Review of John Wesley’s “On the Danger of Increasing Riches” (1790)

Wesley’s expression “increasing riches” could be also termed as financial growth, economic growth, or economic development; it could also be used in the sense that P. T. Bauer means in Dissent on Development, when he applied his theory of working, saving, and investing in Western business practice—in brief: poverty alleviation through diligent business activity. But Wesley is aiming at a much more specific meaning when he uses the phrase “increasing riches.” If we can recall his former economic sermons, Wesley generally understands the words “rich” and “riches” to mean millionaires and millions of dollars. If we understand this from the beginning, then we will not begin to think that he was unreasonably and uncharitably attacking the middle class also. No, Wesley is warning of the danger of increasing millions of dollars.

John Wesley was a very conservative and Puritanical man. At the same time, his marriage failed after eight years; and he was never a father. Since he combined these two elements together in himself, he was bound to run into extremes when it came to his economic views: and you definitely have financial extremes in Wesley’s sermons. Essentially what this boils down to is preaching against financial sins. From what I know, Jonathan Edwards’ thoughts on money pretty much summed up to preaching against financial sins. At least Wesley had a more developed economic theology than that; there were even times when he inquired into the causes of economic depressions. But whenever I see an extreme in Wesley, it makes me look at my own views and opinions about certain things; and makes me search for the Biblical balance. This is why I find his writings so valuable for so many things in the Christian life.

He begins by referring to Psalm 62:10: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” That is, if you are so successful with your business activity that your riches are increasing, then don’t turn them into an idol—in fact, be ready to dispense of them into various useful directions. Do not set your heart on them; do not hoard them up for yourself or spend them on luxuries. This echoes Jesus’ saying as well: “lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19, 21). Riches and treasures: millions of dollars? Yes definitely. But these verses could also be easily useful to curb any degree of pride in the upwardly mobile, middle-class breadwinner. Any man that goes from earning $35,000 a year, to $70,000 or $100,000 a year, is eventually going to feel a difference in his economic standing. It might not be immediately, but gradually over time the pride may seep in, the idolatry of it may grip his mind and heart, and—although he is not a millionaire—even he may find himself brooding a little too much over his silver and gold coins, his stock portfolio, treasury bonds, and land speculations. Here is God’s word to that man: “if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” I believe that the upwardly mobile middle-classer is in the process of knocking out his family’s financial problems, addressing financial necessities, establishing a sense of financial security, paying off debts, saving for college funds, planning for retirement, getting a backup car, laying up inheritance funds, and paying off a mortgage on a modest home not very much exceeding $100,000 and three bedrooms. Such a man may feel a sense of pride in his accomplishments and financial success: financial pride. It’s not the pride of wealth per se, but there’s a level of financial pride there. It’s not luxury and millions of dollars, but there’s a spiritual danger there. This is natural, but it’s a danger; and can lead to snobbery and forgetting God (Deut. 8:10-18). Our response to such a proud financial feeling should be to remember that it’s God who gave you the power to get this wealth in the first place (Deut. 8:18). You only made use of the economic gifts that God provided you with. Lose this perspective and you will lose your soul! God is our Father and he gives us job opportunities—often through means outside of our control: especially when we are young and just beginning our careers. Then we make use of these employment gifts he provided for us through his providence: and we may eventually excel at them, improve on our job skills, and get supplementary certifications, and higher wages; and that’s when we can forget the Lord, and imagine that all of our career success was a 100% human effort the entire time. That’s either economic Pelagianism or economic atheism: the idea that God’s power played no role in getting you any interviews over the course of your career; that it was all you and the work of your educational perseverance, your diligent, get up early, and drink coffee every morning work ethic. That’s the moment when, for all intents, you can turn your back on Mount Sinai and start worshiping a golden calf that you made (Exod. 32).

Wesley refers to Matthew 19:24: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” As mentioned in one of my previous reviews of Wesley’s economic sermons, I believe that this implies two things—we’ll take the rich man Job as an example. If you are a rich man, but you still want to go to Heaven, then two things will have to happen to you: 1. God will have to use dramatic supernatural means and divine interventions in order to get your attention. Your worldly-mindedness has blinded you from certain spiritual realities. God’s gonna have to rattle your cage with some pretty strange goings on. 2. You will suffer immensely, maybe to the point of almost dying; in fact, you may need to suffer in proportion to the amount of wealth you have stored up for yourself. Most likely this will involve losing a large portion, if not all of your money, in order to humble and straighten you out. Also, extreme physical sickness might be sent from God in order to get you to think about living in a better world than this one: Heaven. How does this relate to the camel going through the eye of a needle? Its easy for me to understand it now: to me it means that the camel will have to miraculously shrink itself by the power of God, and uncomfortably, and painfully squeeze itself through the needle’s eye. Then that camel will go to Heaven when it dies—that camel being a saved rich man like Job. If it is hard for the righteous poor to be saved and subdue their carnal natures, then it only stands to reason that the righteous rich will need to suffer astronomically more than them, in order to experience the smallest degree of spiritual salvation from their sin nature. This is why Jesus exclaimed: “It is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven!” (Matt. 19:23). It is hard for a rich man to be saved from Hell. These are the literal words of the Son of God. This is a Biblical doctrine. Don’t dispute it!

This is why rich people tend to be liberal Christians, agnostics, or atheists. None of those people actually follow the words of Jesus or try to live by every word in the New Testament. They are argumentative against it; mentally and emotionally contrary to its principles. They have to be. It’s the only way they can justify and continue in the lifestyle they are creating for themselves—it is their golden calf. Wikipedia says that the American upper class, if they are religious, almost always fall into the category of mainline Protestant churchgoers. In other words, they are liberal Christians: the most popular upper class churches are the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA). Both of which put secular science above Biblical authority, compromise with a Darwinist view of creation, and ordain homosexual clergy. They don’t believe the Bible is supernaturally originated, but that it was the product of a superstitious age. Its still got some useful ethical teachings in it though, such as the Golden Rule and love your neighbor; and this will encourage them to go about their careers in a very tolerant way. But these people are not true Christians, not born again of the Holy Spirit, not experiencing any lordship salvation. They are not engaged in spiritual warfare with the powers of darkness. They are heretical deists at best; and are not true followers of the Jesus in the New Testament. They will have to change all of these things, and repent from all of their economic vices, and suffer all kinds of hardships related to this, if they want to experience salvation by faith in the blood of Christ. Otherwise, he died for nothing! You can’t totally ignore Jesus’ words and then go and put your faith in the cross. It doesn’t work that way! That too is a golden calf that many liberal Christians worship every day: antinomianism.

