the Father of Lies.

Roman Catholic Church: Once upon a time, they were a perfect fit. The popes of the late Middle Ages were downright demonic, waging wars against outsiders and conducting torturous inquisitions of their members.  But today, they no longer have political power. And recent popes, like John Paul II and Pope Francis, have continued reforming the church.

The United Nations: The U.N. may qualify as a world superpower, but it does not profess to be Christian and it doesn’t have prominent leaders, so it’s not a good fit.

Russia & China: China’s rulers have not been professing Christianity up to this point in time. Russia’s Putin does promote orthodox Christianity, and he sure lies a lot. So Russia is a possible match.

USA: All its presidents claim to be Christian. Some are quiet about their faith, while others, like George W. Bush & Donald Trump, are quite vocal about it. All its presidents tell lies (which is probably necessary to get elected in a democracy). But PolitiFact has found 67% of Trump’s claims to be mostly or completely false, far worse than any other president. The USA is the closest match for this passage.

Revelation 13:12: “He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.”

Again, the 2nd beast is somehow rooted in the 1st beast and calls its people to worship the first beast. The problem here is that people don’t worship old fallen kingdoms, which is what the first beast is. So worship must mean something else, such as an allegiance to the location or the ideology of the first beast.

The Roman Catholic Church: It’s located in Rome, so that makes it a match for this criteria.

The United Nations: It has little to do with Rome – an unlikely candidate.

Russia & China: Little to do with Rome.

The Axis Powers: Eighty years ago, the Axis between Berlin and Rome would have been a perfect fit.

USA: It’s not Rome. However, its founders resurrected the Roman concept of a Republican government. The USA even has a political party called The Republican Party. One might argue that Rome had become an empire, run by a dictator rather than by a republican government, by the time of Revelation’s writing. But one could also argue that increasing executive power, even to the point where the president can fire those investigating him, has effectively turned the USA into a dictatorship; and with a military presence in most of the world’s nations, it has become the world’s most powerful empire of all time. While ancient Rome may not be worshipped by Americans in a traditional manner, many Americans effectively worship America, regard its Rome-inspired Constitution as sacred, and honor its Rome-admiring founders with a religious zeal normally reserved for gods. Thus, the USA is a likely candidate.

Revelation 13:13: “And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men.”

Only countries able to engage in modern warfare can literally make fire come down from the sky. So this can’t be the Roman Catholic Church, since it has no weapons, but it could be the U.N., Russia, China, or the USA.

Revelation 13:14-15: “…He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.”

“Wounded by the sword and yet lived” makes sense as a reference to Rome as the first Beast. The Western Roman Empire was taken down by invaders (by the sword), yet the Holy Roman Empire took its place. By using the Roman name, they, in a sense, kept the empire alive.

Problem: If the beast is a fallen kingdom, like Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome were, then how could anyone make an image of it and cause it to speak? Obviously, we’re getting into some pretty symbolic imagery here. We can assume, however, that the image is something made by humans that symbolizes the first beast. The image that inspires the most reverence in the modern world is a nation’s flag, which is symbolic of the nation’s government. It’s the government and its constitution that speak. So perhaps, the flag & constitution of the kingdom whose government is most like that of ancient Rome is the image to which this passage refers (that would be the USA). Perhaps a day will come when those who fail to honor the “image ” of the flag will be persecuted. Therefore, any entity that commands its people to revere the flag could fulfill this prophecy.

Revelation 13:16-18: “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of the name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.”

We could get into all kinds of speculation about calculating the number of the beast, but since there are so many possibilities, there’s no room for that here.

The question that we can address, however, is “Who has the power to control whether people can buy or sell?”

Roman Catholic Church: Today’s church has little control over world finances. Even if it were to prohibit its members from buying or selling, most Catholics would not obey, just like they don’t obey the church on birth control. And there would be nothing the church could do about it. Unlikely candidate.

The U.N.: U.N. resolutions have little power, so a resolution that no one could buy or sell would be ineffective. The nations of the U.N. can work together in a join military venture, but that’s not the kind of thing that would restrict individual buying or selling. Unlikely candidate.

China & Russia: As both countries grow in wealth and power, their ability to control buying or selling grows, too. Certainly, they both have some very wealthy and powerful people who may someday control some of the world’s most powerful industries. And both have a tendency toward authoritarian leadership that controls every facet of people’s lives. Both are likely candidates.

