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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Friday, May 09, 2008

How Do We Do Social Justice? (VII)

Which Jesus: The Revolutionary or the Reformer?

The title of David Wells’ new book puts our current dilemma within what historically has been called evangelicalism into perspective: The Courage to Be Protestant. That’s a provocative title in “our time” because it should require us to reflect—seriously—upon what it means to be a Protestant in the 21st century. The point to which modern day evangelicalism has devolved gives us a very accurate snapshot of what Protestantism isn’t in the 21st century. When the Evangelical Theological Society is welcoming open theists warmly, you know evangelicalism is in deep trouble. Personally, I’ve come to the point in my life where I no longer want to be called an evangelical. The term Christian will do, Presbyterian Christian is acceptable, or Reformed is adequate; anything except evangelical.

In our time, people like Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Rob Bell, and Jeremiah Wright would qualify for the moniker evangelical. You might as well add Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann to the list. I tell you this because in a number of our latest issues we’ve been studying how the modern Church might be more effective in actually helping Christians find ways to alleviate poverty. In order to make our case, we have examined a number of biblical texts and concepts. What never ceases to amaze me is that as soon as you start down this biblical path there is the ubiquitous pomo (maybe even a Christian pomo) who wants to start a discussion about Iraq, Republicans, or the Christian Right. Excuse me? What is the topic again? Almost inevitably, whatever McLaren, Wallis, or Kristen Bell say or write is absolutely true—relatively speaking, of course—while the exegesis of others goes pretty much unnoticed. I’m not just talking about my exegesis of passages, but also those of our rich Christian heritage that have painstakingly and accurately laid out the text for us.

What is all the more ironic in these discussions is that emergent pomos even care. Why should they given their presuppositions? Why do they care? Why, for example, does Bri want us to care for the planet and to be concerned about poverty? In other words, from what inviolable standard are we to judge everything to be relative? Or, from which relative standard are we to judge McLaren’s musings to be inviolable? It is this ridiculous back-and-forth that is rapidly becoming incredibly tedious. In fact, David Wells’ words aptly describe McLaren, Wallis, Bell, Miller, Pagitt, and Anne Lamott: “They began as rebels and ended up as little-minded conformists. Postmoderns are not boring—at least not yet—but they are very trivial.”[1] Indeed. Tedious is their default setting.

That being the case, I’m convinced that the best way to proceed is to set forth the biblical case and let the pomo emergents rant. Don’t get me wrong: I am more than willing to discuss matters with them, but they ought not to expect me to answer in the frivolous, flippant, relativistic manner that they do. As Wells reminds us, “it is important to remember that culture does not give the church its agenda. All it gives the church is its context. The church’s belief and mission come from the Word of God…. It is not the culture that determines the church’s priorities. It is not the (post)modern culture that should be telling it what to think.”[2]

I mention this precisely because it is the trajectory—and has been from the outset—of McLaren’s theology—if you can actually call what he does theology. For example, his cutting-edge character, Neo, an ole Bri knockoff, keeps urging us towards a “new framework,”—which, by the way, is the recurrent theme in Bri’s new book—in which we ask, “not which religion is true, but which religion is good.”[3] This is one of the primary reasons that Bri disdains what he calls the conventional doctrine of hell. It’s conventional, you see; contextual, but certainly not biblical. His desire is for everyone in our postmodern culture to forge their private, subjective, contextualized understanding of Christ. For this and a host of other reasons, his book A Generous Orthodoxy is neither generous nor orthodox. It is anything but generous to traditional, historical Christianity and his musings do not qualify for what the Church has judged to be orthodoxy. “The author has apparently no respect for those who have gone before him and who contributed the classical understandings of Christian faith.”[4] When I read McLaren, Wallis, Bell, and other emergents I am left with the distinct impression that Christianity has very little to do with truth—except what they deem to be truth; to be for the greater good of mankind. Their works are about everything except truth. To coin Doug Groothuis’ words, they have “truth decay.”

Private and Social Ethics

Scripture speaks clearly about both what we are to do as individuals as well as socially. God does not give us two sets of universal standards or norms; one for the secularist and another for the Christian. All are held to the same standard. Sodom and Gomorrah were not judged by a different standard of righteousness by God, but rather by the one standard that God applies across the board—universally.

Therefore, whether we are “doing” individual ethics or social ethics, our source for such decisions is Scripture. A problem arises, however, because so many today are almost totally bereft of a biblical worldview. Moreover, “We the people” have capitulated and abdicated so much over such a long period of time that we are flummoxed when the government doesn’t step in and perform acts of mercy that truly belong to the domain of Christ’s Church.