Unlike his predecessor Daniel Defoe, who in The Complete English Tradesman, had encouraged businessmen to carefully manage their loans and debts—Wesley looked at all debts and loans as money traps. Outwardly such a man may look wealthy, but he is not truly rich, because he owes so many debts. It’s all a show: he’s living on the bank’s money. Proverbs 13:7: “One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” Alright then, I’d rather be the second guy. Better to be debt free with tons of savings and investments, but pretend to be poor by living modestly and restraining expensive living. That is much wiser and much better. What burglar would be tempted to break into your house, if he was under the impression that you’re poor? But few rich people actually follow through with this. Wesley observed: “Most of those who when riches increase set their hearts upon them, do it indirectly in some of the preceding instances. But there are others who do this more directly; being, properly, ‘lovers of money;’ who love it for its own sake; not only for the sake of what it procures. But this vice is very rarely found in children or young persons; but only, or chiefly, in the old, in those that have the least need of money, and the least time to enjoy it. Might not this induce one to think, that in many cases it is a penal evil; that it is a sin-punishing evil; that when a man has, for many years, hid his precious talent in the earth, God delivers him up to Satan, to punish by the inordinate love of it? Then it is that he is more and more tormented by that ‘execrable hunger after gold’ which can never be satisfied. No: it is most true, as the very heathen observes, ‘As money, so the love of money, grows; it increases in the same proportion.’ As in a dropsy, the more you drink, the more you thirst; till that unquenchable thirst plunge you into the fire which never shall be quenched!” (2.14). But will you restrain yourself from this, Wesley implies, enough to give a substantial sum away to the poor, widows, and orphans of the church, in order to deliver your soul from this vice of covetousness? Sufficient philanthropy in Jesus’ name is the only cure for this disease. Wesley wrote this sermon one year before he died; and truly it was the writing of a man who had his eyes on eternity.

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Review of John Wesley’s “On Riches” (1788)

If you think Wesley was scathingly critical in “The Danger of Riches” (1780), then you will also find him so in this one. When he refers to the “rich” and their “riches,” know that he is referring to millionaires and millions of dollars: people in the upper class. He makes this clear here, just as he did eight years ago, in actual quantifiable amounts. Previously he had referred to £5,000 and £50,000, which are worth about $1.2 million and $12.5 million today. He refers to these same amounts again, but also uses the amount of £100,000, or $21 million in today’s money, to prove another point. When you pull the figures of $1.2 million, $12.5 million, and $21 million together, it becomes very clear, that his sermons about the danger of riches, are aimed at people who possess this kind of net worth. These sermons are mainly ethical warnings for millionaires; and not really for people in the middle class, who are still acquainted with financial struggle and faith in providence, although in a lesser degree than those in the lower class.

Matthew 19:24: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” This was one of his favorite economic warning verses. It might as well have been translated by him as, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a millionaire to enter the kingdom of God.” He refers again to the Rich Young Ruler, who was likely viewed as a millionaire unwilling to part with his millions, and give to the poor and follow Jesus. This man went away sad. Wesley’s impulse for Franciscan simplicity was very strong. Romans 5:3-5: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Although this passage is not quoted in this sermon, it might as well have. Wesley’s theology of Christian suffering seems to exist in the backdrop. Millionaires are free from the thousands of difficulties that the poor have to suffer from, but God has put suffering in the world as a disciplinary measure for the sinful nature of man (Gen. 3:17-19). Clinging to millions of dollars obscures this; and makes it harder for millionaires to see why God allows for so much suffering to exist in the world. This is why there are so many deists, liberal Christians, and atheists in the upper class. They have removed themselves from the common everyday sufferings of the working man; and are often living a hedonistic, carefree life of pleasure. Economic suffering is God’s most immediate tool of mortification in the lives of Christians, but millionaires by their hoarding, are implying that such self-denial is unnecessary, and that they need no such discipline from God. So some of the more introspective millionaires will create a variety of secular philosophies to appease their consciences in these matters. Voltaire comes to mind as an example. He became rich by teaming up with a mathematician to get big wins from the French lottery. Afterwards, he renounced Christianity in his writings; and lived an Epicurean lifestyle. Today, at least in America, I would point to the Republican form of capitalist ideology as the prevailing worldly philosophy. Such men often base their marriages on such ideologies. Such men teach and “catechize” their children anti-Biblical values like necessary greed, self-interest, competition, deception, and cruelty. They are the ideological children of Adam Smith, Bernard Mandeville, and Machiavelli. Such men cling to and trust in their riches. They have too much gold and silver, too many savings and investments, too much land, too many superfluities and luxury items—far exceeding what is reasonable. All of these extra things are no good: “those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (Prov. 11:28). These kinds of millionaires usually refuse to give to the church, the poor, the widow, and the orphan; and some even come to hate poor people. Even if they give some money to charity, it’s usually not enough money to effect any faith in God or sanctification in their hearts. Their faith continues to be in Mammon; and their hearts continue to be filled with carnality.

Since salvation is by faith (Eph. 2:8), it stands to reason that there are very few millionaires who have enough genuine faith to be saved by the Gospel, and so escape from the flames of Hell. So few in fact, that they could be compared to camels that squeeze themselves through the eye of a needle. William Wilberforce and David Wilkerson might have been examples of such men, but these are freak accidents; and are by no means a normal pattern for every Christian. It is true that there are men of God in the Bible who might be classified as millionaires, such as Abraham, David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Jotham, Hezekiah, Josiah, and maybe Job. Five of these men were righteous kings; and of those five, Solomon abandoned the faith and died an apostate. Most of the Biblical kings were Baal worshiping pagans. Then you have Abraham and Job. Technically Abraham was a ruler, but not as well established as the kings of Judah. He was mainly a livestock trader. Then there was Job; but look at all of the suffering these men had to go through! Most of these righteous millionaires were living on inherited government money. They were surrounded with enemies and wars they had to worry about. They were surrounded with spies that followed the Baal religion.

Job, and maybe Jacob, are the only other men I can think of, who might have amassed millions of dollars by trading livestock alone, but these men clearly earned their stripes. Job nearly died; and probably suffered more than anyone in the Bible. Jacob’s life was also threatened several times; and he was often taken advantage of by his Machiavellian father-in-law and employer, Laban. If anything, the immense suffering that these holy millionaires endured, might be considered the “eye of the needle” that squeezed them into such narrow and dire straits, that they were forced to live by faith in God on a daily basis, even though they happened to have millions of dollars. Their minds were so consumed with these cares that pushed them to rely on God, that they probably only sometimes must have thought, “Oh yeah, I have millions of dollars at my disposal.” That was likely a side thought in a life of worries, trials, tribulations, and preoccupations. William Wilberforce was constantly sickly; and lived in suffering as he frequently fought in the English parliament to abolish the Slave Trade: see the film Amazing Grace. David Wilkerson, whose net worth was apparently $5 million by the time he died, risked his life so many times in his ministry to drug addicts, that his faith in God for daily survival likely served as his mortification: see the film The Cross and the Switchblade. Joseph of Arimathea had a lot of money, but he joined the persecuted Christians of the early church. All of these rich men of God had so much mortification in their lives, that it enabled them to live by faith in God, and disenabled them to be pleasure-loving Epicureans—with Solomon as the only exception.

