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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Problem

Although I don't agree with everything Glenn Beck says, he pretty much hit the nail on the head when he urged Americans to leave churches that preach social and economic justice. He accurately compared this doctrine to communism.

However, Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a network of progressive Christians, says Beck perverted Jesus' message. At least 20,000 people have already responded to his call to boycott Beck. He says Beck is confusing his personal philosophy with the Bible. "He wants us to leave our churches, but we should leave him," Wallis says of Beck. "When your political philosophy is to consistently favor the rich over the poor, you don't want to hear about economic justice." Wallis claims that social and economic justice is at the heart of Jesus' message.
(complete CNN article here)

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the Number 1 problem in America today: Churches that preach non-Biblical principles.

A foundational presupposition in Reformed theology is that man is totally depraved, deserving nothing other than death and hell. The primary presupposition of believers in social and economic justice is that man is basically good and entitled to certain basic rights. This is wrong and unbiblical! Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:10 says, there is none that is righteous, no not one... and that's in the New Testament!

Notice that 20,000 people agree that Beck should be boycotted for saying this. The assumption that man is basically good, is a humanistic philosophy that has long plagued the church. Until we realize that we are sinful to the core and the Lord Jesus Christ is our only hope of salvation, our nation is doomed. It begins in the churches. As the church goes, so goes the nation, and as long as communism is advocated in the house of God, communism will continue in the United States.

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Blogger ~Ruthie Sisemore~ said...

I actually got to hear Beck on the radio speaking about this. I think those boycotting him are confused. Beck's point was that Christians individual or corporately, as a body of believers, should give out of heartfelt charity rather than having the government force them to do so. Christians individually and corporately should minister to the truly poor. According to Ezek. 16:49 this was one of the great sins of Sodom and Gomorrah: Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. ESV Am I making sense??

March 12, 2010 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger Green Gardening Girl said...

Great post. And by the way, is the pastor on the "wayside pulpit" a women?

That may be another problem.


March 13, 2010 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger deb said...

I was curious how Reformed Theology would work in goverment. In an ideal world, how do you think that poor people should be cared for?

You stated that you believe that mankind is totatally depraved, deserves only death and hell. That doesn't mean that you think that only certain people should be helped, right? I guess that I am trying to see what would be different about a goverment run by Reformed Theology and one run by humanism

If you choose to answer this, then I thank you.

March 13, 2010 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Ms. Sizemore:
Yes, that makes perfect sense. I wondered if maybe he had been perhaps taken out of context because the CNN article was painting him as having a really radical stance.
Thanks for the comment!

I don't know if it was a woman, but you are right, that would definitly be a problem! Thanks for the comment.

Great question! I believe that Biblically, it is the church's role to care for the poor. We support the church in this primarily through faithful tithing.
If I understand your question correctly, you want to know if I think that only certain people should be helped by government healthcare. I do not believe that the government's jurisdiction is to administer healthcare. The sole purpose of the government is to wield the sword, per Romans 13.
I hope this answered your question. Thanks for the comment!

March 13, 2010 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger Plain Jane said...

I believe you are misinformed about the theology of social justice. Yes, all have sinned and no one deserves any special blessing from God; this is why when we are blessed, we are to assume that we are blessed so that we may share it with others who are in need. This is clearly outlined by Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46, where he explains that those who help others in need will be counted as having helped Christ himself, and those who do not will be counted as having refused Christ. This, not some idea related to socialism, is at the root of social justice theology. This theme is strong in the Old Testament, as well, where we are encouraged to care for the widow and orphan as representative of anyone in need; recall that God sent Elijah to a Gentile widow, Zarephath, and Jesus used this as an example of how his own ministry was meant to "preach the gospel to the poor...proclaim release to the set free those who are oppressed." And, we also have Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, reminding us that love is the most excellent way. The theology of social justice is about walking humbly with God, and that includes the idea that anything God has given us is given to us so that we may use it to help someone else.

March 13, 2010 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Thank you for your insight. I think we may be operating on two different definitions of "social justice". When I hear the phrase "social justice", I define that as the government redistributing wealth. In my opinion, this is Biblically indefensible.
However, I absolutely agree that it is our job to care for those who are less fortunate than us. James 1:27 says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Do I understand your statements clearly?
Thanks for the comment.

March 13, 2010 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger deb said...

Some of us aren't familiar with Reformed Theology so your comment about people not being entitled to help because human nature is totally deprived might have been misunderstood. I thought you were saying that only certain people deserved help. I gather that you wouldn't make being a Christian a requirement to get help, right?

Also, is there a time period when Christians were able to keep people from starving without government help? I ask because, as a fan of Charles Dickens, I have always thought that poverty sounded very grim in the centuries before ours.

March 13, 2010 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger Johann said...

This is an excellent post Stephen, and I think the discourse you have going here is extremely beneficial. After all, we are to exercise the mind as well as the body.

On a humorous note...
C'mon, I see CNN at the top left and the church sign says United Church of Christ on it. What are you supposed to think??
Sorry...those two things just struck me as funny. Ah well.

