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One night in December 2003, an 8-year-old girl named Yuri was abducted, raped, and brutally murdered in the remote Quechuan village of La Union, Peru. The next morning, her 11-year-old brother found her nearly naked body dumped on the main thoroughfare ...

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Paul Schryba

February 16, 2014  6:38am

cont. by intentionally following God's plan- having a common purse, or considering as Acts 4: 32- they were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed their possessions were their own.

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Paul Schryba

February 16, 2014  6:31am

@Audrey Ruth: As revealed in the Bible in Genesis; God's plan for man was revealed in the Garden of Eden. There was no 'buying and selling' in the garden of Eden. There was no 'private property' (nor government and government 'ownership'-I do not make mention of that, because you already have stated your opposition to same) in the garden. Private property and buying and selling came after the fall. The law was given (and codifying of 'private property') for man's salvation after the fall. Through Jesus life death and resurrection, mankind was restored. The Bible tells us we are to be in the world, not of the world. The Bible tells us we are ALL family- brothers and sisters in Christ. To be restored, means that while we live in the world which has 'private property', buying and selling- we are to act according to God's motivation- that all 'property' is gift from God that we have no right to as 'ours'. Many Christians have decided to follow Jesus community and that of Acts cont.

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Paul Schryba

February 16, 2014  6:17am

@Audrey Ruth: Yes, Audrey Ruth- Christian businessmen when sustained by grace do not seek material gain-profit, first. They seek to glorify God through their work, to share their talents in love and service. This is contrary to 'free market capitalism', the economic system in which we live. The motive of that system, according to your own words, is 'profit'. The primary motive for General Motors and most 'private' businesses in the secular world, is maximizing material gain. "You cannot serve God and money/mammon." "Love of money is the root of evil." That is contrary to the Bible. The reason why we're 'losing the war on poverty', is that people as a whole place material gain first; that 'business' as commonly accepted by society is about 'maximizing material gain'. When 'business' turns to love and service; when 'business' turns to understanding that creation not only is to provide for material wealth, but is God's gift that sustains our biological life, will poverty end.

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audrey ruth

February 16, 2014  4:03am

Tim, I've also enjoyed reading your comments. :) And I agree with you on this: "I just believe that we must be radically honest and truthful about every issue, and if we are simply honest and plain speaking, some truth by default may come." Well said.

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audrey ruth

February 16, 2014  4:03am

Paul, I didn't ignore the phrase "intentional communities" - I just don't know enough about them to comment on them. I figured your mention of them was perhaps in correlation to the Acts 4 passage we've discussed so many times before, so focused on that. I can't see how General Motors pertains to this discussion, since it has never been presented as a Christian company. Even Christian-owned businesses which promote Christian values aren't like communities. I'm sure Paul's tent business and Tabitha's cloth business and Luke's medical business were run in accordance with their beliefs, and I would think they had to make some profit to survive, so I don't see how that can be considered evil. My dad worked for others for about 20 years, then started a small business, and even though he was not a Christian until late in life (by which time he no longer owned the business), he was very compassionate and often forgave debts people couldn't pay. He made a profit and that sustained our family.

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Paul Schryba

February 15, 2014  9:43pm

@Audrey Ruth: "And if you don't like monasteries, the principle still holds with respect to intentional communities and the Christian community in Acts." So you focus on the word 'like' and ignore my point about intentional Christian communities which make my point just as well about Jesus and his teachings on money as monasteries do. I used monastic communities as examples of people loving and serving the Lord without profit as the primary motive, and who did not own private property. The Plow Creek Mennonite Church is not a 'monastery'- it has a communal purse. Jesus and his disciples had a common purse. "Maximizing profit" was not the primary goal, but love and service- which isn't the primary goal of General Motors. Where does Jesus say in the NT that one should 'maximize profit' from your brothers and sisters? As to the 'isolated' monks of Tibhirine who were martyred, whom you imply were not following a Biblical example, perhaps Jesus has a different opinion.

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Paul Schryba

February 15, 2014  9:14pm

@Tim:I thank you for your comments.

