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by Eberhard Arnold
Tuesday, Mar. 08, 2005 at 3:07 PM
Money is a means of power over people and not only a means of exchange.. The expectation of the future gives us strength in the present.. God's love is boundless and refers to public life and economic and political conditions as much as to the individual heart.
THE POWER OF MONEY
By Eberhard Arnold
[This essay is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.eberhardarnold.de/articles/de/ea/Geld.htm?format=print&pr.. Eberhard Arnold was a prominent Christian socialist in the early 1900s in Germany. Many of his essays are available at http://www.EberhardArnold.de.]
Evil is a reality and not only an idea. Death and what leads to death – what leads to destruction, separation, mistrust and fragmentation – is evil. The destructive nature of prostitution is evil. Evil does not consist simply in the absence of good, that one is outside God’s life. Evil is not only the negation of good, merely a blemish or deficit. Death is a power; mammon is a power.
Money is an embodiment of Satan; it is the personified devil. Murder and impurity are also embodied devils, powers of enormous violence (Joh 8,44). Money would not be evil if it were nothing but a means of exchange for the goods of the earth and human labor. However money is a means of power and not merely a means of exchange. That money is a means of power over people is satanic. Within a community, one doesn’t need any money. Within a real common life, money is absolutely unnecessary; it is entirely against community.
The fall of man consisted in the person appropriating what was not given him by God but by the devil. This self-appropriation of property is the root of sin. This covetous will of wanting something for oneself is the essence of evil. That is the story of the apple (although the emphasis in the Bible is not on an apple). The person disdained and rejected what was given by God, namely community with God. He scorned what God gave. He didn’t appropriate what God gave. Therefore mammon is the devil (Matt 6,24ff).
In its early moments, our community in Sannerz accepted “pocket money”. Today we know that all individual money entails the death of fraternal communism..
Jesus initiated the battle against property. He abandoned property. He gave up all privileges and all his possessions to tread the way of love and sacrifice (Matt 8,20).
Jesus was our example in that he didn’t want any property. From the manger to the cross, he was the poorest one. Don’t gather any treasure or assets but save up something else, love for your fellow human beings. Leave aside the transient assets of transitory money and instead accept the intransitory assets. Then you will be rich persons (Matt 6,19-20).
Something new is demanded of you, namely that you faithfully manage this most evil monstrosity of God-abandoned matter, money, so you do something that reflects God’s reign with this inwardly alien thing. Obviously the money should be immediately given away. When you give it away, everything depends on giving it away at the right place so you don’t throw it at some capitalists. You should give this money away so other assets are created that don’t have a financial character any more, assets that are not alien to the spirit that animates you, assets that can exist in eternity.
When a person gains insight about personal sin, an icy fright suddenly strikes him, that he could be united through Christ with the heart of the Father and Jesus’ Christ’s community. Faith begins at this point because this is such an ultimate fright and such an infallibility.
This is also true with economic things. Faith begins when we are led to the ultimate horror of these things and when we face the complete infallibility how a supernatural spirit can master these earthly things. Faith is the way that is given to us. We don’t have another way (Matt 6,24-34). This faith is trust and reliability. Thus the mystery of faith is that we approach questions of money, labor, fields, house building, office work, receipts and expenses so that the Holy Spirit does the work. Therefore it is healthful when we see our economic situation as clearly as possible so this horror and this infallibility of divine actions really seize us most deeply.
By Eberhard Arnold
[This essay is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.eberhardarnold.de/articles/de/ea/Erwartung.htm?format=pr.. Eberhard Arnold was a prominent Christian socialist in the 1900s in Germany. Many of Eberhard Arnold’s essays are available at http://www.EberhardArnold.de.]
Whoever lives in God goes forward and doesn’t lag behind. Whoever is alive and hasn’t fallen to deadly inner withering doesn’t look to the little period of his life and the great periods of Christian or general religious development to realize his longing somewhere in the past but focuses on the goal, the call of the person and what he should be and become.
Whoever puts his hand to God’s plough lives from the future. Whoever looks back and loses himself in historical ambiguity and psychic balance is not ready for God’s reign. The religious certainty of the moment is a very organic connection with all the religious high points of the past, the prophetic certainty of God’s future, because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and in eternity.
A piety that only immerses itself in the Bible to gain religio-historical or biblical insights for his own little life is weak and miserable because this is in contradiction to the omnipresent Creator God. Nevertheless there is an immersion in scripture that lifts us out of our little ego and our petty conditions to bring us to God’s heart so that we share in all living things from him and with him and believe and behold his future comprehensive reign even now.
This expectation of the coming cannot be a passive waiting of sweet and gentle occupation with oneself and the little circle of one’s like-minded compatriots. This expectation is God’s power and means becoming one with the future powers. It stands for the inner assimilation in the character of the future world. This hope of the coming represents a certainty that the future social justice, the future unity of hearts and God’s community, is now effective wherever Jesus himself is recognized. This expectation of the future gives us strength in the present.
This spirit of expectation is the spirit of deeds because it is the spirit of faith. Faith is bravery. Faith is reality. Whoever has faith even like a little grain of corn cannot think anything is impossible. Faith concentrates on the ultimate powers of life. It opens itself to God’s heart as the pulse-beat of the whole living creation and gives us the certainty that love is the mystery of life. Whoever lives in these ultimate essentials in which love lives can never exhaust his existence in psychic self-contemplation or in old habits. He shares in all events of his contemporary history, in all the movements that represent somehow the longing for the future whole and the future reign.
Whoever is seized by the experience of faith and love, by the expectation of the returning Christ, has to act. God’s love is boundless and refers just as much to the public life and economic and political conditions as to the individual heart. Whoever has this experience purifies his conscience according to the purity of the expected one. Nothing can strengthen the conscience more than this expectation because it annuls all relativity of the conscience. This expectation overcomes all frightened apprehensions in which we are forced again and again to depend on existing conditions. This expectation enables us to live with certainty from the future world. As its messengers, we must constantly dare to live here and today the unfailing unconditional character of the future reign.
The expectation of the coming one is the religious certainty that the divine must conquer over the demonic, love over hatred and the all-embracing over the scattered. Certainty doesn’t endure any restriction. God embraces everything. When we trust God for the future, we trust him for the present. When we believe God in our innermost, this faith is in effect for everything touching our lives.
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