Skip to comments.Whom Would Jesus Indebt?
Posted on 08/07/2011 5:56:28 AM PDT by schmootman
Dear President Obama, Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Boehner,
Recently, in the midst of the debt-ceiling crisis, a group calling themselves the Circle of Protection, led by Jim Wallis of the activist group Sojourners, met with you and your staff to claim that biblical mandates preclude limits to federal programs for low-income people. The Circle includes representatives of the National Association of Evangelicals, Bread for the World, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Wallis and the Circle of Protection do not speak for all Christians. However laudable their intentions, the consequence of their action is to provide a religious imprimatur for big government and sanctify federal welfare programs that are often ineffective even counterproductive. Contrary to their founding Statement, we do not need to protect programs for the poor. We need to protect the poor themselves. Indeed, sometimes we need to protect them from the very programs that ostensibly serve the poor, but actually demean the poor, undermine their family structures and trap them in poverty, dependency and despair for generations. Such programs are unwise, uncompassionate, and unjust.
Let no one be deceived: the Budget Control Act may resolve the immediate cash-flow crisis, but the long-term crisis of government insolvency remains. The Act does not touch the mountain of debt we are preparing to pass on to our families; in fact, the purpose of the Act is to permit our leaders to make that mountain larger, by raising the debt ceiling. This debt will only impoverish even more Americans. So we ask that you meet with us, Christians for A Sustainable Economy (case4america.org). We believe the poor of this generation and generations to come are best served by policies that promote economic freedom and growth, that encourage productivity and creativity in every able person, and that wisely steward our common resources for generations to come. All Americans especially the poor are best served by sustainable economic policies for a free and flourishing society. When creativity and entrepreneurship are rewarded, the yield is an increase of productivity and generosity.
Compassion and charity for the least of these is an essential expression of our faith, flowing from a heart inclined towards God. And just as the love of God frees us for a more abundant life, so our charity must go beyond mere material provision to meet the deeper needs of the poor. To suggest that Matthew 25 or any commandment concerning Christian charity can be met through wealth redistribution is to obscure these truths. We encourage you to consider the whole counsel of scripture, which urges not only compassion and provision for the poor but also the perils of debt and the importance of wise stewardship.
To the question, What would Jesus cut?, we add the question, Whom would Jesus indebt? The Good Samaritan did not use a government credit card.
The government plays an important role, and communities do need the support of social safety nets for those in need. A Christian approach to the budget crisis considers the interests of the poor. All of us suffer when our nation exchanges wisdom, prudence, liberty and faithful stewardship for the chronic unemployment of a stagnant economy and the enslaving power of debt.
Both parties have failed. Our common resources have been stewarded unwisely and the United States is trillions of dollars in debt. We have reached a breaking point. Fiscal recklessness must stop. Just as we should not balance the budget on the backs of the poor, so we should not balance the budget on the backs of our children and grandchildren.
Even as the debt-ceiling crisis passes, the long-term challenge of making federal spending wise and effective remains. We recommend three steps:
1. Correctly identify the problem.
The debt disaster is a spending issue. Tax revenues are finite, while the growth of government is unceasing. By any measure, federal spending has skyrocketed, from $2.9 trillion in 2008 to $3.8 trillion in 2011. We presently borrow over forty cents of every dollar we spend. While increasing taxes will generate additional revenues and reduce the deficit in the short term, it will ultimately harm the economy, constrain economic growth, and hasten the out-of-control growth of government. To give more money to Washington is to give the sickness the remedy it requests. The last thing the government needs is more money. It needs to cease its unwise and profligate spending.
2. Put narrow political interests aside.
Entrenched political interests stagnate reform. Every cent of government spending must be on the table, for liberal and conservative priorities alike. The stated intention of helping the needy does not make poverty programs sacrosanct. Some of these programs serve the poor so well that they make more people poor and keep them in poverty longer. Stop the demagoguery against those who propose substantive changes to entitlements and social welfare programs.
3. Lead for the long term.
Americans yearn for, and deeply appreciate, leaders who embrace a burden of responsibility that transcends the implications of the next election cycle. While we agree that budgets are moral documents insofar as they reflect values and decisions for which we are morally culpable, long-term budget plans are morally meaningful promises we make to later generations. Right now we are morally failing our children and grandchildren by selling their future flourishing for our present comfort. In hard times, true leaders make hard decisions. We encourage you to put aside political calculations and the pressures of special interest groups to make commitments that are in the long-term interest of the American economy and the American people.
People of faith come in all stripes, and differ on many points. Jim Wallis and the Circle of Protection are but one perspective. We believe they have not fully represented the large and diverse community of Christian faith, as you will see by the list of signatories below,* and have conveyed less than the full biblical witness and the counsel it provides in the current crisis. As such, even as you met with the Circle of Protection, we request a meeting as well. If you are committed to hearing voices of faith, even those that challenge your policy priorities, we hope you will meet with us.
As Christians striving for a sustainable economy, one that will lift the poor out of poverty and dependency on government (learn more at case4america.org), we thank you for considering our message - and for your service to our nation. May God bless America, and return us soon to wise stewardship of our common resources.