The USA: America is less authoritarian than some other countries, but that can change very quickly. The U.S. and the U.K. control global banking. And global banking, in many ways, controls them. The lines between the government and corporate financial power are blurred, with democratic governments having the power to regulate finance, but also with the financial industry having the money to get their own kind elected, so they can control the system that has power over them and increase their power even further. As our commerce system moves away from cash so that people must rely more and more on electronic commercial instruments provided by the financial industry, the easier it is to simply deny people access to these instruments if they displease the powers that be. Thus, the USA, where corporate capitalism has most of its roots, is the most likely candidate.

Revelation 16:10, “The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.”

Roman Catholic Church: It’s pretty hard to plunge a religion into darkness, since its members are scattered around the globe. Unlikely candidate.

The U.N.: Since the U.N. consists of 193 nations, the whole planet would have to be plunged into darkness. That could be done with a change in solar activity, heavy ash in the atmosphere from an asteroid impact, or a nuclear winter. But if that were the case, you would think Revelation would simply say the whole world would be plunged into darkness. Unlikely candidate.

Russia, China & the USA: A country could be plunged into darkness one of two ways – a major volcanic eruption, like Krakatoa, or, in modern times, a broken power grid. Ted Koppel recently published a book about the latter, called “Lights Out.” It’s possible one or more of these countries could have their power grids hacked and destroyed by cyber-terrorists (or destroyed from an electromagnetic pulse caused by a nuclear bomb detonated atop the earth’s atmosphere high above the target nation). And with hardly any Large Power Transformer replacements on hand, 99% of their citizens would be without food, funds, refrigeration, clean water, sewer, gasoline, and functioning hospitals for several months to several years. Diseases from malnutrition, contaminated water, and lack of healthcare would cause the “pains and sores” mentioned in the passage. Perfect candidates.

Conclusion: If there’s a representation of Revelation’s final Beast in the modern world, the United States of America is most likely it, or at the very least, part of it (perhaps joining together with other nations or intertwining with growing corporate power around the globe). They appear to be the only candidate that matches all the criteria.

That’s a tough pill to swallow if you grew up in the USA, thinking your country was the good guy, after all it had done to protect the world from Nazi Germany, Imperialist Japan, the Soviet Union, and Communist China. But the power it gained in the process can be used for evil. The election of Trump to the presidency is proof of that. And there’s something kind of supernatural about the way it all went down – from brainwashing millions of Christians into following the least Christ-like individual there could possibly be, to the surreal election night in which he won against all expectations and odds. Some, like Franklin Graham, have said the “hand of God” was involved. Perhaps he’s right: Revelation 17:17 says, “For God has put it in their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the Beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.”

Just because someone comes to power by the “hand of God,” doesn’t mean they aren’t of the devil.

– K. Scott Schaeffer

The Protestant Case for Purgatory

Let me start by saying this:

I have never been Roman Catholic a day in my life, nor have any of my close relatives.

But having spent my young adult life in the Bible Belt, Evangelicals drilled into my brain the idea that we Christians were to enthusiastically study the Bible on our own. I think they expected that doing so would lead people like me to come to the same conclusions as them. But by my mid-30’s, I found that the more I studied the Bible open-mindedly, the more I came to different conclusions.

One of those conclusions was that the afterlife isn’t so simple as heaven vs hell, that there are multiple possibilities for what happens after we die. Jesus frequently mentioned the “outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Revelation speaks of the “second death” in the “lake of fire,” where the wicked are “destroyed,” not eternally tormented. Eternal torment appears to be reserved for the likes of the Beast, the False Prophet, and the devil himself.

But only in the last couple years have I taken special notice of passages promising or at least implying that we will be punished for our unrepented sins in the afterlife, and that the punishment will vary according to what we have done. That’s effectively what purgatory is – temporary punishment. Granted, this goes against the popular Protestant ideology that we are forgiven all our sins just because we call Jesus our Lord. However, Jesus shot down that idea a long time ago by saying he’ll refuse to even recognize those who call him “Lord,” yet do the devil’s will:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform, many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers [Matt 7:21-23].”

