Arguing the minors and missing the majors (COMMENTARY)

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Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the president of Morning Walk Media and publisher of Fresh Day online magazine. Photo courtesy of Tom Ehrich

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the president of Morning Walk Media and publisher of Fresh Day online magazine. Photo courtesy of Tom Ehrich

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(RNS) We argue about things that don't matter because we can't face the things that do.

  • Karla

    Great job and very well written/said! The part about Repentance is so true!
    It’s really shocking how many people don’t want to Repent and only want to
    talk about gay marriage/abortion so they don’t have to face their own sin.
    Jesus said you are one of Mine only if you follow Me and why do you call
    Me Lord and not do what I say? Not enough to believe. We must follow Him!

  • Henry Chambers

    Are there any exceptions to the “we” you talk about, the “we” who do everything wrong, the “we” who are lousy Christians?
    Are you among the “we”? If not, you must know what “we” must do to no longer belong to the “we”. Please, tell us, by your own example or that of others.
    “we” are not helped by only being told how wrong we are.
    And could it be that not everything you say about Jesus wants us to do is right? Did Jesus advocate the government to take from the rich and give to the poor? I have not found it among Jesus’ words anywhere, and not in the Old Testament, either. Every family of 4 having an income of $32,000 or more belongs to the top one percent of the families of the world. What does Christ want to happen? Should the government make sure that no family in the US has more or less than $5,000 and give the rest to poor people in Africa? Is that what he teaches?

  • Ben in oakland

    You could take the command of Jesus to give away all that you have an follow him, and combine with his comman to render under Caesar, and combine that with both peter and Paul’s commands to do the same. You could also admit that the hypothetical family that earns 32k a year are far richer than most of the world’s population– oh wait! You did!– and should follow the command to give away all that they have, instead of saying they should keep it all.

    Methinks that Mr. Erich was addressing you? Because you seem to be contradicting jesus on the subject.

  • Fourth Valley

    “Jesus sounded far more like Karl Marx than like Andrew Carnegie.”

    I’d disagree on that implication that Jesus and Marx sound similar. Have you read Marx?? The cold, calculated, mathematical style of Marx compared to the more image-based stylistic parables of Jesus of Nazareth don’t really add up.

    And while the goal of support for the poor would be a common goal for both, the method of achieving that goal differs wildly, with Jesus favoring a bottom-up approach based on the proliferation of peace and love, while Marx advocated a top-down approach contingent on violent revolution of the underclass.

    I don’t know enough about Carnegie to say whether or not he sounded more or less like Jesus than Marx, but then again the comparison is not very apt. Should not a free market political/economic philosopher similar to Marx be compared, rather then a random businessman operating under Capitalism?? (Rand perhaps??)

    And, regardless, I think ultimately neither would be comparable to Jesus.

  • Doc Anthony

    And these days, the mere topic of “repentance” is enough to divide liberal churches from conservative churches!

  • Ben in oakland

    Of course, you could always go with this one if you like.

    15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

    16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

    17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

    18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

    19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

    20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’

    22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’

    24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’

    25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’

    26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”

    Seems to justify just about anything, this Jesus of yours. Thank god I’m an atheist. I have no problem with helping the poor.

  • Karla

    Doc Anthony-True!

  • rob

    Tom your the one always arguing for the minors.. always trying to put the minors sanctification over the major ——–Justification ..

    MY PASTOR’S PREACH Jesus and him crucified for all ..

    your the clown preaching sanctification ”

    “a quote from you”
    “‘That narrow spectrum tends to be far removed from what Jesus actually said, did and expected. We argue about things that don’t matter because we can’t stand the things that do matter. We argue about sex, for example, in orer to avoid the topic Jesus actually addressed, namely, wealth and power.

  • rob


  • Karla

    Rob-Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved! We must Repent!

  • Ben in oakland

    Thanks to both of you for proving that the bible says whatever you need it to. Christians always do that far better than we atheists are ever able to.

    So which one of you isn’t the True Christian (TM)?

