The Christian responsibility. /
Detlev Löhde, Parish Deacon, Hannover‒Laatzen 00, 2010-12-28
The inspiration of the Biblel.
(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)
In view of the great numbers of refugees, a look at the parable of the Good Samaritan will help remind us of our Christian responsibilities.
How should we behave, as Christians, in relation to the refugees issue? In personal encounters, we must come across to refugees as friendly and eager to help. We mustn’t try to limit love of our neighbor just to those who belong to our own people. Jesus gives us an impressive lesson to this effect in the story of the Good Samaritan. This means that in relating to foreigners and refugees, the individual Christian and the church should always act in accordance with the commandment of love, and no one should be turned away. Material spiritual help with the Gospel is indicated. Any act of violent aggression against refugees is profoundly unchristian.
Source: Biblisch Glauben, Denken, Leben [Believing, Thinking, Living in the Light of the Bible]
This parable of the Good Samaritan is repeatedly cited (above all in our day, in connection with the refugee crisis) and interpreted – erroneously. Correctly believing Christians, in particular, quite reasonably feel challenged by this kind of faulty interpretation, and have doubts about its correctness. If these doubts are not cleared up, there is a real danger that these brethren might begin to have doubts not just about the interpretation of this parable, but even about their faith as such.
So we would like here to demonstrate that this brand of incorrect interpretation is an old trick of the Catholic church, with a view to saddling church congregations with the financial costs of missionizing through aid given to "the poor of this world". Those of the poor worldwide (in Asia, Africa or South America), who then joined the Catholic church out of gratitude, themselves in the past then became a source of church taxes and other "contributions" (like the sale of indulgences, once the means for financing the building of St. Peter’s in Rome); and the money extracted from them enabled the church to amass financial sums amounting to something like 200 billion euros today. As a result the Pope has become the richest man in the world.
So let us just start with biblical love of our neighbor, which is also addressed in the comments above, and which the Catholic church has been drumming into people for centuries – in direct contradiction of the Lord’s actual statements.
Love of our neighbor.
Like the incorrect interpretation of the "least of
my brothers" in Mat 25,40, the complete reversal of the biblical concept of "love of
our neighbor" by churches, preachers and aid organizations is one of the biggest deceptions,
practiced with a view to stimulating compassion in credulous contemporaries and accumulating
funds from donations with minimum effort.
So that is what this parable of the Lord Jesus tells us. And it also says –
if some one comes to you personally or you meet them personally and they ask you
personally for your help or you see that they are personally in need of help, then,
as a correctly believing Christian, you should personally help them. And they should then
love you (based on Mt 22,39) personally out of gratitude, in the same way as they love
Now this is something quite different from those charity campaigns for refugees
whom we never get to know, and who do not have any idea who has helped them. And in this context
most of the money is not spent on the refugees themselves, but goes to the salaries, logistical
operations and other expenses of these "aid organizations".
So that is the real, correct commandment of biblical love of our neighbor, and not "donations to the poor of the whole world". But this falsification by the Catholic church continues to be put about by all kinds of NGOs and other "aid organizations" – to begin with, because these people have no idea of the Bible, and then too because it has never before been so easy to rake in massive funds with the help of just a few "admonitory words".
And as we see from the contribution by Parish Deacon Detlef Löhde, quoted earlier, these "admonitory words" are repeatedly pronounced, too, by the clergy of the Catholic church. But of course they are applied to other people. The Catholic church certainly takes care to see that its Catholic faithful pay their church taxes on time, but doesn’t easily see itself as being obliged to donate.
And that is the case even though the Vatican has total financial assets amounting to 270 billion euros(!) – cf. Der geheime Milliardenschatz des Klerus [The secret billions of the clergy]). We could justifiably ask this parish deacon and all his professional colleagues all over Europe, who raise a monitory finger and urge that the general public lend assistance to refugees, why the Catholic church does not itself donate just one of its 270 billion euros for the refugees’ benefit?
Incidentally, this contribution by the parish deacon comes from the website "Bibelbund e.V." [Biblical Union, Regd. Assn.], which publishes the following confession of faith of its members:
"They believe in the complete reliability and objective correctness of all the statements of the Bible – in historical and scientific respects, as well as in their having unrestricted validity in their salvation history implications."
Yes, one would certainly suppose that these people have read the Bible thoroughly and are acquainted with the right meaning of love of one’s neighbor. But unfortunately this assumption would be incorrect – as is shown by another statement on this website. Here we find Paul’s second letter to Timothy quoted:
Die ganze Schrift ist von Gottes Geist gegeben und von ihm erfüllt. Ihr Nutzen ist entsprechend: Sie lehrt uns, die Wahrheit zu erkennen, überführt uns von Sünde, bringt uns auf den richtigen Weg und erzieht uns zu einem Leben wie es Gott gefällt. Mit der Schrift ist der Mensch, der Gott gehört und ihm dient, allen seinen Aufgaben gewachsen und zu jedem guten Werk gerüstet.
