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Beam Me Back to Bible Days
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In Patricia Backora's book Beam Me Back to Bible Days two televangelist rascals get into a big dung heap of trouble and I don't know if they'll ever get back to their filthy lucre!

Braying for Bucks
beamdonkey.jpg
Painting by Patricia Backora

Ben and Sam meet up with a new pardner, a conjurer who learns new  money-makin' tricks from the future.
 

Magus was delighted with the splendid fund-raising idea Sam brought from the future. “That is truly remarkable!  Not even Peter, James or John go around dunning their disciples for ten per cent of their salaries and wages!  And no form of the tithing law is ever observed by Gentile believers.  Jewish farmers and herdsmen still tithe on their products, but no fisherman or potter ever pays tithes of fish or pottery  to the Jewish Temple!  How will religious leaders of your day manage to convince even the poorest Gentile widows they must tithe on filthy lucre? And especially since, as you told me earlier, the Temple will be destroyed in only a few decades, and the Levitical priest system shall cease operations?”

 

“Most folks don’t know this,” Sam drawled, “but institutionalized tithing on money didn’t start until the Middle Ages, when the great false church system begins to persecute the kind of ‘little flock church’ Peter and his associates shepherd.  Rich prelates will rise up among the nobility of the land.  They will live like kings.  Instead of a few humble raggedy apostles running around on bare feet, those lordly rulers shall be decked in rich vestments and miters.  They will be carried around in litters, being hailed as demi-gods. People will kneel before them and call them the closest reality to Christ Himself, and treat these powerful men as if they were Christ Himself.   The great edifices of  the worldwide institutional church will be vast.  Statues and icons will adorn them. They will be palaces bedecked by the gold of starving peasants around the world.  And it costs plenty of money to maintain the princes of such a worldwide superchurch in the splendor they’ve grown used to. It is at times like that where forging convenient ‘principles’ out of the written Word of God comes in handy.  Now we admit, not one verse in all the Bible, Old or New Testament, ever commands believers to pay tithes on money, but on agricultural produce only, and even then, only under the old Jewish covenant, and you and I know Gentiles aren’t under the old ceremonial law anyway.  But most people of our time are so busy with their kids and their jobs, they’ll just take the preacher’s word for it that God wants them to tithe out of their meager cash wages.”

 

“So they will be too busy to investigate whether the heavy yoke placed upon them is legitimate,” Magus mused. “I marvel that such a lie will be so easily swallowed, though.”

 

“Well, Magus,” Ben said, “you yourself believe in drawing deeper truths out of that which is plainly stated in Scripture.  ‘Principles’, that’s the word for it.  Or, ‘reading between the lines’, you might call it.  God’s Word can be considered a love letter to His people, and what is implied, or what can be deduced through an interpretation of Scripture based on  spiritual mysticism is often regarded as being just as binding as the literal letter of the Law. In that way, people add to the written requirements of the Word of God.  In various places, the ‘ten per cent’ principle recurs.  Melchisedek was  presented with ten per cent of Abraham’s booty of war. Kings were honored with tribute of ten per cent or more.  Like in I Samuel Chapter 8, the Israelites demand that God give them a king.  So what does Samuel the prophet do but warn them that if they get that king, he’ll confiscate ten per cent of all they possess?”

 

“So the religious kings of your time enrich themselves by laying tribute upon the people of God?” Magus said wonderingly.

 

“Yes, Magus. People are led to believe that since the ‘ten per cent’ standard of giving keeps on cropping up, the Christian slaving away at a humble job is obligated to hand ten per cent of his wages over to the one doing the more important job of preaching.  And he is to give this amount even before Caesar is paid his taxes.”

 

“But you said the Roman Empire would someday fall, Ben.”

 

“Different form, same essence,” Sam said.  “Our leaders might not be called ‘Caesar’, but they sure do act like it!”

 

“So the preacher of your day justifies taxing God’s children ten per cent, based on what they claim is an unspoken, implied command of God Himself?” Magus remarked.  “Principles for successful living include obeying laws that aren’t even written in Scripture.  I have taught you well, Ben.  Delving into mysticism has its advantages.  Someday the church will be clothed in splendor, and her princes will be garbed in gold.  That is how it should be.”

 

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Beam Me Back To Bible Days can be ordered from www.ebooksforpleasure.com through their online bookstore, under "sci fi".

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