It seems that the primary danger of riches, is that it enables most millionaires to live a soft Epicurean lifestyle, and completely without trials or faith in God. Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” It seems that most millionaires sell their souls to Satan in one way or another; and God stops disciplining them as sons (Heb. 12:7). Both the “narrow gate” and the “eye of the needle,” are similar spiritual allegories, in that they imply salvation by faith is a thing which squeezes your life so tight, into dire straits, that it often makes things inflexible and uncomfortable, in order to pass through it into Heaven. Acts 14:22: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Salvation by a life of faith should not be misunderstood, as simply an intellectual agreement, with the doctrinal truthfulness of a church confession. It requires living a life of faith! Totally different things. Faith is not simply agreeing with a doctrine on a church’s statement of faith—that’s a start—but that’s not really faith. The providence of God will see to it, that true saving faith will be put to the test, over the course of your Christian life. In this sense, faith should be understood as a reliance on God, and a trust in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, for the forgiveness of your sins, as you pass through a difficult life, and strive to be holy and obedient to the Word of God. Can this happen with Christian millionaires? It’s almost like I can hear the Holy Spirit say, “So you want to be saved from Hell and be a millionaire, huh? We’ll see about that.” Yes I think it can be possible with very many divine interventions and very harsh disciplines coming down from Heaven, but I don’t think I would personally like that to be me! Do you want to live like Job? Really ask yourself that. Matthew Henry pointed to him as the only Biblical example of a saved rich man in his commentary on Matthew 19:26. I think that such people are very few in number, and likely forced into such circumstances by God. They don’t attain their net worth by any definite goal setting in their business activities; and if they do, then they have no idea what they are getting themselves into, when it comes to suffering by the hand of God! The millions pour down on them by accident, by an unforeseen blessing, because God rewards them for all of their immense suffering. Job 42:12: “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.” This is my view of the rich man who might enter Heaven through the “eye of a needle.” Jesus seems to have allowed for it: “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).

But non-Christian and antinomian millionaires refuse to deny themselves a life of Epicurean pleasures; and they end up despising the poor; or they might not be spendthrifts but misers like Scrooge, and hate poor people just the same. It is hard for a millionaire to be a genuine Biblical Christian: their lifestyles usually conflict too much with the principles of Biblical Christianity. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Wesley said: “The root of all religion is faith, without which it is impossible to please God. Now, whether you take this in its general acceptation, for an ‘evidence of things not seen,’ of the invisible and the eternal world, of God and the things of God, how natural a tendency have riches to darken this evidence, to prevent your attention to God and the things of God, and to things invisible and eternal!…what a deadly, what an almost insuperable, hinderance to this faith are riches!” (1.1). This is why so many millionaires are referred to as materialists, or having materialistic values, because they place more importance on material things than spiritual things. They are earthly-minded and worldly-minded. In philosophy, “materialism,” or as it is sometimes called “physicalism,” is the denial of the existence of spirits, souls, ghosts, angels, demons, Heaven, and Hell—an atheistic denial of the existence of God, the paranormal, and the entire spirit world; so that the only reality they accept is the reality of the physical world. Usually this means they are Darwinian evolutionists. How is it possible not to love the world when surrounded with all of its allurements, he asks. How is it possible to love your neighbor, when you only associate with upper class friends, who encourage your expensive lifestyle? How is it possible to have humility and lowliness of mind, if you’re unreprovable, obstinate, stubborn, and think you’re right by virtue of the fact that you’re a millionaire and 90% of the human race are not? “Usually the rich are proud and obstinate,” Richard Baxter observed. Wesley said, echoing Deuteronomy 8:10-18: “How great is the temptation to atheism which naturally flows from riches; even to an entire forgetfulness of God, as if there was no such being in the universe.” Although some rich people may attend churches on Sunday, they may still be what are termed practical atheists, or Christians who live as if there is no God, for all practical purposes. In other words, they are not truly saved, and are not experiencing saving grace, and divine interventions in their lives.

As has been said before, having riches—or millions of dollars—exposes men to “every species of idolatry” and Epicureanism. You’re almost always surrounded with temptations when you’re rich. The superfluous item-seeking can almost be endless: new things, novelties, luxury homes, luxury furniture, expensive paintings, ornate gardens, infatuations with secular intellectual pursuits like poetry, history, and music. The rich are always throwing parties—entertaining guests—encouraging expensive lifestyles. “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day” (Luke 16:19). They enforce classism, or discrimination against the poor: those who are members of country clubs and those who are not. They are snobs, in a word. This looking down on your social inferiors is contrary to the love of neighbor. Wesley did not really believe a millionaire could be a Christian or that a Christian could be a millionaire. The concepts were mutually exclusive to him; and I tend to lean in his direction myself. It is too spiritually hazardous to try to be among the ranks of the upper class. Generally, there is no hunger for God there. Being rich tends to a kind of atheistic forgetting of God and his claim on our lives. Wesley observed that some of the Methodists became rich millionaires over time; and said that “so few increase in goods, without decreasing in grace!” In other words, their excessive and unrestrained financial growth was a direct cause of them backsliding from God. He said that Christians should seek to find their happiness in God alone, but to many of the rich, he cries: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you” (James 5:1-6). Christians should remain content to be in the middle class: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Prov. 30:8-9). If this isn’t a defense of the middle class, then I don’t know what is. But millionaires are definitely not in the middle class, not to Wesley and the Puritans anyway. In Deuteronomy 8:14 and Proverbs 30:9, having riches is associated with forgetting God, and for all practical purposes, deism, agnosticism, and atheism.

