Social justice and the poor - and the Calvinist

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by Pergamum, Oct 29, 2007.

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  1. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    With respect, how many of those who consider state taxes to help the poor 'theft' would require husbands and parents to provide specific bible authority for every single use of their authority?

    If a father makes a decision based on a child's disposition that this child should wait a year or two before starting to drive, or that he does not want the children to smoke, are those decisions illegitimate because they have no direct connection with the father's mandate of 'raising your children in the fear and nurture of the Lord?'

    Certainly authorities (parents, husbands, masters, government) can be excessive and overbearing in their use of authority. That is very different from saying that such uses of their authority are illegitimate or constitute blatant sin such as theft.
  2. puritan lad

    puritan lad Puritan Board Freshman

    With all due respect, I'm not sure what else you would call it. It is the purposeful coveteousness and acquisition of another person's property, using the strong arm of the state to achieve it. It is a direct violation of both the 10th and the 8th Commandments. We must ask, does the decalogue apply to civil governments? On what moral grounds does the state steal money from one person and give it to another? Can the church do this as well? Why or why not?

    It's not a matter of whether or not the Bible has to ordain every single act of authority (though that's a good standard). In this case, the theft of private property (or even coveting it) is strictly forbidden in Scripture, and the state is not exempt.

    State Welfare is not only immoral, it is an abject failure.
  3. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    I hope this does not start to derail this thread, but in answer;

    I would say it is not the use of the 'strong arm of the state'. It is the use of the God ordained authority of the state. Taxation (even for defense) would be theft if I were to personally decide to take someone else's property and use it to for my own purposes. But the state has the authority from God to do so in the form of taxation.

    It is the same idea as with murder. The state has the authority to put people to death in a way individuals do not because of its position as a God ordained authority.

    I guess we differ in that I do not see the state's authority limited to only those things specifically mentioned in the bible (defence, punishment of crime etc). Just as a husband or parent's authority is not limited to just what is specifically mentioned in scripture, but is fairly board as long as sin is not involved.

    As someone (whom I can no longer remember) said, there is no regulative principle of government.

  4. puritan lad

    puritan lad Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't think you have thought this through, because you have just given the state a blank check.

    Was Ahab justified in stealing Naboth's vineyard and putting him to death (1 Kings 21)? The logical conclusion of your view is that he was.

    Was Hitler justified in killing 6 million Jews due to his God given authority? Why or why not?

    Granted, I'm not accusing you of supporting either of these men, but pointing out the logical conclusion of your position on civil government.

    What is sin? The Bible says that it is a transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). If there is no regulative principle of government, then the government cannot sin. Thus, Caesar is free to do whatever his heart desires.

    Of course there is a regulative principle of government (Leviticus 19:15, Deut. 16:18-20, Mark 6:18, Romans 13:1-4, and many others).
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

  6. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor


    I can't speak for other church bodies, but ours has a Mercy Ministry..

    We have a food pantry, and we have funds set aside to be available to help those in need..

    it is set up in such a way that we work with other local church bodies, and community resources...

    In working within the network of churches and community, we are better able to know who is taking advantage, and who is in real need of help...we share information with each other and make referals back and forth to each other...and we also have a group of volunteers within the church who train to help and assist in meeting this need.

    We also work with the Salvation Army when they do their Homeless stand-down, where the local clothes closet comes over and brings clothes for them, they have doctors, dentists and such who volunteer their services..they have various people within their network that they work with, and we assist them..

    If you would like I could get you in touch with the person at our church does the Mercy Ministry...and they could explain more fully what all services they provide..
  7. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    As I am sure most here know, I am a huge fan of Sir Robert Filmer.
  8. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    I do not claim to have thought this subject out in great detail, nor to have all the answers as to where exactly government authority stops.

    I will maintain however, that for the subject at hand of the government using taxation money to help the poor, I see no bible reason to consider that sinful.

    I did not make myself clear if anything I said was taken to mean that the law of God does not apply to government. I wholeheartedly affirm that it does. However, there is an 'exception' if you want to use that word made whereby governments are allowed to take money from their citizens in the form of taxes so they can be about their duty of ruling. My contention is that the government is not restricted to using those taxes in ways that are explicitly spell out in scripture.

    When I say there is no regulative principle of government, I do not mean that the government is not regulated by the law of God, which is the proposition your verses would be used against. I mean there is no regulative principle in the same manner as in worship. Things that are perfectly lawful in daily life are prohibited in worship because only what God commands should be performed. I see no such principle applying to civil government. Again, there are principles that regulate government. But simply because a particular objective does not appear explicitly in the bible does not make it wrong for the government to pursue that.
  9. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    Paul collected money to bring across the ancient world to help afflicted breathen in those places, so I am thinking the answer is yes.

    The application, of couse, is much more difficult.
  10. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Disanalogous. The topic is not whether Christians or the Church should help out around the world, but has now become: should the state take money away from its citizens to give to vague and nebulous causes in the name of charity?