The Bible is loaded with passages refuting the notion that simply believing there was a guy named Jesus, who was the Son of God, sends you straight to heaven. But we’ll save those for another article. This one’s about purgatory. And here, now, is a collection of passages that have inspired me to open my mind to an idea that most Protestants find offensive:

Matthew 6:14, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins.”

In other words, the extent to which we forgive will affect the extent to which God forgives us. One might argue that God will forgive us entirely or not at all based on whether we have forgiven entirely or not at all. But the truth is that all of us forgive someone somewhere along the way, while none of us forgive all people completely. So, for God to judge us based on how we forgive cannot be an all or nothing proposition.

Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

This goes hand in hand with forgiveness. We have two choices when others sin against us, against others, or against God. We can judge them, or we can forgive them. If we judge others by strict and unrealistic standards (like calling for them to be imprisoned if they fail to remember every email they sent 4-8 years ago), then God will likely judge us by strict and unrealistic standards. But if everyone just goes straight to heaven or straight to hell based solely on whether they prayed the Jesus prayer, then that would have to mean Jesus was lying when he made this statement.

Matthew 11:24, “But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Here, Jesus addresses Capernaum, not an individual. But since judgment day is for individuals, Jesus must have meant that judgment day will be more tolerable for some bad people (those in Sodom were supposed to have been pretty bad) than for other bad people (like those in Capernaum). Therefore, judgment varies based on the level of sin committed.

Matthew 12:35-37, “The good man brings good things out of the food stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

This passage could go either way. One might take it to mean that if our judgement day defense is good enough, then we go to heaven forever, but if our words on that day fall short, then we burn for eternity. Wow, talk about pressure! But if it means God will give us a chance to defend ourselves (“give account”) for every evil thing we say, then there is hope that God will only impart a partial punishment for those wrongs.

Matthew 16:26-28, “For what will a man be profited if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and will then recompense every man according to his deeds.”

(This quote is from the New American Standard Bible, which is considered to be the most literal of the major translations. The New International Version uses “reward” instead of “recompense” and “what he has done” rather than “deeds.” But I still remember my Old Testament History book at Belmont University criticizing the NIV for translating the Bible to fit American protestant doctrine. This appears to an example of that.)

If we go by the literal translation, this passage is clearly states that our “deeds” will determine our “recompense,” rather than the mere belief that Jesus is the Son of God determining it. But don’t despair. Other passages indicate that we will be forgiven for the sins we repent of. Repentance means to not only be sorry for our sin, but to turn away from it and stop doing it. We may still slip and sin from time to time, but we should acknowledge our sin and work to eliminate it. More importantly, we must not glorify or preach sin, whether we revel proudly in drunkenness or cry “my money” when faced with having to pay taxes to help those less fortunate than ourselves. That leads us to this next verse:

Matthew 18:6, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!

Jesus implies here that having a millstone around your neck and being drowned is far better than the afterlife punishment for those who lead others astray. So purgatory, or the 2nd death, are not to be taken lightly.

But if we all go straight to heaven or hell based on having been told the right name to pray to, then what difference does it make if we lead others into temptation? Wouldn’t the believer in Christ be forgiven regardless what he did, and the non-believer condemned eternally regardless of what he did? Clearly for the believer and the non-believer, judgment will be worse for those leading others into sin.

Luke 12:47-48, “That servant who knows this master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Again, we see varying degrees of punishment here, not one person receiving eternal lashes and another receiving none, because they sang praise songs to Jesus. In this case, those who know the law of God receive more punishment than those who don’t.

So why become a Christian if you’re going to be held even more responsible for your deeds?

That’s like asking, “Why teach a ten-year-old that it’s wrong for him to bully six-year-olds and that he’ll be punished if he continues?” The answer is that protecting the innocent, defenseless six-year-olds is of far greater importance than protecting their abuser from punishment. Likewise, the more we truly seek to live the Christian life (rather than just look out for our own salvation), the more we love God and others, which makes this world a better place for everyone. That’s why sharing Jesus’ message and the Bible’s teachings is so important.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15, “…his workmanship will be evident, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as if through the flames.…”

First, this passage appears to say there are extra rewards for a Christian’s righteous work. Granted, it could be that there will be differing rewards for those who go to heaven.