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Review of John Wesley’s “The Danger of Riches” (1780)

“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). There should be no unjust gain, theft, extortion, fraud, or deceptive arts in the pursuit of making money: and with food and clothing we should be content (1 Tim. 6:8). Above these are nothing but riches. We should desire nothing more than the necessaries of life. Food, clothing, and a basic modest house. We shouldn’t desire any kind of superfluities, need-nots, or unnecessary luxuries. Our necessaries are what we should budget for: providing for our family, setting aside business funds, an inheritance for children, debt relief, but we shouldn’t hoard millions of dollars, above and beyond the necessaries of life. We shouldn’t be sitting there “brooding” over our gold, silver, stock shares, and treasury bonds for long periods of time. These were the investments of the 18th century, and useful to provide financial security for emergencies, but we shouldn’t dwell and brood over them all the time. That’s idolatry and covetousness. Lock them away in a safe and forget about them. Exodus 20:17: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Always remaining discontent, even though you’re a millionaire—always wanting more, and more, and more. That’s covetousness; that’s when you break the tenth commandment. Greed is BAD…sorry Gordon Gekko. Pursuing a degree of financial growth to better meet your financial necessities is one thing: striving to grow from the lower class into the middle class—that’s fine (Prov. 30:8). But its when you are striving to grow from the middle class into the upper class—to pursue millions, luxuries, and need-nots: that’s when financial growth turns into something sinful. “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10). Such people say to themselves, “Whether it’s right or wrong, I will find a way to get my millions.” Such people forget God, live without God in the world, and pursue riches in an unrestrained manner (Deut. 8:10-14; Eph. 2:12). Most of these people have to turn themselves into disgusting, unbelieving Machiavellians in order to get their millions; and their women become idlers, gold diggers, and shopping addicts.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal…No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matt. 6:19, 24). This statement from Jesus should not be understood as God telling Christian fathers not to save and invest for their families. If that were the case, not only would it not agree with common sense, but it would not agree with Scripture that has already been stated, and which “cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Solomon taught us to save money and invest it: “whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow”; “ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return. Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land” (Prov. 13:11; Eccl. 11:1-2). Paul said that “anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Common sense says that saving up for emergency funds, college funds, and retirement funds would fall into this category of providing for the family. So what does Jesus mean when he says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth?” Just that: treasures. He didn’t forbid us from saving money and investing in different things. The issue is once again superfluities, need-nots, luxury items, and millions—possessions that go above and beyond the bounds of financial reason; far beyond the basic necessities of life.

Once people make up their minds to become millionaires, they are pretty much sealing their fate, and abandoning all hope of salvation from Hell. They become like the Rich Young Ruler, who after Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor—didn’t bother to continue the conversation with him about percentages, or how to yield to Jesus’ word—but simply “went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matt. 19:22). Wesley rightly says, “Of those who thus enter into temptation, very few escape out of it.” When people try to become millionaires, they develop silly, fantastic, and earthly-minded views which destroy every heavenly temper that might have existed in them with the Holy Spirit. The superfluities, need-nots, and luxuries that surround them—and the spirit of Mammon that comes to haunt these accursed objects—will drive every fruit of the Holy Spirit out of their hearts. There is no more room in them for “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” but only an opening up of their hearts to the reign of original sin, and demon possession, in the various forms of “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Gal. 5:19-23). To be fair, millionaires fall into two categories. Dante’s Inferno, in Canto VII, speaks of a section in Hell that is filled with hoarders and spendthrifts, and his guide has to tell him that “it was squandering and hoarding that have robbed them” of going to live in Heaven. Wesley’s primary concern was the squandering spendthrifts among the millionaires. He believed that most of the English people had a tendency to squander money on luxuries; and not to save their money for useful purposes; not being frugal, careful, bookkeeping, and budgeting. But the hoarding miser like Scrooge is not to be commended either, because he refuses to give to the needy and alleviate their poverty. The spendthrifts are like the prodigal son who “squandered his wealth in wild living” (Luke 15:13). Such people are trying to find happiness without God: they are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4). They are secularists, Epicureans, hedonists, gluttons, and drunkards. Their millions have changed them into anti-spiritual, anti-evangelical, proud, short tempered, vengeful, unadvisable, unreprovable people. They are not the kind of people who live by faith in the Gospel, or learn to rely on God’s providence in any sense, even though “without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb. 11:6). Now that they have their “idols made of metal,” they have aroused God’s anger by turning their backs on him (1 Kings 14:9). Richard Baxter said, “Usually the rich are proud and obstinate, and will not endure the due conduct of the ministry” (Chapters from A Christian Directory, iii). They feel that their might makes them right. They feel that because they have their millions, that therefore they are probably doing something right, because most other people haven’t figured out how to make millions. They are right and most other people are wrong, even men of God who may preach the straight Word of God to them, and never beg for donations. Right and wrong becomes a matter of their own personal subjective opinion; and not a matter of Biblical authority. And what do they have to support them in their proud, obstinate, unadvisable, unreprovable attitudes? What philosophy? Their millions: there lies all of their philosophy. Whether it was ill-gotten or well-gotten, their millions sum up all of their opinions in a nutshell; and the Word of God usually has nothing to do with it! Wesley says, out of all people, that rich millionaires are the most impatient, pet peeve oriented, worrying people in the world; discontented, miserable, and without any sense of the presence of God. The love of God and neighbor usually is decayed in their hearts: and they only conditionally love certain rich people who affirm their lifestyles. He was the total opposite of a prosperity preacher.

Echoing his more extreme view of philanthropy that he expressed twenty years earlier in “The Use of Money” (1760), Wesley again says that if you ever have a surplus of money, that 100% of it should be given to the poor. None of it should be used on superfluities and need-nots. Again, I think this view is extreme and immoderate; and I side with Calvin, Baxter, and Solomon in the view that some moderate enjoyment of worldly goods, should be considered as gifts of God and rewards for hard work (Eccl. 5:19). Another extreme view is his once again association of Algebra with idolatry or the “lust of the eyes,” but this time he also adds Geometry, history, foreign languages, poetry, metaphysics, and philosophy. To seek “happiness in learning, of whatever kind” is to be classified as the “lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16). I personally think that only sexual and financial lust should be meant by that expression. He does not, this time, link Algebra with deism and atheism, as he did twenty years earlier. But it seems he still had some spiritual reservations about pursuing a STEM career. The secularism and the scientism that dominates every field of science, back then and still today, is pretty evident. But with the sciences and the pursuit of all learning, I with Calvin and Solomon would have to lean in the direction of Hesiod’s saying, “moderation is best in all things.” I would say that if ANYTHING gets in the way of keeping a strong faith in God, even if it’s distracting your mind by an apparently harmless stamp collecting hobby, then it’s essentially an idol. But still, all things in moderation!