  • Karla

    Bne in oakland-What are you talking about? Bible says Repent and
    that’s what it says not what we want it to. Repent or perish is what
    the Bible says! For you to say that this world just came about by
    just some random chance it takes more faith to believe in that than
    to believe in God. Most people that don’t want God to be real don’t
    because they don’t want to be told how to live. Get the facts right.

  • Ben in Oakland

    What am I talking about? The exchange of comments between you and rob.

    I am an atheist. I don’t buy any of the Christian story. I did, once, but no more.

  • Karla

    Ben in Oakland-Read Romans 1:18-25. God is real. Bible prophecy that
    came true with 100% accuracy is why you can trust the Bible. Look at the
    universe. You say the world came about by just chance? Read the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and Jesus among other gods by Ravi Zaccharias.

  • Earold D. Gunter

    Karla, after having read several of your comments on various articles, which are primarily copy/paste. I have developed the habit of glossing over what you say as it is less interesting each and every time you repeat it.

    However, this comment caught my eye. If you would/can, please, enlighten/amuse us on some examples of “Bible prophecy that came true with 100% accuracy”

  • Larry

    “while Marx advocated a top-down approach contingent on violent revolution of the underclass.”

    Waitaminute. Wouldn’t the underclass revolting technically be the bottom up. Since they are at the bottom. 🙂

    Marx and co. merely replaced religion with their own brand. Like religious theological studies, Communism had its own internal self-confirming intellectually barren rhetoric. Both Christianity (and Islam) and Communism have a relative moral base. The ends always justify the means whether you are acting in God’s name or for “The People”.

  • Earold D. Gunter

    Although not a believer, I do agree that the message of the story of jesus was more in line with each of us helping out our fellow man rather than the message given by business/capitalism, which is greed is good. In other words I agree with Tom’s analogy.

    What I don’t understand though is why you felt compelled to comment that you didn’t agree with his analogy.

    You wrote “And while the goal of support for the poor would be a common goal for both”, which was the primary point of the analogy.

    Then you wrote, “I don’t know enough about Carnegie to say whether or not he sounded more or less like Jesus than Marx”.

    This means you couldn’t understand enough of the analogy to disagree, so why did you say you did?

    So, why did you?

  • Earold D. Gunter

    rob, How old are you? calling people names sound very immature.

  • Karla

    Earold D. Gunter-Psalm 22 is one of many,many specific prophecies that
    came true about Jesus proving that He is the Messiah/only way to heaven
    and that the Bible can be trusted. Read the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
    who is a former atheist and Jesus among other gods by Ravi Zaccharias.

  • Julie

    Marx was more like Jesus, not in style but in substance.

    Websites provide extensive information about Marx. It serves us well before drawing conclusions.

    Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles are considered founders of modern day Communism but what their goals morphed into was not what they intended.

    Marx was raised in a Protestant Christian, well-to-do, cultured but not revolutionary family in Prussia. He was well educated in law, history and philosophy, with intent to become a professor. There was nothing about Marx that was evil; his philosopy advocated for freedom and equality much like Jesus’ teachings he learned about in church

    Friedrich Engels was born in Prussia and raised “Christian Pietist” by well-to-do parents who did not approve of his revolutionary activities. In September 1844, Engels came to Paris for a few days. There he met Marx and from that time on became Marx’s closest friend.

    Their concerns, largely in line with the teachings of Jesus, were for the masses of working class peoples who they saw as being used like robots by wealthy industrial giants. Socialism was originally based on these teachings as well. Love your neighbor, tend the sheep, all are equal in God’s eyes, wealth not shared is worthy of hell. They admonished the “church”, as it was functioning, for offering no relief from economic injustice and forgeting that we are God’s emissaries.

    Excessive wealth in the hands of a few and masses of the poor working class led Marx into writing as his means of expression and as his contribution to civil society.

    In the years ahead, neither the church nor the wealthiest few in power made concessions and inequality continued. Thus the movement morphed into a Stalinesque form of Communism, a complete distortion of the original goals.

    Over the years, a bit of Jesus-like “socialism” has tempered Capitalism and saved it from revolution and the Communism of Stalin.

  • Julie

    You are correct. There is a difference.

    Jesus was speaking to the common man about loving your neighbor. He wasn’t trying to overthrow government but hoping his message would change hearts – top to bottom.

