The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

A Bible argument for government aid to the poor

with 25 comments

[Please note that many helps came via Ron Sider’s excellent but aging book Just Generosity: A new vision for overcoming poverty in America. This post is also saved as a page, at the link shown in the blog’s title bar (above) called Poverty, Government, and the Bible. The text is about the same there, but the comments of others—and my responses to them—are different. Thanks for thinking along!]


Madison Free ClinicEvangelicals often struggle with the idea of a government role in addressing poverty. Often, I hear questions like these, from an honest blogger called RenaissanceGuy:

  • I want to hear a reasoned biblical argument for government-run health care.”
  • … if people are coerced, though the income tax code, to support the poor, then are they actually pleasing our Lord?”

Others put it like this:

  • “Is it government’s job to care for the poor, or should the church and their families do it?”

While sectarian government is antithetical to American democracy, people of faith in the USA do have the privilege of holding and sharing political values consistent with what they understand to be good. Those values may not well fit in either conservative or liberal camps, but there will be common ground that can be shared with both.

In order to do that, people of faith have to be deeply aware of their own faith, and not just the arguments of right or left. So here’s an attempt to think aloud on one of those issues.

Especially for evangelicals:

a Bible argument for government aid to the poor:

First, some assumptions on which I think all can agree:

1. Jesus, as described in the gospels, is much more focused on the poor than our evangelical theologies have been.

I’ve been astonished by this while preaching through Luke. Recently, I asked my congregation to count the number of times Jesus interacts with someone poor or culturally rejected, or tells a story in which a poor or rejected person is the hero, in the 15 chapters of Luke between 4 and 19. They called out, on the spot, 26—almost two per chapter. “If we wrote the history of our church,” I asked them, “would we be so like Jesus that esteeming the poor would take center stage twice in each of fifteen chapters?”

Will and Lisa Samson, authors of Justice in the Burbs: Being the hands of Jesus wherever you live, admit:

We both grew up in good Christian homes. … We figure, between the two of us, that we’ve heard about 4,000 sermons. … We went to Christian schools, Christian college, Christian camps. We were involved in Scripture memory programs. And when did we memorize a verse about God’s concern for the poor?[…]

How ironic! For the poor, sick, and rejected are easily Jesus’ main preoccupation, getting more space than prayer or the new birth or the end times or evangelism or Bible exposition or worship or family or immorality or any of those things men and women in my position have so frequently preached about. Jesus goes so far as to suggest that caring for the poor—or neglecting to do so—is caring for or neglecting him. He plainly suggests that merely ignoring the poor is cause for eternal loss (see stories of sheep and goats and Lazarus and the rich man). And brother, that doesn’t fit our theologies!

In fact, his example is much more than merely helping poor people. Paul writes “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor…” And poor in every sense! Henri Nouwen writes majestically of Jesus’ downward mobility in an upwardly mobile world:

In the center of our faith as Christians stands the mystery that God chose to reveal his divinity to us by submitting himself unreservedly to the downward pull. … the one who was from the beginning with God and who was God revealed himself as a small, impotent child; as a refugee in Egypt; as an obedient adolescent and inconspicuous adult; as a penitent disciple of the Baptizer; as a preacher from Galilee followed by some simple fishermen; as a man who ate with sinners and talked with strangers; as an outcast, a criminal, a threat to his people. He moved from power to powerlessness, from greatness to smallness, from success to failure, from strength to weakness, from glory to ignominy. The whole life of Jesus of Nazareth was a life in which all upward mobility was resisted.

Oh, man, he is so magnetic to me! Wow. Do those words put a buzz in your heart like they do in mine?

Christianity starts and ends with the example of Jesus. Yet his example often takes a back seat to those isolated verses said to justify positions of Christian conservatism. Consider how the Bible itself points to him, though, as the pinnacle of Christian revelation:

“This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature.” (Heb. 1:3)
“We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen.” (Col. 1:15)
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we live for.” (Eph. 1:11)
“Keep your eyes on Jesus … Study how he did it.” (Heb. 12:2)
“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done …” (Jesus, in John 13:15)

Clearly, it is Jesus whom we are to be like. Surely we can agree that yielding to Jesus’ example, not only in our care for the poor, but also our esteem of the poor is a spiritual correction long overdue among us.

2. But isn’t that just about the behavior of individual Christians? Does the Bible expect anything like that from governments? Since the Hebrew Scriptures speak more of government than the New Testament does, take a quick tour with me there:

In the Psalms: In Psalm 72, King Solomon reflects on his role as a head of state, and asks God to help him rule:

1 Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.

And what will justice and righteousness look like in a monarch? We more commonly use “justice” to mean “punishment,” as in “bring Saddam to justice.” And “righteousness,” in 21st-century English, describes a person who doesn’t do the sins we find most objectionable. But justice and righteousness are much more actively positive in Bible-talk. Here’s how Solomon describes their impact on a king:

4 He will defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
he will crush the oppressor. …

They’re active! And they affect the monarch’s foreign policy:

11 All kings will bow down to him
and all nations will serve him.

And why?

12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.

Like Jesus, Solomon sees the “weak and the needy” as “precious.” Solomon sees special care for the needy—even special affection for the needy—as a characteristic of government blessed by God. Like Jesus, Solomon does not care for the needy because he fears for punishment if he doesn’t. He does it because they are precious to him!

In the Prophets, examples abound. Taking just one, here’s how Isaiah confronts his own generation (Is. 1):

Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!

Again, we most commonly think of repentance as quitting the bad stuff. But that’s only half of the Bible’s view. See both in “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right”? And what will “do right” look like to Isaiah? You’ll recognize it:

Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Standing up for those who have two strikes against them is Moral Values 101 to Isaiah. We could choose dozens of similar quotes from the prophets. And where will these causes be defended and pled, if not before those with governmental authority to correct them?

In the Law: What if God himself designed an economy? According to Leviticus, he did. An agrarian society, the Jews in the Promised Land divided land equally among families. Land, of course, was the means of providing for oneself and one’s family. There was ownership, inheritance, private property. Some gained much wealth; some lost what they had.

But there was a remarkable (even radical, to modern minds) twist: every 50 years the land returned to its original owners. Every 50 years, every family had equal access to the means of producing wealth. Those who had gained much knew it was only for a time. Those who lost everything knew they’d get another try. No family would get too rich; none would get too poor. No dynasties; no underclass.