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audrey ruth

February 15, 2014  8:25pm

As you already know, Paul, we've discussed the scripture in Acts 4 at length. It is a fact that the early believers were not living a monastic life then and also did not live that way for long, for whatever reason. As we see throughout the NT, the early believers did not live monastic lives, period. Citing contrary examples doesn't mean those people are obeying the Lord. I can't see any reason to assume that. C'mon, man, it's not about whether I 'like' monasteries, or not (I couldn't care less if Buddhist monks live in monasteries.) It's about what the LORD thinks about them. If that was His plan for His people, we would surely see that throughout the NT. We don't.

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Paul Schryba

February 15, 2014  7:49pm

@Audrey Ruth: And if you want to respond by saying that monasteries aren't 'Christian' because they are 'isolated'- most monasteries are not 'isolated'. And if you don't like monasteries, the principle still holds with respect to intentional communities and the Christian community in Acts.

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Paul Schryba

February 15, 2014  7:41pm

@Audrey Ruth: {revised]}This article is about "Why we are losing the war on poverty"- my comment was about how 'for profit' capitalism and people acting for material gain was causing us to lose the war on poverty. I brought in monasteries as places were profit was not being sought as primary motive. YOU brought in the topic of how they were 'isolated' and not "Biblical". To which I should have never responded. Get back on topic, please.

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audrey ruth

February 15, 2014  7:34pm

Paul, you were the one who brought up monastic groups, not me. Some of Thomas Merton's writings are unBiblical and have led people astray. Again, my point is that there is zero indication in the NT of Christians living monastic lives. Just the opposite.

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Paul Schryba

February 15, 2014  7:29pm

@Audrey Ruth: The monks of Tibhirine in Algeria; they gave witness to Christ, yes or no....they followed God's call in their life- yes or no. They were prohibited by the society they lived in from 'preaching and teaching'- Most monasteries are not cloistered (which is evidently what you mean by isolated, because you have never defined it); and all monasteries have presences on the web and in their communities; most cloistered monasteries have guest houses were people have come on retreat and deepened their walk with God; many have lay people attached to them, and their writings affect many. Many people were inspired to a deeper walk with God through the writings of Thomas Merton. Monastic- is merely a group of people seeking to live a more intentional and committed Christian life. And this article isn't about the merits or Biblicalness of 'isolated' monks.

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audrey ruth

February 15, 2014  6:24pm

This is the bottom line, Paul: There is simply no NT model of a "monastic community". You're talking about people living in isolation - this is not seen in the Scriptures. Jesus was led of the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days/nights ONLY. He never lived a monastic life - taking time apart to spend in prayer was not "monastic", it just prepared Him for what was ahead, and He made it clear that Christians today are to follow His example. I don't see any mandate, OR even a suggestion, in the NT that Christians are to live in isolation for any reason, especially to the exclusion of sharing the Gospel with those who don't know the Lord. Quite the contrary. Citing contrary examples doesn't mean those people are obeying the Lord. I can't see any reason to assume that.

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Paul Schryba

February 15, 2014  3:52pm

cont. There is the example of the Trappist monks of Tibhirine to which you have not responded. They were 'isolated' in that they were cloistered. Apart from their being cloistered, they were forbidden to preach or proselytize to Moslems in their locality. Their very life in Algeria was bearing witness to the Moslems; their acts of charity were bearing witness to Christ; their martyrdom gave witness to Jesus. You have not defined what you mean by 'being isolated'. Weren't these monks isolated? Do you deny they bore witness to Christ? Many early desert Christians were called to solitude and silence for extended periods of time, who then were called to found monasteries or speak out on issues of their day. There are the witnesses of protestant intentional communities, who live together with a common purse; that is in a certain sense 'isolating' themselves from the general community.

