Christianity, the Religion with No Benefits

You may have seen the article in the New York Times entitled “Christian Leaders Denounce Trump’s Plan to Favor Christian Refugees.” If not, and if you are not already struggling with suicidal depression, you can read it here.  This article reminds us, once again, that Christianity is the religion with no benefits.  Members pay dues, of course, but the table they spread is open to everyone.

I find my very own bishop, Joe S. Vásquez, Chairman of the Committee on Migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, smugly announcing that “we believe in assisting all, regardless of their religious beliefs.”  With this approach, he may very soon discover that there is no longer a “we” who share the religious beliefs of Bishop Joe Vásquez, whatever those might be, and therefore no one to help him offer assistance.  It will be Lonely Joe, down at the boarder, passing out sandwiches.

If one insists that religious belief makes no difference in this world, it leaves listeners scratching their heads when you turn around and say religious belief makes a great difference in the next.  I am not arguing for hard-hearted indifference to non-Christians, but:

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 Timothy 5:8).*

If these preening humanitarians would read up on the history of their own (alleged) faith (discriminatory as that would be), they would discover that it prospered when membership had its benefits.  Rodney Stark’s Rise of Christianity is a good place to begin.  When Christianity was, you know, rising, and not, as today, collapsing, Christians understood that “brothers and sisters” meant brothers and sisters in Christ.  They understood that they were to look after “their own household” first.  Not exclusively, but most decidedly first!

*h.t. here

24 thoughts on “Christianity, the Religion with No Benefits

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  4. I remember Bishop Vasquez from when he was an auxiliary bishop here in Houston, and he was a very nice man, willing even to come join a group of us for a monthly lunch at Americas on Post Oak and to make a presentation to the group from time to time. Unfortunately, one of those presentations was on Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, during which talk the bishop as much as denied the historicity of Saint Matthew’s account of the Passion, if memory serves he could not wrap his head around the “his blood be upon us and our children” part, a difficult one to be sure. With that, he lost all Episcopal authority, at least in the moral sense, for me. Still a nice man, though.

    • This matches my limited impression, based on confirmation ceremonies. His homily was competent, but left an impression that he was in a hurry to get back to the office.

  5. “Concerning himself intensely with his neighbour’s condition allows the Christian to dissimulate to himself his doubts about the divinity of Christ and the existence of God. Charity can be the most subtle form of apostasy.”

    Nicolás Gómez Dávila.

  6. They should have a version of ‘the talk’ for all clergy. It would be something along the lines of, make sure your parishioners breed. And no, God is not going to be happy if you substitute the flock you were responsible for with immigrants.

    Papa Francis makes everything worse. Nobody learns, except for some of the lonely priests at closing parishes.

    • So long as they understand that the neah part of neighbor means “near” (the word is related to “nigh”). Your neighbor dwells (gebur) near you. Personally, I’d say one meaning in the Golden Rule is that it’s easy to “love” people who are far away.

      • Neighbor is defined by Christ in the parable of the Good Samaritan and it does not mean those who worship as you do. That is, Jews and Samaritans worshiped differently.

      • That is correct. But a neighbor is someone near at hand, in one’s vicinity. It is defined by proximity, not confession. But it does not mean every member of the human species and it does not imply humanitarianism.

      • It would not be a license to hate distant peoples gratuitously, or simply because they were distant or different. I do think it implies that responsibility diminishes with distance, and I do not think it is a command to love every human on the planet equally. In short, I think Christ used the word neighbor deliberately.

      • In practice, one can’t – ontologically cannot – love anyone who is not in some sense nigh. Who loves all mankind loves no one in particular. Who loves one man in particular ipso facto loves the humanity in him. In practice, the only way to love all mankind then – to love man as such – is to love some particular men, by intending one’s concrete acts toward their true good. And to love one man in particular, one must take into account his particular circumstances, which are unique to him, *and which therefore exclude others who do not share them from participation in one’s particular love toward him.*

        Love is ineluctably exclusive.

        Only one of the criminals who died on Calvary got into Paradise (so far as we have yet for our own correction been given to know).

        Notwithstanding all that, everyone is to each of us somehow or other nigh, and we ought to love each of them duly – i.e., in proper proportion to their circumstances in relation to us, and to the rest of the world. In no sense, then, does the Second Great Commandment relieve us of the chore of discriminating who properly ought to benefit from what sort of love from us, and how much.

        Finally, love often involves correction, even unto death. If we find that duty – which is to say, justice, the love of what is right under Heaven, mutatis mutandis, and which therefore is best for man, and men – calls for us to make war upon some others, we ought to make that war lovingly. Such is chivalry. We may justly kill, and injure; but we may not kill or injure unjustly.

      • Kristor: very well said, sir. You have benefited us all with that explanation.

        Winston: As I’ve pointed out numerous times before, one of the biggest complaints against Christianity (ironically from ‘Christians’ themselves at times) is its exclusivity. But if Christianity weren’t exclusivistic it wouldn’t be Christianity at all, but rather some sort of universalist ‘unitarian’ mumbo jumbo religion that includes everyone and no one at the same time.


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