It is neither socialism nor capitalism (which are modern distinctions), but a mix of the benefits of ownership with limits for safety. Those limits prevent people from becoming either too rich or too poor (un-American, isn’t it!) But this will seem more familiar: it’s result would be a thriving middle class. Few would become rich and powerful; few would pass poverty through generations. For each family would have a relatively equal access to the means of producing wealth every fifty years.

Perhaps the Bible’s wisdom here is exactly what partisan politics tends to forget: both individual character (which the right sees as the root cause of poverty and wealth) and cultural inequality (seen similarly by the left) have to be addressed for poverty to be defeated. I believe a truly Christian view is neither right nor left (modern distinctions, again) but a third way that combines the best of both. One’s hard work would bring rewards, yet not to the extent of oppression of others. One’s tragedy or laziness would bring loss, yet not a loss to one’s children’s innocent children. Both require both: character and justice. Character, of course, was developed in family and synagogue. Government’s role was to make certain justice reached the least. [By the way, I understand American law regulating corporate behavior was originally this way, and that the Founding Fathers saw the roles of government and corporation as adversarial: Government’s role was to limit corporate power, and to advocate for the rights of individuals. How different from modern practice!]

3. But those are principles for a theocracy. Does the Bible say anything about governments that weren’t Jewish? Yup; it speaks of:

  • All governments: Apparently, God intends to judge all governments on quality of their care for the poor. Here’s an example from Psalm 9:

7 The LORD reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
He will judge the world in righteousness;
he will govern the peoples with justice.
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.

Those same positive qualities that Solomon sought, justice and righteousness, become the yardsticks by which God will judge governments of “the world.”

  • Babylon: Daniel lays the same responsibilities on the government of the king of Babylon (certainly no Jahweh-follower!), in Daniel 4:

27 Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

  • An Arab government: And in the Proverbs, King Lemuel (whom I understand to be a north Arab monarch), has been taught from childhood (31):

4 “It is not for kings, O Lemuel—
not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer,
5 lest they drink and forget what the law decrees,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. …
8Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

  • All governments (from the N.T.): In the New Testament, notice the similar tone of Romans 13, where Paul writes that all governments are “established by God,” and accountable to him to do good and to punish wrong. Again, the charge to secular government is two-fold. And remember, in Jesus’ eyes, standing-by while the poor suffer is wrong, and he sternly warns the rich that they may be punished for it.

Could God be pleased by voters demanding that their government collect taxes to care for the poor? God views neglect of the poor as evil, worthy of punishment. Further, he holds governments responsible for making sure that the needs of the poor are defended. The Bible assumes that some will ignore the poor or deprive them of rights that the rich enjoy, and God charges government with the responsibility for correction and prevention of such sin.

Taxation seems like a pretty mild way of enforcing a minimal level of shared responsibility for the human family, where people have failed to take it upon themselves. I say “mild” because God enjoins government to defend and support the poor, even to the extent of Solomon’s “crush the oppressor,” and (in Romans), government is “an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the evildoer.”

Perhaps this is where our culture is most at odds with the Bible: Neglect of the poor is sin. Wealth is evil unless it results in sacrifice for others. Once again, how different from modern practice, where gaining wealth is esteemed for its own sake.

4. Doesn’t the Bible teach that families and churches should care for the poor? Indeed, it does. Families and churches are to be the source of character-building and example that often prevent new poverty from arising. And while governments can provide money, people are needed to provide care.

Regarding churches specifically, I’m hoping an ever-greater percentage of my church’s annual budget can go to the poor of my neighborhood and the world. Giving through churches, though, is on the decline, and needs to rise dramatically for churches to be like Jesus to the poor. I’m also hoping that we can become an example of Christ-likeness, not just offering money, but learning friendship and how to show respect, and learning to discover the faces of Jesus and learn from him. We may need the poor more than they need us.

Financially, it’s a big country. Suppose churches were to assume responsibility for a program like Medicaid. Ron Sider wrote:

“Medicaid alone in 1997 cost $172.5 billion. If the 325,000 religious congregations in the United States tried to shoulder that load, each local congregation would have to raise an extra $529,000 per year.”

Surely it’s much more than that by now, and for Medicaid alone.

Families and churches are called by God to be on the front lines. But perhaps the Bible’s view could be said like this: In a just society, every part of the culture has a role in reducing poverty. Perhaps the Bible is saying, “All hands on deck!”

Every few seconds, one of us on this planet dies of hunger. If I were that child’s daddy, I’d be crying for justice. Why should my baby die, just because I was born where food was scarce? Was it my baby’s fault?

In the USA, thousands of people die prematurely each year because they did not have health insurance. If I were the man who’d just seen his beloved wife rendered mute by a stroke because they couldn’t pay for blood-pressure medication, I’d be crying for justice. Why did she have to suffer? She worked hard all her life!

Government is obliged by God to correct and prevent injustice. Those who die needlessly have been coerced. It is immoral for government, church, or family to look the other way. It is a repudiation of the example of Jesus and a major theme of the entire Bible.

Will some abuse government money? Of course! Limiting abuse is challenging and important – even Biblical. But anger toward abuse must not become an excuse for abandonment of those who suffer. We must urge that government fulfill its role.

That people be required to share their wealth through taxation is doubtless not God’s first choice. But that government would decline to act on behalf of the poor where society has failed to do so would be a doubly egregious evil.

I am a Christian. I will pray; I will learn; I will give. I am also a writer and a voter. And I hold in my hands the power to urge my government to become a bit more just and a bit less selfish. May I use it, as Solomon might, to

defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
[and to] crush the oppressor. …


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Written by Monte

October 18, 2007 at 12:09 am

25 Responses

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  1. This article speaks quite eloquently and plainly what Christ taught in his 3 year ministry here on earth, as represented in the 4 Gospels of the Canon. Unfortunately this article is but a voice as it were, crying in the wilderness as the overwhelming majority of supposedly Christian voices we hear today are preaching a gospel of apathy, hate, and of course demonizing the poor, the sick, the mentally ill, those in prison, the government, and even condemning the sexual lives of others. These are all antithetical to the Gospel of Christ, yet somehow they have replaced his message with this message of hate, apathy and greed. Perhaps this is why the majority of the evangelical churches refuse to focus on the 4 Gospels, where Christ’s words appear and instead seem to have turned backwards towards Mosaic law, reading almost exclusively from the Torah and Mosaic ritual and law. It seems they choose barbarism over the Gospel of Christ, and are indeed “ashamed” of him and his message. It is now “sissy” to care for the poor. Weak to care for the downtrodden and outcast. Foolish to concern oneself with those occupying our vast prison system. And of course “cool” to hate the gays, the Muslims, Mexicans, liberals, Jews, and of course most important, the poor. The gun has replaced “turn the other cheek” and Churches today even encourage their memberships to arm themselves in church, as if this somehow coincides with Christ’s gospel of mercy, meekness, compassion and charity.

