Thursday, November 15, 2007

Some truly weird illogic

Recently, in an otherwise fairly sensible book, I encountered a piece of absurd illogic.

In the gospels, Jesus tells the rich young ruler that to have eternal life he needs to keep God's commandments. Subsequently Jesus suggests that the man give all his money to the poor and as a result the ruler "goes away sad" because he was very rich.

Now have always thought, and still think, that it's obvious that the rich young ruler didn't want to give away his money because he liked having a lot of money.

In Did Jesus Teach Salvation by Works? the author Alan Stanley uses truly weird logic to come to a very different conclusion. He observes that some Jews of the time believed wealth to be a sign of God's blessing (which is true). But during this course of his argument, this mysteriously morphs into the extremely bizarre idea that if a person gives that wealth away then he loses eternal salvation! Thus, Stanley concludes that the rich man was relying on his wealth to save him, and thus was made sad by Jesus' suggestion he share it with the poor, because it threatened his eternal salvation. Stanley's final exegesis of this story is then that Jesus called the man to stop relying on his wealth to save him and instead rely on Jesus!


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