For those who are interested, Jon Curry recently posted a reply to me in last week's thread about early Christian eschatology, and I've posted another response to him. Notice the large amount of material in my earlier response that he ignored, and notice how he's not consistent with his own arguments.
One of the subjects he discusses in his latest reply is what Jesus taught about the Christian lifestyle in the Sermon on the Mount and other contexts. He writes:
"The gospels have the same non-sensical mindset. To be saved you are supposed to sell everything and give it to the poor. You are supposed to give to every man that asks of you (Mt 5:42). Well, I’m a man. I’ll ask of you. I want your books. Will you send them to me? I’ll give you my address. If you would include a check with all of your savings, that would be great. Will you give it to me? I want your money and your books. Can I have them?"
I don't know what passage Jon has in mind when he refers to "selling everything", but if he's referring to the account of the rich young ruler, surely he knows that Jesus' comment was directed to that individual, not to everybody. The same Jesus who speaks of how the rich young ruler should give all of his possessions away (Luke 18:22) shortly thereafter commends a man who only gave some of his possessions away (Luke 19:8-10) and suggests that investing money, not just giving it away, is acceptable (Luke 19:12-23). Jesus and His disciples owned property, and so did other early Christians (Matthew 8:14, Philemon 2, etc.). This is another example of either how poorly Jon understands the Biblical documents or how dishonest he is in arguing that the Bible is wrong in what it teaches.
Jesus, like other ancient Jewish (and non-Jewish) teachers, often spoke in general terms and used hyperbole to put emphasis on a theme (a plank in an eye, a camel going through the eye of a needle, etc.). Not only do we know that hyperbole was common among ancient Jewish teachers (as it is in many modern contexts), but we also know that the nearby Biblical context refers to Jesus as having a home (Matthew 4:13) and refers to His followers as having possessions (Matthew 8:14), and we know that Christians just after Jesus' time had possessions (Acts 12:12, Philemon 2, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, etc.).
Jesus' commands, like principles in any belief system, are interpreted in light of a larger context. One principle is weighed against another, and something that's appropriate in one circumstance may not be in another. A command to give to others would be interpreted within a belief system that also involved the responsibility of providing for one's family, for example. As D.A. Carson puts it, "Verse 40 [of Matthew 5] is clearly hyperbolic: no first-century Jew would go home wearing only a loin cloth." (The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Matthew, Chapters 1 Through 12 [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995], p. 157) Thus, a passage like Proverbs 26:4-5 will deliberately set two contrary-sounding principles together, trusting that the reader will realize that each principle is valid in different circumstances. Some of Jesus' expressions in Matthew 5 are popular in our world today: "go the extra mile", "turn the other cheek", etc. Just as we today interpret and apply such principles in a context that involves examining circumstances and weighing one priority against another, so did people in ancient times. To object to a general principle on the basis that it would have unreasonable results if applied absolutely is to miss the point.
If you don't understand the limits and context of proverbial statements, hyperbole, etc., then you aren't well prepared to be having discussions like the ones Jon Curry has been participating in. And I have to wonder how Jon was ever able to understand a book like Proverbs. His method of interpretation would lead to absurd results for all sorts of literature and figures of speech, both ancient and modern.