    We would like to link to your article from our site and with your permission will do so. Your article is manna, a breath of fresh air, and a much needed counter to the anti-Christ doctrines we hear today being promulgated in his name. We wish there were ten thousand more like it. – Shibboleth.

    The TGOC Staff

    January 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    • Uhh huh, because Jesus regularly advocated forcing people to care for the poor.

      Take the rich young ruler for example. When he asked Jesus what he must do, Jesus said, “go sell your possessions, give to the poor, and come follow me.” To which the rich young ruler went away sad, for he had many possessions. So Jesus took His staff and beat the young man over the head, took his possessions and forcibly redistributed them to the poor…

      Until you can show me where Jesus advocated the violent oppression of anyone, you have no case or argument from the Bible for violently oppressing the wealthy, or poor, or middle class, or anyone else with your “government.” And before you try to tell me “taxes are not violent,” tell me why the IRS has swat teams… obviously just to pick daisies, right? Ironic then that you also have replaced “turn the other cheek” with a gun; but worse still, you use the gun on those who have not even slapped you.

      I contend that whether you truly care about the poor or not, your beloved idol (anything you trust more than God) the government is not even trying to care for the poor. The people in government care only for building their own power because if they do not, they get replaced by those who do. So on the rock side are laws preventing the poor from participating in the economy, while on the hard spot side are handouts that make the poor dependent on the government so they will continue to vote “the right way.” Where exactly are the poor being made better off by government? When a person loses the will to grow and chooses to become the object of another’s charity/pity instead of the subject of a unique and beautiful story glorifying God, such charity is naught but a millstone, and the giver naught but narcissistic hypocrite. At least you can claim your god the government has not failed miserably to help the poor, it never even tried or wanted to help the poor. You would have more luck building yourself a golden calf to dance around as a method of helping the poor than dancing around government. At least a golden calf won’t oppress the poor.

      One last thing. If you have *actually met* someone like what you call “supposed Christians,” you must be one unlucky person. I have never met anyone who preaches what you claim “the overwhelming majority” preach. What you have described is a caricature of *human beings* so you can view the world as “us” vs “them” and have no obligation to minister to them. I suppose you just enjoy casting stones, but please spare me your hate, or at least be honest enough to admit why you hate people you never bothered trying to understand.

      Luke Perkins

      January 29, 2014 at 12:04 am

      • We haven’t a clue to whom you’re responding as no one advocated violence of any kind. This appears to be a straw argument, and an angry one. Jesus did however command people to pay their taxes, including taxes that were used for the poor (the Temple tax not only took care of the temple, but helped fund the nightly feedings of the poor). In fact, he performed a miracle to pay this tax, setting for all the good example. And the apostles continued these instructions:

        — “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority?

        Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing” — Romans 13

        We pay taxes anyway. And Christ himself set the example, and the New Testament comands us to without complaint. Since we pay taxes anyway, in what world an honest man or woman could read the 4 Gospels and conclude that Christ would not want a portion of those to go to feeding, clothing and caring for the poor and less fortunate among us is a mystery. Only apparently its the world we find ourselves in today.

        We see an angry, vehement group who’s selfishness and apathy extend so far as to conflating the Gospel of Christ into a Gospel of apathy and greed, and taking the poor whom Christ loved, and turning them into a group to be loathed and despised. As with the prisoners, foreigners, etc.

        We attest however that preaching such doctrines, that Christ himself would declare that the taxes you already pay should not be in any way used to help the poor and needy, constitutes the opposite of Christ’s teachings, hence “anti-Christ” doctrines. Christ did not preach apathy, greed, selfishness, pettiness of bile. We would hope those claiming to follow him would not either.

        The Staff at TGOC

        The TGOC Staff

        January 29, 2014 at 4:38 pm

        • I was replying to the comment against which mine is indented. On my screen, it is the hateful comment directly above the comment I left. If you use Firefox it displays correctly, I cannot vouch for any other browser. Of course, I suspect you were merely trying to caricature my comment as “angry” and therefore free to be discounted (an ad hominem fallacy).

          Yes, I suppose I was peeved when I wrote that. I freely confess where God has the capacity to love those who hire the government to kill others, in His Name no less, without even admitting what they are doing, I struggle. However, I was mostly angry at the vitriol spewed at “the vast majority of Christians” as though you even know so many Christians. You seem to adopt the air of rationality only as a mask for your hatred even while vainly repeating your “points” as though the mere repetition will lend them more credence. So let me address your misuse of the Bible, then give you the logical form of my points from my original statement you so blithely dismissed.

          First, brilliant job resurrecting the old Divine Right of Kings argument. I thought that one dead and buried two centuries ago. So tell me, according to Roman’s 13, is the crown’s authority still from God when honest and just people have legitimate cause to fear said authority? An answer in the affirmative means all the tyrants of 20th century acted, and millions were killed, on the legitimate authority of God and people like Bonhoeffer went against God in opposing said tyrants are thereby deserving God’s wrath and condemnation. A patently absurd conclusion to be sure. To answer that no righteous people have legitimate cause to fear the present regime in this country is laughably blind. The only valid conclusion is that there is legitimate governmental authority and non-legitimate government authority, discernible based in part on whether righteous people have just cause to fear said authority. Your reference to Romans 13 buys you nothing, save congratulations on using the proof text of all tyrants. It is still up to you to show that expropriation of citizens to fund the poor is a legitimate use of God’s authority via government.