Second, it says the Christian whose works are bad will “suffer loss.” So, it can’t be that the results of his work are merely demolished, but that the man will personally suffer, and that suffering will be “as if through the flames.” Yes, he will still get to heaven, but will suffer along the way.

2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.”

This time we even have Paul, the author of most salvation-by-faith theology, saying that we’ll be judged by what we’ve done. And the fact that he says each “will receive what is due him” implies varying rewards and punishments, while “things done in the body” implies deeds, not just beliefs. Notice, he does not say, “each may receive what is due him for having decided to believe or not believe in Jesus.” He assumes the church members to whom he writes already believe in Jesus.

Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

And finally, John joins in by quoting Jesus saying that He will recompense every person based on what they have done, not so much on what they have believed.

 

So if Jesus will judge us according to our deeds, was He, or the New Testament’s writers, a liar for saying that those who believe in Him will be saved?

No, because such a statement was true for the audience to which he was speaking. Remember that no one in New Testament times was raised a Christian, neither was anyone living in a Christian community. Those who professed faith in Christ believed in his teachings. And they were so dedicated to his teachings that, according to the Book of Acts, they sold or shared what they had and joined what was effectively a church commune. They made radical life changes according to his teachings; they didn’t just believe in a name they were taught while continuing to live a life of greed and mercilessness.

That’s what the Pharisees (the religious establishment who persecuted Jesus) did, as they believed in the names of Abraham and Moses, but served the devil in their behavior. And that’s what many Christians do today, as they preach Republicanism in the name of Christ. I won’t say there will be hell to pay for them, but I will say that  temporary punishments might be in the their future.

-K. Scott Schaeffer

12 Good Things Democratic Government Has Done


At the core of conservative political thinking, both Republican and Libertarian, is the idea that our democratically-elected government does far more harm than good. Conservatives say the government that governs least governs best. My short response to such statements is to ask, “Can you name a small government country that you think is much better? Of the 35 capitalist countries that make up the OECD, only Mexico has had far fewer regulations and significantly lower taxes than the United States.”

There’s a reason that small government breeds misery. And that reason is that small government doesn’t protect people from the life-ruining effects of corporate greed, nor does it provide the services and stability that the free market cannot. A strong democracy is the best system humans have come up with so far. Here are some examples of the good things our strong democratic government has done. I’m sure you can think of many more examples that one could add.

Prevent Depressions – I’ve already covered our nation’s depressions, and I’ve pointed out that we haven’t had any since we modified capitalism in the 1930s. That’s not to say potential for depressions hasn’t been there. On October 19th, 1987, the U.S. stock market lost 22.68% of its value, the biggest single day drop in American history.  This time, however, the Federal Reserve lowered the Federal Funds rate and injected liquidity into the market to help the market rebound.  Not having to worry about maintaining our nation’s gold reserves, the government could actually help improve the situation, unlike in the supposed good old days of small government and the gold standard.

Preserve nature for our enjoyment – When I visited Yellowstone National Park in 2012, I took shelter from a thundershower indoors one day and found myself face-to-face with an exhibit on geothermal wonders around the world in such places as Iceland, New Zealand, and Russia. I was shocked to learn that many of these marvels of natural beauty had been transformed into ugly industrial sites in an attempt to profit from their thermal heat. Had Yellowstone been located near 1800’s eastern industrial sites, it likely would have been ruined, too. Its remote location allowed it to hang on until America could come to its senses and preserve it. Likewise, the only reason the great sequoias of California avoided annihilation by the logging industry was that the trees are brittle to the point that they break apart when falling to the ground, making them useless for lumber.

I’ll admit that I make more use of the national parks than most Americans, and I literally thank God that I live in a country that preserves the wonders of God’s creation rather than in a country that empowers those who love money to destroy them or limit the enjoyment of them to the wealthy few.

Break Time & Lunch Time – In late 1800s, textile mills fined workers for eating on the job, sitting down, washing hands, and getting a drink of water.  Fortunately, “we the people” voted for politicians to require lunch breaks, sick time, family leave time, etc., in the workplace; and we’re all better off for it.

National Weather Service – While their weather forecasts aren’t always accurate, they’ve done a lot to help us prepare for hurricanes, snowstorms and tornados. Many lives have been saved. Republicans don’t like the fact that they share their research with Americans for free, however. That’s why Republican 2012 presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, sponsored a bill to deny the NWS the right to supply the public with free weather data and require that they only share it with private companies. This is yet another example of Republicans manipulating government to enrich their corporate supporters.

