Give unto Caesar
marymary100 - 27-3-2008 at 23:14
Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος
Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ
Is it appropriate to complain about taxes? Should one give unto Caesar? Should secular life as far as government is concerned be up for discussion if
one follows the teachings of the bible literally?
scholar - 27-3-2008 at 23:42
"Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
Romans 7 English Standard Version
1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by
God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror
to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he
is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who
carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
6For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them:
taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
marymary100 - 27-3-2008 at 23:45
So, honour the leaders of Chicago then for example?
scholar - 28-3-2008 at 03:46
I wouldn't think that would fall to me. "Honor to whom honor is owed." Does a person who doesn't live in Chicago owe honor to Chicago leaders?
At just a superficial look, I wouldn't think so. (Just as the command to honor my father and mother didn't require me to obey every father and
mother, just my own--and, more generally, to honor those who properly have authority over me.)
I think the main way one shows due respect and owed honor to the government is by obeying the laws. Yes, one is to pay the lawful taxes.
marymary100 - 28-3-2008 at 07:24
I think there's a dichotomy between being a literal interpreter of religious texts and using one's God-given intelligence though.
Some have argued that Jesus was, in fact, interfering with the due process of taxation when he called Levi away from his work as a tax collector to
follow him. This, under the law at the time, was a punishable offence and there have been arguments made that this would have been enough for a
crucifiction . So, Jesus and taxation? I wonder if his answer was deliberately ambigiuous. Much of the bible can be interpreted in more than one way,
don't you think? Literal isn't always appropriate imo.
janet - 28-3-2008 at 07:44
Actually, I think it's simpler than that.
Every individual human person is made in the image and likeness of God - according to most Christian theology.
Therefore, *every* human person deserves honour and respect.
John_Little - 28-3-2008 at 09:18
Lot of mixed metaphors in the Bible; and a lot of conflict between the old and new testaments. Old wine skins and all that.
Who's head is on your bank note? Well, in America it is probably Lincoln and its a bit late to give it to him but the point remains the same. On
the other hand, we have the parable of the three servants who were left money to look after, which suggests that Jesus approved of profit (although
that wasn't the main point of the parable)
Then, of course, we have the clincher which is rich men and needles - which I'm sure gives a lot of rich Christians the hump.
SRD - 28-3-2008 at 09:45
Ah, but rich men have found a way round that, apparently one of the ancient cities had a gate called 'the eye of the needle' which only allowed one
camel through at a time.
LSemmens - 28-3-2008 at 11:40
I tend to be rather simplistic when it comes to interpretation of scripture. If it says something is a parable, then there is a lesson to be learnt.
If it says e.g. "render unto Ceaser..." then it means what it says. In this case, pay your legal requirement to those who rightfully claim it of
you. My Bible is not against wealth at all. It does say that the love of money is the root of all evil, not the money itself. Otherwise there
would not be the command in the book of Malachi to bring the whole tithe into the stroehouse that there might be fruit in due season. In other words
there waas a command to sve some for a "rainy day".
scholar - 29-3-2008 at 00:44
When the Reformation theologians affirmed "The literal sense of a passage is one," they did so in opposition to the Quadriga that Origen and others
taught, which sought a four-fold meaning to passages:
--Literal (plain-sense meaning)
--Moral (tropologic) - moral lesson which the passage is trying to teach.
--Mystical (allegorical) - some hidden, underlying meaning, usually symbolic or figurative. Attach meanings to the symbols.
--Prophetic (analogic) - foreshadow of future events, prediction of future events.
E.g. "Jerusalem": Literal - the city of David; Moral (tropologic) - the human soul; Mystical (allegorical) - the Church; Prophetic (analogic) - the
This method results in a multitude of subjective understandings.
Instead, the Reformers used the word literal to mean the actual intended meaning of the passage. In an ordinary narrative of an event, that
would normally mean the plain, basic meaning. In the various genres of literature in the Bible, specific rules of interpretation specific and
appropriate to the genre would be used--so a parable would be interpreted as parables are interpreted, visions would be interpreted as visions are
interpreted, etc.--but, in every case, one would examine the Scripture itself to understand the intended meaning.