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Review of John Wesley’s “The Use of Money” (1760)

This is probably the best-known sermon by Wesley on economic ethics. It was this one that Kathleen MacArthur heavily relied on for The Economic Ethics of John Wesley. There are three main principles that Wesley uses in his formula of economic ethics:
   1. Gain all you can.
   2. Save all you can.
   3. Give all you can.
Under the heading of “gain all you can,” he says that you should work as hard as you can, and as honestly as you can, in your business. You should also save as much money as you can, to meet the bare necessities of life: providing for your family, food, clothing, and shelter. Wesley believed that surplus earnings or savings should never be spent on superfluities or luxury items. He believed that money should only be spent on needs; and never on wants. Any amount of “overplus,” or surplus of money, should be donated privately to the poor, widows, and orphans. Anything that could be called an unnecessary desire that does not involve the bare necessities of life, he called a superfluity, such as a lake house or speedboat. Such things only encourage a lifestyle of Epicurean pleasures. For Wesley, there appears to be no middle ground. You can’t have the best of both worlds: you can’t serve both “God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24), is interpreted to mean, you cannot both give to the St. Vincent de Paul Society and own a lake house with a speedboat. You can’t have a both/and view of having some luxuries and doing some philanthropy—you have no choice—you need to have an either/or view of these things. You can’t be a luxury-loving philanthropist, but must afford yourself no pleasures at all—giving 100% of your surplus money away to those who are less fortunate. Philanthropy should be calculated from the “overplus” of your monthly income; and be put into a benevolence fund. The St. Vincent de Paul Society and street beggars should be the priority—Christian poor and non-Christian poor; and after that, orphans and widows.

On this point, Calvin and myself would differ from Wesley. I think he was too extreme on this point; and most likely because he was never a father, and wasn’t a husband for more than eight years. And he wasn’t the most attentive, nurturing husband there ever was, from the looks of it: he was often away from his wife on ministry trips. I would say that the dynamics of family life call for a moderate allowance of wants and superfluities, in order for there to be a sense of joy in the household, in order to remove the spirit of drudgery from the home—so that the children are free to play; and the wife and husband have recreations, and can relieve themselves from the anxieties of the work week and school week. Solomon supports Calvin’s view: “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart” (Eccl. 5:18-20). It seems that Wesley would refuse to view such superfluous possessions as “gifts of God,” even though they might enable families to relieve the burdens in their lives. His commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:18 says: “His portion—Of worldly goods; he hath a better portion in Heaven. This liberty is given him by God, and this is the best advantage, as to this life, which he can make of them.” There seems to be a degree of reasonableness here, at least with eating and drinking, but he enumerates no other kinds of worldly goods as liberties; and says that living in Heaven is far better than any worldly goods we may have down here, (which is true,) but as if to divert your attention away from the subject that Solomon is considering: that it’s okay to enjoy some worldly goods in this life as gifts of God! It looks to me, as if Wesley expects Christian families to live like an order of Catholic saints, living in complete self-denial. I don’t think this is a practical recommendation for the economics, or the psychology, of the Christian family. Would you have them to live like the Amish? No television, no pool tables, no ping pong tables, no video games, no guns, no volleyball nets, no cheap fishing boats? Some of the extreme independent fundamental Baptists and holiness people live this way. Wesley did found the Kingswood School for Methodist children—and from what I know, it was overly strict like those groups are, and was almost run like a monastery.

All things in moderation, said Calvin; and I have to agree with him. But I agree with Wesley in his later sermons, when he associates “riches” with millionaires. The luxuries enjoyed by those men would likely go far beyond the boundaries of this moderate view held by Calvin. Richard Baxter also supported the moderate view of entertainments, even to the point of saying, “There are many shows that are desirable and laudable, (as of strange creatures, monsters, rare engines, activities, etc.) the sight of which it is lawful to purchase, at a proportionable price”—although he would have likely supported only watching cleaned up movies on ClearPlay or VidAngel—“but when the exercise is unlawful (as all stage-plays are that ever I saw, or had just information of; yea, odiously evil; however it is very possible that a comedy or tragedy might with abundance of cautions be lawfully acted), it is then (usually) unlawful to be a spectator either for money or on free cost” (Chapters from A Christian Directory, p. 132).

Money in this sermon is called the “mammon of unrighteousness” (Luke 16:9), because it is usually made by evil means and used for evil purposes. This does not mean that money is evil in itself: only to say, that as a tool in the world, it is often misused by evil men. Wesley said that “we ought to gain all we can gain, without buying gold too dear, without paying more for it than it is worth” (1.1). That is to say, not only that we should buy gold coins as a tool for saving and investing in the literal sense; but also in the symbolic sense, that we should not allow ourselves to be pushed into jobs that make us work harder than is necessary for our paychecks. Wesley said that people should avoid getting involved in sinful businesses that involve robbing, cheating, and stealing from people; to avoid doing business activities which are unhealthy, for example, leaning on your stomach at a desk for too long—and we may suggest he would support the use of these new adjustable stand-up desks which have been on the market for a few years now; to avoid doing dangerous jobs that might expose you to harsh chemicals, or extremely hard manual labor, and frequent exposure to workplace injuries, which is what Comenius sees in his vision he called, “The Pilgrim Examines the Order of the Tradesmen,” in ch. 9 of The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart. Algebra, believe it or not, is for the first time here spoken against as something that Wesley felt could have drawn him away from God, and into deism or atheism. I can see what he means, because whenever a person crowds their mind with too much of something—even if it is a harmless scientific activity—that person runs the risk of distancing his mind from God, the Bible, and theology. But he also says that some mathematicians can find the time for faith in God and Bible study; and allows for a diversity of dispositions, gifts, and callings in the economy.

Vice industries should be avoided—alcohol, tobacco, and gambling businesses—or anything that produces harmful addictions. Surgeons and doctors often harm their patients with bad side-effect medications: and so even a medical career should be pursued with certain cautions. Bars are bad places to work. Idleness is out of the question, because it allows people to get into silly and unprofitable diversions, to procrastinate about important things, indulge in too much leisure, take too many naps, and not be guided by common sense. Christians, however, should improve on their business skills and knowledge, and read and study to be the best businessmen they can, while at the same time applying Biblical ethics to their work activities.

Under the heading of “save all you can,” he says you should have a safe at home and a safe deposit box at the bank. He once again underlines that all forms of luxury should be avoided: Epicureanism, gluttony, drunkenness, the desire of the flesh, delicacy, variety, expensive clothes, expensive furniture, expensive home décor, and expensive friends—what we today call “keeping up with the Joneses”—all of which is vanity, and sensuality, and should be avoided. Spoiling children with too many superfluities, or what Baxter called “need-nots,” are nothing but temptations for them. By doing this, we only train them to be materialistic and open them up to be demon-possessed children of Mammon (Matt. 6:24). Jesus said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). I agree with this view. Immoderately spoiling children with expensive toys, the kind which most other children do not have the advantage of enjoying, is to train them up in the way of the snobs, who look down on their inferiors. Children should be taught the value of a dollar; and to be humble, and meek, and thankful for the gifts of God.