Water Supply – Private water management just doesn’t work. Owners of lakes, dams, and irrigation systems can be financially persuaded to share water with some businesses while denying it to others. Only a public water supply can ensure water for everyone at a reasonable price.

40 hour workweeks and overtime pay – The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 created the 40 hour work week. It requires that those who work more than 40 hours receive overtime pay. Unfortunately, many employers today get around this law by paying low income professionals by salary rather than by hourly wages. They can then force the employees to work extra hours without paying them any extra money.

How does working many hours let Christians serve God?

It doesn’t. Salary slavery, as I like to call it, is a roadblock to Christian living. Religion isn’t just belief; it’s action. We can’t take that action if we’re enslaved to our jobs. We can’t exercise freedom of religion if we spend most our waking hours creating wealth for the wealthy. Long work hours reduce our church and community involvement and minimize our personal relationships. God designed us for these as well as for work. A work-dominated Christian life is hardly a Christian life at all.

Building codes – As a graduate of Boyertown High School, I have to mention the Rhoads Opera House fire of 1908 in Boyertown, PA. As a result of poorly marked exists (in a dark theater) and doors that opened inward toward the crowds pressing against them, 171 people died.  This is why theaters and other establishments must adhere to fire codes today. Business owners may whine about government telling them what to do with their property, but lives are more important.

Removing abandoned corporate structures – Thanks to corporate liability protection, the wealthy leave behind abandoned factories after their businesses fail. These factories crumble over time, making them dangerous and unsightly. They also serve as breeding grounds for crime. While some properties are bought and used for other commercial real estate purposes, many never are, especially those in the cities that are far from highways. Our tax money funds these clean-ups; that is, if there’s enough tax money available. Otherwise, the land is ruined for everyone.

Toxin-free food and workplaces – In 2008, approximately 300,000 Chinese infants and toddlers were sickened, and some died, from the addition of melamine to children’s milk products. Farmers often purchased artificial protein powders containing melamine from traveling sales reps.  They added these powders to the milk to stretch it while ensuring that it would pass protein quality tests. Farmers also had been adding hydrogen peroxide to milk to keep it from spoiling.  China does not have a Food & Drug Administration to regulate and inspect food production. If libertarian Republicans had their way, neither would we. The food industry would have the “liberty” to do what it wanted at our expense.

Mortgage consumer protection – For most people, buying a home is the biggest financial commitment they’ll ever make. If their lenders sneak tricky wording into their mortgage agreements, home buyers will lose many thousands of dollars. This is a complex industry, and few hard-working people have the time or even the mental capacity to read and understand the fine print and catch every possible scheme. That’s why we’ve chosen to protect ourselves by having our government pass laws like the Truth in Lending Act of 1968.

Hunting Regulations – Thanks to the NRA and the gun debate, today, most hunters are Republicans, many of whom complain that regulations do more harm than good. Yet, it’s regulations that make their favorite hobby possible. Most states, especially those with large populations, have rather strict hunting laws designed to preserve the sport. The states impose rather short hunting seasons, limit hunting firearms capacities to just a few bullets, restrict hunting to the daytime, and limit the number of a given species that can be harvested in a day’s time or in a year’s time. If hunters were permitted to mow down entire herds of deer with semi-automatics, day or night, all year long, with no harvest limit, the hunted animals would likely be on the verge of extinction within a year’s time, and hunting would cease to exist as a hobby. In other words, the greedy few would have ruined hunting forever for everyone else. And that’s generally what regulations are all about – protecting the many from the greedy few, so that everyone can share in the goodness that life has to offer.

Quieter Commercials – This may not be a lifesaving regulation, but it demonstrates the positive power of democracy. When I watch football, I like to turn the sound up a bit more than I do for other programs. I like to feel like I’m at the game. By the fall of 2011, I couldn’t do this anymore, because every time commercials aired, my television’s volume was darn near ear-splitting. Apparently, thousands of Americans suffered the same problem and complained to the FCC. The FCC then prohibited commercial volume being louder than that of regular programming, starting in 2013. A libertarian might argue that we have the liberty to not watch television at all if we don’t like loud commercials, but that’s not the ideal outcome that most Americans want. Instead, “we the people” put pressure on our democratic government to fix the problem, and it worked.

