Illogical illustration of “the rich man and the poor man Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31)

by venus 37 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • venus

    Illustration of the rich man and the poor man Lazarus indirectly hints that the materially rich would go to hell and the poor ones to heaven. If one reads between the lines, one can discern that this illustration is a later adoption intended to exploit the rich using the poor as a means.

    I have friends who are extremely rich (net-worth in billions) and also who are materially very poor, and have found both are living in hell because of their attitude. The excess the rich have prevents them from enjoying it (and even the affluent find a huge gap between income and desires, hence find themselves often in conflict and competition) and whereas the deprived compare themselves with the haves which prevents them also from enjoying their lives.

    Jesus would not provide an illustration that undermines his own most favored statement: “Happy are those poor in spirit because Kingdom of heavens belongs to them” (Mathew 5:3) and his own explanation that heaven is the condition of one’s heart (Luke 17:21) Obviously he had in mind those who do not have the baggage of attachment and sense of possession, those few people of simplicity that belong to both the categories—the rich and the poor. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, a stage where every possession serves a purpose living a life that is deliberate and intentional (not one that someone else has scripted for them) and wanting to feel more complete (not more objects of the world), at ease. The simplicity arises when one understands the impermanent aspects of life and seeks the knowledge of the permanent aspects of life. Then the void one occasionally experiences would be found as an imaginary emptiness brought about by not seeing one’s own fullness.

  • Vanderhoven7

    Right, the story does not make sense...but then again, it's not supposed to.

    Jesus distinguished himself as Master Satirist by His astonishing account of, “The Rich Man and Lazarus”. BTW "Lazarus" means "God is your help" .... Satire can be defined as “biting wit, irony or sarcasm used to expose vice or folly...”.And good satire never fails to inspire “laughter,contempt, or horror as it seeks to correct the follies and abuses it uncovers”.

    Satire is serious business. It is most effectively employed when reason is not welcome. Satire embraces irony, parody, condemnation and even ridicule. Because it is often biting, it should be used carefully; perhaps as a last resort. Satire entertains the ridiculous as a possibility to highlight the incongruities of immoral or irrational positions. Satire however, is slippery footing for doctrine.

    THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS is a classic "reversal of fortune" story. Before death, the rich man was well off while Lazarus was in physical torments. But after death, it's Lazarus who is well off and the rich man is experiencing torment. Before death, Lazarus was begging crumbs from the rich man; now the rich man is begging droplets of relief from Lazarus.

    THE KEY QUESTION: Why were their fortunes reversed? In other words, why did Lazarus end up in Abrahamic bliss and the rich man in torments?

    What reason does the text give for the reversal in their fortunes? Let's examine verse 25, the punch line of this parody. You will recall that the rich man had just made a desperate plea for Lazarus to "lift a finger" to help relieve his misery. Jesus has a somewhat dispassionate Abraham respond to this appeal by dispensing some rather outrageous logic that completely ignores the moral dimension of either man's life.

    25. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy life

    time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil

    things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

    Abraham paternalistically justifies the rich man's intolerable situation by reminding him of a simple rule of parity. To paraphrase here, Abraham says, "Don't you remember Son; it's those who experience bad things in this life that can expect good things in the next...". Now where in the world did such logic originate? Actually, the logic, originated with the Pharisees themselves. Jesus was merely having Abraham parrot back to the rich man, the Pharisee's own unhelpful counsel to the poor and tormented. Visualize for a moment, a Pharisee giving the following advice to a destitute widow who has just approached him for assistance.

    Daughter, remember God punishes to the 3rd and 4th generation;

    Your present suffering is obviously His judgment. We would really

    like to help, but, as you know, it is God who has fixed this wide

    gulf of disparity between us - so that those who would traverse

    that gulf and ease your torment, even a little, only find themselves

    contravening His judgment. God is your help my daughter! If we

    help to alleviate your torment now, you will only experience much

    worse later. But if you faithfully bear His judgment for your sins

    and those of your fathers, and endure bad things in this life, you

    will surely enjoy the comforts of Abraham's Bosom in the hereafter.

    When we examine Luke 16:19-31 in the light of history, we note a rather suspicious resemblance between Jesus’ story of, The Rich Man and Lazarus, and the traditional teachings of the Pharisees. But Jesus was not setting out to confirm Pharisaic beliefs about the afterlife. True, he told their story; the same story they had told a thousand times before, but with one important difference; a rather ironic twist you might say, that sees the Rich Man waking up in torment in Hades and being denied the slightest assistance by application of the same logic whereby he had regularly denied the poor and destitute. It would not take much imagination to visualize the headlines in the Jerusalem Gazette the morning after Jesus told His version of their story, humorously conveying how the Lord had turned the tables on the Pharisees in the afterlife.

  • 2+2=5
    I have friends who are extremely rich (net-worth in billions)

    I assume you are talking Indian Rupees.

    I don't believe for a second that you know numerous people who are worth thousands of millions of American dollars... I just find that a real stretch.

  • waton

    Vanderhoven7: your accent - free explanation reminds me of a story we learned in the 1930s, about a man in Holland named "Mr. Kannitverstan"

    The writers of that Lazarus bible story introduced the concept of survival after death, almost transmigration of the soul as punishment into the bag of Jesus doctrines. one doctrine too far.--- fetched imo.

  • venus


    I work in a publishing co that puts me in regular contact with the richest, some of whom fall in the category I mentioned in the OP (in which currency matters not)

  • venus


    Yes, the illustration does benefit the religious leaders (not the average readers)

  • Vanderhoven7

    The preceding story sets the stage for the Lazarus account. The Dishonest Steward is also satire spoken against the Pharisees. Imagine a Landlord (God) commending a steward (religious leaders) for shortchanging him and suggesting others do the same to ensure heavenly reward.

  • venus


    Yes, blessed are those who discern what Jesus said from what Jesus supposedly said (which are creation of religious establishment)

  • WTWizard

    Any more explanation needed that the LIE-ble is a book of witchcraft and curses against the people? This is a blatant poverty working--anything where people are told that it would be easier for a full-sized camel to get through the eye of a standard sewing needle than for a rich person to achieve salvation or instructing people to sell all their stuff and give to the poor is blatant poverty working. And this lasts forever--even in future lifetimes. Is it any wonder why people are born poor?

  • venus


    You summed it nicely

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