Rich Man and Lazarus

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Re: Rich Man and Lazarus

Postby KeithE » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:58 am

Tim Bonney wrote:By the way, my view is that the US church has swung too far towards Christian morality and virtue only being about individual actions when it appears to me that the Bible often speaks of the role of the entire Church in society and not just individuals. This individualism seems to me to be a peculiarity of US Christianity rather than something found in scripture.


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Re: Rich Man and Lazarus

Postby Rvaughn » Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:06 pm

Dave, perhaps I am not following you correctly, but what you write seems to conscript Jesus's story of the rich man and Lazarus for the purpose of condemning a particular economic system you wish to condemn. On the other hand, I think it will condemn the elements of any "system" that do not agree with God's principles. Further, I don't think any one system has a corner on the market of getting it all right or all wrong. I'm no expert on economics, but some elements of trickle down seem to be beneficial. I worked for a building contractor for 15 years, starting when I was a teenager. He wasn't rich, but compared to me, he had a business, a home, and a farm (none of which I had), and a fair degree of prosperity. When his business did well, it "trickled-down" to me. For example, if he had lots of work, we might be able to go to another job inside when we got rained out, rather than going home. It might take the form of a raise. On particularly good years, we in turn received particularly good Christmas "bonuses" For example, he might pay us for the week and give us the week off. On the other hand, if the year wasn't good, the Christmas "bonus" would also not be as good. This was something "trickling down" -- certainly in a simplified form in which I can understand it, but an example of how it can be a good thing.

If there is a "system" in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, wouldn't it be the economic "system" of the law and religion of the Jews (at least to extent it operated under the Roman rule)? This system required its subjects to care for the poor (e.g. Leviticus 19:9–10; Deuteronomy 15:7,11; Deuteronomy 24:19–22). The law and religion of the rich man required him to "open his hand wide" to the poor, yet he let Lazarus languish at his doorstep. Ultimately, it was not a systemic fault, but a character flaw. The system wasn't the problem, the heart was.
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Re: Rich Man and Lazarus

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:51 am

Rvaughn wrote:Dave, perhaps I am not following you correctly, but what you write seems to conscript Jesus's story of the rich man and Lazarus for the purpose of condemning a particular economic system you wish to condemn. On the other hand, I think it will condemn the elements of any "system" that do not agree with God's principles. Further, I don't think any one system has a corner on the market of getting it all right or all wrong. I'm no expert on economics, but some elements of trickle down seem to be beneficial. I worked for a building contractor for 15 years, starting when I was a teenager. He wasn't rich, but compared to me, he had a business, a home, and a farm (none of which I had), and a fair degree of prosperity. When his business did well, it "trickled-down" to me. For example, if he had lots of work, we might be able to go to another job inside when we got rained out, rather than going home. It might take the form of a raise. On particularly good years, we in turn received particularly good Christmas "bonuses" For example, he might pay us for the week and give us the week off. On the other hand, if the year wasn't good, the Christmas "bonus" would also not be as good. This was something "trickling down" -- certainly in a simplified form in which I can understand it, but an example of how it can be a good thing.

If there is a "system" in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, wouldn't it be the economic "system" of the law and religion of the Jews (at least to extent it operated under the Roman rule)? This system required its subjects to care for the poor (e.g. Leviticus 19:9–10; Deuteronomy 15:7,11; Deuteronomy 24:19–22). The law and religion of the rich man required him to "open his hand wide" to the poor, yet he let Lazarus languish at his doorstep. Ultimately, it was not a systemic fault, but a character flaw. The system wasn't the problem, the heart was.


I don't so much want to condemn just a system, but I am convinced that the system has shifted to being the means to see how many can get on the Forbes "Annual List of Billionaires." You and I have both worked with and for people who tried to be generous and share. The goal of the system as practiced in this country is simply to make the rich, richer. If you have never read the Powell Manifesto, the document setting forth the goals of the system as it has been applied in recent years, you need to start there and see if you hear something that is in conflict with Jesus. All moral decisions are within a context, and that certainly furnishes the context. For example, you cite the Jewish system of law. We live in a world with sufficient food production to feed 10 billion people each year, but there are still hungry people. When the spigots of trickle-down are blocked to fulfill the measure of gaining greater and greater wealth for the few, is that not a personal decision to keep part of the world's people hungry?
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Re: Rich Man and Lazarus

Postby Rvaughn » Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:38 am

Dave, again, maybe I'm wrong, but it seems you have shifted the discussion to something we all would agree on, at least in principle, if not how to accomplish it. But your original question was about the Rich Man practicing trickle-down economics:
Dave Roberts wrote:Last night, I read Jesus' parable of "The Rich Man and Lazarus." As I thought on this, my mind kept asking, "Isn't our current trickle-down economics exactly what the rich man in Jesus story was practicing?" How does this strike you?
I still don't understand how you are making that case, other than making a connection in the rich man not helping the poor -- which he very obviously didn't! From there, I'll leave the issue alone.
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Re: Rich Man and Lazarus

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:15 am

Wasn't the rich man expecting poor Lazarus to subsist on that which "trickled down" from his table and was thrown out for the poor or the dogs, whichever could get there first?
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Re: Rich Man and Lazarus

Postby Rvaughn » Tue Apr 02, 2019 8:25 am

Dave Roberts wrote:Wasn't the rich man expecting poor Lazarus to subsist on that which "trickled down" from his table and was thrown out for the poor or the dogs, whichever could get there first?
Dave, I intended to bow out, but since you asked me this question, I'll give an answer. No, I don't think the rich man was expecting Lazarus to subsist on what "trickled down" from his table. I don't find it mentioned that he had any expectations toward Lazarus at all. I think that Lazarus and/or those who placed him at the rich man's gate hoped there would at least be some "trickle down."
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Re: Rich Man and Lazarus

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Apr 02, 2019 9:56 am

Rvaughn wrote:
Dave Roberts wrote:Wasn't the rich man expecting poor Lazarus to subsist on that which "trickled down" from his table and was thrown out for the poor or the dogs, whichever could get there first?
Dave, I intended to bow out, but since you asked me this question, I'll give an answer. No, I don't think the rich man was expecting Lazarus to subsist on what "trickled down" from his table. I don't find it mentioned that he had any expectations toward Lazarus at all. I think that Lazarus and/or those who placed him at the rich man's gate hoped there would at least be some "trickle down."


So the rich man was practicing what Dickens skewered through Ebenezer Scrooge as the way to deal with "the surplus population."
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