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Robin wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • I'm wondering why the Catholic Church has such a huge amount of wealth, as can be seen in the beautiful buildings and costly objects in them, when Jesus clearly encourages us to sell all of our possessions and give to the poor?
  • Wouldn't it be better to use the money to spread the gospel or to feed the many millions of starving people around the globe?

Many of them are Christians. Jesus also said that anything we do unto the smallest of His,
we do for Him.

Many Thanks.

Robin

  { Why is the Church so wealthy when Jesus tells us to sell all our possessions and give to the poor? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Robin —

Thanks for the question.

My colleague Mary Ann answered a similar question three years ago:

but let me address a portion of your question.

You said:

  • I'm wondering why the Catholic Church has such a huge amount of wealth, as can be seen in the beautiful buildings and costly objects in them, when Jesus clearly encourages us to sell all of our possessions and give to the poor?
  1. Because the historical riches it has going back to 33 A.D. are priceless and preserved for all Christendom
  2. Because the faithful believe in the Church and give what they can to support the Church, following the wishes you mentioned and what the Lord has asked from us.
  3. Because of the number of faithful that make up the Church are over 1.125 billion members worldwide, 65 million in the United States.

Nevertheless, the implication in your question is that the Church does not give to the poor and neither spreads the Gospel to those who have not heard it. This is a distortion of the great outreach and support work the Church has done worldwide for centuries.

Without the Catholic Church, western civilization wouldn't exist today. You just won't hear about it on the local news. The mainstream media take our work for granted or is not aware of it.
Make sure your read Mary Ann's reply for more.

Hope this helps!

Mike

Robin replied:

Hi, Mike —

Thank you for your answer. I read your answer and Mary Ann's posting, but I must have formulated my question poorly. I was trying to ask a different question.

The question was not why the Catholic Church has its riches and artifacts, but:

  • Why it does she not sell those artifacts, or at least encourage the congregations to sell them and use the money to help spread the gospel, and provide help to the many Christians and non-believers around the world that are in dire need of help?

  • Surely most of these artifacts, although great works of art, don't contribute to more people getting to know god, so how can we stand by and preach to a Message of helping the weak, as Jesus taught his followers time and time again, when we don't use the resources available to do everything to enable more people to give their lives to Christ?

Yours sincerely,

Robin

Mary Ann replied:

Robin,

First of all, the artifacts do help people to know God, and are more available to more people in Churches than they would be in museums. Works of great beauty lift our hearts to God and teach us, especially when they are symbolic or pictorial representations of the Scriptures, and they also honor God in our worship. They express our faith. Now if you are speaking of fancy bishop's residences and secular things, a case could be made for your point, and many bishops do sell off property but the Catholic Church has been the inspiration of great art since the beginning, and it protects the world's cultural heritage from the throes of nationalism and war, which have destroyed so much.

Secondly, if the Church did sell everything, it would go into the private collections of the rich, and once the money is given to the poor, the Church would still need to have suitable liturgical art and items for its worship.

Mary Ann

Robin replied:

Hi, Mary Ann —

Thank you for your answer.

I don't disagree that some pieces of art can open peoples eyes to the amazing gifts that god has given us, but I don't understand how the likes of a golden staff or a fancy robe can bring anyone closer to salvation.

We are not meant to collect treasures on this earth (Matthew 6:19-21), so if we trust what Jesus says is true and can trust god and his word, I can't see any reason for keeping these beautiful, but ultimately pointless, artifacts that go together with the bible's message of generosity or the early church's way of sharing their possessions.

Yours sincerely,

Robin

Mary Ann replied:

Robin —

There are no golden calfs. The God who commanded charity and forbade idol worship also set out the plans for His temple worship. The art in the Church tells of salvation.

  • the gold that adorns the tabernacle
  • the vessels that hold the sacramental presence of God, and
  • the vestments the priests wear

all give honor and glory to God.

Even your grandmother has special things for special times, but still, often the Church has sold her vessels and art for the poor.

The early Church in Rome decorated and furnished their Churches themselves, then the deacon Lawrence gave it all away to the poor. The Church did not buy precious things. She created them herself, or they were given to Her by others. Most of them have value only because She has preserved them, and they are useless in any other circumstance or environment.

You have two sides to your argument.