          Christ paying the temple tax, another brilliant return to the deservedly dead arguments from centuries past. So if Jesus meant to pay the tax for any reason other than “so as not to offend them” as He stated, why did He pay with money He had not earned? Only Peter’s mild sweat at pulling the fish out of the water can be said to have been effort to obtain that money, so Jesus was not paying out of even His own treasury kept by Judas, unless Judas had given the money to the fish. And what about the part where He points out the children of the kingdom are exempt from such taxes? His man Peter had bound Him by saying “of course he does”; Jesus resorted to a miracle to rectify the situation cause by Peter’s statement. Such action in no way negates his statement of condemnation of the tax immediately before He paid. And besides, even if Jesus commands us to pay taxes, that in no way translates into commanding us to collect taxes. Jesus said “render unto Caesar” not “go, therefore, and become Caesar.”

          Now that I have answered your charges yet a second time, perhaps you can answer mine. Let me lay them out more simply. I made two arguments against government aid to the poor, and two arguments against your personal walk being headed in the right direction. Since I can’t ask which you prefer to start with, I will flip a coin… oh, look at that, government wins, as always.

          1: Government programs are violent by nature
          Any interaction between people where one or more participants are involved against their will is a coercive interaction.
          Tax collection is an interaction between people where one or more participants are involved against their will.
          Therefore Tax collection is a coercive interaction.
          Any institution that wields tools of violence against human beings is violent by nature
          Police forces wield weapons against human beings (that sword Romans 13 talks about)
          Therefore the Police are a violent institution
          Any coercive interaction involving violence, the threat of violence, and or a violent institution to enforce the interaction is a violent coercive interaction
          Tax collection is enforced by the police
          The police are a violent institution
          Therefore tax collection is a violent coercive interaction
          Any funds collected by violent coercive interactions are violently collected monies
          Taxes are collected by violent coercive interactions
          Therefore tax money is violently collected money
          Any purposes which use violently collected money as a source of funds are inherently violent
          Government programs use taxes as a source of funds
          Taxes are violently collected money
          Therefore Government programs are inherently violent
          Any program of aid to the poor that is inherently violent is condemned by Jesus
          Government programs that aid the poor are inherently violent
          Therefore Government programs that aid the poor are condemned by Jesus

          2: Government aid to the poor does not work
          Any program to aid to the poor that makes them dependent on the program harms the poor
          Any program to aid the poor that takes control of their lives harms the poor
          Government programs to aid the poor make them dependent on the program
          Government programs to aid the poor take control of their lives.
          Therefore Government programs to aid the poor, harm the poor.

          3: The first post I replied to was filled with Hate
          People who intentionally avoid understanding others are hateful people
          A caricature is an intentional construct created by adding attributes either falsely or gratuitously to a person or group to avoid understanding said people.
          Therefore people who create caricatures are hateful people
          Attributing properties to people or groups you do not know is gratuitously adding attributes
          The first post attributed properties to “the vast majority of Christians”
          The author of the first post does not know “the vast majority of Christians”
          Therefore the author of the first post gratuitously added attributes to the “vast majority of Christians”
          Therefore the author of the first post caricatured the “vast majority of Christians”
          Therefore the author of the first post intentionally avoid understanding the “vast majority of Christians”
          Therefore the author of the first post is a hateful person.

          4: You hold government as an idol
          Anything a person trusts more than God is an idol to that person
          God saying He will care for the poor while government saying it will care for the poor is mutually exclusive (see argument #1 above)
          Anyone who chooses the promise of government over the promise of God trusts government more than God
          You choose the promise of government over that of God
          Therefore you trust government more than God
          Therefore you hold government as an idol.

          There you have it, I never created a straw man argument, your accusation to the contrary is baseless and false (thereby making it a caricature). Anyone who advocates government programs to aid the poor advocates oppression of human beings. By your own words, you advocate government programs to aid the poor, therefore you advocate the oppression of human beings. Obviously such a belief stands in direct contradiction to your professed commitment to the Prince of Peace.

          Now, your one redeeming comment revolves around us “paying taxes anyway.” While you might make the case that “since we cannot stop the collection of taxes for illegitimate purposes, we might as well manipulate the system to help the poor in order to make the best of a bad situation.” Of course, such an argument does not address whether the poor are indeed helped by such programs. Because these government programs *do more harm than good* “in what world an honest man or woman could read the 4 Gospels and conclude that Christ would [want] a portion of those to go to [oppressing, controlling, and stagnating] the poor and less fortunate among us is a mystery.” (nice attempt to imply I’m dishonest, by the way, that fallacy is called poisoning the well and is naught but vain emotion on your part)

          But interspersed in that flash of near reason, you left turn back into the darkness of irrationality. Yes, Jesus tells us to bear our burdens without complaining. How does that translate into His approbation of our burdens or His instruction to burden those around us even more? There is no logical justification for such a leap within the bounds of rationality.

          Obviously, the reasoning of my points is valid, therefore if my premises are true my conclusions must also be true. That leaves your only point of attack in the premises. If you wish to follow up on any of those points, feel free; but please, spare me your vain repetition and hateful caricatures.

          Luke Perkins

          January 30, 2014 at 1:09 pm

          • While we cannot help with the obvious large chip on your shoulder, we will acknowledge that that is one of the most detailed and eloquent excuses we’ve read to date for rationalizing selfishness and pettiness.

            We wish you the best.
            The Staff at TGOC

            The Staff at TGOC

            January 30, 2014 at 6:25 pm

            • A chip on my shoulder? Offering you a chance to defend your malice and spite toward the “vast majority of Christians” with reason instead of emotion is a chip on my shoulder? Offering you a chance to show by reason where government aid to the poor actually helps them and does not violate the command to love others as yourself is a chip on my shoulder? Have you anything better than an absolutely pathetic attempt to caricature me along with the “vast majority of Christians”? Are you truly so disingenuous as to persist in your creation of such caricatures even after it has been shown they are not of God? Apparently so.

              I admitted to being peeved at you before, but that hardly rose to the level of a chip on my shoulder. The only reason I bothered trying to reach out to you was because your claim to care for the poor made me assumed you were of the cloth totally ignorant of the effects of your methods. I now question that assessment and regretfully admit the adage about assumptions to be true. Instead of reason, you throw a gratuitous non-sequitur as a parting shot in defense of theft, brutality, and murder in the name of Christ, yet have the unmitigated gall to accuse me of creating rationalizations and excuses. I was mildly frustrated at you for being so careless as to fall into the trap of the world but now, having blasphemed the Name of God with your joyous dancing in the blood of those you sacrifice on the altar of government to “care for the poor,” now I am truly angry.

