Does the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16) demonstrate the moral depravity of Jesus’s philosophy?

Fenuay

Well-known member
Disclaimer: I do not come from a Christian perspective, but was formerly of the faith and hold a degree in theology. My views are "spiritual but skeptical," and I am not an atheist.

In Luke 16, Jesus tackles the issue of human greed, selfishness, and the callous disregard of the poor. These are important moral themes, but his “solution” to the problem of selfishness and justice is inherently unethical and morally abominable. Rather than propose some equitable form of justice (such as giving the rich man another lifetime as a poor, disregarded beggar to teach him an important lesson), Jesus literally condones setting the rich man on fire, allowing him to burn “in agony,” and denying him even a single drop of water. In effect, Jesus’s moral solution is to be even worse to the rich man than the rich man was to Lazarus - in the most extreme way possible. If the Rich Man’s conduct toward Lazarus is morally reprehensible, how much more reprehensible is the conduct of one who denies “a single drop of water” to a person fire?

Even if the story is taken as a parable, rather than a literal depiction of the afterlife, the moral flaw in Jesus’s illustration remains, in the sense that Jesus speaks of this scenario with approval and clearly views it as righteous. I am not here interested in debating the historicity of Jesus, or the realities of God, heaven and hell, but whether Jesus is even worthy of consideration as a moral philosopher. This parable alone invalidates Jesus’s standing as a worthwhile moralist or ethical teacher in my opinion. I am not interested in even considering the ethical teachings of a man who finds the scenario depicted in Luke 16 (even as a fictional illustration via parable) to be morally correct.

Your thoughts?
I came across this and thought it apropos:

Tertullian wrote:

We, however, do not take the parables as sources of doctrine, but rather we take doctrine as a norm for interpreting the parables. Therefore, we make no effort to twist everything so that it fits our own explanation, striving to avoid every discrepancy. Why a “hundred” sheep? and why, indeed, “ten” drachmas? and what does that “broom” stand for? Well, when he [Jesus] wanted to show how pleased God is at the salvation of one sinner, he had to mention some numerical quantity from which one could be described as “lost.”

Source: The gospel coalition.org

I think this is really good because it exemplifies the truth that we need to "lean not into our own understanding" and really look at the point of the parable rather than judge it. Of course as we read it we may pity the rich man. Personally I pity poor Lazarus. The pain and agony he must have suffered is horrifying as well. But consider that the chasm between them was created by the rich man. Considering himself above Lazarus the rich man created that divide when they lived. So in death he is going to experience that divide. Perhaps it was referring to the Pharisees and the Christians. Maybe it was referring to the sinners and the righteous. But just as the rich man viewed Lazarus as worthless his own judgement is meted back to him. And this will be the fate of those who do not come to Christ.
 
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theMadJW

Member
The fact is that the Bible, thus Jehovah, said the penalty of our original parents was DEATH.
Churchianity and word Regions teach us WE NEVER DIE! ('Immortal Souls")

So it simple!
Jesus was using the parable that God was going to help the poor ("Lazarus" means God has Helped") be free the people for the Rule of the Pharisees (Rich, often decked in purple & linen). It was a personal message according to life and costume of the times.
 

puddleglum

Active member
The account of the rich man and Lazarus is not a parable but an account of something that really happened and it demonstrates the deity of Jesus, showing that he has complete knowledge of everything that happens, both in this life and the next. (I have made a post on this subject here: https://forums.carm.org/threads/lazarus-and-the-rich-man-–-parable-or-actual-event.5029/#post-333066 )

If you feel that the treatment of the rich man is unfair this just proves that your concept of sin doesn't match that of God. This is what all of us deserve. Jesus didn't come as a moral philosopher but to be a redeemer. Sin can be atoned for by the blood of an innocent sacrifice. Jesus came to be that sacrifice by his death on the cross. If we repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus we will forgiven and can look forward to an eternity of fellowship with God, just like Lazarus and Abraham.
 
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