  1. One is that this art is needed for the poor, for whom it would be a drop in the bucket, and its sale, a loss to mankind, in general.
  2. The other side is that art is wrong; but it is not. These treasures of art exist precisely because Christians pooled their resources to commission or create beauty for the Lord.
  • By the way, have you sold your iPhone, putter, stereo or late model car for the poor?

Another thing. Sacred art reflects the story of God's mercies and educates. It is far cheaper than your average bank building. Much of it is priceless because it is old and rare; they are pieces of work that gold or gems can't buy.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Robin,

  • How much of the Old Testament have you read?

God commanded a luxurious temple be built to glorify Him; huge statues of angels, the fine wood, gold and jewels, fine carvings and furnishings more valuable than anything in a Catholic Church.

  • Was God wrong to command this be built?
  • Is He not worthy to be glorified in worship?

You seem to have missed that there is one New Testament person who raised your exact objection, and that was Judas. Jesus preferred to be honored by the woman who loved him with the expensive nard rather than to sell it and give it to the poor. He said,

"The poor you will always have with you." (John 12:1-8)

If you sold everything in the Church and gave it to the poor, it would feed them for a few days, maybe a few weeks.

Then where would you be?

You'd have no Church. It's like slaying the goose who lays the golden egg.

  • How can the Church carry on her mission of teaching people to feed the poor if she liquidates her property to feed the poor for a very short time?

"Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime."

You also forget that being physically poor and hungry is not the worst situation to be in. Being spiritually poor and hungry is. The Church cannot compromise her mission to briefly feed the world's hungry. That's being short-sighted.

A "fancy robe" can bring people to salvation because it lifts their mind to God and brings them joy. Many people have been converted by the beauty of the Church which you now disparage. Perhaps it doesn't speak to you, but it does to many. Many poor, love the beauty because it lifts up their spirits and serves as kind of respite from the day-to-day dreariness they live in. They feel that in a way it belongs to them, and it's a small piece of richness they can share in. Think of the widow's mite.

  • Would it be better for the widow to use that mite to pay for her food, or to give it to the temple?

Yet Jesus honored her for giving it to the temple, despite the fact it was a paltry amount and was worth much more to her than to the temple. There is something that makes you think of God and draws you to give him glory in an awe-inspiring work of art (this includes buildings). It brings man out of himself and confronts him with the majesty of God.

I'd also like to correct a misconception I noticed in your e-mail. People tend to treat the Catholic Church as if it were this huge monolithic organization. In fact, it is a collection of thousands of dioceses that are financially independent from the Vatican. The Vatican can't sell the Church's treasures because it doesn't possess them all, except those in Vatican City and the diocese of Rome.

Eric

Robin replied:

Hello, Eric —

Thank you for your answers.

First, god did command a large temple to be built so he could have a dwelling here on earth, however nowadays god has his dwelling inside everyone that has a faith in Christ.

  • Shouldn't it be more important to use our resources to create beautiful "temples" of our own mind and bodies for the lord to have as his own and, in that way, glorify him?

Secondly, god also commands many sinners to be stoned to death, but since Jesus says,

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone".

Nevertheless, the church has abandoned this practice, however when jesus says,

"Sell all that you have and give it to the poor."

you don't seem to think that he really meant it. I have read a lot of the old testament and
I sometimes find it hard to see the same god there, as the one I see in the new testament, however since the words that jesus speak are that of god, I know that following them surely can't be wrong.

This text that you take up is one I struggle with when it comes to how I live my life economically, however Jesus says, just after what you quoted, that he is only here a short while, before he is killed and ultimately rises to heaven. He says that we should help the poor when he is not here among us. Nowadays, we can't give our economic resources directly to jesus, but we can give our lives and our praise to him.

  • Is not the church more than it's property or its artifacts?

The first church had none of this and still the most powerful example of people are those who dedicated themselves to Christ and spreading his gospel. Nevertheless, I am not for the liquidating of all of the church's resources.

It is good to have a place to come together and worship god.
It is good to have a table to sit around and talk with each other.

The issue is:

  • What kind of place should we come together and worship god in?
  • What kind of cups should we drink out of?
    • Do we honor god more from drinking for a silver chalice than an IKEA mug?

I believe that the Church is more than merely its resources and think many times the resources can actually hinder us from doing what we were called to do by jesus: to go out and make disciples of all nations. In doing this, he also promises us to always be with us to the very end of the age.

  • Being with jesus and doing what he commanded us to do must surely be the prime concern of the church, isn't it?