Of course, there are many other good things I could have listed, including civil rights legislation, worker safety legislation, and even the Do-Not-Call List (which gives residents freedom from harassment by eliminating corporations’ freedom to harass residents). I did not intend for this to be a comprehensive list. But I did intend for this to be a reminder that “we the people” have done so much to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of greed that few of us can fathom all of the good that’s been done. We tend to be naïve about how devastating the effects of greed can be on humanity, because we’ve grown up in a world with a protection system already in place. We then tend to imagine that our small government past was so much better than the present, when the truth is that we’re terribly ignorant of our nation’s history. And it’s that ignorance that Republican politicians and pundits count on. If we remain ignorant, the Republicans and Libertarians will, in the name of small government, dismantle all of the good we’ve fought so hard to establish.

The truth is that a democratic government structured like ours, regardless of its size, is good, not bad. If officials do wrong, we can vote them out of office. The only instances in which a democratic government becomes evil are those in which non-democratic forces control it. In Birmingham, that force was the KKK. In Ludlow, it was the coal company’s power over the state government that brought about the murder of the workers’ wives and children. In the banking fiasco of the Great Recession, it was the banking industry’s influence over government that brought about deregulations that enabled the crisis to occur. And in the future, it will have been the influence of wealthy people who have funded candidates and bought elections that cause debt doomsday – a day when our nation can no longer borrow money to pay its debt and will have to print up the money to do so, causing hyper-inflation – all because Republicans have spent decades shoveling tax dollars to the rich while simultaneously cutting their taxes.

15 Anti-Wealth Bible Quotes Contradicting Republican Ideology

[The following is an excerpt from the book, “Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason” by K. Scott Schaeffer]

In the years leading up to the 2012 election, the Republican Party embraced the Ryan Plan, a “roadmap” designed to align the nation’s budget and tax structure with modern Republican ideology. On the house.gov website, the Republicans said the plan “Promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends.” Notice that their pitch implies that “saving” is good, that it is righteousness to be rewarded by exempting those who practice it from having to pay taxes. There are two fronts on which they claim saving is good. One is that it benefits the economy, and the other is that it’s more righteous than spending.

Yet the savings of the wealthy are often of no benefit to the economy. Republicans act as if all savings by the wealthy lead to job creation, which is untrue. When customer demand is low, the wealthy invest in real estate, short selling, derivatives, gold, oil futures, etc. and effectively keep their savings out of the economy, which is good for no one but themselves and maybe those who conduct the transactions.

The implication that saving is more righteous than spending sounds good to many of us. We know it’s bad to use credit cards to purchase consumer items we lack money to pay for. In such cases, we borrow money at high interest rates for non-necessities, which costs us more in the future, and that’s irresponsible. It’s this model of irresponsibility that leads many of us to see spending as bad and saving as good. We all know that the right thing to do is to save up for items we want but don’t absolutely need. We also know it’s wise to set aside money for unforeseen emergencies like job loss, car repairs, house repairs, or illnesses.

The saving that Republicans promote as righteousness is different. As of 2011, only 4% of capital gains realizations belong to those who earn less than $100,000 a year. So the “saving” the Republican tax plan rewards is that of the rich. For the rich, saving isn’t a matter of managing money in order to afford the basics of life. They already have the basics of life and much more. For them, saving is hoarding. Here are a few passages addressing this kind of saving:

Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Luke 12:33-34, “Sell your possessions and give to charity. Make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”

Deuteronomy 17:17, “He [the king of Israel] must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantity for himself.”

This last verse condemns hoarding money, not spending it. The Bible differentiates little between saving money and buying possessions with it. In the Bible, hoarding either is wrong. Only giving excess money and possessions away is always right. So there’s no biblical or moral reason to reward hoarding. Those who hoard money should pay at least as high of a tax on that money as lower income people do on their incomes.

Are the Rich Evil?

I once saw a bumper sticker that said “Basic Socialist Theory: Demonize the Rich.” This is an example of how Republicans fight off any suggestions that the rich may be in the wrong. They label as evil those who criticize the rich and are unwilling to label the rich as righteous heroes who create our jobs.

