22 November 2014

Stewardship and Parable Inversion- Concluding Thoughts

When the Church shifted and was transformed by Constantinianism, many old values and ways of thinking had to be abandoned in order to create the new Christendom, which ended up being anything but Christian. Power and money are always wedded and in order for the Church to embrace a political order it had to change the way it thought about itself in the world.

The Reformation re-cast and modified this same tendency. It laid the groundwork for a Neo-Constantinianism and for the modern industrial age. Then the power took on a life of its own and turned its back on the Reformation Church. Modern Dominionism is simply the latest edition of this recurring theology and provides impetus for the reconstitution of Constantinian Christendom.

Its followers have used parable inversion as a constant tool to reinforce the aims and goals of the misguided project. Beware this error. Here I've called it inversion. In truth there's another name for it...Scripture twisting.

We're warned against those who think of godliness as a mean of gain in passages like 1 Timothy 6 and of those who manipulate Scripture to their own ends in 2 Peter 3.16. I think of these every time I listen to sermons on Stewardship or hear the term referenced on a Christian financial programme.

But where it really hits me strongest is when I read Revelation 13 and consider the nature of our Bestial social and financial system and what it means to truly reject it. Thankfully we've not reached a point akin to the Middle Ages where rejection of the Bestial order of the day (Christendom) meant taking to the forest and mountains. But faithful Christians are certain to suffer (as we're called to do) and in rejecting the models of power will be placed at the bottom levels of society with the poor... which is actually where we belong.

Dominionism means instead of turning the other check and being content, we seek vengeance, we covet and we fall into the very power/money trap Paul mentions in 1 Timothy 6:

1 Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.

2 And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.

3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,

4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes, and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,

5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

9 But to those desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.

With one great sweep, in this example of a Christian servant, a lower class position to be sure, Paul decimates both the financial and political impulse, the aims of both the Christian Right and Left. Too many Christians have fallen into the political trap. Others have fallen into the financial trap, failing to realize that ultimately it's the same issue as this passage makes clear. It's just a question of spheres. Are you trying to take control over the spheres closest to you or do you have a broader vision? Either way, you've fallen into a trap.

To reject power is to deny the self and nothing on this fallen earth can be more difficult than that. To fight, to seek advancement, power and security in financial power is pure worldliness and self-affirmation. It gratifies the flesh and is natural to the fallen man. To reject this and to deny the self is the most courageous thing that can be done and is far more difficult than winning an election or storming a beach with a gun. Following the lamb on this path is to be rejected by the world, mocked, laughed at, called coward and viewed as worthless... and yet for those who understand it is the wisdom and riches of Zion.

Once the principles of power are embraced the Scriptures fall prey to a new and alien hermeneutic. The parables are inverted and ultimately the whole of Scripture is employed to build a Christian version of Babel's tower or as Revelation 11 describes it, the Holy City becomes a spiritual Sodom and Egypt. It is the same imagery that describes the bride transformed into a whore astride the Beast.