    Marx was speaking to intellectuals where wealth and power lay. He wasn’t trying to overthrow government either but change hearts at the top. Only those in power can make changes and sometimes that comes after a war. Our American Civil War is an example.

  • Doc Anthony

    “The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion.”
    — Karl Marx

    “My object in life is to dethrone God and destroy capitalism.” — Karl Marx

    Now, please sell me some more snake-oil concerning Karl Marx being more like, umm, Jesus Christ?

  • There is no such thing as sin unless you want to debase your female self and believe it. There was also no historical person called Jesus; a fiction within a fantasy. Tom says ya’ll can’t see the forest for the trees. I tell my atheist friends the same thing–don’t worry about some old white guy’s prayer before a school breakfast, worry about the big stuff, like fighting faith, toppling the Seven Mountains of Influence, get-rich-quick scheme of Barton and Reed and their gang of thugs, preventing the overthrow of our government by the Religious Right, saving our public schools. If we can’t stop the Dominion-seekers all the rest won’t matter. As for you Christians, keep fighting amongst yourselves, it makes a good show, albeit a pathetic one.

  • Diogenes

    The only completely inane comment made here is Jack Mathys’ assertion that Jesus is not a genuine historical personage, one would have thought that such a tired unsubstantiated canard would have finally been laid to rest.

  • Earold D. Gunter

    Karla, So you think that Psalm 22 was a prophecy of the life of jesus, and that “proves” the bible accurate.
    Considering just about every biblical scholar agrees the books of the bible were written 40-60 years after the supposed death of jesus, and assembled 300+ years after, wouldn’t it be plausible that the story of the death of jesus could have been a written to fulfill what someone interpreted psalm 22 to mean?
    I could also select some book written by someone in past history, like the quatrains of Nostradamus and write a story of the life of someone based on my interpretation of passages I called prophesy.
    By the way, jewish people don’t interpret psalm 22 to be a prophesy that a human messiah would return to fulfill it.

    I just don’t see how anyone could interpret this as “Bible prophecy that
    came true with 100% accuracy”

    Got another example?

  • Karla

    Earold-Psalm 22:16-18 to be more specific but there were so many
    prophecies that came true about Jesus with detail/100% accuracy
    proving He is the Messiah that it can’t be refuted. These were not
    written after but before Jesus came. The first prophecy was in the
    book of Genesis when it talks about how the serpent will be crushed
    by His heel but there are so many prophecies that came to be true
    and not just general broad predictions but specific prophecy not
    just random chance predictions because of the detail/accuracy.
    Do some research and read the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.

  • Karla

    Jack-Read Romans 1:18-25. How did the world/universe get here? Bible
    prophecy can’t be refuted but many try to because they don’t want the
    Bible to be true because they don’t want to be told how to live. For you
    to look at the universe and the design of it then say that it’s just random
    it takes more faith to believe in that than to believe in God. Read the book
    the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel/check out Bible prophecy. God bless.

  • Karla

    Diogenes-Amen! Even scholars/people that don’t believe in God say that
    Jesus was a real person but there are so many people that want to try to
    discredit the Bible because they don’t want to be told how to live.

  • Karla

    Earold-Isaiah 53:3/also many other verses in Isiah as well. Isaiah 53:3
    says that He/the Messiah will be rejected. Jesus is the Messiah.

  • Fourth Valley

    In line with helping fellow man…??

    Er, go read Marx’s “Capital”. It’s not about helping fellow man, its about violently disposing of exploiters. I was saying that neither is like Jesus, so the entire analogy is pointless.

    Jesus advocated that everyone give what they had to the poor and followed him, and denounced all violence even in self defense.

    Marx advocated that everyone take by force what they deserved from the rich.

    Jesus (PBUH) told us not to concern ourselves with wealth, which is why he told even the poor to give away everything they old.

    Marx told us we didn’t have enough wealth and deserved more, and that we should take it from those who deny it to us.

    Carnegie advocated nothing as far as I can tell, being no philosopher but a businessperson.