So am I wrong for criticizing the rich?

If so, I refuse to take responsibility. I will simply point my finger at the Lord, and say, “He started it!” The Bible’s condemnation of the rich is overwhelming. So I won’t just share a few verses with you. I’ll share a bunch:

James 2:5-6, “Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?”

1 Timothy 6:5-10, “…and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. Of course there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. And in their eagerness to be rich, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”

Amos 4:1, “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on Mount Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their husbands, ‘Bring something to drink!’”

Amos 5:11-12, “Therefore, because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins—you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate.”

Luke 6:24, “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.”

James 5:1-6, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. You gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you in the last days that you have stored up your treasure. Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.”

Matthew 19:21, 23-24, “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me… Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

I’ve heard countless Christians say that this last passage is not in any way a requirement to give away all of our money; it only applies to people who put their hope in money. In other words, if you pray, “God, I’m relying on You,” even though you’re confident that you have and earn plenty of money to support yourself, you’re fine; but if you pray, “God, I’m relying on my money…thanks for nothing,” then you need to give all of your money away; so as long as you give lip service to the idea that God provides for you, this verse is useless.

I can’t find anything in the Bible that leads us to this interpretation. Here’s another interpretation:

Do you blame the poor for their poverty?

If you do, that means you see yourself as having worked harder than the poor and being more deserving of wealth than they are. In such a case, you place your hope in your own efforts to acquire wealth, not in God. Give away all your money, so you can overcome your arrogance and reap God’s blessings!

Are you envious of people on welfare who don’t work?

End your envy by joining them! Quit your job. Let someone who has been unemployed for a while have it. Then give away everything you have, and let the government provide for you. Paradise isn’t so far away after all!

Are you furious that low income earners can get government assistance?

If so, join them! Accept only minimum wage for whatever work you do and give away all that you have. Then you can live like all of those people you envy who want government handouts, because they are unable to figure out how to prosper in our competitive economy!

Are you fighting mad that you have to pay taxes, crying, “They have no right to take my money! And what about the 47% who don’t have to pay?”

Give everything away and accept minimum wage, then you won’t have to pay taxes and you can keep what little money you’ll have (although you’ll have to spend it all on minimal necessities just to stay alive).

Are you socking all of your money away in gold, locking it up in a safe, and stocking up on guns and ammo in anticipation of the day when you have to shoot the hordes of poor people (or government representatives) invading your home to take your gold and guns?

If so, give it all away, then you won’t have to shoot anyone, and you won’t have to worry about the poor coming for your money!

If your love of your money and possessions makes you arrogant, envious, angry, dishonest, hateful, greedy, fearful, and even willing to harm anyone who might take them, this quote from Jesus was meant for you! Remember when Jesus said in Matthew 5:30, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off, and throw it from you…?” There’s a pretty good chance this statement applies to money, too. If it causes you to sin, give it away!!!

Why is it so hard for a rich man to enter heaven?

It’s that wealth is a driving force behind two of the Bible’s greatest sins: greed and pride (which are the driving forces behind most other sins). I’ve already shared with you many Bible quotes that condemn greed. However, the Bible also contains about 40 passages that condemn pride. Here are some Bible quotes linking wealth to the sin of pride:

1 John 2:16, “…for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the father, but from the world.”

Ezekiel 16:49, “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but she did not aid the poor and the needy.”

Psalms 10:2, “In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor—let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.”

James 1:9, 10, “But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory on his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away.”

1 Timothy 6:17-19, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”

Some of us are raised to believe that pride is good, but Proverbs 21:4 tells us this: “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin.”

So is all pride bad?

Like many words, pride has multiple definitions. Webster’s defines pride as “1 a) an unduly high opinion of oneself; exaggerated self-esteem; conceit b) haughty behavior resulting from this; arrogance. 2 proper respect for oneself; sense of one’s own dignity and worth; self-respect. 3 delight or satisfaction in one’s own or another’s achievements, in associations, etc.” The Bible opposes both the first and third definitions. The second definition is acceptable, however, because we are allowed to feel good about ourselves. But we are prohibited from feeling that we are better than others because of our actions, possessions, children, or any other reason.

