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Posted by Gregory Koukl on January 28, 2013 at 03:00 AM in :Greg Koukl, Christianity & Culture, Video | Permalink
Thank you so much for addressing this issue. The idea of social justice as you have described it here has really taken off in Christian circles. (And not just in liberal churches, but even in otherwise sound Evangelical churches.)
It is to the point where churches and individuals are now participating in programs/movements that further this idea that all poor people are victims, all rich people are wicked just by virtue of being rich (again, regardless of how they came to be rich) and that wealth in general is an unbiblical and even evil thing.
Christians do believe that poverty is an injustice, even if the person is poor due to their own bad choices in life. (Drug/alcohol abuse, refusal to work, criminal activity, etc.) Because of this, it has now become a common view among Christians of all stripes that any way of redistributing wealth - even by force by the government - is a biblical idea.
If you could go into this topic in depth on the show sometime, I would greatly appreciate it. I see it everywhere now and it's driving me crazy. It's so assumed that any Christian who even dares question it is looked upon like they've outright denied Christ or something.
January 28, 2013 at 08:47 AM
I also believe this idea of social justice informs some peoples view of condemnation - "A Perfectly Loving God would never allow people to suffer for eternity in hell it seems so unjust or I can't believe in a God who would allow such a thing."
Don't get me wrong I do not think what we suffer here is Judgement - I think what we suffer here are consequences of sin. I also believe that the consequences of not excepting Christ's Grace will lead to eternal condemnation.
January 28, 2013 at 09:30 AM
While I think there is some merit in what Greg says, I think that it is often overlooked that there are actual injustices within society that are generated by people who are well to do at the expense of those who are not. I will give you a very specific example and I should put a disclaimer here in order to safeguard STR from any responsibility. The views I am about to put forth are purely my own and do not reflect the views of the STR organization and I am the sole source of this information. I worked for the Hickey Freeman Co. in Rochester NY for over twenty years and then left the company. I was enrolled in a company pension plan that I was eligible for when I retired. The company went through bankruptcy, on purpose, in order to cause the failure of that pension plan and thus to divest many people from receiving compensation for making the owners, based in Chicago, rich. Senator Chuck Schumer jumped into the fray, when it started to look like they were going to close the company and the only reason that he did this is because the company was hiring from a minority neighborhood. Chuck wanted to look politically good and did so by supporting the immoral actions of the company heads. I don’t think he cared what happened to those of us who got thrown under the bus. The only thing he cared about was advancing his own political career. I should point out that Chuck is a Democrat, no surprise there. Do I think that any of the crooks that did what they did will see justice in this life? Nope. They got away with it clean and free. Not only free, but received over a million dollars from the state to, supposedly, help them get out of bankruptcy. The shameful behavior of business in bed with politicians at the expense of the workers is not likely to hit the front page of your local newspaper, but it does happen all the time. So, the little guy gets crushed like a cockroach while the big shots get their golden parachute. So, is there injustice…sure there is. You are just unlikely to hear about it since the poor often don’t get to hold the microphone. Only the successful get that privilege and they are the robber barons of our time. So, we can philosophize all we want, but when you get down to where the rubber hits the road...there are plenty of folks that end up as road-kill with the rich people behind the steering-wheel and no cop in sight.
Louis Kuhelj |
January 28, 2013 at 11:59 AM
(1) Does Greg ever read history?
(2) Are there Christian (Evangelical) ideologies, are these evil collective cognitive states vices of the 'Left'?
Sergio Ureña |
January 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM
I should point out another interesting point. The poor in the United States have been squeezed out of the market and here is how it happened. I have heard from one rich individual who was interested in helping the poor that getting the most for his charity dollar can only be done through giving in other countries. The math he worked out was that he could save more human lives, since it was cheaper to help people in underdeveloped countries, this way. He stated that it takes a lot more money to help poor people in the United States from, as an example, freezing to death, as happened to one homeless person in my area this winter. So, it would seem that numbers are all that matter to this philanthropic individual who wants to rack up more points in saved human lives. It shows what this business is all about. It is about playing with human lives in order to score the most points. It isn’t about saving lives or helping the poor…it is all just another Super bowl event. Never mind that we are talking about human lives here. It is just a game and if you happen to be poor and you live in the United States, well…you’re just out of luck because the numbers on a scoreboard are more important to those benevolent rich people than your life. If you can’t help them with their little number game so they can pat themselves on the back for a job well done, you may as well die. I wonder what ever happened to giving without expecting anything in return? I guess I must have a very antiquated idea of charity that doesn’t have anything to do with keeping score. I guess I’m just a bit behind the times and not as sophisticated as those well-to-do folk.