2Tim 3,16-17 (NEÜ)
[The whole of Scripture is given by the Spirit of God and filled with Him. It thus offers us the following benefits: it teaches us to recognize the truth, it takes us away from sin, puts us on the right path and educates us for a life pleasing to God. With Scripture, the person who belongs to God and serves Him is adequate to all his or her tasks and equipped for every good work. 2Tim 3,16-17]
The NEÜ is the "Neue evangelistische Übersetzung" ["New Evangelistic Translation" of the Bible. – I have translated the passage fairly closely above.] This version contains the same mistaken translation as some older versions do. We are concerned here exclusively with the first sentence: "Die ganze Schrift ist von Gottes Geist gegeben und von ihm erfüllt." – "The whole of Scripture is given by the Spirit of God and filled with Him." For a better understanding of the background to this, here is the passage once again in the Luther translation of the Bible:
Denn alle Schrift, von Gott eingegeben, ist nütze zur Lehre, zur Zurechtweisung, zur Besserung, zur Erziehung in der Gerechtigkeit, dass der Mensch Gottes vollkommen sei, zu allem guten Werk geschickt. 2Tim 3,16-17; (Luther 2017)
[For all Scripture, being inspired by God, is beneficial for teaching, for admonition, for improvement, for education in righteousness, so that the man of God may be perfect and equipped for every good work. 2Tim 3,16-17; (Luther 2017)].
This is not so very different from the New American Standard Bible translation:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.
Tim 3,16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 3,17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2Tim 3,16-17;
Quite apart from the completely superfluous interpolations in the "New Evangelical Translation" (e.g. "It thus offers us the following benefits", rather than simply describing Scripture as "beneficial" or "profitable", as the original Greek text does), we also note right away a difference in the very first words: the NEÜ writes "die
ganze Schrift", "the whole of Scripture", whereas Luther (echoed by the NASB) has "alle Schrift", "all Scripture". Of course this is just a difference of one word, but unfortunately it gives rise to "confessions of faith" like these, which designate the Bible in its totality as "infallible".
If we now take a look at the Greek original, we find the following text:
Every writing inspired by God is also useful for teaching.
2Tim 3,16 Every writing (graphe) nspired by God (theopneustos)
is also useful (ophelimos) or teaching, for correction, for improvement, for training in righteousness, so that the person of God may be proficient and equipped for every good work. (John Waterfield)
The incorrect translation ("the whole of Scripture" rather than "every
Scripture/every writing") is followed – as was inevitably to be expected – by an incorrect
interpretation. The passage is interpreted in such a way that Paul is understood to be
speaking here about the entire Bible, and so these people proclaim that the whole Bible
– word for word – is inspired by the Holy Spirit. But the attentive reader will have
noticed already that nothing has been said here about the "Bible" at all. Paul is speaking
here of a scripture/a writing (Greek graphe). As the Nestle–Aland correctly renders the
Greek text, "Jede von Gottes Geist eingegebene Schrift" – "every scripture inspired
by God’s Spirit", or indeed, "every writing".
So we are not concerned here with the Bible exclusively, and certainly not with every word written in the Bible, but with every written work the author of which has been inspired by the Spirit of God to write down his ideas. The word Paul uses here, "graphe", simply means "writing" or treatise" – and so is by no means to be referred exclusively to the statements of the Bible.
WSo we must assume first of all that not every word in the Bible is actually the word of God – e.g. the introductory and concluding passages in the New Testament letters – and, on the other hand, that there can be written works outside the Bible which have been inspired or suggested to the author by the Spirit of God. And here we also recognize one of the reasons why people – notwithstanding plain proofs to the contrary – have willfully insisted on an interpretation of this Pauline text as referring to "the whole Bible".
With this incorrect interpretation, those who advocate it are "let off the hook" in their biblical expositions: they no longer have to check, research, study, let alone think, because they can just assert quite simply that every word in the Bible is inspired by the Spirit of God. And anyone who ventures to doubt it will be slapped down with an appeal to the above biblical text, 2Tim 3,16, together with the argument which a commentator at Immanuel.at mentioned to me in an e‒mail:
"I have held discussions in the past with many ‘Christians’ about the infallibility of the Bible, only to be confronted always with the same cliché‒ridden arguments – for example the famous circular logic that states, ‘The Bible is the Word of God, because it says that it is the Word of God. And of course as it is the Word of God, it cannot possibly be wrong.’"
The Bible, and other written works as well, may contain the word of God, but they are not necessarily inspired in their entirety by the Holy Spirit. This is just something concocted by easygoing theologians, biblical interpreters and preachers as a way of silencing their critics without any need to argue at length. In this way they save themselves the lengthy business of thinking, studying and researching in the Bible. Nowadays, unfortunately, anyone at all – whatever their existing or
non‒existing qualifications – feels obliged to interpret the Bible in their addresses and sermons, without any kind of in‒depth knowledge of it. And anyone who does not test the spirit that is behind such utterances is here again at risk of falling a prey to unscrupulous fraudsters.
(See also discourse 99: „Christmastime: who is "one of the least of these my brothers" in Mt 25,40?”)
(See also discourse 1013: „Report from the camp of the "Israel movement".”)
Last of all, the question how we can be expected to know what in the Bible is the word of God, and what is not, is relatively easy to answer. Every correctly believing Christian who is sincerely interested in the Bible, does not shirk the effort and is willing to pursue open questions with seriousness and zeal, can count on finding the support of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), in the same way as testified by Paul in 2Tim 3,16 with reference to the authors of these writings, and will be shown, by references to other biblical passages on the same theme, how these statements are to be understood, and whether or not they are thematically relevant. Based on the old principle that "Scripture is its own interpretation", with this approach you will find scriptural proofs which either demonstrate the correctness of an interpretation or else indicate that it is irrelevant.
As examples of biblical content that is not the word of God we can point to passages in the letters that are concerned with greetings, communications, admonitions, praise, blame and other interhuman items of information (e.g. Rom 15:1-33; 1Cor 16:19-24; 2Cor 13:11-13; Phil 4:21-23; Col 4:7-18; 1The 5:23-28; 2Tim 4:9-22; etc. etc.). To involve the Holy Spirit here would show a completely wrong understanding of Him.