From my questions, I hope that you can pick up that feeding the poor is not my main concern, although it would be a very noble act, which would surely turn many peoples eyes toward god.
That is, as you stated so clearly, not what the bigger picture is about. I'd rather see that money used to spread the bread of life and the gospel to people, all around the world. This doesn't mean a short, six month project, but using the resources responsibly, and with god's guidance to our lord's bidding. Also James 2:14-17 clearly states that we must act on our faith, by catering to the physical needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Should we just choose to ignore this Bible passage?

Living your life with your eyes firmly fixed to god and the Bible may be "short-sighted", seen from a worldly perspective, but he promises to be near everyone that does his bidding and promises to aid them in every single way. I believe this is how we should live our lifes: according to god's word, not traditions.

It was noble of the widow to give what she had to the temple, however, in this story, it is not the catholic church that is the widow, but the temple. It is right to give to the church. I myself give, however what the church chooses to do with the money is an entirely different question. This is where we disagree.

Although many people are certainly impressed by the beauties that the church has, I believe that salvation does not come from this but from hearing god's word. This may come indirectly from coming to look and admiring beauty, but this is only available to the people who have the opportunity to go to a church, only available to a small part of the world's population access to it.

god created the world, with all of its breath-taking scenery. If man cannot confront god in this and instead needs something man-made then something is seriously wrong.

  • Also why not make our lives awe-inspiring if we completely give ourselves to god and follow his teachings as the early Christians did? (See Acts 2:43-47)

From the your answer and the answers of your co-workers, I understand how the central organization can't force any change, but what is stopping the church from encouraging the kind of change I am recommending and acting as an example for all of the smaller branches that come from it's stem?

Many thanks,

Robin

Robin replied:

Hi, Mary Ann —

I believe I answered some of your questions in my reply to Eric's answer. As I stated in my answer to Eric, we shouldn't ignore Jesus, if what he says doesn't go together with how we'd like to perceive god and our relationship to god. However since jesus is god, I believe that we cannot ignore his teaching in how to deal with our money. Creating is all well and good; god gave us our creativity for a reason and I believe we can honor god through what we create, but if something is created to honor god, it doesn't mean that it has to be kept in a church, the whole earth is his and it honors him just as much as it would in someone else's house; meanwhile the money can be raised to help spread the gospel.

I'm afraid, what you refer to as the two sides of my argument have been slightly misinterpreted.

First, even if it is a drop in the bucket for all 1.125 billion members, as was stated in a earlier answer, it would make a lot of drops. Regardless of the amount given, it's not the actual amount of money being given that is important but the act of giving.

  • If this is true when giving to the church, why should it not apply to the church?

Secondly, it is not just about feeding the poor but spreading the gospel of Christ to people around the world according to our lord's Will. Surely, this is more important than any loss in art. Another thing, there is nothing to say that selling these pieces of art will mean that they will be forever lost to mankind. In many ways, they could be opened to a much larger public, although it is very likely that at least some pieces will find their way into private collections.

The notion that I believe art is wrong has also been misinterpreted. Art is wonderful and it is possible through the gifts god has given us. It is not art that I am against, but rather the church not using its available resources for a proper use, i.e. what the lord has commanded us to do.
We should let our lives honor god, not our creations.

As to my own personal finances, I'm an 18 year old student so there is not too much to brag about money-wise, however, 50 percent of my income is saved to enable me to go to a bible school,
a minimum of 10 percent is given to my local church, and the rest spent on gifts for my friends and family, food and clothing, charity and helping to spread the gospel. My phone was given to me by my brother-in-law, my computer was a present from my grandfather and was needed in my school work etc. That being said, I make no attempt to hide the fact that I am far from perfect in all aspects of my life when it comes to being completely devoted to Christ, however that doesn't stop me from trying to improve each day.

I'd also like to add that if I've, in any way, managed to offend you I am deeply sorry for this and hope you'll forgive me.

Yours sincerely,

Robin

Eric replied:

Robin —

You said:
First, god did command a large temple to be built so he could have a dwelling here on earth, however nowadays god has his dwelling inside everyone that has a faith in Christ.

  • Shouldn't it be more important to use our resources to create beautiful "temples" of our own mind and bodies for the lord to have as his own and, in that way, glorify him?

Why are the two mutually exclusive?