Co-Founders and Co-Authors *Affiliations for identification purposes only Timothy Dalrymple, Ph.D Content Director, Managing Editor of the Evangelical Portal at Patheos.com P. J. Hill, Ph.D. Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Wheaton College Kelly Monroe Kullberg Author, Finding God Beyond Harvard: the Quest for Veritas Co-editor/author, Faith and Culture Founder, the Veritas Forum Eric Teetsel Program Manager, Values & Capitalism; a project of the American Enterprise Institute. Mark Tooley President, Institute on Religion and Democracy Wendy Wright Past president, Concerned Women for America
Additional Co-Founders *Affiliations for identification purposes only
Ramona Marotz-Baden Professor Emeritus, Family and Consumer Sciences, Montana State University John Couretas Orthodox Church; The Acton Institute Michael Cromartie Vice President, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, DC Warren Duffy Former syndicated radio host Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse President, American Orthodox Institute David Kullberg Consultant and writer; member, Lutheran Church (NALC) Marvin Olasky Editor-in-Chief, World Magazine Author, The Tragedy of American Compassion Ashley Thorne National Association of Scholars Jeff Walton Anglican Communion; Institute on Religion and Democracy
Early Signatories (see complete list) *Affiliations for identification purposes only
Sara L. Anderson Chief Operating Officer, Bristol House, Ltd. Hunter Baker Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, Associate Professor of Political Science, Union University Francis Beckwith Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University E. Cal Beisner, Ph.D. Founder and National Spokesman, The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation (2005-present) Church Planting Minister, Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church (2007-2010) Chuck Colson Founder, Breakpoint and The Colson Center for Christian Worldview Paul Copan President, Evangelical Philosophical Society Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D. Concerned Women for America Rev. Sue Cyre Executive Director of Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry. David S. Dockery President, Union University Calvin Edwards Business owner, Atlanta, Georgia Rev. Dr. Mateen Elass Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Edmond, Oklahoma Michael Farris Chairman, Home School Legal Defense Association Nathan Finn Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary David French Senior Counsel, American Center for Law and Justice Nancy French Co-author, Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War Connally Gilliam The Navigators, National Metro Mission, Washington DC, author Josh and Becca Good Anglian Mission in the Americas Wayne Grudem, Ph.D. Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, AZ Johnny Hunt Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA; Past President of the Southern Baptist Convention Greg Jesson, Ph.D. Professor of Philosophy, Luther College Eric Metaxas Author, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery Founder, Socrates in the City Jeff Myers, PhD Chairman, Summit Ministries Tony Perkins President, Family Research Council Jay Richards Ph.D Catholic Church; Senior Fellow, The Discovery Institute Executive Producer, documentary, Effective Stewardship Author, Money, Greed and God Jordan Sekulow Director of Policy and International Operations, American Center for Law and Justice James H. Shaw Professor of Nutrition Emeritus, Harvard School of Dental Medicine Thomas A Shields Chairman, Coalition for Marriage and Family Lyn Shields Director, Alpha New England David M. Stanley Chair, National Taxpayers Union Director and Officer, Institute on Religion and Democracy Chair, Public Interest Institute Jean Leu Stanley Trustee, Foundation for Evangelism Director, Methodist Laity Reform Movement Steering Committee Member, United Methodist Action John Stonestreet Summit Ministres, Breakpoint and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview Rev. Vernon Stoop, Jr. Executive Director, Focus Renewal Ministries in the United Church of Christ Helen Rhea Stumbo President, Camellia & Main, Inc. Carol M. Swain, Ph.D Professor of Political Science and Law, Vanderbilt University Author, We the People Justin Taylor Blogger, author, editor David J. Theroux, Ph.D Founder and President, C.S. Lewis Society of California Founder and President, The Independent Institute Patrick A. Tracy Commander, US Navy (Retired) Graham Walker, Ph.D President, Patrick Henry College Chip Weiant Director, Amercian Center for Civic Character Jennifer R. White, MD Pediatrician/Mission Leader Board Member Heart to Honduras
Unfortunately, the leftists (including many if not most Catholic bishops ... http://veneremurcernui.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/the-debt-deals-biggest-loser-bishops/) have perverted beyond recognition the Christian "book of rules" on the issue of poverty, and until now, there has been no organized, coherent theological/philosophical opposition to their agenda. It's hard to see how last week's political theater could even have happened if there had been such an opposition.
I'm making this post to make you aware of a new coalition of Christians who are asking the question "Whom would Jesus indebt?" If you have time, read the letter from CASE (Christians for a Sustainable Economy)to our political leaders.
Great post. I’m co-opting part of it for my tagline.
Jesus would likely say “Obey my Father’s Commandments. Especially the Tenth.”
Post of the Day. Contest over.
The Bible says in Romans 13:8
“Owe no man anything but to love one another, etc”
Pretty much says it all, that would be Jesus opinion....in black and white.
THOU SHALL NOT COVET is the commandant being violated!!!
Voting for those who pass laws to forcefully take from others and give you their money is wicked and immoral.