Unfortunately, wealth fuels pride. Attaining wealth leads us to credit ourselves, not God, for our successes, because we think we have out-performed others. We rarely take into account how the unique set of circumstances that enabled us to succeed exists for no one else on earth. For everything we achieve, thousands of things beyond our control had to have fallen into place at the right time. When we assume that our circumstances are similar to those of others, we believe ourselves to be more deserving of wealth’s benefits than others. For those who grow up wealthy, or easily acquire wealth, it’s even more difficult to have merciful attitudes toward those who don’t, because they are out of touch with most people’s struggles. Everyone they know lives a life of ease, so they assume that lower income individuals are just lazy. Those who have not experienced or witnessed the struggles of the poor lack empathy and, therefore, neglect the needs of the poor.

So do the wealthy have any shot at eternal life?

The answer is “Yes, but…they have less of a shot than low income individuals.” Wealth’s power to fuel greed and arrogance is too strong for most people to handle. That’s why, as classes go, the wealthy are the evil class. This is not to say that all rich people are bad, and it’s certainly not to say that all poor people are good. But Jesus made it clear that the rich face the slimmest odds of receiving the gift of eternal life.

What must they do?

This is the part where I’m supposed to say that all they have to do is accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and all will be fine. But as Jesus says in Luke 13:3, “I tell you, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” It’s not just about believing and asking forgiveness, but also turning away from sin. Accepting Jesus is the starting point. And then through prayer, God can guide you to a point of repentance by means of the Holy Spirit. I believe that getting to that point of true repentance includes having a love for what God is all about. Many Christians think God is all about their forgiveness. But that’s a self-centered Christianity. True Christianity is other-centered, not self-centered. If the rich become one with the other-centered love of God through Christ, which means rejecting a life of greed and arrogance, then heaven awaits.

– K. Scott Schaeffer

 

How obsessing over grace creates selfish Christians

For the last 40 years, I’ve heard over and over from pastors and Christian writers that they have a new and wonderful message for us. And that message is that God’s grace is all we need; we can’t have too much of God’s grace; all we need is God’s love; God loves you so much; your sins are forgiven; and you’re going to know that love forever in heaven.

I agree that grace is an important part of Christian theology. Yes, God forgives us for our sins through Christ (although both Jesus and the epistles tell us that those who abuse grace and “love and practice lying” will not be forgiven, but only those who repent). But grace isn’t all there is, and love is meaningless if we don’t know how to implement it in life.

Too many American churches are making the mistake of limiting their teaching to grace theology and nothing more. They simply harp on how saved you are, tickling people’s ears with a feel good message week in and week out. But when it comes to personal behavior in daily life, they give their congregations no further instruction than to “love God with all of your heart.” They neglect the other half of the greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And even the grace-obsessed churches who do instruct their congregations to love others (which they say should be “out of gratitude” for grace, even though the Bible never says that), do nothing more than throw the word “love” around.

The reason such an approach is so toxic to the church is that most people don’t know how to apply love in real life.  For millions of Christians, love is just a warm fuzzy feeling we exude toward the world through ESP when we are reminded to do so.  But when push comes to shove, which it does on a near-daily basis for most people, we don’t respond in a loving manner.

As a long time sales rep, I have known devout evangelicals who have no problem with lying to people to get the sale, even though the Bible opposes lying in about 3 dozen passages. In the political realm, Evangelicals spread false accusations about politicians they dislike, even though the Bible prohibits slander and gossip in about 20 passages. Evangelicals are infamous for looking down on other supposedly more sinful people with contempt, even though the Bible contains about 40 passages condemning pride, arrogance and judgmentalism. And conservative Christians pay virtually no attention to the 100+ Bible passages condemning greed and oppression of the poor, which include social justice verses calling on those with political power to do something about it.

Obsessing over grace has opened the door to the Republicanization of the Christian faith – a faith that is effectively the opposite of Christianity, but is still carried out in the name of “I’m going to heaven no matter what I do.” How to live the Christian life with regard to society is simply not being taught in most churches, and that’s why the faith is becoming unrecognizable. Yes, grace is great, but it’s a pretty simple thing to teach. It’s worth a few sermons a year. The rest of the sermons need to focus on how to live out biblical teaching in daily life. If the church doesn’t move in this direction, biblical Christianity will, for all practical purposes, all but vanish from America.