My point was not that God dwells inside the work of human hands. My point was that God commanded that a lavish amount of money be spent for His own worship.

  • Why didn't he command that money be spent on the poor instead and stick with the tent He had been dwelling in up until the point of the temple?
You said:
Secondly, god also commands many sinners to be stoned to death, but since Jesus says,

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone".

Nevertheless, the Church has abandoned this practice, however when Jesus says,

"Sell all that you have and give it to the poor."

you don't seem to think that he really meant it.

  • Have you sold all you have and given it to the poor?
  • If everyone did this, how would we run the economy and support our families?

A few points here. Jesus, in the Scripture you mentioned, is speaking to a specific individual who was obviously so attached to earthly things that he could not follow Jesus. We can't extrapolate and say that Jesus meant this either for everyone or for the Church.

  • Do we have any record of Jesus saying this to everyone? <No, we do not.>

He didn't say it to Zacchaeus, who was a rich man. He didn't say it to Joseph of Arimathea.
While giving all you have to the poor is meritorious, it is not obligatory for everyone or for
the Church.

You said:
I have read a lot of the old testament and I sometimes find it hard to see the same god there, as the one I see in the new testament, however since the words that jesus speak are that of god, I know that following them surely can't be wrong.

This text that you take up is one I struggle with when it comes to how I live my life economically, however Jesus says, just after what you quoted, that he is only here a short while, before he is killed and ultimately rises to heaven. He says that we should help the poor when he is not here among us. Nowadays, we can't give our economic resources directly to jesus, but we can give our lives and our praise to him.

And that is meritorious but it doesn't preclude us from glorying God by using the best vestments, buildings, and vessels for him. Remember, Jesus told the parable of the wedding feast, which we believe symbolizes the wedding feast of the Lamb, which the liturgy is a foretaste of. He threw a man out (into what symbolizes Hell) because he wasn't wearing a proper garment. Presumably, this would have been something classy and upscale, such as those vestments you now condemn.

You said:

  • Is not the Church more than it's property or its artifacts?

No one is arguing with you here. The question is really the reverse:

  • Is the Church so other-worldly that it is constrained from owning property or noble objects?

You said:
The first Church had none of this and still the most powerful example of people are those who dedicated themselves to Christ and spreading his gospel. Nevertheless,
I am not for the liquidating of all of the church's resources.

It is good to have a place to come together and worship god.
It is good to have a table to sit around and talk with each other.

The issue is:

  • What kind of place should we come together and worship god in?
  • What kind of cups should we drink out of?
    • Do we honor god more from drinking for a silver chalice than an
      IKEA mug?

Yes, as a matter of fact, we do. Because God deserves the best.

  • When you have important guests over, do you break out the IKEA mugs for them, or do you put out the fine china?
  • Do you do your best to honor them in whatever way you can by giving them the finest that you've got?
  • If Jesus walked into your house right now, would you give him a Dixie cup from the bathroom or your finest?

Remember the wedding feast parable and the woman with the nard.

You said:
I believe that the Church is more than merely its resources and think many times the resources can actually hinder us from doing what we were called to do by Jesus: to go out and make disciples of all nations. In doing this, he also promises us to always be with us to the very end of the age.

  • Being with Jesus and doing what he commanded us to do must surely be the prime concern of the Church, isn't it?

Again, I'm not seeing a contradiction here.

You said:
From my questions, I hope that you can pick up that feeding the poor is not my main concern, although it would be a very noble act, which would surely turn many peoples eyes toward god. That is, as you stated so clearly, not what the bigger picture is about. I'd rather see that money used to spread the bread of life and the gospel to people, all around the world. This doesn't mean a short, six month project, but using the resources responsibly, and with god's guidance to our lord's bidding. Also James 2:14-17 clearly states that we must act on our faith, by catering to the physical needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Should we just choose to ignore this Bible passage?

Living your life with your eyes firmly fixed to god and the bible may be "short-sighted", seen from a worldly perspective, but he promises to be near everyone that does his bidding and promises to aid them in every single way. I believe this is how we should live our lifes: according to god's word, not traditions.

I have to digress a bit here and point out an illustration. I don't mean to pick on your typing, and forgive me if I sound impertinent, but I notice that you're perfectly willing to capitalize beginnings of sentences and names and "I", but you don't capitalize "God" and "Lord". This may be a symbol of my point: You seem to be not sufficiently motivated to honor God in the little things, such as capitalizing the word. It does not surprise me then that you don't want to honor him with a gold chalice, either.