              You call my reasoning an excuse for pettiness. Are you even capable of pointing to one place wherein I excused selfishness or lauded pettiness? Of course not. I condemn such beliefs and behavior right along side its corollary, the forcing of others to care for the poor as you so blithely persist in believing without evidence or reason beyond the same “proofs” every tyrant since Jesus’s death has resorted to. You have no idea how selfish or giving I have been toward the poor or anyone else in my life. And so, yet again, you caricature those who disagree so you can dismiss as selfish and petty instead of understanding. Does your self aggrandizement, pride, and hate have no bounds? You must at least confess I have not to this point dismissed you as a vain and petty tyrant though you so richly deserved such treatment, but rather exhorted you to defend your beliefs with reason. Thrice now you have had that opportunity, and twice you have caricature it and dismissed it. So be it.

              And the garnish, the best part, you wish me the best… is that only until your publicly hired mercenaries come to collect your blood money so that you might oppress the poor and trample on those Christ commands you to lift up? Or do you wish me the best even as they throw me in jail and or kill me because I refuse to be part of your sin? Alea iacta est. You have chosen the path of war against your fellow man, and all I can do is exhort you to turn from your wickedness and seek God. Truly I tell you, there are none so blind as those who will not see!

              I am done casting my pearls before swine. If you ever put aside your own vanity and realize your “war on poverty” has done more harm than good for 40+ years and want to actually have a reasoned discourse about the most effective method for helping the poor without killing people, you know where to find me.

              Luke Perkins

              January 30, 2014 at 7:34 pm

              • We know how to avoid you as well.

                But if you’d like to be more succinct in your desperate and contorted rationale, try this one;

                “am I my brothers keeper?”.

                It didn’t work out too well for Cain but perhaps you’ll have more luck with it.

                Best,
                The Staff at TGOC

                The TGOC Staff

                January 30, 2014 at 9:12 pm

                • I can’t believe I’m doing this… farewell to more pearls

                  You are showing your hypocrisy… again. You profess to be your brother’s keeper, yet cannot be bothered to reach out to those you called the “overwhelming majority of Christians” with anything other than derision, vitriol, and the sword. Even with me, you call my reasoning desperate and contorted, but cannot be bothered to explain where I went awry, or even show me that you understood me (which by your replies is painfully obvious you did not). Are you not my keeper by your own reasoning, bound to explain where I went wrong, bound to at least try to understand me well enough to explain where and how I can find Christ? And finally, are you not the keeper of your brothers who are wealthy also? Are you not bound to lead them to the Lord? Or are you merely bound to force their compliance at the point of a gun without heed to their heart or even their bodies?

                  For the last time, I am not defending the wealthy who do not aid the poor!!! I am condemning *your* actions, *your* methods, and *your* love of government in place of God. The two positions are not mutually exclusive, one can care for and aid the poor while still opposing *you.* I had assumed at the outset, we disagreed about the means of aiding the poor; I believe now that you do not care even care about the consequences to the poor of your actions, but rather about protecting your own vanity and arrogance so you can feel superior to the rest of humanity even as you sow chaos, pain, and despair among those you claim to “help.” For crying out loud, just look at the results of 40+ years of doing things *your* way! I fail to comprehend the difficulty understanding my position other than from the perspective that you do not care to understand. Are you as the Pharisees? A brood of vipers; blind guides infesting white washed tombs? Or do you truly believe a government, whose educational system has failed you so badly that you either cannot or will not understand me, could possibly hope to care for the poor?

                  Either way, the poor you are crushing under the iron fist of the government do not care for your “reasons,” nor do many even realize they are made worse off as they become dependent on people like you instead of on God. So bloody well get out of the way and let those of us who actually want for them to grow instead of stagnate help them do so. We have enough work to do without you putting government on top of all of us and singing sweet siren songs to entice the poor into state dependency!

                  And you wonder why I am angry with you.

                  Luke Perkins

                  January 31, 2014 at 2:54 pm

                • We understand that you are angry, as are most of your sort. We don’t recall expressing wonder as to reasons why. We know why. So do you.

                  Best,
                  The Staff at TGOC

                  The TGOC Staff

                  January 31, 2014 at 8:36 pm

                • So are you merely replying to me to salve your conscience, or are you bored, or have you no heathens to minister to? You have grouped me into “most of your sort” (another pathetic caricature) so as to discard me as worthless, yet bother to post trite, asinine comments which blatantly show you have not even bothered to develop a basic understanding of who *I* am instead of who *you think* I am. Are you so willing that I should perish without even making an attempt to reach me, but yet feel compelled reply for some inexplicable reason? What a strange god you follow, mine says He is not willing that any (including you) should perish but that all should have everlasting life. Apparently yours says “those sorts” should be left to perish and only mocked on their way out.

                  You haven’t the slightest reason why I am angry though I have told you several times. You have only your pigeon hole into which you have tried to stuff me. Odd that you still feel arrogant enough to sit upon your high horse and claim you know me better than I know myself even after I have told you your assumptions about me are wrong, wrong, wrong. No wonder your arguments favor the paternalistic view of society wherein the government is a benevolent parent wiser than all the children, chosen by God to bring punishment down on those who disagree with you. You have the same arrogant, self-absorbed attitude in your personal interactions! There is no love, no compassion, no care in your treatment of me, yet you persist in believing you are of Christ. One more time then, I am angry at you because you are the same as the Pharisees, clothing yourself in pseudo-righteousness to lord over everyone else without ever bothering to turn your face toward God. You brood of vipers! You think that running a website spouting your doctrines constitutes following Christ? You think that condemning, caricaturing, discounting, and killing those who disagree with you constitutes love for your neighbors?

                  There is a vast difference between anger and hate; between serenity and love. Here is the great irony of our conversation. I am angry with you, yet love you; which is why I gave you many chances to be understood by me and to understand me. You are serene toward me, yet hate me; which is why you make not even the slightest attempt to be understood by me or to understand me.

                  Tell me then, is this the Good News? That we are alone, that God will not try to understand? Because that is what your witness says to me.

                  Luke Perkins

                  February 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm

  2. [...] A Bible argument for the Government to aid the Poor [...]

