Christ and Our Culture Wednesday Class Series Summer 2014 Week 5: The Wealth of Nations On the Accumulation and Distribution of Wealth. July 2, 2014. Class description.
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Christ and Our CultureWednesday Class SeriesSummer 2014Week 5: The Wealth of NationsOn the Accumulation and Distribution of Wealth July 2, 2014
Class description The purpose of this class is to present cultural beliefs and “truths” that may have been incorporated in the beliefs of the faithful. These cultural beliefs often have elements of Christian belief but do not stand when exposed to the light. The class approach will be to present a social topic, present the cultural view and then the Christ-like view. When these 2 views are in conflict, then the class will focus on ways to eliminate cultural view from our behavior. Because of the complexity of the topics and the short time frame, no topic will be covered in depth.
Class outline 6/4Introduction Personal statement of belief and bias; study of conflict 6/11Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness On the defense of both my and your rights 6/18Of the People, By the People, For the People On the role of government and political activism 6/25Till Death Do Us Part On marriage and sexuality
Class outline (I think) Part 2 7/2 The Wealth of Nations On the accumulation and distribution of wealth 7/9 The One Who Dies With the Most, Wins On consumption and consumerism 7/16The Art of War On sovereign conflict and the military 7/23Give me Your Tired On the social outcasts and downtrodden
Class outline (I think) Part 3 7/30All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy On work, rest, and entertainment 8/6We Have the Technology On science and medical advances 8/13Teach the Children Well On education and the pursuit of knowledge 8/20Alpha and Omega On the nature of our Savior
Personal views and biases • I believe that the scripture is the revealed Word of God. • I believe that Jesus is the focus of the entire Bible (including the Old Testament). • I believe that our fundamental beliefs as followers of Jesus is that He is God, he came as Man, that He lived a sinless life, that He gave Himself as a sacrifice for the atonement of our sins, that He was resurrected from the dead, and that He is the only way to salvation.
More biases • I believe that the New Testament was written to the saved (i.e. the Church) not the lost. • I Corinthians 5: 9-13 • I believe that believers can misunderstand scripture when they alter God’s precision. • God’s command to Adam • Do not eat of the tree of KoGE • Eve’s repeat of the command • Do not eat and do not touch… • Trouble, trouble, trouble
And finally, even more biases • Currently I have no debt though I have had it in the past • School loans (R) and credit card debt (R&B) out of college • Car loans (R&B) • Home mortgage • Current assets include • TSP retirement account (similar to a 401(k)) • House • IRA • 3 cars
Class authority • I have none except to select the topics and how to present them • I am flawed, opinionated, sinful, … • The authority is with God and scripture accurately represents His view • My goal is to best encourage each of us to examine our hearts and our beliefs, to examine scripture, and to faithfully and joyfully implement.
My encouragement • Bereans did not take Paul at his word but checked what he said against scripture • Acts 17: 11 • Neither accept or reject what I say without examining the scriptures.
Class dynamics and issue mitigation There are several very involved topics to be covered in a 1 hour class period so class time will be premium. However, • I am willing to discuss after class as long as I reasonably can • I am willing to attend other classes or life talks if you are interested in further discussions. • I am willing to regularly check my email for the duration of this class //centralfamily.org under Sermon MP3s Robert.L.Wade@knology.net
Review of week 3’s class on marriage • Marriage is a covenant with its defining nature as Oneness • The culture defines the characteristics of marriage as love, compatibility, and attraction (L-C-A) with its status validated by a state issued marriage license. • Though scripture tells us that L-C-A should be elements of a covenant marriage, they are not considered “entry criteria” • The scriptural function of marriage seems to be reproduction and the maturing of those children. • A covenant marriage is not validated by a license but by a vow.
Wealth • Always personal and sensitive • But we will try to answer three basic questions • Ownership • Acquisition • Distribution
Who should own the property (wealth)? Individual Community Jean-Jacques Rousseau Karl Marx Das Kapital Communism • John Locke • Adam Smith • The Wealth of Nations • Capitalism Do not confuse property ownership with how leaders in the government are selected. You can be a monarchy and capitalistic as well as both democratic and communistic
What can we find from the beginning • Genesis 1: 27-30 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
What can we understand from the Creation? • The creation was given by God. • Plants • Animals • But were Adam/Eve individuals or a community? • I do not believe that this question is answered by this passage Plants and animals are given to mankind with responsibilities and some limits
We need a larger population to ascertain individual or community ownership • Genesis 23 • Abraham buys a field and a cave to bury Sarah • Field is deeded to Abraham • 2 Samuel 24: 18-24 • God orders David to build an alter on a specific site • The site is owned by another man • David refuses to receive site as gift and procures it • Jeremiah 32 • Jeremiah buys a field (that is under the Babylonian army), pays with silver, signs deed, has it witnessed. Whew! It is good to get that resolved. Apparently individual ownership (of wealth) is the godly way. Hold it, what about this…
Deuteronomy 15 and Leviticus 25 • My oh my, where does this leave us with our understanding. • I believe that this called wealth redistribution on the current vernacular. • Lev 25:23 23 “‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.
It seems to me that… • There are elements of both private and community ownership • But the reality is that it is neither. • God has ownership. • We are stewards, not owners.
The acquisition of wealth • Benjamin Franklin stated that “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” • It seems that our culture still recognizes hard work as a source of our wealth. • But it also attributes to the character of those who amass fortunes as either greedy or corrupt.
The importance of hard work • Proverbs 14: 24-25 23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. 24 The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly. • There are huge numbers of passages describing the importance of work (I am planning to cover more thoroughly in a future topic)
However • Deuteronomy 8: 17-18 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. • 2 Corinthians 11:16-29
It seems to me that • Though we are encouraged to work to produce wealth, it is foolish to believe that our wealth is the result of our effort. • God blesses those who put their trust in Him.
Distribution of wealth • We have already read about the year of canceling debts and the year of jubilee • Luke 16: 1-15 • Parable in which Jesus encourages us to use the Master’s (God’s) wealth to acquire friends • Acts 2: 42-47 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. …44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. ….
It seems to me that the purpose of wealth • Is to take care of our NEEDS and to further the kingdom through helping others. • But how much should I give? Let’s look at what the Greek has to say.
The culture’s responsibility to give relies on understanding the bell curve
Let’s read Luke 12: 16-21 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Where did the Rich Fool’s barn size fall on the bell curve of barns in Judea circa 30 A.D
What are our barns today? • Bank accounts • House size • Retirement accounts • Land • Household goods • …
What does our culture think about personal wealth? • Our culture’s attitude toward personal wealth strikes me as neurotic • The country’s wealthy or elite seems to have acquired their wealth on one of three ways (I know this is an over simplification) • Family inheritance • Business • Entertainment • And elements of our country seem to glamourize some and demonize the others.
Summary • It seems to me that the God is the source of wealth and not so much our effort • It also seems to me that the purpose of wealth is bring others to godliness by either building up the saved or by supporting the conversion of the lost. • There is no condemnation of wealth but it is very dangerous to amass (Matthew 19: 23-26) 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. … 26Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”