  • What comment do you have on that?

Jesus said that he who is faithful in little things will be given authority over a lot (cf. Luke 19:17). By honoring God in little things, we train ourselves to honor him in larger things, and we are rewarded for our faithfulness. For honoring God is more important than feeding the poor, as
I already explained when I discussed Jesus's comments about the woman who anointed him with nard.

You said:
It was noble of the widow to give what she had to the temple, however, in this story, it is not the catholic church that is the widow, but the temple. It is right to give to the church. I myself give, however what the church chooses to do with the money is an entirely different question.

My point was that if even the poor give until it hurts to the temple, you can't argue that it's more important to feed the poor than to fill the coffers of the temple. If you were correct that it is better to feed the poor than to invest in the church, then Jesus would not have told this parable.
I am not saying that the Church is the widow.

You said:
This is where we disagree.

Although many people are certainly impressed by the beauties that the church has,
I believe that salvation does not come from this but from hearing god's word.

One can hear God's word in many ways. Beauty speaks God's word to many.

You said:
This may come indirectly from coming to look and admiring beauty, but this is only available to the people who have the opportunity to go to a church, only available to a small part of the world's population access to it.

  • You really think that the number of people with access to a church is a "small part of the world's population"?
  • Who do you have in mind that doesn't have access to a church (or a priest, since we're also talking about chalices and vestments)?
  • Even in Africa they have churches, at least in many places.
  • Sure there are remote areas that don't have churches, but are these really a majority of the world?
You said:
god created the world, with all of its breath-taking scenery. If man cannot confront god in this and instead needs something man-made then something is seriously wrong.

Not everyone has access to breathtaking scenery, if I may paraphrase your own argument. It's also not within the context of worship. Besides, while beauty is an important component, there is component of honoring God with the finest we have to offer. And I think there is something to be said for sanctifying our time with God with something that befits God's majesty. For example,
I use my fine place mats and china, and light a candle, when I eat dinner on the Lord's Day. It is my way of sanctifying the Lord's Day and making it holy, set apart. Remembering the wedding feast,
I also dress up, often in a suit and tie, when I go to liturgy on the Lord's Day. Our culture has
de-emphasized dressing up which has led to travesties which you see on:

Maybe, just maybe, we've gone too far.

You said:

  • Also why not make our lives awe-inspiring if we completely give ourselves to god and follow his teachings as the early Christians did? (See Acts 2:43-47)
  • Again, why is this mutually exclusive with having beauty in worship?

I don't see a contradiction. This is a red herring.

You said:
From the your answer and the answers of your co-workers, I understand how the central organization can't force any change, but what is stopping the church from encouraging the kind of change I am recommending and acting as an example for all of the smaller branches that come from it's stem?

Many thanks,

Robin

2,000 years of tradition, that's what. Your view is utterly foreign to the whole history of Christianity. And as St. Paul admonished,

"Hold fast to the traditions you received, whether by word of mouth or by letter."
(2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Eric

Robin replied:

Thank you for your answer,

As to your first point, indeed they are not mutually exclusive. I just want to make the point that the New Testament guidelines on how to worship God through places of worship is hardly mentioned, and that the central message, at least in Paul's letters, is to renew our minds to do his bidding.

  • Since the New Testament puts so much focus on this, doesn't it seem to be reasonable for our Christian lives to have a lot of focus on this?

On your second point, I haven't sold all of my possessions. This is because I have a moral dilemma around this. On the other hand, I don't hold the same kind of authority in spiritual matters as the Catholic Church does. The reason for questioning the Church's stance on this was not just plain criticism but rather my own personal want to see how the Church views this.

As to your point about not being able to support our families, Paul says:

"it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman"

so that we don't need to be worried about our families and can give ourselves completely to God in every aspect of our lives.

Your point that this isn't meant for everyone is a valid argument.

However with the parable of the wedding feast, the man isn't sent to Hell due to him not wearing "fancy" enough clothes, but rather that he hasn't accepted the new clean clothes. That is to say the new clean clothes that are washed with the blood of Christ that we receive when we give ourselves to Him. Accepting God's forgiveness and letting Him wash away our sins is the overriding message of this parable, not God's fashion tips.