    Everyone keeps assuming that Paul's statements about charity (written to the church) automatically apply to the State. This is worse than anything theonomy ever thought up.
  11. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    I think Mark was talking about the Church in that post, not the State.
  12. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    You are confusing regulative with normative. In any case, Scripture acknowledges that the State has the power to levy taxes, so how can such taxes be theft?
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    No, I believe some were claiming that the State has the right to take, by threat of force, money from its citizens to give to whomever it deems poor.
  14. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Scripture also views both high taxes and unjust taxation as an evil and a judgment on a pagan culture (1 Samuel, the inaguration of Saul as King).
  15. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    When I'm feeling sorry for myself, or looking down on those less fortunate as though the fact that their condition is likely due to their own sinful and foolish choices, I remember my own sinful and foolish choices, and a little old Indonesian widow I once heard of that converted to the faith late in her life. She earned her bread by carrying a large, square tin of kerosene on her back in a sling that was wrapped around her forehead and selling small amounts to people for cooking use door to door. She often spilled a little on herself when slinging it on her back, and her skin was disentegrating in those areas. Yet she always would "cast her farthing" into the Church collection every Lord's day.

    When I consider that there are sisters of mine (and brothers) in this world that endure such harsh conditions, my heart breaks and I am convicted of my own whiny, selfish expectations for myself. Why do I deserve better? Do I work harder? I think not. Am I more righteous? I doubt that. Am I wiser? Doubt that, too. Has God blessed me in spite of the fact that I am undeserving? Yes. Does He expect anything of me in light of that? Yes:
    I spent 10 years of my formative years (ages 7-16) in Asia where I witnessed real, ugly poverty everyday that Americans are for the most part unfamiliar with. Whole communities of families living under bridges and bathing in filthy rivers. Huge numbers of orphaned street urchins surviving off what they could scavenge out of trash. I was present when a worker's wife at a nearby construction site gave birth in a shanty there. I saw old men and small children begging in the streets everywhere. What always amazed me was the attitudes of the pagan people who were better off than the multitudes of the impoverished. They presumed that they were better people, of better lineage, of better behavior, etc., and therefore deserving of their superior condition.

    Not much different from me, at times. I need to repent.
  16. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    Social Justice vs. Social Mercy

    This isn't a direct answer to your question but I don't think discussion on the subject of poverty alleviation is always framed correctly. In general most people both in and out of the Church fail to distinguish between justice and mercy. We often call a desired end such as alleviation of poverty, justice. Instead in many cases of poverty, unless an evil wrought the poverty from the outside of the downtrodden individual or community, the case for alleviation should be based on idea(s) of mercy. Now in many cases, such as the plight of blacks as a whole in the USA, social justice is a most appropriate category even though, in certain particular cases of individual blacks in poverty, the issues should to a greater degree be addressed from an angle of social mercy. :2cents:
  17. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    There are enough needs going around that if anyone out there has a problem about a particular issue (eg., poor blacks in America not being a problem of social injustice but ingrained social patterns, etc, whether real or imagined), there are PLENTY of cases of the poor that can be helped where you do not have to ignore your politics, etc.

    DOn't, tlike one cause...well, just give to another.
  18. clstamper

    clstamper Puritan Board Freshman

    The poor are an abstraction. I don't know "the poor." If there are people in my neck of the woods, that's different. I'm not feeding some charity bureaucracy if I can get away with it, be it public, private, or ecclesiastical.

    ...and they are money pits. Not free, either. Inland Revenue rips into your paycheck. You don't need to state to pay for health care or education. Do you really want to defend the schools?
  19. clstamper

    clstamper Puritan Board Freshman

    You'd send troops into an ethnic quagmire to die for Sudan? Not with my son you don't!
  20. clstamper

    clstamper Puritan Board Freshman

    I hate these extremes! One side wants womb-to-the-tomb health care, a managerial welfare state, and "free" secularist public schools. The opposition wants NO public assistance whatsoever, which would eliminate "socialist" institutions like the fire brigade, the highway patrol and the state militia. This is nuts.
  21. clstamper

    clstamper Puritan Board Freshman

    I propose that the State may take, by threat of force, money from its citizens to maintain civil society and provide its functions of police, justice and defense. This includes help for certain extreme at-risk groups such as disaster victims, severely disabled orphans, and the criminally insane. This does not include transfer payments meant to appease false guilt, sanctimony or political maneuvering.

    Still, this does not answer the question of what "we" must do for the poor.
  22. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    The state has authority to levy taxes for its legitimate functions (administration of justice, defence), not for all sorts of things which are none of its business. I once heard of a man in Sweden who was taxed 102% of his income; would PB members say that was theft?

    Also, note that the magistrate is not to turn to the right hand or the left (Deut. 17:20), he is not to do anything outside his delegated sphere of authority. In other words: Sola Scriptura applies to the state.
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Don't worry. I am a non-interventionist. The point I was making is that it is absurd to give relief money to foreign countries when it will only end up in the hands of dictatorial slavers. This is why 99.99% of welfare reforms/programs fail.
  24. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    WHat should the church do for the poor? Let's forget about taxes, Ron Paul and all that stuff for awhile....

    What should our churches do for the poor, who are the poor, how should we help, etc...
  25. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    This is of more practical concern to us rather than abstract talk about the role of the state; if we were doing our duties correctly, I dare say state welfare would never have got of the ground.
  26. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    I wonder how the guy paid 102% that is crazy!:p
  27. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    With the Leviathan State all things are possible.
  28. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I have no idea; maybe they took more cash out of his bank account.
  29. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

  30. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    Wow, Wow, Wow.
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