    It’s like saying “An orange is more similar to an baseball than it is to a sperm whale.” I mean, technically you are correct. But the statement implies that oranges and baseballs are similar, when they are not.

  • Fourth Valley

    Jesus advocated not for wealth redistribution but for wealth abolition. “Give away everything you own and follow me” was addressed not just to the wealthy, but also to the poor.

    Marx thought the poor should forcibly take from the rich.

    Jesus said “render on to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s”, ordering his followers to ignore their own wealth and not concern themselves with the wealth of the rich.

  • rob


    if we have to do any thing, than were not saved by Gods grace through faith in Jesus ..

    repentance is the work of Gods Grace not us read Ephesians 2:10

    THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF the 3 parts of REPENTANCE . Is believing were all ready for given by Jesus work on the cross .. read Ephesians 2:8-9

    The problem with protestant repentance they think its a one time event
    that they do for God when thy think its their work their decision that accepted Jesus .. read John 6:44

  • rob

    ALL THE ELECT NOT even ONE will be MISSING will show up in heaven at their appointed
    times ..Thanks to Gods grace through faith in Jesus alone..

  • Karla

    Rob-Grace allows us to Repent. 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 lists all thieves,
    swindlers,adulterers,slanderers/gossips/liars,idolaters,drunkards and
    the sexually immoral,greedy coveters along with the homosexuals as
    who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven unless they Repent so we
    must do our part/Repent. Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross
    and only one guy went to heaven because only one guy Repented
    and had a change of heart about their/his sin. We all must Repent!

  • Shawnie5

    It does, at least, indicate the level of “thinker” you’re dealing with.

    IOW, use small words and lots of pictures…

  • Garson Abuita

    The reason some Christians interpret Psalm 22 as 100% accurate prophecy is that some Christian Bibles translate 22:16-18 as “a company of evildoers has inclosed me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” Psalms were written hundreds of years before crucifixion was invented, so it must be a prophecy, right? In fact, the Jewish response to this is, in short, that like the “virgin birth” supposedly foretold in Isaiah, the Psalm says no such thing and actually reads “a company of evildoers has inclosed me, like a lion [they are at] my hands and my feet.”

  • Shawnie5

    “The Psalm says no such thing and actually reads “a company of evildoers has inclosed me, like a lion [they are at] my hands and my feet.”

    That’s how the Masoretic texts read. However, the oldest text of this Psalm (from the Dead Sea Scrolls) reads “pierced.” That is also how the Septuagint (which predates both Christianity and the Masoretic texts by centuries) translates the passage.

  • Garson Abuita

    Shawnie- as to Psalm 22 – suffice it to say that there’s no such word as “kaaru” in Hebrew. It’s like saying “caarpet” or “saniitary.” The root of the verb supposedly being used – “karu” – doesn’t even mean pierce, it means dig or excavate. “Kaari,” which is what the Masoretic text reads, appears in many places in the Bible, even in the Psalms, and is not elsewhere challenged as to its “like a lion” meaning: These are all common words, not hapax legomena or ancient metaphors we need to render in a modern idiom.

  • Shawnie5

    @Garson: Not saying categorically that you’re wrong, but it would be strange indeed for seventy Hebrew scholars to translate a NOUN phrase into a Greek VERB (oruxsan – to dig/bore/pierce through). Particularly when not all Masoretic manuscripts even read ‘ka’ari” (most do, but not all) and that the Dead Sea Scrolls read “k’ru.”

    Stranger still would be the image of a lion being “at” anyone’s hands or feet — they would normally be at one’s throat or bowels. The dominant image in the passage, moreover, is of dogs.

    Just saying, because language is particular love of mine and I find all these shades of meaning fascinating.

  • Garson Abuita

    I’m fascinated by it also. I don’t find it strange imagery for a lion to be at someone’s hands and feet. It’s consistent with the rest of the Psalm using all kinds of animal imagery. If anything, “piercing” one’s hands and feet is a strange image. It would have been very strange to someone who didn’t know what that was. So when it actually happened you’d think people would’ve taken notice. Just like they should have been struck by the “virgin birth” supposedly prophesied by Isaiah. They weren’t because they didn’t think that was what the text said.