As to your point about whether the Church is so other-worldly that we shouldn't own property etc.
I have no problem with the Church owning property; it is rather the scale of the property she owes. We should not conform to this world. (Romans 12:2) We should not get caught up in status and other worldly disputes; then again, if the purpose of the possessions are truly to honor God,
it is impossible to fault anyone for that.

  • As to your point in giving Christ our very best, you're completely right, but what do I have, that can impress He who has his place on the throne in Heaven?

All I can ever do is to give him my life and hope that in some tiny way, that will honor Him.
As a song says:

"What can I give You, but a broken heart?
But if that's what You want, Lord here I am
Take my heart, do what You please."

This is my own personal opinion but I believe it is more important that my life radiates God's love and generosity to other people; thus honoring him.

Thank you here for your remarks. I have lived in Sweden since I was 10 years old and haven't been taught much, or maybe I just haven't paid attention when I was told this. Hopefully, you'll notice I've attempted to change my ways.

I'd also rather like an answer to one of my previous questions, if it's not too much of a hassle.

I previous said:

From my questions, I hope that you can pick up that feeding the poor is not my main concern, although it would be a very noble act, which would surely turn many peoples eyes toward god. That is, as you stated so clearly, not what the bigger picture is about. I'd rather see that money used to spread the bread of life and the gospel to people, all around the world. This doesn't mean a short, six month project, but using the resources responsibly, and with god's guidance to our lord's bidding. Also James 2:14-17 clearly states that we must act on our faith, by catering to the physical needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Should we just choose to ignore this Bible passage?

Living your life with your eyes firmly fixed to god and the Bible may be "short-sighted", seen from a worldly perspective, but he promises to be near everyone that does his bidding and promises to aid them in every single way. I believe this is how we should live our lifes: according to god's word, not traditions.

I am more concerned about spreading the Gospel than food, although it is very important to tend to the needs of our siblings in Christ, as well as those who have not yet given their lives to Him. Since Jesus sacrificed his life for us when we were still sinners, we should also sacrifice some of what we have to our neighbors, whether they are Christians or not. My point is not to feed the poor with what the Church receives or that it is wrong for the Church to receive money but that the Church should invest more money in spreading the Gospel and acting out Christ's love.

I agree that although a large part of the world's population has access to a church, there is a large population that has yet to even hear the Gospel, due to prejudices against the Christian faith
e.g. Muslims in the Middle East are highly unlikely to ever enter a Church even if one was built right around the corner from them.

You also have a point in honoring God by showing that there is something special about certain aspects of your life. I hope I can learn from this.

Many Thanks,

Robin

Eric replied:

Hi, Robin —

Thanks for the reply.

You said:
Thank you for your answer,

As to your first point, indeed they are not mutually exclusive. I just want to make the point that the New Testament guidelines on how to worship God through places of worship is hardly mentioned, and that the central message, at least in Paul's letters, is to renew our minds to do his bidding.

  • Since the New Testament puts so much focus on this, doesn't it seem to be reasonable for our Christian lives to have a lot of focus on this?

Well, I don't disagree at all, but it's really beside the point. The question is not whether we shouldn't spend our time renewing our minds. The question is should the Church expend money making beautiful buildings, vestments, vessels, and so forth. As far as lay people are concerned, they can renew their minds just as much if the Church does or does not employ beauty.

I will point out something though. New Testament worship is described in two main places, both mystical descriptions: Hebrews 12:22-24 and Revelation 4:1-5:6-14. In the first, we see that myriads of angels and saints are present as we worship. Also, Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem (which we know is beautiful, with gold and jewels, from its description in Revelation) are present. It only makes sense that we remind people of this by portraying these elements. In Revelation, we see the Lamb, four living creatures, and twenty-four elders, with angels, jewels, crowns, crystal-like glass, lamps, and a throne, among other elements.

  • Does this resemble the kind of worship your church does?
  • Wouldn't it be fitting to reflect these elements in our churches as a reminder of the truth of the Bible?

You said:
On your second point, I haven't sold all of my possessions. This is because I have a moral dilemma around this. On the other hand, I don't hold the same kind of authority in spiritual matters as the Catholic Church does. The reason for questioning the Church's stance on this was not just plain criticism but rather my own personal want to see how the Church views this.

As to your point about not being able to support our families, Paul says:

"it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman"

so that we don't need to be worried about our families and can give ourselves completely to God in every aspect of our lives.

Your point that this isn't meant for everyone is a valid argument.