Louis Kuhelj |
January 28, 2013 at 12:40 PM
"Does Greg ever read history?"
Yes he most certainly does, though it is mostly ancient history he likes.
" evil collective cognitive states vices of the 'Left'?"
No idea what this means. Can you rephrase it into more pedestrian language?
Louis Kuhelj |
January 28, 2013 at 12:53 PM
@ Louis Kuhelj -
No one is claiming there are not real injustices in the world. Of course they are.
The problem comes when "injustice" is used to simply mean inequality. There's always going to be inequality in the world, simply because our world is a broken one. But due to this definition, "the rich" (even when they are not really so rich after all) are looked at as always being evil while the poor are looked at as always being righteous, regardless of what the specifics of a particular situation may be.
From the situation you described, it does seem your side was in the right. But the other side wasn't in the wrong simply by virtue of being "the rich". They were in the wrong because they were making decisions and behaving in an unethical way.
When it comes to this issue, this is an important distinction that I don't see being made.
Look at this way. Are there not people who behave unethically when it comes to being on welfare? They cheat to get/stay on it, they use that money for vices, they refuse to work even when work is available, etc. Not all behave that way, but some do.
These days our culture (and as I said, even in Christian circles) "social justice" means we must keep allowing people like this to take advantage of the system, with zero accountability. Meanwhile, law-abiding, tax paying citizens are forced to pick up the slack in order to support them. How is this "justice" for those people? (People like me, who, while not having full time work, are still forced to pay taxes!)
But pointing this out gets you called all sorts of names and labels you as a hateful person who cares nothing about the poor.
As Greg said, there is justice. That's it. 'Social justice' has come to be simply a catchphrase of the Left, which results in the always-increasing entitlement mentality that we find in our culture today.
January 28, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Hi Mo, in regards to your opening comments, I want to suggest or maybe actually begin to argue that the only role of the/a civil magistrate would fall under the category of these two over arching statements: it is the duty of the civil magistrate to "reward the righteous" and "punish the evildoer". Neither of these provides for the civil magistrate to by force compel obedience to the 2nd great commandment. In fact, to compel obedience is not satisfactory obedience at all. If loving your neighbor as yourself is forced upon you, you are not loving your neighbor.
Anyone who thinks that they are loving their neighbor by claiming that they are doing it by or through paying taxes or fees or social security etc...is trying to get out of really loving their neighbor.
Nevermind that the sheer inefficiency [87% of dollars never make it out of the rat hole] of social programs administered by government makes this view poor stewardship, but it also turns over control of their wealth to an amoral, nay possibly, the most immoral entity ever known in the history of civlization. The civil authority has stolen so much from the individual citizen and Christians that keeps them from doing as much good as they could do, while at the same time, enslaving some as they become dependent at the government teet...and lets not forget the killing done at the taxpayer expense to the tune of some 60+ million dollars a year to PP alone.
The current US government practices "social injustice" if it practices any social programs at all--iow, it doesn't do justice at all.
Brad B |
January 28, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Brad B. - Well-said.
Perry Shields |
January 28, 2013 at 10:08 PM
I don't know if it has escaped your notice, but what I have outlined is how business is done in a free enterprise system. It is all about competition even when it comes to charity. I guess it kind of makes me a bit confused because I don't think of charity as a competition, but compassion. When you flip everything into a business model, where you have to keep score, it becomes just another game you play and another business you run. So, how dare you call it charity. It becomes an abuse of the term. Even when people in a capitalist state try to be charitable, the system they have been indoctrinated into perverts that charity into something quite different. Is that true in every case of charity? No. But the system has a corrupting influence to the point where it is in most cases. The problem is that no one wants to challenge the system because it is "the best system in the world." Really? Maybe the best system of self delusion.
Louis Kuhelj |
January 29, 2013 at 08:33 AM
@ Brad B -
Your comments weren't clear to me, since we seem to be saying more or less the same thing.