Under the heading of “give all you can,” we come back to providing for your family as the number one priority: charity begins at home. But if you have an “overplus,” or surplus of money that goes above and beyond the necessary expenses of the month, then some of that money should be given to the poor of the church, to beggars in the street, to widows, and orphans. You should do this in obedience to Scripture as a financial and spiritual sacrifice; and expect a reward in Heaven for it, if you go about it privately. There should be no sloth, no waste, and no covetousness in your life.

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Review of Daniel Defoe’s “The Complete English Tradesman”

The Complete English Tradesman: Defoe, Daniel: 9780862994648:  Books

This is an excellent sourcebook on the views held by businessmen in the 18th century. Defoe, you may know, was the author of what some consider the first novel, Robinson Crusoe (1719), which is about an English sailor who gets stranded on a desert island and has to learn how to survive. In that book, we see some of Defoe’s views come through, such as his Puritanism, work ethic, survivalism, self-defense, self-reliance, Bible study, and respecting the Sabbath day. But you can also see a degree of liberalism in him as well, as he allows for drinking alcohol, and smoking tobacco; and the commonly accepted master-slave relationship with “savages,” and the duty to teach them English, the Bible, and Christianity. Defoe attended a Puritan school–the Stoke Newington Presbyterian Academy led by Charles Morton–for the children of dissenters, along with his fellow classmate Samuel Wesley, the father of John Wesley. The unique thing about this book, when compared with the economic ethics of St. Antonino, Luther, Calvin, Perkins, Baxter, Steele, and Wesley, is that all of those men were academic theologians and clergymen. None of them were involved in the daily grind of business activity. Daniel Defoe, however, was personally involved in business every day of his life from the late 1600s to the early 1700s. His book is really the best for gaining wisdom from the firsthand experience of a Puritan businessman. Yes he was a writer, but that was only a hobby. Most of his time was involved in his various business activities as a merchant that traded goods like stockings, oysters, and wool. He once became an agent for marine insurance, but it made him go into such debt that it rendered him bankrupt, probably from the chargebacks aimed at him, once a few of his clients cancelled their policies. The main pitfall of being an insurance agent! After that, he became an accountant; then a trustee for the royal lottery; and then after that, he tried to manufacture bricks, which was successful for awhile until at the age of 42, he decided to publish The Shortest Way with Dissenters (1702), which got him pulled into a defamation lawsuit, accused of libel against the Church of England, put into a pillory, and then prison, which caused his brick works to fail and drove his family into poverty (The Complete English Tradesman, iii-iv).

Seeing that he was a Puritan husband, father of six, amateur theologian, economist, and businessman aquainted with risk, wins, and losses–I can’t think of a single book better than this one to instruct men of God to navigate the realities of the business world. Sure, the pastors that came before him had Biblical insights into economic ethics, but he had the one thing none of them had: plenty of business experience. It was published when he was 66 years old: and contains all the wisdom he gained from his career. If he were alive today, he would emphasize the need for careful bookkeeping and budgeting like small businesses often do with QuickBooks Online; writing clear, concise, and to the point business emails; to avoid working for men like Laban (Gen. 31); getting into a good internship after graduating from school; changing your job categories as many times as necessary, in order to find your niche, and establish yourself in a fixed calling (1 Cor. 7:20); that hard work makes a man rich (Prov. 10:4); that having more than one job is okay, so long as its not “too many irons in the fire,” and that the multitasking does not make you neglect one of your jobs; keeping your business off of online review websites like Glassdoor or Google My Business, so that people can’t attack your online business reputation; to always reply to negative critics with a mild, soft, smooth, and good temper; avoiding expensive friends and expensive living; that engagement and marriage should be done in a context of diligent business activity and frugal bookkeeping; that businessmen should make promises in a conditional manner, informing the person of any unforeseen circumstances, which may change the situation; to avoid lavish spending on an office; that a small business owner should force his wife and children to be acquainted with the family business, because this will provide security for them after he is gone; that owning a small business is a key to financial growth; and lastly, which is the one point I differ with him on the most–that of heavy reliance on business loans–which goes against Romans 13:8: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.”

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Bread and Water Fasts with the Catholic Saints

Venerable and God-bearing Father Anthony the Great - Orthodox Church in  America

He ate once daily, after sunset, but there were times when he received food every second and frequently even every fourth day. His food was bread and salt, and for drinking he took only water. There is no reason even to speak of meat and wine, when indeed such a thing was not found among the other zealous men.” –Athanasius: The Life of Antony, p. 36 (251 – 356 A.D.)

“When a youth of twenty, he fled from his home and became a monk near Tours, resisting all the efforts of his family to withdraw him from his mode of life. Following what he regarded as divine inspiration, he betook himself to Bourges, where under the direction of St. Austregisile, the bishop of the city, he remained in solitude for fifteen years, living in a cell and subsisting on bread and water.”  –Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Amandus” (584 – 675 A.D.)

“Disciples soon gathered round the two hermits, by 989 they were sufficiently numerous to receive a rule from St. Romuald, who was then in that district. This rule seems to have been of great severity. The hermits lived in separate cells and were always occupied with prayer, study, or manual labour. Four days a week they ate nothing but bread and water in strictly limited quantities. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they added a little fruit and vegetables. Wine was used only for Mass and for the sick, meat not at all. They observed three “Lents” during the year, that of the Resurrection, that of the Nativity, and that of St. John the Baptist. During these they fasted on bread and water every day except Sundays and Thursdays, when they were allowed a few vegetables.” – Catholic Encyclopedia, “Fonte-Avellana”

“Led by the Holy Spirit, he went up to a certain mountain with two of his companions where he fasted on bread and water and dictated the rule as the Holy Spirit suggested to him in prayer.” –Bonaventure: The Life of St. Francis, p. 216 (1181 – 1226 A.D.)

“In 1415 he became superior of the convent at Aguilera and, on the death of Peter de Villacreces (1422), also of that at Tribulos or del Abroyo. He observed nine Lents, fasting on bread and water, and was endowed with the gift of miracles and prophecy and of every virtue.”  –Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Peter de Regalado” (1390 – 1456 A.D.)

“Germaine learned early to practise humility and patience. She was gifted with a marvellous sense of the presence of God and of spiritual things, so that her lonely life became to her a source of light and blessing. To poverty, bodily infirmity, the rigours of the seasons, the lack of affection from those in her own home, she added voluntary mortifications and austerities, making bread and water her daily food.”  –Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Germaine Cousin” (1579 – 1601 A.D.)