However with the parable of the wedding feast, the man isn't sent to Hell due to him not wearing "fancy" enough clothes, but rather that he hasn't accepted the new clean clothes. That is to say the new clean clothes that are washed with the blood of Christ that we receive when we give ourselves to Him. Accepting God's forgiveness and letting Him wash away our sins is the overriding message of this parable, not God's fashion tips.

My point is that within the context of the parable, the guests were expected to look their best. Jesus to communicate his point is relying on an assumption:

That it is considered improper for someone who goes to wedding to not wear nice wedding clothes.

Otherwise the parable doesn't work. Therefore, honoring Jesus by offering him our best is something Jesus had in mind.

You said:
As to your point about whether the Church is so other-worldly that we shouldn't own property etc. I have no problem with the Church owning property; it is rather the scale of the property she owes. We should not conform to this world. (Romans 12:2) We should not get caught up in status and other worldly disputes; then again, if the purpose of the possessions are truly to honor God, it is impossible to fault anyone for that.

  • Do you really think the Catholic Church owns property in order to conform to the world?

You said:

  • As to your point in giving Christ our very best, you're completely right, but what do I have, that can impress He who has his place on the throne in Heaven?

All I can ever do is to give him my life and hope that in some tiny way, that will honor Him.
As a song says:

"What can I give You, but a broken heart?
But if that's what You want, Lord here I am
Take my heart, do what You please."

This is my own personal opinion but I believe it is more important that my life radiates God's love and generosity to other people; thus honoring him.

Again, I don't understand why you are suggesting things are mutually exclusive when they aren't. You keep throwing out "arguments" that have nothing to do with what you're trying to prove (and which I don't disagree with). What the Church uses in its liturgy and builds doesn't require any more time on your part, nor does it detract from your radiation of God's love and generosity.

  • By all means radiate God's love and generosity as much as you are able, God love you, but if the Church started using minimalistic churches tomorrow and Dixie paper cups and plates for the Eucharist and got rid of all vestments, it would have zero effect on your ability to radiate God's love and generosity, would it not?

Even if you dressed up for Church, it would have no effect.

You said:
Thank you here for your remarks. I have lived in Sweden since I was 10 years old and haven't been taught much, or maybe I just haven't paid attention when I was told this. Hopefully, you'll notice I've attempted to change my ways.

I'd also rather like an answer to one of my previous questions, if it's not too much of a hassle.

I previous said:

From my questions, I hope that you can pick up that feeding the poor is not my main concern, although it would be a very noble act, which would surely turn many peoples eyes toward god. That is, as you stated so clearly, not what the bigger picture is about. I'd rather see that money used to spread the bread of life and the gospel to people, all around the world. This doesn't mean a short, six month project, but using the resources responsibly, and with god's guidance to our lord's bidding. Also James 2:14-17 clearly states that we must act on our faith, by catering to the physical needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Should we just choose to ignore this Bible passage?

Living your life with your eyes firmly fixed to god and the Bible may be "short-sighted", seen from a worldly perspective, but he promises to be near everyone that does his bidding and promises to aid them in every single way. I believe this is how we should live our lifes: according to god's word, not traditions.

You may be unaware that the Catholic Church is the biggest charitable organization on the planet. We feed more people than any other church. We take care of orphans. We founded the concept of a hospital and own thousands and thousands of hospitals today.

We have entire religious orders — communities of people who have dedicated their lives as singles living in poverty — to spread the Gospel to the whole world. So yes, we do that, too.

  • Could we do more? <I'm sure we could, we always could do more.>

You said:
I am more concerned about spreading the Gospel than food, although it is very important to tend to the needs of our siblings in Christ, as well as those who have not yet given their lives to Him. Since Jesus sacrificed his life for us when we were still sinners, we should also sacrifice some of what we have to our neighbors, whether they are Christians or not. My point is not to feed the poor with what the Church receives or that it is wrong for the Church to receive money but that the Church should invest more money in spreading the Gospel and acting out Christ's love.

I agree that although a large part of the world's population has access to a church, there is a large population that has yet to even hear the Gospel, due to prejudices against the Christian faith e.g. Muslims in the Middle East are highly unlikely to ever enter a Church even if one was built right around the corner from them.

You also have a point in honoring God by showing that there is something special about certain aspects of your life. I hope I can learn from this.

Many Thanks,

Robin

Thanks!

Eric

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