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Religion, Poverty and Wealth

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1 Religion, Poverty and Wealth
What do Christians teach about the poor? What do Christians teach about money? What do Christians teach about charity? What do Christians teach about moral and immoral occupations?

2 Religion, Poverty and Wealth
This module covers 5 main areas: For each topic you will need to know a range of Christian views as well as your own viewpoint Causes of poverty Treatment of the Poor Teaching on Money Charities Immoral Occupations Fist we need to know what Christian denominations we are discussing

3 The Christian Denominations
Christian do NOT all believe the same thing and are divided into different groups depending on faith and establishment The Roman Catholic Church This denomination is a traditional group of Christians who believe in Natural Law: doing what God intended in a natural way. Up until the C16th Catholics were the dominant group of Christians in Europe. Catholics are controlled by the Pope in Rome Protestant Churches These are the Christian groups that developed after Martin Luther’s debate in 1517. These are modern Christians who have re-interpreted the Bible and have a different view to the Roman Catholics. These Christians are NOT controlled by the Pope.

4 The Developed World The Developing World

5 The Developed World These are countries, like Western Europe, USA and Australia 25% of the world’s population lives in the rich, developed world. These countries, however, consume 80% of the world’s resources – energy, food etc

6 The Developing World These are countries such as India, Africa and South America These countries contain 75% of the world’s population, but live off just 20% of the world’s resources

7 What do they have in common?
1. High level of malnutrition. This comes from not having enough food or enough of the right sort of food 2. A largely illiterate population. There is a direct link between poverty and illiteracy. It is almost impossible for illiterate people to find their way out of poverty What do they have in common? 3. The lack of clean drinking water. 25million people die each year due to water borne diseases. 30% world population do not have adequate sanitation 5. Most people work in agriculture (3/4). People grow what they need to survive and no more, not enough to trade effectively 4. Poor Medical Services. Inadequate food and lack of clean water bring about many major health problems that cannot be dealt with properly

8 The Bible and the Poor The theme of uneven distribution of wealth is common in both the Old and New Testaments. People believed that everything in the world was provided by God – for everyone to enjoy. The failure to ensure that everyone partook of this wealth is put down to selfishness and corruption. The Prophets of the OT were upset about the massive gap between the rich and poor of ancient Israel. The strongest message came from Amos in 700 BCE – he attacked the unwillingness of the rich to use their wealth to feed the poor. His argument was based on the fact that God would not care for those who did not care for others – you were of no use to God if you did not care for your fellow human beings.

9 Jesus and Poverty “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who hunger now, for you will be satisfied” Luke 6:20-21 Jesus taught this message to his disciples. He told rich people that their wealth stood between them and God. Only those who shared their wealth with others could gain entry to the Kingdom of God. (Matt 25:31-46)

10 Jesus and Poverty In order to make his point JC told two parables that illustrated his thoughts: The Parable of the Bigger Barns (Luke 12:13-21) The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) This story shows that the value of a person’s life has little to do with their wealth. One year, the ground of a farmer was very fertile and yielded a bumper crop. This overwhelmed the farmer as he had nowhere to store the extra grain. He decided to build new barns so the grain could be his security for the future. JC pointed out that God demands more of those who have more than their fair share of resources. “You fool! This night your life will demanded of you. The who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” JC told this story to show that it is the poor and not the rich who will enter God’s Kingdom. There was a man dressed in purple who lived a life of luxury and a poor man, Lazarus, covered in sores who lay outside the rich man’s gate. The beggar would have been grateful for the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table but he received nothing. The beggar eventually died and was carried to Heaven, the rich man was taken to the underworld. From there he envied the poor man’s place in Heaven but it was too late for him.

11 The Early Christians The early Christians sought to put JC’s teaching into practice. In the Christian community, we are told that no one claimed that their possessions were their own – they belonged to everyone to share. There were rich and poor in the community. The rich sold their land and brought the proceeds to the apostles. The money raised was given to the poor. As a result, we are told ‘there were no needy persons among them’ In today’s world, there is an immense need for food, education and shelter. This can only be met in the long term if there is a massive shift of resources from the rich to the poor. The teachings of JC suggest that his followers should set an example. “You lack only one thing. Sell everything that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me” Luke 8:22

12 Money! We seem to live in a society in which material goods are all that matter. ‘Materialism’ is the approach to life that attaches a very great importance to money and possessions. It places a very low importance on spiritual and moral values. Christians believe that materialism is contrary to the teaching of JC. They do not suggest that money does not matter – simply it is not the most important thing in life. Without money, people suffer from poverty, hunger and homelessness.

