“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies (just) because they become fashions.”- G.K. Chesterton
Soon after he became the Bishop of Rome, and the global leader of the Roman branch of catholic Christianity, the Vatican created a Twitter feed for Pope Francis. It’s not clear whether Pope Francis sends out his own Tweets, has a secretary do that for him, or whether he employs a ghost writer, as so many mega-church pastors are prone to do. However, it seems clear that these brief missives do, in fact, represent messages approved by this very modern, Franciscan-trained Pope.
On April 28th 2014, Pope Francis [@Pontifex] Tweeted; “Inequality is the root of social evil.” Unfortunately, this statement buys into the confusion of modernist sensibilities, rather than the stable Truth of a Biblical worldview! Simply put, the popular Socialist claim that “inequality” is the root of all of societal evil is precisely the same as when an adolescent complains; “It’s not fair!!”
As recorded in the third chapter of Genesis, the Father of Lies appealed to this same childish emotion of ours, in convincing our ancestors that it wasn’t fair for God to forbid eating of the tree in the middle of the Garden; “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 2:15-17, Gen. 3:1-13) The root of the problem was not “inequality,” but rather it was the coveting of something which was not ours.
Pope Francis’ Tweet fits the fashion of our globally neo-Communist pop-culture but, sadly, it ignores what Scripture teaches; Truth does not change.
…Perhaps his Holiness needs a new ghost writer….?!? ;))
Fair vs. Appropriate (Hogen [הוגן]) = Man vs. God
An ancient truism of learning tells us that “precept builds upon precept.” Language is important because it creates a basis of how and which foundational precepts can be conveyed. Our 1st language, the language which we are raised within, creates the basis from which we relate to the world; it tends to open our eyes to certain ideas, while minimizing the value of others. The Creator of the Universe could have chosen to reveal Himself via any language on the planet. So, His choice of Hebrew appears intentional… and the conceptual foundations created by Hebrew are likely to be equally intentional.
Once we realise that our Creator chooses to reveal himself in Hebrew thought patterns, it begins to seem rather important that Hebrew completely lacks any word for “fair.” Although the Hebrew word “Hogen” [הוגן] is sometimes mistranslated as “Fair”, in proper context, it actually means something more akin to “appropriate” or “upright.”
Upright and Appropriate are profoundly different from Fair!
This is why Rabbi Daniel Lapin explains…
“In Israel you might hear a youngster protesting to his mother in Hebrew, Zeh Loh Fair. The first two words mean “This is not…” The third word means exactly what it says in English—fair. The juvenile is saying that his mother is unfair. You see, there is no word in Hebrew for the concept of fair. He had no choice other than using the English. This is because “fair” is a false concept with no reality…. For millennia, Hebrew has had an unbroken history of effectively conveying both verbal and written information. Its power lies not only in what you can communicate in Hebrew but also in what you can’t.”
Since “fair” is so impressively absent in the primary language God chose for Revelation, it is reasonable to infer that “fair” is not a God-given precept…
The concept of “fair” is a man-made construct which is entirely absent from the Old Testament, and it fares even more poorly when the idea is briefly mentioned in the New Testament….
In Matthew 20:1–16, the workers complain that those who began work late should receive less pay than those who began work early. [I can almost hear their cries of; “It’s not fair!”] However, the answer from the vineyard owner (representing God) is that He paid each what was previously agreed to, and had the right to do as He wished with his own money. In fact, He rightly accused them of envy! God’s measure of justice is not “fair”…. but it is “hogen” [הוגן]; appropriate / just.
The genuine Root of Evil = Covetousness
In further opposition to popular Socialist sentiment, the principle of God-given private property is founded in Scripture! This is why historic Christianity and Judaism have always supported “ownership” of private property as an approved value. The teaching of the First Fruits (aka. the Tithe) recognizes that nothing we “own” is truly ours, but rather it is all given to us by the hand of God. Although we are merely stewards (rather than true “owners”) and we will be judged regarding how we use what God has provided, what we each have is ours to dispose of… either until He comes again or until we go to meet Him. There is nothing in Scripture which supports man forcibly taking from one and giving to another. That is God’s purview… not ours! [REMINDER: When the early Christians lived with all goods in common, it was voluntary… not compulsory!]
On the contrary, we are told repeatedly throughout Scripture that evil is rooted in coveting that which is not ours; Coveting the Forbidden Fruit (Gen.3:6), Coveting a Birthright (Gen.25:31), Coveting fields and houses (Micah 2:2), Coveting the works and labor of others (Nehemiah 5:1-11), Coveting another man’s wife (2 Samuel 11 ), and on and on…
Covetousness is so important that our Lord broadly forbade some of the most common and egregious instances: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)
When the Holy Spirit inspired St.Paul’s guidance to the young bishop Timothy, he bluntly stated that “love of money is the root of all evils”. (1 Timothy 6:10) Love of Money… Lusting after Money… Coveting Money…
Evil is evil… “social” or otherwise. The Tweet that “Inequality is the root of social evil” contains a very subtle lie; the almost-hidden implication says that the true Sin is in allowing Inequality… When, in truth, the True Sin is in nurturing the un-Godly response of a covetous Heart!
Demands for wage mandates, for others with more money to be compelled to “pay their fair share”, for income equality, for universal health mandates, and for various other sorts of “redistribution of wealth,” are all manifestations of covetousness… of envy… of lusting after that which belongs to our neighbor. Inequality is not the root of evil… Covetousness is!
This illustrates the unpleasant reality that terms such as “social justice” only serve to hide covetousness under a mantle of seemingly good intentions and, in truth, are nothing more than euphemisms for neo-Communism. Dangerously, Communism (neo or otherwise) is founded in man’s efforts to replace God, and unabashedly exalting himself (via the government) as a false god, above the only true God…. This is evidenced by identifying man (the government) our provider, rather than God as our provider… This usurps the name of God as Provider (Genesis 22:8) and violates the very first commandment that our creator gave us: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
As Jesus observes in Scripture (Matthew 26:11), inequality will continue until Christ returns. It is true that Godly stewards of the goods on this earth can (and should) serve Christ by ministering His provision, from their abundance. However that does not mean that sanctioned theft is Godly… Nor does it mean that Inequality creates Evil. The root of ALL evil (1 Timothy 6:10), is the state of our hearts in responding to inequality… “You shall not covet… anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)
In responding to inequality with covetousness draped in the trappings of “social justice”, we are simply lusting after that which is not ours. This is Sin; IF we, as disciples and minister’s of Christ’s gospel, falsely baptize these upside-down, un-Godly ideas and mis-identify the root of sin, we become the very deceivers described in Isaiah 5:20-21.
Inequality is an unpleasant reality. IF we get our eyes off of Christ and adopt the world’s values, that reality makes it easy to be dissatisfied. So, instead of complaining that the world should be “fair” and demanding equality, let us call the world to shun the trendy excuses for covetousness…. Rather than advocating false “solutions” based upon envy, let us encourage one another to trust to the Lord’s provision rather than man’s, and let’s be voluntarily generous stewards of what our Lord has given to each of us….
Government-compelled equality and government-compelled sharing misses the point; all things truly come from Him who Circumcises the heart (Romans 2:29) and His provision is a foreshadowed promise of His gift of Life. (John 3:16) As stewards of our Lord’s goods, when we voluntarily choose to share what we have, the light of God as Provider… the light of our Christ… shines for all the world to see.
‘Offered for your prayerful consideration….
Shalom, Christ’s peace!! — Michael+, MSJ