Home » Reflecttion » Philsophy » A 2012 Look at the story of The Rich Young Ruler

A 2012 Look at the story of The Rich Young Ruler

A key insight one discovers when exploring the gap between science and religion is the role of “anomalies,” which are inconsistencies or contradictions between something we observe (including reading) and the model or models we develop as a result.

We encounter these anomalies in almost all human endeavor, including science, religious beliefs, and politics.

The story below from the Christian New Testament book of Matthew 19: 13-22 highlights a stark anomaly being played out on the American political stage.

This is a 2012 rendition of “The Rich Young Ruler.” The bold characters identify where the story has been updated to connect it the context in which Americans find themselves.

The Rich Young Ruler

16Just then presidential candidate Mitt Romney came up and asked Jesus,(M) “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?”(N)

17 “Why do you ask Me about what is good?”[f] Jesus said to Mitt. “There is only One who is good.[g] If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”(O)

18 “Which ones?” Mitt asked Him. Jesus answered:

Do not murder;
do not commit adultery;
do not steal;
do not bear false witness;(P)
19 honor your father and your mother;
and love your neighbor as yourself.(Q)[h]

20 “I have kept all these,”[i] Mitt told Him. “What do I still lack?”

21 “If you want to be perfect,”[j] Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor,(R) and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

22 When Mitt heard that command, Mitt stated his political position by saying, “I’m not concerned about the very poor—we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. (See http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72297.html and or Google “Mitt Romney “I’m not concerned”)

And he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

By replacing the “rich young ruler” with a living a 21st century politician we can examine and compare two contexts. It is here that we find the anomalies between the two contexts. The first context is the spiritual and values context of scripture, and second is the economic / political context in which American voters find themselves.

Placing these two contexts together quickly highlights a host of contradictions related to how we define (aka model) God, Jesus, religion, and living a life according to principles and the values as taught by Jesus himself.

After this story, Jesus teaches his disciples the meaning of the conversation between himself and the rich young ruler. Here is the wisdom that Jesus shares, which is Matthew 23-26.

Possessions and the Kingdom

23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “I assure you: It will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven!(S) 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”(T)

25 When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, “Then who can be saved?”

26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”(U)

To read the original from the “Holman Christian Standard Bible” following this link: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2019:16-26&version=HCSB

It is interesting to consider Mitt Romney’s statements about his priorities related to the rich and the poor, given God’s wisdom as spoken by Jesus.

Like I stated in the opening, a key insight one discovers when exploring the gap between science and religion is the role of “anomalies.” Discussions and dialogs about those anomalies provide those seeking to discover truth opportunities to examine what anomalies that each of us carries around within us.

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2 thoughts on “A 2012 Look at the story of The Rich Young Ruler

  1. The comment above provides us with an excellent opportunity to further explore what role anomalies play in our human quest to understand the universe around us.

    Each of us has a set of interconnected models that make up our personal worldview. These include things like God, morality, the Bible, Jesus, politics, values, and so on.

    An anomaly arises when information that contradicts our personal models breaks through our built-in psychological filters, which are a result of these interlocking models.

    To reduce the discomfort we feel when this happens, we take one of two actions: 1) ignore or discount the information contained in the observation or 2) update our personal model or models. Chapter 2 of Exploring the Gap between Science and Religion documents this more detail.
    I submit that we see this dynamic being expressed in the comment: “The same thing could be said of all the politicians in the USA.”

    From the filters created by my worldview, I pick up on the differences in politicians, and what they advocate for the country. When Mitt Romney’s comments are put into the context of Jesus’ teaching it breaks through the worldview filters. It exposes underlying contradictions being played out in this 2012 election year.

    It is a great example of an anomaly, and it opens ground for much more dialog.

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