I believe Jesus also told his disciples in Mathew 26:11: ‘the poor you have with you always’, meaning to me, that he encouraged giving, but stated a fact that would be due to a person’s obedience. It also says that ‘he who gathered little did not have too little, and he who gathered much did not have too much” The art of sharing.
I doubt Jesus would be redistributing wealth, because since he owns everything...why didn’t he make them rich, by redistributing his own resources to the poor? Jesus raised people from the dead....if that was his desire, it would have been done. Many have their status changed with hard work, education, right or wrong relationships; up or down on the poverty scale.
Jesus asked the young man, who had great wealth to give it to poor, so he would have treasures in heaven...the guy refused, but Jesus didn’t take it away from him, and forcefully give it to poor. It is a matter for the heart, and conviction, and not government intervention.
“Holy Mother our Church” (Roman Catholic) teaches that taxes are to be legally avoided whenever possible. The Christian Church ‘knows’ that taxes are not the best way to build up the Kingdom of God.
All Catholic Bishops through out the world (both in time & geography) avoid paying taxes if possible. By ‘thoughts + words + what you do + what you fail to do’ is the standard by which all conduct is judged by God.
All Christians in ALL churches should be asked about their tax deductions. (Show me your works!)
God set up ‘His form of government’ in the Bible. The government was ‘God centered’ with a 10% flat tax.
Jesus upheld the Commandments and in this context the ones to focus on are those that forbid lies, coveting and theft.
Socialism is the fraudulent bargain that we each can (and with government coercion, must) live at the expense of others. Jesus would instruct us that He never would give anyone the authority to seize the property of one person to “spread around”. And He certainly would remind us that because the Torah demands honest weights and measures (Lev 19:36), we cannot have currency that has a value the government freely manipulates. Under this simple precept, we cannot permit government to manipulate interest rates either.
Another interesting provision in the Law that gives us a pattern of how Jesus would approach the subject is this: in Leviticus 23:22, a farmer is required to leave the crop in the corner of his field to be harvested by the indigent. However the farmer doesn’t have to worry that the authorities will redefine the meaning of the word “corner” each year so as to permit expanding the corner until the farmer only can harvest the crop in the very middle of his own field.
If you read the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard which starts in Matthew chapter 20, you will see that Jesus upholds quite a few free market principles such as the right to own the vineyard, the right to hire workers, the right to pay the workers a mutually acceptable wage, etc. This parable ends in verse 15 with a rhetorical question that destroys the legitimacy of socialism: “ Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?”
Under socialism, the answer of course is no, it is not. Jesus would label socialism for what it is: evil and idolatrous. The Apostle Paul says as much in Colossians 3:5, where he notes that covetousness is idolatry. And socialism is based on securing assets of others in order to function, and the use of the State to effect that transfer. And socialism must distort economic reality to convince people this will actually bring them prosperity and happiness. Lies, coveting and theft. Evil.
I think these parables from Matthew 25 on the end times help us to understand personal responsibility, especially in the end times.
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.
9 No, they replied, there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.
10 But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 Later the others also came. Lord, Lord, they said, open the door for us!
12 But he replied, Truly I tell you, I dont know you.
26 His master replied, You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
We do not help our fellow man by continuing to give them fish until they get fat and lazy. Sometimes, hunger is a good motivation to exert an effort for ourselves and others. We are not just here to provide for our children, but to teach them to be healthy adults and parents. The problem with give, give, give is that it takes away our motivation to grow spiritually. Give to the needy, not the lazy!
We do not have a situation where our governament cares for the poor as much as it cares about buying the poor people’s support so they can manipulate them and get their support to stay in power.
Axcellent statement. TYo my disappointment as a Catholic, I see onoy two recognizable Catholic names among the signers: Francis Beckwith and Jay Richards. Any others you recognize?
I am sure there are many other Catholics, including prominent ones, who would be favorable. How does one contact and ask to sign?
The more recent signers are listed there, too.
At a local youth “Godspell” production last Sunday this thought came to my mind during the story of the good Samaritan, but not articulated as beautifully and concise.
Hopefully, there is a movement of reason coming to a country near and dear to our hearts.
(long time reader, this is my first post)
The reason almost no Catholic leaders have signed the “Whom Would Jesus Indebt?” document is that the Catholic bishops are nearly all socialists, and they strongly support the Wallis effort to bankrupt our country. http://www.ncregister.com/blog/debt-deals-biggest-losers-bishops/
No priest will sign the document because his pay comes from the bishops. Sad but true. When will Catholic pewsitters wake up to the apostasy of their bishops?
There's also a load of prominent Catholic laity who would sign, including (I'm guessing here) George Weigel, Michael Novak, Phil Lawler, Deal Hudson, John Zmirak, and a dozen others if I took time to dredge names out of my brain-box.
That's assuming that the CASE statement doesn't say anything gainst Catholic doctrine, e.g. doctrinaire laissez-faire absolutism. Which I don't think it does.
I'm interested to see where this goes. I hiope I keep getting pinged to related articles!
On that we both agree.
Amen and amen!