Students of Scripture sometimes come to different conclusions, the same as math students may work the same
problem and come to different answers. But the question is, "Which one is right?" Just because different people get different
answers, doesn't mean that there is more than one right answer. I would suggest that literal in the sense of "the intended
meaning" is always to be sought.
2 Peter 1:19-21 (English Standard Version)
19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day
dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.
21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
This is one of the key passages for Scripture's own claims. It says that the Scriptures come from God's own Spirit (not produced by the will of
man) and their meaning is not one's own interpretation.
So, the task is to study and accurately draw out the meaning God intended.
I would distinguish this from application. Applications for one passage can be many. The Scripture can address the specifics of the lives of tens of
thousands of people in tens of thousands of ways. "Honor your father and mother" will include different specific acts of obedience in different
homes, for example. But, each application must depend on first understanding the passage as God meant it, before matching it to circumstances in
marymary100 - 29-3-2008 at 01:02
The rational mind looks at facts and tries to draw conclusions. The religious mind looks at conclusions (beliefs) and tries to make facts support
scholar - 29-3-2008 at 01:33
The faithful Scriptural theologian is also rational. He studies the Scriptures (the content of which is true). He draws his conclusions from those
truths and conforms his beliefs to those truths.
marymary100 - 29-3-2008 at 09:39
"the contents of which is true" - an assumption.
I don't feel that we have to buy into the whole bible as "true" in order to believe in God or be a Christian. The bible is full of metaphor and
The words of Christ may well have been deliberately ambiguous on this occasion. They are certainly not clear cut as many people are still arguing over
what they meant. The Son of God would have been more than capable of giving transparent instruction if that had been his intention.
Any believer who claims that it's all or nothing is likely to turn people away from their faith, whatever that faith.
janet - 29-3-2008 at 11:49
I disagree - mainly because you're making a dichtomy here that means that the religious mind can not be rational - a conclusion I have to say I find
If I had said that atheists or agnostics were irrational (or any of the other things that have been said here recently of religious believers), I
would quite rightly have been reported and told off.
I realise that there are some people whose religious views annoy others.
I do get tired, though, of being told I'm irrational, insane, etc.
LSemmens - 29-3-2008 at 12:34
We could argue until we were blue in the face about the interpretations of scripture, especially any of the english translations. My feeling is that,
in the original language in which it was written, and in the context of that time, it was, as it was written with no "hidden meanings". We write
responses here and, in the future, some analysts may try and determine the "hidden meaning" in our discussions, rather than take the responses as
written. Too often we try to "spiritualise" the Word of God when all we should be doing is asking "what does it have to say to me today?"
One person may get a completely different meaning out of a particular text. If, in the context of the text around it, and in the context of their
understanding, it is right, who are we to argue?
marymary100 - 29-3-2008 at 13:24
As I said, I get tired of being told it's all or nothing. Those are the people I find annoying.
SRD - 29-3-2008 at 13:30
So it was only meant to be relevant to the time in which it was written? So why is it still
being used today?
Is this not 'spiritualising' the message, making it applicable to each reader
according to their requirements?
Because there are definitives, black is black and white
janet - 29-3-2008 at 13:44
There, I would agree with you.
What I don't agree with is that I must, per forza, be irrational because I am religious.
scholar - 29-3-2008 at 16:09
Jesus affirms the Scriptures to be true when He
declares, as part of a prayer, "Your Word is truth." The expression "Your Word" (in address to the LORD) was a familiar expression for the
Scriptures, already in use for hundreds of years, as found e.g. in Psalm 119. Jesus also says, "The Scripture cannot be broken." When He disputed
with His religious opponents, His argument sometimes completely depended on a single word.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV "from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith
in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." --another passage claiming the Scriptures to be from God Himself
So, if I were to agree with the word assumption for the assertion that the contents of Scripture is true, it would be with the
qualification/explanation that it is an assumption which the Scriptures themselves affirm. But, strictly speaking, it is an assumption in the sense
it is unproven. Yet, it is not an assumption from outside, it is an assumption found woven into the Scriptures themselves.
I'd like to point out that, as Janet has said in another thread, the Roman Catholic doctrine agrees that the entire Scriptures are true.
janet - 29-3-2008 at 16:18
It does - but it's a LOT more nuanced than that.
THE CCC start at 107 and *continue to read*.
