Giles Fraser writes a column which has a zinger start but does it run out of zing by the end?
Here are a few words near the beginning:
"Absolutely nothing that has been said by Jeremy Corbyn over the past few months is anything like as hostile to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few as the Bible. Indeed, compared to the book of Amos and the gospel of Luke, the campaign group Momentum are a bunch of bland soft-pedalling apologists for the status quo. So how, then, can middle England sit through these readings [last Sunday in lectionary-abiding churches] without storming out, but apparently find Corbyn unelectable? Have they not been listening?"
Giles is absolutely correct to make the point that the Bible is intensely socialist when it comes to wealth: it attacks the rich, especially the corrupt rich and the ignore-the-poor rich and it paints word pictures in which goods and services are shared equally among property-sharing Christians (e.g. the early chapters of Acts).
But is this the whole story about the Bible and wealth? Is one JC as good as the JC of the gospels? Or does the 21st century version fall short of the 1st century JC?
Jesus welcomes the support of wealthy women who finance his movement (Luke 8:1-3). Paul gratefully acknowledges the help of deacon Phoebe, a benefactor to many (Romans 16). Neither asks that their wealthy supporters simultaneously give up their wealth as they offer assistance from that wealth. Although Paul is grateful for Phoebe's support, he is mostly independently minded to earn a living from his own hands, making tents. That is, Paul is an artisan, drawing payment from the normal trading conditions of his day.
One might even hazard a guess that both Jesus and Paul were economically literate enough to understand that wealth distributed first needs to be created. Giles, aghast that the Tories seem better acquainted with church than Labourites and that the Queen, as head of the C of E and of Great Britain, seems unperturbed by the general economic conditions of her country, seems either unaware, or unwilling to acknowledge that the facts of economic life might be more complex than his opening remarks imply.
That is why I think his column is out of zing by its end. The zing would have come from an ending which highlighted the importance of a simple aim within the complexities of wealth creation and wealth distribution, an aim both Tories and Labourites, especially Christian ones might aspire to: that no one ever loses sight of obligations to treat all people well, to love one's neighbour as oneself, to bind up the wounds of even our enemies.