January 29, 2013 at 08:37 AM
"The civil authority has stolen so much from the individual citizen and Christians that keeps them from doing as much good as they could do, while at the same time, enslaving some as they become dependent at the government teet"
Well, let's see: All of my church and Christian donations are tax deductible, so I'm able to contribute to some good works. The taxes we pay build the roads we use to get to church and to any other form of worship we choose. Yes, if I fail to pay my taxes I risk losing my property or going to jail, but the lion's share of my tax dollar pays for defense to keep my country safe and to keep my elderly parents alive (Medicare) and sheltered (Social Security). Overall, when you look at governments around the world, I'd says it's a pretty good bargain. Not perfect, but which one is? It certainly doesn't deserve to be called "enslavement."
January 29, 2013 at 08:50 AM
"Overall, when you look at governments around the world, I'd says it's a pretty good bargain. "
Is it charity or is it competition? You decide.
Louis Kuhelj |
January 29, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Hi Mo, I was just going a little further than your point, making the distinction that government should not be involved in any social programs period. Unless I misunderstand your "redistributing wealth" terminology and you mean by it any social program, I was pushing this point along to where I thought it needed to be. I'm sure I must have mistaken your use of the term for one of limited scope.
Hi theMorton, 1)infrastructure is not a social program, 2)giving a tax break for the good behavior of participation in church activities falls under the banner of rewarding good behavior,3)the lions share of tax dollars definately do not go to national defense4)Medicare and Social Security, are rat holes where money goes in and very little gets out. Do you think this is good stewarship of your tax dollars. SS has been used as an ATM for everything but what it was intended for....it is not going to survive intact the baby boomer retirement. As to the term enslavement, the man who is dependent upon another, whether a government entity, or another person, he is a debtor, not in the sense of a borrower, but as a bond slave.
Thanks, Louis...good insight--competition indeed. The Lord is the one to ask for need to be met, not a government program from cradle to grave.
Brad B |
January 29, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Brad, to answer your question, yes I do believe Medicare and Social Security do good works. Are they perfect? No, but I don't think my pastor's Maui "missionary" trip last summer was more fellowshipping and witnessing than beachtime and mai tai's either.
If the U.S. were simply a church congregation, our pastor and elders could simply look at the membership that needs help, such as the elderly, sick and poor, and ask that contributions be increased to cover the amount needed to help those folk.
The problem is that we're a nation of 314 million people of varying faiths, cultures, even languages. Charity can't cover all of this, so in the Jewish tradition of Tikkun olam or "Heal the World," we impress upon our fellow citizens that it is our shared responsibility to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.
For those who hate the idea of these programs, what if they went away tomorrow? Yes, you'd see more money in next week's direct deposit! But what would happen to those people who use Social Security to pay their rent and buy food? Or use their Medicare for chronic health problems? The amount of charity required would probably equal the amount we all saved on our paychecks!
January 30, 2013 at 11:01 AM
@ Brad B -
Thanks for the clarification. I agree that most government social help programs are inefficient at best and harmful at worst. But when they are as entrenched as things like SS and Medicare are, it's hard to fathom how they could just be scrapped entirely. (Though it seems they are dying their natural death as it is, since they are nearly bankrupt!)
My comment was also meant to address the increasingly popular idea of putting exorbitant taxes on those who earn XYZ amount of dollars (the number keeps changing) so they can continue to support people who not only cannot work for valid reasons (disability/illness), but those who refuse to work.
This is nothing short of government mandated theft. But more and more I am seeing even Christians claiming this practice is not only supported by Scripture, but commanded by it.
January 30, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Hi theMorton, you said
"we impress upon our fellow citizens that it is our shared responsibility to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves."
One day, you'll see and know how misguided this statement is. I guess the we who are impressing is the government? This is a moral requirement you are ascribing to have government prescribe, setting itself up as God, in His place which it naturally wants. I'm not inclined to argue any further for this point, it is perfectly clear to any who have eyes to see.
Brad B |
January 30, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Brad, we agree to disagree! The push and pull of both our opinions is what will continue to make our country the greatest...
January 31, 2013 at 09:38 AM
"This is nothing short of government mandated theft."
But it was OK when it was done to the Indians? Do I smell something like a double standard here?
Maybe we should establish some rules on when it is OK to have government mandated theft and when it isn't. That way, we will at least know when to or not to do it.
Louis Kuhelj |
January 31, 2013 at 12:51 PM
@ Louis K
Sorry, I don't know what you're getting at here.
We don't determine what's right or wrong on the basis of whatever was done to someone else.
February 02, 2013 at 04:42 PM
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