  3. [...] But is it possible for the church to care for the poor? “Medicaid alone in 1997 cost $172.5 billion. If the 325,000 religious congregations in the United States tried to shoulder that load, each local congregation would have to raise an extra $529,000 per year.” - A Bible argument for government aid to the poor [...]

  4. Government should not need to help the poor, but neither churches, neighbors nor individuals are doing enough. There is still lots of suffering it the world. So assuming everyone in this thread is proactive in their own community, unfortunately there are others that are not. Until they are ready to step up someone needs to care for the sick and needy.

    Jason

    February 24, 2012 at 8:49 am

  5. I just stumbled upon this, but it’s similar to an argument I recently made. A pastor was claiming that we have a responsibility TO others, but not FOR others. I disagreed using the following reasoning:

    I think I would have to disagree, meaning that we are responsible FOR others, and not only to others. I’ll stick to the New Testament, since the Law is obsolete, though I think the tradition of Jubilee in the Old Testament would support this (Every 7th year, the crop is to remain unharvested and dedicated solely to the poor [Ex. 23:10-11] See also Deut. 15:11 regarding the poor)

    My conclusion that we are resposible FOR one another is derived from the following premises:

    1) The Gospels command that assets should be liquidated and distributed to others, i.e. the poor. This is clearly responsibility for. See Luke 3:11, Luke 12:33, Mark 10:21, Matt. 19:21

    2) the early church was a communal organization, and the only way such an organization can survive (which it didn’t) is if all parties invest fully. This requires responsibility FOR others, as the other’s survival is inherently dependent upon your contribution. Evidence: Acts 2:44-45 and Acts 4:32 to 5:11.

    3) Jesus’ command to love others as thyself. Mark 12:31. If you truly love your neighbor as yourself, you will be as responsible for him as you are for yourself. Also, Matt. 25:40, “Insasmuch as ye have done it unto the the least of these my brethern, ye have done it unto me.” and more importantly, v. 45, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”

    4) 2 Cor. 8:14 “…your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality” This is very similar to Marx’s “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” This verse indicates a reciprocal FOR responsibility. While Paul says this responsibility is primarily toward believers, Galations 6:10 provides for expanding it to all people: “As we have therefore opportunity, LET US DO GOOD UNTO ALL MEN, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

    While I am a humanist, I would be comfortable living in harmony with Christians who actually lived according to Jesus’ teachings.

    Rob

    September 14, 2009 at 8:41 pm

  6. Hi Greg:

    Arguments are only as good as the assumptions they’re built upon. The case you make stands on one assumption: taxation is stealing. Thus, the argument you make – which you call “Biblical wisdom” is anchored in a libertarian view, not a Biblical one. Jesus had plenty of opportunities to declare taxation theft – most especially when bluntly asked “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar?” He simply said “Give to Caesar what is his …”

    Further, if you believed taxation was theft, you’d have to disallow all government, which does not exist without it. There is no tax that is universally affirmed by the population that pays it; all taxes are obligations for that reason, taken, if need be, “By force,” as you say.

    In our republican democracy, our representatives contract with our government for services that they believe will be in our best interest. General Powell, like many military officials, has described poverty as an important challenge to national security. For indeed, those nations where poverty is rampant and unrelenting are vulnerable to whatever group offers them alliances in exchange for cash. It is perfectly reasonable – even for one who believes that government currently exceeds its Constitutional mandate – to see feeding the hungry as a provision for national security, and thus, well within the Constitution.

    But for we who follow Christ, there is a passion much deeper than that: caring for the poor is Jesus’ most common topic. I shudder to think that one day we will stand before him, knowing we could have done so, but refused. We could rid the world of most of its starvation in two years’ time.

    But we don’t. Because we allow other passions – in your case, the passion for libertarianism – to trump the first passion of Jesus Christ.

    Sorry to say, yours is not a Biblical argument, but a secular humanist argument in Bible clothing.

    Monte

    October 25, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    • Monte,

      I must take issue with your assertion Jesus supported taxes. Yes He said “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” but what does He say is Caesar’s? The answer is that the Earth is God’s footstool and everything in it belongs to Him. What then is left to render unto Caesar? Further, Jesus asked to borrow a coin from a bystander. He then asked “who’s picture is upon it?” rather than “whose coin is this?” Had He asked the latter, the crowed would have replied that it belonged to him from whom it was borrowed, not Caesar. Having Caesar’s picture upon the coin does not make it Caesar’s possession, hence Jesus having to ask the other question in order to get the crowed to answer with Caesar’s name. So no, Jesus was not condoning taxation as you suggest. In fact, quite the opposite, but if He had answered directly “No” He would have been arrested and killed right then and there thus bypassing all the prophesy about betrayal etc. So if you think He was supporting taxes, answer me this, what would have happened if He had just said “Yes”? Why didn’t He?

      So much for the appetizer, now for the meat of the discussion. As to your attempt to attack the libertarian argument, it missed the crux of the argument. So let us begin at the beginning, always a good place to begin. Jesus said that those of us who wish to be leader must be a servant. What power over a master does a servant have but that which the master voluntarily grants the servant? Here, I believe, we hit consent of the governed, from which naturally flows all the arguments against taking money by force to support social programs (and in fact Christians participating in any government not based in consent of the governed) of which there are numerous volumes from people far more eloquent than I whom you may read, but the argument boils down to this:

      We are to be servant leaders if we truly follow Jesus
      (servant-leadership)
      ergo we can only exercise the power granted us by those we serve
      (consent of the governed)
      ergo we cannot use force on those we serve
      (unless they give us permission to)
      ergo we are incapable of taking what they will not voluntarily give
      (without force, or its substitute, we cannot disposes them against their consent)
      ergo we must persuade them to serve the poor without resorting to force
      (leave them free to choose)

      Thus, in order to destroy the argument you were attacking, you must show not that taxation is not theft, but that Jesus did not want us to be servants of those who follow us for the rest flows naturally therefrom. Once you have done that, then you may show me that the authority to rule comes not from the master granting the servant power, but from some other source; for example, the Divine Right of Kings, the idea that God has created some to be rulers and some to be slaves. Until you do that, you have not even remotely attacked the argument as you thought you were. Of course, you can also see that in attacking this argument you are attacking the very basis of mankind’s freedom (that of having freewill), so we can truly see that Ben Franklin was right when he said “Man will ultimately be ruled by God (servant-leadership) or by Tyrants (all-other-leadership).”

