Christofascism, Trumpism . Honest Bible

Greed of Capitalist Preachers Strongly Denounced by Jesus

Hyper-capitalism (American style) seems to thrive on, live on, intense greed – love of money, of wealth accumulation – above all. 

Greed and self-indulgence of ministers is despised by Jesus.But close behind greed, capitalism highly values power over other people, personal financial freeom for the moneyed, power over society and the political system, the personal comforts of the moneyed, pleasure, security.   Technically this economic system may not have been present in Jesus’ historical context.  But as a moral matter it clearly was.

Greed – today’s hyper-capitalism – is a major and blatant American value system and values generator.

Therefore it deeply infects many religious institutions – the many where love of money shapes everything

  • from churches large and small letting crucial donors set limits on what can be talked about,
  • to making the major goal the raking in of mountains of dollars
  • in order to grotesquely over-pay certain so-clled “ministers”,
  • and in order to make sure everything is the most beautiful, comfortable, trendy, and excellent that money can buy.

It’s not really capitalism, of course.  It’s might more accurately be called a socialism for corporations and the wealthy.  But we call it capitalism, and its priorities do indeed squeeze out the widows, the beggars on the street handicapped or not, the man on the road to Jericho, prison inmates, and others who are powerless or targets of racism and other prejudices. Paul said it famously, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10 and 6:17-19)

Jesus blistered the religious teachers of his day for such things.

45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”  (Luke 20)

  1. LOOKING GOOD!  Some of these dangerous religious teachers / preachers dress well – really lookin’ good!  They look IMPORTANT!  And today they drive well, live well, fly well.
  2. HAVE FOLLOWINGS.  They have good reputations and followings – today that’s media savvy, media clout.
  3. THEY LOVE IT!  It’s their primary ego-food.
  4. BEWARE! We don’t have to honor such people.  We should not listen to such people.  (After all, they are embracing Paul’s “a root of all kinds of evil” – love of money.  They are shaped by that love. Separate your mind and heart from them.)
  5. THEY ARE STEALING FROM LESS POWERFUL PEOPLE.  They financially exploit the powerless, much of it to pad their own pockets.
  6. THEY WILL BE PUNISHED “most severely.”  Maybe that’s in this life, maybe in the next; I don’t know.  Often not in this life as far as we can tell 🙁   But I sure don’t want Jesus making promises like that about me!
Capitalism’s priorities squeeze out the widows, the beggars on the street handicapped or not, the man on the road to Jericho, prison inmates, and others who are powerless or targets of racism and other prejudices.
Let’s listen carefully.  This is only one of Jesus’ strong statements about the connections between economic injustice and religious teachings. Let’s listen to Jesus.

He says we are not obligated to listen to or follow such people.  In fact, give them a wide berth. “Beware!” It’s not even a specific group of them – it’s the whole clan!  Watch out.  Protect your ears.  Keep your hand on your wallet. Don’t listen to their seductive, abusive talk.  Be alert for their duplicity.

And, apparently, if we follow Jesus’ example, we call them out.

So:

Looking good and being generally respected ARE NOT reliable indicators of credibility or goodness.  It often leads to punishment.

Oppressing the poor and powerless for one’s own greed ARE reliable indicators of corrupt morality and misleading spiritual teaching.  It leads to punishment.  (See “Morals Have Consequences” for Isaiah’s take on this kind of thing.)

Talking about and from the Scriptures IS NOT a reliable indicator of credibility or goodness.  It often leads to punishment.  Yikes!

This is a short saying from Jesus.  But he is very clear.  Why do we ignore what is clear and put immense emphasis on what is not clear or not even there at all?

Beware the [greed of the] teachers of the law.”  (Luke 20:46)

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”  (Luke 6:46)

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