“She made a public confession of her faults in the refectory, discarded her costly garments, wore an old habit, went barefoot, frequently fasted on bread and water, chastised her body by vigils and severe scourging, and practised mortifications to such an extent that the decree of canonization considers the preservation of her life a continued miracle…She worked numerous miracles, had the gifts of prophecy and of discerning the secret thoughts of others. She was also favoured by heavenly ecstacies and raptures.”  –Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Hyacintha Mariscotti” (1585 – 1640 A.D.)


Genesis 21:14: “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.”

Exodus 34:28: “And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”  (cp. Deut. 9:9, 18)

1 Samuel 30:11-12: “And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water; And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.”

And many many others

UPDATE: 11/8/21

In addition to plain Thomas’s bagels and bottled water, I recommend including “Mean Green Juice” in your fast. Its effectiveness for extreme weight loss was demonstrated in the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (2010) by Joe Cross. The nutritional value of his “Mean Green Juice” enables you to continue fasting for months, so that pounds can be knocked off in 25s, 50s, or 100s. Using “Mean Green Juice” would require you to buy a juicer. I got one at Walmart for around $100 and its called a Nutribullet Juicer. The ingredients for “Mean Green Juice” are the following: 

  • 1 cucumber (remove 2 inches)
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 2 green apples (cored)
  • 1 bunch of kale (8 stalks)
  • 1 lemon (peeled)
  • 1 inch of ginger root

    Thomas' Plain Bagels - 20oz/6ct : TargetBottled Water by Aquafina® PEP04044 |

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The Human Origin of the Greek Gods – Athanasius

Taken from hereAgainst the Heathen by Athanasius

335 A.D.

10. Similar human origin of the Greek gods, by decree of Theseus. The process by which mortals became deified.

1. But this custom is not a new one, nor did it begin from the Roman Senate: on the contrary, it had existed previously from of old, and was formerly practiced for the devising of idols. For the gods renowned from of old among the Greeks, Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Hephaestus, Hermes, and, among females, Hera and Demeter and Athena and Artemis, were decreed the title of gods by the order of Theseus, of whom Greek history tells us; and so, the men who pass such decrees die like men and are mourned for, while those in whose favor they are passed are worshipped as gods. What a height of inconsistency and madness! knowing who passed the decree, they pay greater honor to those who are the subjects of it. 2. And would that their idolatrous madness had stopped short at males, and that they had not brought down the title of deity to females. For even women, whom it is not safe to admit to deliberation about public affairs, they worship and serve with the honor due to God, such as those enjoined by Theseus as above stated, and among the Egyptians Isis and the Maid and the Younger one, and among others Aphrodite. For the names of the others, I do not consider it modest even to mention, full as they are of all kind of grotesqueness. 3. For many, not only in ancient times but in our own also, having lost their beloved ones, brothers and kinsfolk and wives; and many women who had lost their husbands, all of whom nature proved to be mortal men, made representations of them and devised sacrifices, and consecrated them; while later ages, moved by the figure and the brilliancy of the artist, worshipped them as gods, thus falling into inconsistency with nature. For whereas their parents had mourned for them, not regarding them as gods (for had they known them to be gods they would not have lamented them as if they had perished; for this was why they represented them in an image, namely, because they not only did not think them gods, but did not believe them to exist at all, and in order that the sight of their form in the image might console them for their being no more), yet the foolish people pray to them as gods and invest them with the honor of the true God. 4. For example, in Egypt, even to this day, the death-dirge is celebrated for Osiris and Horus and Typhon and the others. And the caldrons at Dodona, and the Korybantes in Crete, prove that Zeus is no god but a man, and a man born of a cannibal father. And, strange to say, even Plato, the sage admired among the Greeks, with all his vaunted understanding about God, goes down with Socrates to Pireas to worship Artemis, a figment of man’s art.

11. The deeds of heathen deities, and particularly of Zeus.

But of these and such like inventions of idolatrous madness, Scripture taught us beforehand long ago, when it said, the devising of idols was the beginning of fornication, and the invention of them, the corruption of life. For neither were they from the beginning, neither shall they be forever. For the vainglory of men, they entered into the world, and therefore shall they come shortly to an end. For a father afflicted with untimely mourning when he has made an image of his child soon taken away, now honored him as a god which was then a dead man, and delivered to those that were under him ceremonies and sacrifices. Thus, in process of time an ungodly custom grown strong was kept as a law. And graven images were worshipped by the commands of kings. Whom men could not honor in presence because they dwelt afar off, they took the counterfeit of his visage from afar, and made an express image of the king whom they honored, to the end that by this their forwardness they might flatter him that was absent as if he were present. Also the singular diligence of the artificer did help to set forward the ignorant to more superstition: for he, perhaps, willing to please one in authority, forced all his skill to make the resemblance of the best fashion: and so the multitude, allured by the grace of the work, took him now for a god, which a little before was but honored as a man: and this was an occasion to deceive the world, for men serving either calamity or tyranny, did ascribe unto stones and stocks the incommunicable Name. 2. The beginning and devising of the invention of idols having been, as Scripture witnesses, of such sort, it is now time to show you the refutation of it by proofs derived not so much from without as from these men’s own opinions about the idols. For to begin at the lowest point, if one were to take the actions of them, they call gods, one would find that they were not only no gods, but had been even of men the most contemptible. For what a thing it is to see the loves and licentious actions of Zeus in the poets! What a thing to hear of him, on the one hand carrying off Ganymede and committing stealthy adulteries, on the other in panic and alarm lest the walls of the Trojans should be destroyed against his intentions! What a thing to see him in grief at the death of his son Sarpedon, and wishing to succor him without being able to do so, and, when plotted against by the other so-called gods, namely, Athena and Hera and Poseidon, succored by Thetis, a woman, and by Aegaeon of the hundred hands, and overcome by pleasures, a slave to women, and for their sakes running adventures in disguises consisting of brute beasts and creeping things and birds; and again, in hiding on account of his father’s designs upon him, or Cronos bound by him, or him again mutilating his father! Why, is it fitting to regard as a god one who has perpetrated such deeds, and who stands accused of things which not even the public laws of the Romans allow those to do who are merely men?

12. Other shameful actions ascribed to heathen deities. All prove that they are but men of former times, and not even good men.