It's not simplistic or simple.
scholar - 29-3-2008 at 16:32
And even the document which Janet references is a very concise treatment. Whole books are written on the subject of Biblical exegesis and Biblical
hermeneutics from a Roman Catholic perspective. The same is true from a few different Protestant perspectives.
I wish only to make the point that Roman Catholic teaching and inspired-inerrancy Protestants agree it is all in some sense true, in distinction to
any view that would support the idea of effectively editing out some of the Scriptures as false.
marymary100 - 29-3-2008 at 17:58
The trouble, as far as I'm concerned, is that there are some passages that are at odds with others or have been proven to be inaccurate as new
knowledge becomes available.
janet - 29-3-2008 at 17:59
Nodding - which is why I posted the link to the rest of what the CCC says.
The RCC is pretty clear that the bible is *not* a scientific text.
scholar - 29-3-2008 at 18:10
The CCC says "all":
107 The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the
Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our
salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."72 [Scholar adds: 72 is DV 11]
janet - 29-3-2008 at 18:15
How many times do I need to say that one can NOT prooftext with RC doctrine?
The rest of that chapter needs to be read in context.
scholar - 29-3-2008 at 18:22
True, it needs to be understood in agreement with context.
And, in context, all Scripture is characterized as true, when understood according to the intended meaning.
janet - 29-3-2008 at 18:24
I'd suggest we leave RC teaching to the official documents, scholar.
scholar - 29-3-2008 at 19:17
Marymary, I'd like to reframe that in another way. As a mental exercise, see if you can empathize as to how this could be appealing, rather than
I propose comparing the "it's-all-true" proposition to the "essential-parts-are-true" proposition to buying a car.
The "it's-all-true" proposition would be like the Rolls Royce or Mercedes Benz salesman who would offer a car saying, "Our quality control is
100%. Everything on the car works as it is designed to work. Everything--and I mean every single thing--has been checked and double-checked and
checked again--not only visually inspected, but demonstrated to work. Parts that you will never see work. Parts of automotive design that you don't
personally know, work. If you don't smoke, you may never care that the lighters work--but they do. You may never ride in the back seat--but isn't
it good to know that it is perfect? You may never drive at 120 mph, but the engine is fully capable of doing so. It's not only trustworthy in the
essentials, you can depend on it in all respects." Wouldn't it be some comfort to own such a car?
"And here is an American Chrysler. Chrysler has made some good cars, but their quality control has sometimes been uneven. This is a good car. It
has been test-driven (it will run). Because of the quality control problems, I can't guarantee anything specifically will work (the electric
windows, the windscreen washers, the cup holders, the seat adjustments, the sun visor--good luck with all those)."
Would you say that the proposition that everything is reliable is off-putting, or comforting? Would you prefer the car that is presented with lower
scholar - 29-3-2008 at 19:21
Many people find comfort in the concept that the Scriptures, understood according to their intended meaning, are 100% reliable. They understand Jesus
to basically be saying, "Trust Me, and trust My Word." (a summary, not an actual quote). And, doesn't that seem more cohesive, more in accord
with what you'd expect from the Lord, than to believe His teaching is, "Trust Me. But, My Scriptures? Sorry, I somehow goofed--they don't really
say what I meant them to say. And disregard all the times I said or acted as if they were true."
And I don't know any Christian denomination that teaches, "If you won't believe the whole Bible is true, we don't want you to be a Christian. Go
to hell, and good riddance." Mine would say, "If you don't trust parts of the Bible, you are missing some good things the Lord would like you to
trust and benefit from."
marymary100 - 29-3-2008 at 19:54
Nope. Your re-framing isn't working for me. In fact, it's coming across as unconvincing. Try again. Or not.
scholar - 29-3-2008 at 20:23
Mary, I was thinking of it more as a mental exercise for you, for you to see if you could put yourself in the place of a person who is attracted by
and enjoys the assurance of something 100% reliable.
I'm a little surprised it doesn't work for you. How many people are attracted by ads that say, "Try our product. It isn't always reliable"? "Eat at our restaurant. Most of our food will not make you sick." "Vote for our party. You'll agree with some of our views--others, you won't
like at all."
marymary100 - 29-3-2008 at 22:36
I don't need your mental exercises scholar, thanks all the same.