March 15, 2010 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Deb: Right, one would not have to be a "Christian" to receive support, however, I believe that the Bible teaches that those who don't work shouldn't eat and this applies to Christians as well as non-Christians.

Hah! Thanks for the comment, man. I'm glad you enjoyed this.

March 16, 2010 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

This may sound strange but I think there needs to be more education on "how" to help people.

I was once in a leadership position in a large church that encourages the people to help corporately and individually.

I made a request of the church for some education on how to help people in the class I was overseeing because there were many needs within our class that were not easy to handle and did not fall under the corporate type of help.

We especially needed to know how to help the ones that are really in need but want more than what you can give of your time, money and energy.

And you run out of organizations to send them to for help...because they have already been there too many times.

Many of these are people that can't work, they are sick...but getting help from others is a way of life for them and some don't mind being very demanding in tone and expectation.

I didn't really get anything from my request that was educational.

Perhaps the help should also be focused on what's causing people to be in such need.

March 16, 2010 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I agree with you! Many churches do not teach practical Christian living. This is a huge problem.

March 17, 2010 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger deb said...

Hello Stephen! One more question, how would charity work for people who can't work, like elderly people or those with handicaps?

It would be wonderful if Churches could take over the welfare system but how would the Churches afford to give money to missionaries or other nonwelfare programs? I would think that a good portion of the Churches' income would go to the poor.

March 19, 2010 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

My apologies for not replying sooner.
In situations of people who can't work (elderly or handicapped), optimally, the families of those people would take care of them. If there is no family, then it's the churches responsibility.
Churches would have more income if people tithed faithfully. Most church attenders don't tithe.

March 23, 2010 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Veritatem Venit ad Lucem said...

One function of government is to "wield the sword" -- to make people do as they should, when through vice or ignorance they fail to do so willingly.

Hence the government punishes theft, and keeps people honest; it also compels people to give of their substance to help the poor, something which God requires but which many people would not do, of their own volition.

March 29, 2010 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Out of curiosity, where do you find the Biblical model for the government compelling people to help the poor? I'm not saying that it's wrong to help the poor, merely that I haven't found a Biblical precedent for the government compelling anyone to do anything other than obey the law.

March 31, 2010 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

The Bible commands Christians to care for the poor. Period You don't have to wait for the church to do it, every single one of us should be out helping the needy. BUT, Christians aren't and haven't been doing this in America, so the government must. I believe that God has seen that Christians in America are selfish, greedy, and care more about building big churches, going on retreats, having fun church activities instead of caring for the poor. So He ordained a leader that will direct the government to care for the needy since it is obvious Christians aren't. No, it isn't a Biblical government, but neither is letting the poor starve and not be able to access health care. I know people who have been searching for jobs for a year with no luck and the government is the only thing keeping them fed, clothed, and in a house. Do you think that these people should just die from starvation or lack of medical care while they wait for Christians to get on the ball and start doing their duty?
If you really want to change the way the government is going, then stop waiting on people to tithe more or someone else to start a program to help the needy and go do it yourself. It's not as fun and easy as writing a blog post or joining the Tea Party, but it does a great deal more good.

April 5, 2010 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Why is your solution to go to the government, whose only jurisdiction is to wield the sword? (Romans 13) Granted, America has problems brought on by the decline of Christianity, but should we "go with the flow" and not fight against it? The government's finger in providing for the poor is creating, in fact, more poor because of the communistic manner in which care for the poor is regulated.
You say letting the poor starve and not have access to health care is not Biblical, why not? Where in the Bible are we entitled to live to the age of 80, be well fed and have a house and a car? We live in a fallen, cursed world. The purpose for our existence is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
What about Mary Magdalene, who anointed Jesus' feet with the expensive perfume. When confronted as to why this was not sold and the money given to the poor, Jesus answers: "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me." (Matt. 26:6-13)
The only way to truly help the poor, is to do it God's way. We must work to reform the church.

April 6, 2010 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I know I shouldn't throw in my .02 but....

If Christians fail in their duties to the needy, it doesn't give the government a right to step in and buy off the poor.
Honestly, does anybody seriously believe that the government cares about the lowest common denominator for any reason other than their own personal gain?

You don't have to be rich to vote.

As for healthcare, I could throw away my wallet right now (ID, Greenbacks etc.), cut off my finger and go to a ER without ever having to worry about paying the bill, (or losing my finger, thanks to our great American Doctors).

Then I could stand on a street corner with a cardboard sign, I'd probably make more in a day that way than I would working for minimum wage.

Even the poorest in our Nation are far better off than most people in thoroughly socialized countries.


April 7, 2010 at 1:11 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Stephen, your total lack of compassion and love for those in need astounds and saddens me. There are over 300 verses in the Bible about caring for the poor. Therefore it is not Biblical to just let them die while we waste our money on traveling, clothes, guns, or whatever.
I never said to not fight against the government, I said that the way to do so is to start doing our job by caring for the poor and stop spending our time and money ranting against the government. Christians have forsaken the poor, but God has not. Isaiah 41:17 - "When the poor and needy seek water and there is none, and their tongue fails for thirst, I the LORD will hear them and I the God of Israel will not forsake them." God heard the cries of those starving and sick, and He has provided for them. Not the way it is supposed to be, but that fault lies completly on Christians.
What are you personally doing to meet the needs of the poor in your community? I would love to see some blog posts about that.