For, to mention a few instances out of many to avoid prolixity, who that saw his lawless and corrupt conduct toward Semele, Leda, Alcmene, Artemis, Leto, Maia, Europe, Danae, and Antiope, or that saw what he ventured to take in hand with regard to his own sister, in having the same woman as wife and sister, would not scorn him and pronounce him worthy of death? For not only did he commit adultery, but he deified and raised to heaven those born of his adulteries, contriving the deification as a veil for his lawlessness: such as Dionysus, Heracles, the Dioscuri, Hermes, Perseus, and Soteira. 2. Who, that sees the so-called gods at irreconcilable strife among themselves at Troy on account of the Greeks and Trojans, will fail to recognize their feebleness, in that because of their mutual jealousies they egged on even mortals to strife? Who, that sees Ares and Aphrodite wounded by Diomedes, or Hera and Aidoneus from below the earth, whom they call a god, wounded by Heracles, Dionysus by Perseus, Athena by Arcas, and Hephaestus hurled down and going lame, will not recognize their real nature, and, while refusing to call them gods, be assured (when he hears that they are corruptible and passible) that they are nothing but men, and feeble men too, and admire those that inflicted the wounds rather than the wounded? 3. Or who that sees the adultery of Ares with Aphrodite, and Hephaestus contriving a snare for the two, and the other so-called gods called by Hephaestus to view the adultery, and coming and seeing their licentiousness, would not laugh and recognize their worthless character? Or who would not laugh at beholding the drunken folly and misconduct of Heracles toward Omphale? For their deeds of pleasure, and their unconscionable loves, and their divine images in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood, we need not seriously expose by argument, since the facts are abominable in themselves, and are enough taken alone to furnish proof of the deception; so that one’s principal feeling is pity for those deceived about them. 4. For, hating the adulterer who tampers with a wife of their own, they are not ashamed to deify the teachers of adultery; and refraining from incest themselves they worship those who practice it; and admitting that the corrupting of children is an evil, they serve those who stand accused of it and do not blush to ascribe to those they call gods things which the laws forbid to exist even among men.

26. The moral corruptions of Paganism all admittedly originated with the gods.

Women, for example, used to sit out in old days in the temples of Phoenicia, consecrating to the gods there the hire of their bodies, thinking they propitiated their goddess by fornication, and that they would procure her favor by this. While men, denying their nature, and no longer wishing to be males, put on the guise of women, under the idea that they are thus gratifying and honoring the mother of their so-called gods. But all live along with the basest, and vie with the worst among themselves, and as Paul said, the holy minister of Christ, Romans 1:26: “For their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise, also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness.” 2. But acting in this and in like ways, they admit and prove that the life of their so-called gods was of the same kind. For from Zeus, they have learned corruption of youth and adultery, from Aphrodite fornication, from Rhea licentiousness, from Ares murders, and from other gods other like things, which the laws punish and from which every sober man turns away. Does it then remain fit to consider them gods who do such things, instead of reckoning them, for the licentiousness of their ways, more irrational than the brutes? Is it fit to consider their worshippers human beings, instead of pitying them as more irrational than the brutes, and more soul-less than inanimate things? For had they considered the intellectual part of their soul they would not have plunged headlong into these things, nor have denied the true God, the Father of Christ.

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Why I Don’t Want to Be a Pastor Before Retirement

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Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment

Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. –Jesus in Matthew 10:15

Gay rights advocates insist that anti-gay theologians are mistranslating, misinterpreting, and cherry picking from the Bible. But gay rights advocates are unfortunately guilty of some of the most lazy, reckless, and careless Bible interpretation ever. The maneuvers they make with Scripture are similar to the way a cult leader would use the Bible. It’s always used to suit their own needs, rather than taking a plain, honest, literal reading of what the text says, and drawing your conclusions that way. People like this are fond of allegorizing the Bible whenever they like, for example on creation and evolution, or pre-trib rapture, or a literal Hell. They pull out the old allegory approach and think that this fixes the problem. All this comes down to is doubting what the Word of God says. Satan asked Eve, “Did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1). This has been a problem that heretics have plagued the church with, at least since the days of A Refutation of the Allegorists by Nepos in the 3rd century.

Matthew Henry (Puritan): “The condemnation of those that reject the gospel, will in that day be severer and heavier than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom is said to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, Jude 1:7. But that vengeance will come with an aggravation upon those that despise the great salvation. Sodom and Gomorrah were exceedingly wicked (Genesis 13:13), and that which filled up the measure of their iniquity was, that they received not the angels that were sent to them, but abused them (Genesis 19:4-5), and hearkened not to their words, Matthew 10:14. And yet it will be more tolerable for them than for those who receive not Christ’s ministers and hearken not to their words. God’s wrath against them will be more flaming, and their own reflections upon themselves more cutting.” Henry’s reference to Genesis 19:4-5 is key–and should be the focal point for any gay rights advocate, who may be for the moment contemplating the Biblical city of Sodom. Homosexuality was definitely present there–it was like San Francisco in a way; and it was associated with wickedness. Trying to divert the issue over to inhospitality (Ezekiel 16:49-50), is to leave a glaring oversight of the issue of homosexuality in Sodom, aka SODOMY. Jesus was keen on this; as was his brother Jude, when he said this: “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7). “Strange flesh” is probably a reference to Genesis 19:4-5, when the Sodomites had an “unnatural” lust for gay sex (Romans 1:26), which is most definitely a strange way to go about having sex, since it will never reproduce babies. Genesis 19:4-5: “Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’” This is the issue. Jesus was referring to this in Matthew 10:15–you can’t get around it. Yes it was a gang. Yes it was inhospitality. But it was also homosexuality…and you can’t, and really shouldn’t ignore that, if you’re going to be totally transparent about Jesus, and his reference to the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah.

We all have to answer to the Bible and God. I guess in the end we’ll all see whose right. But as for me, I’m going with the homosexuality is a sin interpretation.

There’s lots of anger here coming from the gays. Understood. My only thing is, try to stay focused on the Scripture with this issue of gay sex. Try not to distract away to churches, Catholic priests, child abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse, blasphemy, levels of sins, hell-threats, inhospitality, crap-treating, turning people away, popular opinions, political polls, communities dying off, love, and a host of other side topics. The issue at the core, at least here: is the practice of gay sex displeasing to God? The Bible and Jesus definitely say that it is! That should technically be the end of this conversation. Unless of course, you want to extend it into a conversation about spiritual abuse, and people not loving one another. But then again we’re getting off the subject of homosexuality once again. They say we’re blind. Blind? I’m reading texts in a book that I consider sacred. If that’s blind to them, then maybe I’m blind. Maybe my blindness is faith. Jesus offers grace to people who turn away from being gay (1 Cor. 6:11). So do it if this is you!

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Government Aid and the Bible

The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.’ When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere. –Genesis 41:53-57

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