NOTE: The following is protected by federal copyright law and is an excerpt from the book Marxianity written by Brannon Howse and is not to be published online. The footnotes that document the content in this article are found in the book Marxianity or the eBook.
As you may surmise, the name Gamaliel is drawn from Scripture—specifically Acts 5:34 and 22:3, and the choice of this man’s name is significant. The background in Acts 5 lays a foundation for understanding the man.
Acts 5 recounts the story of Peter and the apostles arrested for preaching the gospel. At their examination by the Sanhedrin, council members are angered by the apostles’ insistence that the Jews killed Jesus and that He was the Messiah. Acts 5:29-39 records the dramatic interchange between Peter and the Sanhedrin, and introduces the Jewish leader, Gamaliel:
[quote] But Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to his right hand to be prince and savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses to these things and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.
And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take heed yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about 400, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away many people after him. He also perished. And all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men. And let them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing. But if it is of God you cannot overthrow it lest you even be found to fight against God.” [end quote]
In a quick reading of this account, you might think Gamaliel is a pretty good guy, but that is not the case. He is a Pharisee and teacher of the law, who has already rejected Christ. He was likely among those who assented to killing Jesus, just as Peter charged in verse 30. Here, he is simply being pragmatic. He’s not speaking in favor of Christ or the apostles.
God providentially uses good leaders as well as bad leaders. In this instance, I believe He used a bad leader to spare the lives of the apostles. Although most of the apostles were eventually martyred, this was not God’s providential time for them to be killed. And so He used a “bad guy” to save them.
A later chapter in Acts includes additional evidence that Gamaliel was not “one of the good guys.” In Acts 22:1-5, Paul provided a defense of his apostleship and mentions Gamaliel:
[quote] “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.” And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said, “I am indeed a Jew born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel. Taught according to the strictness of our father’s law and was zealous toward God as you all are today, I persecuted this way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women as also the high priest bears me witness and all the council of the elders from whom I also receive letters to the brethren and went to Damascus, to bring in chains even those who were there, to Jerusalem to be punished. Now as it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shown around me and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ So I answered, ‘who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’” [end quote]
The “way” Saul persecuted, of course, was Christianity. Early Christians were known as “the Way,” a reflection of Jesus’ teaching in John 14:6 that He is “the way, the truth, and the life.”
Notice, too, the “résumé” Paul recounts for himself. He invokes the name of Gamaliel in verse 3, presumably because the name carries weight. He was taught the ways of Gamaliel, which we can presume from what follows included Paul’s action of “persecuting, I was binding, I was putting to death, I was delivering into chains.” Where do you think he learned this? And how do you think he came up with the scriptural basis for doing such things? He learned this from that great Jewish teacher of the law, Gamaliel.
So, fast-forward to today, and consider that the choice of ‘Gamaliel’ in the name Gamaliel Network is extremely appropriate. The Gamaliel Foundation persecutes Christians and shuts down Christian event (like ours) around the country.
Leaders in the Gamaliel Network also twist scripture to serve their ends. I found a video of a Gamaliel Network event in which a speaker misuses James 5 to support a socialistic agenda. James 5: 1-10 is the passage in question:
[quote] Come now you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out. And the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury. You have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just. He does not resist you. Therefore, be patient brethren until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth. Waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and later rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the judge is standing at the door. My brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an example of suffering and patience. [end quote]
The Gamaliel speaker uses James 5 to say that the organization is taking on the rich and fighting for a living wage as they push for $15.00 minimum wage. What they will really do, though, is to shut out the possibility of entry level jobs for more and more people. With higher minimum wages, fast food restaurants are already saying, “We’re just going to automate. We’ll put in a kiosk and customers can place their own orders. We’ll need fewer employees because a robot can do the work.”
The Gamaliel Network doesn’t really care about people having jobs. They care about revolution. They want people angry and agitated, and if leaving them unemployed contributes to that end, they are willing for that to happen. They want people on government rolls in order to collapse the system. Once disenchanted people become a part of their protest movement, they will agitate to bring about revolution.
The reality is, as James says of these “last days,” that Gamaliel’s agenda is to demonize true Christians and, by implication, capitalists in general. But in a capitalist economy, do you get rich by fraud? No. Absolutely not. Fraud means customers do not trust you, they’ll take their business elsewhere, and that you’ll likely end up in prison. Capitalism produces wealth for people who have “put their hand to the plow” and built wealth over time.