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Paul Schryba

February 15, 2014  3:27pm

@Audrey Ruth: God can call people as he chooses. John the Baptist lived and preached in the desert wilderness-that is being 'isolated'. People came to him. Jesus himself spent 40 days in isolation being tempted before he was called to ministry. He frequently went apart (being 'isolated') during his ministry. Paul of Tarsus spent 2 to 3 years in Arabia, presumably in some type of 'isolation', learning from direct revelation from Jesus before beginning his active ministry (Galatians 1:11-18). We are to follow God's will; and if God calls individuals to silence and solitude so he may draw closer to them (Martha vs Mary), it isn't up to you to say how long they are called to be in that silence and solitude before they might be called to 'preach.' God can call people to preserve places of solitude and silence, as well as presence, for those needing a time apart;that is particularly needed in these electronic media days, don't you think? cont.

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audrey ruth

February 15, 2014  12:14pm

To be clear: My parents did not grow up in any middle-class suburb, white or black or other, and neither did I. I was blessed to grow up in a low-crime (mostly non-existent crime, actually) area. The area where I grew up was a very rural area and the great majority of people were the salt of the earth type who would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. Most were laborers who lived very simply, making just enough to get by, and most were Christians in word and deed - even those who weren't Christians had a basic decency sometimes lacking in professed Christians today. As a child I took all of this for granted, of course. Now I realize how blessed I really was. I grew up viewing all people as equal, regardless of skin color or income or anything else. Elders made sure I knew that God loved EVERY person, period, that pride goes before a fall and that Jesus said "the last would be first." This was ingrained in me from the very beginning, glory to God.

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audrey ruth

February 15, 2014  12:13pm

Paul, there is simply no NT model of a "monastic community". Jesus did not live a monastic life - taking time apart to spend in prayer was not "monastic", it just prepared Him for what was ahead, and He made it clear that Christians today are to follow His example. I don't see any mandate, or even suggestion, in the NT that Christians are to live in isolation and pray, especially to the exclusion of sharing the Gospel with those who don't know the Lord. Quite the contrary.

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Paul Schryba

February 14, 2014  10:46pm

cont. to build on. Christian 'belief' as stated, must lead to experience of Reality and transformation based on that encounter; otherwise, it remains just concepts and beliefs attempted to be imposed on others. The 'brutal force' that keeps people poor, can only be countered by the Way of Jesus, by people individually and collectively loving, studying, seeing clearly- and not just following a code of conduct. But that depends on people 'growing' in the Spirit- and enforcement of laws may well be required short term. The more each individual and community makes conscious contact with God and is moved by the spirit, then things will change. And Christians must realize that God is Love, and is in all and through all; God is present where Love is present, and Love is present in other religions and systems. While bearing faithful witness to its own beliefs, it must acknowledge the Love present elsewhere and affirm it.

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Paul Schryba

February 14, 2014  10:30pm

Tim: Good to have a perspective from 'across the pond'. Perhaps the 70s were innocent there; but not so much here. I grew up in a near 100% white middle class suburb in the 60s- very little violence and crime there. But things weren't really so rosy in the inner-cities and elsewhere. There was a stricter adherence in society as a whole to a code of conduct, enforced by societal pressure. But that doesn't mean that things were necessarily 'better'. Adherence to a code of conduct alone cannot work- only a transformation of being and thought can. The education that the baby boomers parents worked so hard to get their children, caused those children to question those strict rules and morality, which often weren't practiced and not uniformly applied. Rigid doctrines and dogmas were questioned because science began to explain things that before weren't understandable. The baby was thrown out with the bathwater; people need contact with living water, need deep experience cont.

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Tim Childs

February 14, 2014  5:28pm

Audrey. Yes, we have a different social system for political, social, historical and economic reasons. Americans are meant to pull themselves up almost by default. In the English system, primarily class, you were meant to 'know your place' and where you were, that's where you stayed! Of course, the reality is far from that, but where Americans in cities and towns and even geographic regions may align themselves along racial lines, English people certainly will relate to each other along class lines, and that is often the community we will feel comfortable with. If I met a very English Middle class person, rather affected and important, I would have little seemingly in common with that person and could feel decidedly uncomfortable too. Perhaps this manifests itself along race lines in the US, especially between Black and White. Things change slowly in the UK. On the surface: 'jolly olde Englande', but under the surface a hard society where people can be exploited like anywhere else.

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