      So I agree with your assertion that we could impact the poverty of the world if we set aside our passions (though Jesus said the poor would always be with us). But the passion I see holding us back is not that for Liberty, but that of desiring to control the free-will of our neighbor. It is a non-controversial fact that the freer the people throughout history, the more prosperous they have been. This is why in the US (the freest country in the world for 150 years) the poor kill to have cars, and cellphones, and laptops while the poor of the rest of the world kill to have bread, water, and shelter. And now the argument is “we must take away freedom to eliminate poverty”? Good luck to you on that, as for me and mine, we will follow the Lord always and trust always in His plan. Thanks for the offer though.

      Blessings,

      –LP–

      Luke Perkins

      March 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm

  7. Thanks, Greg – I’m looking forward to responding to your thesis. It’ll be a few days till I get to it, but you raise important points that are on the minds of many, and worth a little reflection.

    Monte

    October 6, 2008 at 11:46 pm

  8. I think it’s obvious that stealing from others to help someone else totally defeats the purpose of helping people.

    Stealing is definitely a sin.

    Forcefully taking property from others is obviously stealing. If it wasn’t against that person’s will, then force wouldn’t be necessary.

    Money is property. If you don’t understand that, then you are like most people today who have lived their entire lives under fiat currencies, rather than real money, such as gold and silver, as seen in the Bible.

    Government IS force.

    Government IS consumption. It does not produce (at least not efficiently, thus netting on the consumption side). In order for government to consume, it needs money. Either you freely give the money to it, or it will forcefully take it, or create a fraudulent currency like our U.S. Dollar by creating a fraudulent monetary system, such as our Federal Reserve System. Allowing it to do such a thing opens the door for it’s abuse, as it has been since it’s inception.

    Government is to be used for punishing injustice (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans%2013&version=9) (this assumes individuals have God-give Rights that others can commit injustice against). Government is not to be used for committing injustices such as stealing and threatening/imprisoning/killing those individuals that refuse to let it steal their property, for the sake of helping other individuals.

    I think this is rather obvious if you read the Bible on this subject.

    If you want to help the poor (which I hope you do), you can do it personally, or give money to privately run charities that help the poor. Government is completely unnecessary in these matters, and has clearly show itself incapable of helping these matters, but very capable of making these matters worse, and has done so.

    There is no reason at all for government to be involved in these matters. It’s sole purpose is to protect our rights and punish those that violate our rights. Unfortunately, the “check & balance” of government, which is The People, aren’t doing their job to make sure this is all the government does. Now the government is practically autonomous and in control, rather than controlled by the people.

    Understanding the cause & effect of actions is very helpful. This applies to economics. Setting a minimum wage causes lay-offs (labor is then more expensive, and it will be too expensive for some businesses, so they cut back on labor). Increasing an existing minimum wage has the same effect. Taxing businesses reduces their ability to produce, and/or reduces the incentive to the owners to even have the business at all, so either production lowers, or they just close down the business, all resulting in less wealth creation, and fewer jobs, and more poor people. Creating a fraudulent monetary system opens up all kinds of possibilities for injustice. First, for it to be used, you have to violate people’s rights to choose what they use as money. (Gold and silver are now illegal to use as money). Otherwise the currency would be of no value at all. Our monetary system is based on debt. You should be aware that those who are in debt are slaves to the lender. Our entire money supply is based on debt. All of our currency is brought into existence by someone borrowing it. However, they charge interest on it as well. If they create $100,000, but charge a flat 5% interest on it, requiring $105,000 to be paid back, there’s no way for that to happen. So more money must be borrowed so it is created and brought into the total money supply so it’s possible for the loan with interest to be paid back. Now there’s not enough for the second loan to be paid back, so more is lent out. This is our current system. It grows exponentially, and will eventually lead to hyper-inflation and a destruction of the currency. It is unsustainable. The credit expansion creates “booms” (mal-investment), which are always followed by “busts” (liquidation of the bad investments). These busts involve job loss, loss of investments, etc, during the painful recession/depression. This monetary system also opens the door for vast amounts of corruption. Businessmen makes friends with government people, and they help each other out by taking advantage of the huge amounts of power they have through controlling the monetary system. Another effect is general increase in prices. When credit is expanding, meaning money is lent out, that money is newly created money that just entered the monetary system. That money is then spent on various things, driving up demand for those things, which results in increased prices. This money moves through the economy, as more and more businesses and people get some of it, and it drives up prices. The first ones to get the money get to buy things before prices have gone up, and the last ones to get the money, or those who don’t (people on fixed incomes), end up paying higher prices, due to the credit expansion. Credit expansion, or inflation, is a “hidden tax”, created by our monetary system. Government uses it all the time, which is why our national debt has increase so insanely in recent decades (before then the dollar was tied to gold in a pseudo-gold-standard, that was misunderstood, abused and/or sabotaged).

    Anyways, I know this is an old post, and the most recent comments are from a long time ago, but I couldn’t help but share some Biblical wisdom on this subject. Live and let live. You have no right to force your will on someone else. You can defend your rights against those that try to violate them, but you have no right to steal from others and give it to someone else, no matter how you abstract it through government or twist the semantics or anything. Justice is Godly. Injustice is sinful. There’s nothing wrong with making a lot of money. There’s nothing wrong with people buying/selling labor (your “job” is you selling your labor to a business for money, insurance, etc). Your labor is your property. You trade it for money, which is then your property. It’s unjust for someone to take part of that property. An unjust government is not of God. God is Just. Government obviously needs money to operate, but it does not need to be forced through income taxes (that’s generally what I mean by tax throughout this rant).

    check out http://www.mises.org for economic studies (different than the kind our over-sized government teaches in the Humanist and socialist public schools).

    Greg

    October 6, 2008 at 3:13 pm

  9. I’ve been thinking about this topic a little more lately, and I’m starting to wonder: Even though I’m sure God wants good to be done through the governments, the government does everything through power and force-whether for good or for bad. But as I’ve been reading about it, and looking at the passage, it seems that Jesus’ temptation is about wether or not he is going to use power to restore the world, and he decides he won’t. And then Peter says the same thing to him right after he confesses that Jesus is the son of God, and Jesus says, “Get behind me Satan”- perhaps calling Peter Satan to refer to his temptation-or to say, “You’re trying to get me to do the same thing Satan did.”