13 Money! The Bible has more to say about wealth and it’s dangers than almost any other subject. Wealth figures prominently in JC’s teaching. Here are 2 examples: The Sermon on the Mount The Widow’s Mite JC encouraged the rich to share their wealth with the poor secretly (Matt 6.1-4) If they did this, he said, God would reward them openly for their generosity. People were not to spend their lives accumulating wealth, since it is ‘treasure in heaven’ that matters (Matt ) On one occasion, JC sat down opposite the place where people made their offerings to the temple. After watching many wealthy people put in large sums, JC saw a poor widow putting in 2 small copper coins. JC told his disciples that she had put in ‘more than all the others since they had given to God out of their wealth, but she had made an offering out of her poverty’ To please God we must sacrifice.

14 Money and Wealth according to St Paul
Paul had much to say about wealth and its dangers. Writing to Timothy, a young Church leader, he said: “The love of money is the root of all evil” 1 Timothy 6.10 Notice that Paul did not trace all evil to money itself, but to the love of money. This fits in perfectly with JC’s teaching. JC suggested it is the ‘love’ of money that prevents someone from giving it to the poor. Its hold is so strong that will even prevent someone from entering the Kingdom of God. They would rather keep their money – and stay outside that kingdom. Money offers people some kind of security, whereas it is very risky for someone to put their faith in God.

15 Charities All Christians are encouraged to give money to the church to which they belong. In the OT, Jews were expected to give a tithe to God. This was 10% of their income each year. Some Christians continue this practice today. In giving money to the Church, they are not only supporting their local church, but also helping various charities. Other Christians may not give a tithe, but they do give a certain amount each week or month that they place in an envelope. This regular giving is very important because it enables their church or charity to plan its expenditure.

16 “.. If it is contributing let him give generously..” (Romans 12.8)
Giving in the NT Writing to the Romans, Paul listed many gifts that members of the church had received from God – prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging etc All of these were used in the Church to make them spiritually stronger. He then came to the gift of ‘contributing’ or ‘giving’. To those with this gift, Paul said: “.. If it is contributing let him give generously..” (Romans 12.8) In another letter, Paul says that the spirit in which we give is important: “Each man should give what has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion,, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9.7) “Now about the collection for God’s people.. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made” (1 Corinthians 16.2)

17 Charities Of course, giving money is not the only form of giving to charity. Most charities, as with most churches, rely heavily on volunteer work. Christians, and others, give their time and energy to help favourite charities in running collections, bazaars etc The variety of charities in this country alone runs close to 10’000!! Some charities have a specific Christian aim, such as Tearfund, Christian Aid, Cafod.

18 Immoral Occupations Christianity does not lay down hard and fast rules about the occupations that its members must follow. At the same time, many Christians spend their lives in caring professions, such as medicine, teaching, social work etc This gives them the opportunity to express their concern and care for others through the work they do. They also see this as an important way of expressing their Christian faith. So too do others who have gone overseas as missionaries. There are also occupations that Christians might feel unhappy about working in. They might, for instance, be uncomfortable working in a cigarette factory or in a job selling alcohol or working in connection with gambling. This would be because they know the great damage that such activities can do to many people. They might feel the same working for a company that does not pay a fair wage to its overseas employees or that treats animals badly.

19 Practice Exam Question
Religion, Poverty and Wealth: this exam question is worth 24 marks What is a moral occupation? (1) Give two examples of moral occupations (2) Describe Christian ideas about the causes of poverty (3) Explain the Christian belief about caring for the poor (6) “Poverty in the developing world is not our problem” Discuss this statement. Give different, supported viewpoints including a personal viewpoint. You must refer to Christianity (12) Remember: Part E is an ESSAY question and must be written in an essay style with PEE paragraphs in order to attain all 12 marks

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