April 7, 2010 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Mike, to continue with your example about cutting off your finger. You would most likely need physical therapy to use your finger ever again. And I know for personal experience, no PT office is going to take you unless you can prove that you can pay.

My oldest daughter was a micro-preemie and our insurance, that we pay $1200 a month for, denied paying for her OT and PT because they claimed being premature was a pre-existing condition. Even though my daughter needed this therapy, the therapy office turned us away until we could pay in full at each visit (which is several hundred dollars and we needed to go twice a week) or our insurance paid. We are very lucky that we were able to quickly work things out and get our insurance to pay, but if not, we would have qualified for government assistance to cover the therapy.

Now, according to Stephen, if our insurance would not have paid, it would have been better to let my child grow up severly disabled then to accept government assistance. No church or Christians were going to pay over a thousand dollars a month for her therapy, especially since it went on for over a year. In a perfect world, they would, but this isn't a perfect world, it is a fallen one.

If the government quit supporting those in need tomorrow, then the result will hundreds of thousands of people starving and losing their homes. I would love to believe that Christians would step up and support these people, but that won't happen unless there is first Christian reform. If the focus is on Christian reform instead of government reform, then once Christians start doing their job and giving sacrificially to those in need, the government reform will take care of itself.

I am anti big government, but I am also anti mothers having to watch their babies suffer and die while Christians sit around doing nothing. I think it is easy to forget that all of our leaders are God ordained and there was a reason that He put people into office who would provide for the poor. This should be a wake up call that the need is for Christian reform, not government reform. If we have government reform before Christian reform, we will still be a nation living in sin, except this time more people will be dying.

April 8, 2010 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I have never said that I would not (or have not) helped people in need. Oftentimes my family has engaged in ministry opportunities for other families.
I think we both recognize the problem: poor people not being cared for. However, my solution is to be an example in serving, and to reform the church. I don't believe that a fragment of scripture should be picked out and focused on. The Word of God applies to every area of life. God has established a system that minimizes the number of poor. Christians have broken their covenant with God and rampant poverty is one of the results. Government reform is part of Christian reform, but I think we can agree that it starts with the people of God.

April 8, 2010 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Stephen, it is wonderful that you and your family help those in need. :-) You should really put more information about how you and your family are meeting the needs of the poor in your community in this blog. Not only will it serve to inspire others, it is a big part of defending our Christian heritage. Our Christian heritage doesn't involve allowing others to go without while we live with excess.

But, frankly, I am still shocked that you think it is okay that people just die while Christians do nothing. That is just as much as a sin as the government providing for the poor. This blog seems to focus more of government reform then Christian reform when it should be the other way around. If the government is reformed before Christians are, then the result will not be a Godly nation, but a nation that is instead just as sinful as before but this time more people will die. If the focus is instead on Christian reformation, when that occurs, it will not only be easier to reform the government (in fact the government problems would most likely solve themselves), but it will not leave millions to die.

April 9, 2010 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I have debated posting various projects we have been engaged in, but I do want to be sensitive to others privacy. I'll definitely think more of it.
Death is a part of life and while all life is sacred, God has appointed to everyone a time to die. I'm not saying that we should not work hard to save life, but we just need to recognize that it's beyond our power to make sure that everyone has a wonderful life. Death is part of God's curse after The Fall.
I don't see any difference between government reform and Christian reform. If you look at life from the Reformation worldview that the Bible applies to all areas of life, all reformation is either for good or for evil. There is no realm where the Bible applies then other areas where "common sense" applies. All of life (government, politics, family, pulling weeds, raising kids) is governed by the word of God.
I think what you are trying to say is that it's more important to establish a grassroots reformation (bottom up) as opposed to a government reformation (top down).
I could not agree more!
However, by expounding on political issues from a Biblical perspective, and hopefully educating some of my fellow citizens, while learning myself, about the pertinent issues, we can work together.

April 9, 2010 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Stephen, I think we do agree that change needs to start with Christians and then move to other parts of our country because doing it the other way will only result in more havoc and sin.

Life and death is in the hands of the Lord, but that does not give us permission to sit by and watch others die, which is exactly what is going to happen if the government is reformed before Christians are.

Yes, we sould try and reform the government, but at the same time we have to make sure that we are not leaving out the Christian reformation. I have gone through all the blogs listed on the side of your blog and I was able to find a great many ones where the government reformation was being expounded on post after post. But there was not a single one (at least not in any recent posts) that expounded on Christians reaching out and giving sacrificially to the poor so that there would be not need for government welfare. If fact, I have found it extremely rare to find a blog that doesn't fragment the Bible and focus solely on government reformation or politics.

April 10, 2010 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger jeff said...

From one Scotch- Irish Christian Southerner to another:

Get to Know the Original
Finding the living roots of Christianity.

May 9, 2010 at 8:29 PM  

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