    So I’m starting to wonder that if Jesus were here in bodily presence right now, although I’m sure he would rather the gov look after its own people, I don’t know if he would be appealing the government for help. Instead, perhaps he would allign himself with the down trodden and in so doing expose the injustice of the economic inequality.

    darthben

    November 6, 2007 at 9:50 pm

  10. [...] 21st, 2007 · No Comments      Monte Asbury has a post at his blog that gives “A Bible argument for government aid to the poor.”  I have given a lot of thought, and, so far, I’m not convinced.  I agree that [...]

  11. I think that quote is from Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborn, but if I remember right, he was just quoting a good friend of his. That book is outstanding.

    DarthBen

    October 20, 2007 at 9:06 pm

  12. Monte, what do you think…

    I’ve struggled with this issue a lot because I don’t think that the Gospel way is to fight power with power, or to try to force people to live by our standards. Thus I don’t think we should make laws that against homosexuality or cohabitation, and I don’t think that the way to spread the gospel is to take over the government or to get enough senators voted in to “Christianize” the government.

    However, there is a lot of suffering in the world that comes from governments. Governments in Africa have contributed to their people’s starvation and will not let aid come in. Stalin and Hitler killed their own people. Our own government contributes to world poverty by our foreign policies. Then you have huge corporations who take advantage of their employees and take advantage of internationals through sweat shops.

    But how do we combat these forces of power. As I said, I don’t think that Jesus fought power with power. In fact, I think much of what his temptations were about were whether or not he was going to follow the way of world conquerers, or follow another way. So how do we combat powerful forces of evil.

    Of course this brings up the question of war, which I have struggled a lot with too. We are not supposed to kill people-but does this become a “necessary evil” when someone in power is harming others. I understand the thinking behind it, but it just seems inconsistent with the gospel. Was assassinating Hitler really a godly notion that was consistent with the gospel, or was it a contradiction? It seems like we are caught between two callings as Christians-to defending the weak, and to love our enemies. How can we live out the non-violent, loving way of life Jesus spoke about if we kill a corrupt leader? How can we live out defending the weak if we don’t? Is our belief in a “just war” just our failure to really believe in Jesus teaching and living out a non-violent way of life?

    DarthBen

    October 19, 2007 at 4:54 am

  13. [...] 2007 · No Comments Monte at Monte Asbury’s Blog has posted a draft of a post called “A Biblical Role for Government in Helping the Poor.”  He wrote it partly to answer a question I asked him.  Frequent readers know that I am quite far [...]

  14. One of my favorite quotes that I’ve read is, “When we truly discover love, capitalism will not be possible, and Marxism will not be necessary.” One of the critical problems in this world is that, especially those of us in the west and particularity in America, is that we tend to see each other as competition. Unrestrained capitalism tends to do this. Even Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, said that the way that capitalism flourishes is when everyone looks to their own desires over everyone else. This in turn encourages us to see each other as competition. We need to cry out that the people are are struggling to make it, who are poor, and who are even dying of starvation or preventable disease, we need to cry out that they are just as deserving as we are to have their basic needs taken care of. As Bono wrote in one of his songs, “Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.” However, the problem is that the base of our very system of economics in this country tells us other wise- that everyone is our competition. Capitalism has some benefits for economics, but it is a terrible social system-which is what it often gets turned into.

    Monte Says:

    “When we truly discover love, capitalism will not be possible, and Marxism will not be necessary.”

    Wow, that’s a truly remarkable quote! Can you remember who wrote it or where you saw it?
    I wonder if one of the products of modernism is this need to fit everything into discrete systems with labels (eg capitalism and socialism), then pit them against each other. It seems like a way of thinking that is rooted in a need to win – and in doing so, to annihilate the opponent. You see it in the need for “unconditional surrender” from the Japanese in WWII. The debate was over whether to drop the A-bomb or invade. Yet it was an island nation, completely surrounded, with few natural resources and an economy in ruins – it had lost the war already.

    And I think evangelicalism is the last bastion of modernism, thus every debate becomes win-lose rather than win-win. “Compromise” is often still regarded as defection. And so something about our way of thinking has called us to assert that capitalism has to be right in every situation, and that any exception is impure. Unless the “enemy” is utterly stamped out, we remain on the slippery slope to defeat. Hence the neo-conservative idea that America must remain the world’s only superpower.

    So, it is hard for us to admit that Africa’s poverty is, to a great degree, a result of Western domination of Africa during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Entire nations were coerced into delivering their natural resources to the West. Farms were destroyed, populations moved to industrial areas (and often into areas historically avoided because of malaria). And when the value of the resources dropped, imperialism became unpopular, Western nations left, and no one remembered how farming was done. Tough luck, Africa. I first began thinking about this when it occurred to me that my Dad, a WWII veteran, fought the Nazis in Africa. One day I though, “What on earth? Why were two Western powers fighting in Africa?” And with just a little study, realized all of Africa had been claimed by Europeans. This process continues today with Iraq and Iran (you might enjoy a summary I made of a speech I heard on Iran at A brief history of Iran-US relations).

    Perhaps we can’t admit our dark side because it would suggest to us that we are totally evil (eg, “If you hate America so much, why don’t you …”) But I think it may be in the idea of restitution that we begin to see what our role in the world could be. In the process, perhaps we could deal with the reality that we’re not better or more deserving than anybody else, that God loves them just as much as he loves me, and that their prosperity (their “winning”) is as important to God as ours.

    We who follow Jesus serve another Kingdom, and I suppose that’ll make us seem treasonous to this one sometimes. For we will want to see everyone win – in fact, we’re pretty well convinced that peace is not possible unless as many as possible do.

    Thanks – I really enjoy and benefit from your thoughts!
    Monte

    DarthBen

    October 18, 2007 at 2:34 pm

  15. I need to re-read what you wrote after I let it “settle.” I respect you as a man of God and will, therefore, give your views prayerful thought. I’ll let you know what I conclude. I just want you to know that I am listening and considering.

    Monte Says: I am honored. Many thanks!

    renaissanceguy

    October 18, 2007 at 1:56 am


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