To summarize what we’ve learned up to this point: We have been focusing on the biblical notion of “gleaning” from the Old Testament and we have derived that recipients of biblical charity were to be diligent workers. There was no place for the lazy or the sluggard. It is safe to say that those who were entirely or severely disabled were excluded from this arrangement.

Second, we took due note of the fact that with the exception of the Levitical disbursements for the needy, biblical charity was privately dispensed.

Third, we ended last week by stating that biblical charity was also discriminatory. That is to say, “Biblical charity knows nothing of promiscuous handouts to sluggards.”[5] This corresponds to what we are taught in 2 Thessalonians 3:10.[6] Grant continues and reminds us of this essential point: “In Acts 20, the Apostle Paul admonished the elders of the Ephesian church to exercise discriminatory oversight in their congregation.”[7] This leads me to ask this: how many of our postmodern churches and emergent conversationalists are taking the requisite time to train their Elders and Deacons so that they function as Scripture prescribes? It’s one thing to carp that what I’m writing won’t work; it’s quite another thing to train your Elders and Deacons and try it. I agree wholeheartedly, therefore, with Grant when he writes, “In this day of institutionalized guilt and federalized pity, we must make certain that we measure our conceptions of justice, mercy, and compassion against God’s standards in Scripture. Justice that does not discriminate between the worthy and unworthy is not true justice, no matter what the ACLU says. Mercy that does not discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving is not true mercy.”[8]

Proverbs 6:6-11 is particularly instructive in this regard. “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” In Proverbs 19:15 we read, “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger,” and in 21:25-26 this wisdom is imparted to us: “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back.” The spiritual lesson is this: “Willing to labor long and hard, the gleaner was the recipient of regular charity. Unwilling to lift a hand, the sluggard was not.”[9] These texts are not the Christian Right speaking, but rather the voice of God. Christians ought to say “amen” to these scriptures across the spectrum of Right or Left because they are God’s words.

This is a far cry from what our government welfare programs envision. Not only have they been failures in terms of actually solving the various problems associated with poverty, but in the process, they have created wards of the state, dependent on it for subsistence rather than producing free men and women and liberating them both from poverty as well as government handouts.

Our fourth point on how churches can begin to administer biblical aid to those in need is taken from Deuteronomy 23:24-25: “If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ear with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.”

This text is highly instructive vis-à-vis modern congregational charity to those in true need. In the first place, we are not to be stingy with our aid for sustenance. If a family is in need of groceries, we should supply that to them out of the wealth of blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon us. Giving a family a couple of packages of “ramin” soup just won’t cut it. Deacons and their congregations should ensure that the food pantries are well stocked for those who are in need.

Second, there is a caveat or disclaimer attached to the Deuteronomy text. Whoever ate the grapes was not allowed to stuff extra grapes in their pockets/bags. That is to say, you couldn’t eat your fill and then take some for the road. This doesn’t mean of course that if we give people food they have to eat it in our presence before they leave the church! This is a silly qualification to have to make, but remember: we are dealing with pomos and other Emergent church folks as I write this. They are very thin-skinned folk, ready to cry “Foul!” at the drop of a hat.

Third, you can’t harvest what isn’t yours. Don’t put the sickle to the standing grain. That is illegal. Beisner summarizes this way: “Gleaners were not to harvest a surplus above their own immediate needs that they might sell at profit; that would be theft.”[10] Beisner’s comments are worthy of reflection. What was to be gleaned was simply what was needed. It should not be the case that the farmer should raise his crops only to have a gleaner come along and take what he hadn’t worked to raise and sell it. That constituted theft.

These principles should be discussed among Elders, Deacons, and their respective congregations. Among our goals for Christian charity ought to be the presentation of the gospel, recognizing that regeneration is one of the greatest needs of those seeking charity. Moreover, another goal ought to be to teach those in need to support themselves and, later, their families and others. In other words, we should be striving to extricate them from the realm of poverty and make them independent when it comes to looking to others for aid. We should certainly be aiming at getting them “unhooked” from their dependence on state-controlled welfare.

What did people do when there was no governmental “safety net”? The short answer is they fended for themselves, family helped, and the church stepped in as well. Now, just about the only expectation is that “Government Man” will come to the rescue. Isn’t it time we got back to biblical thinking and acting? Isn’t it time that we got serious about having a biblical worldview for ourselves and passing it on to others?


[1] David Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), p. 101.

[2] Ibid., 98.

[3] Ibid., 86. Italics mine.

[4] Ibid., 87.

[5] George Grant, Bringing in the Sheaves, (Atlanta: American Vision, 1985), p. 82.

[6] For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

[7] Grant, BITS, 83.

[8] Ibid., 84.

[9] Ibid., 85.

[10] E. Calvin Beisner, Prosperity and Poverty, (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2001), p. 208.

Labels:

99 Comments:

Blogger Randy said...

For clarity: Rattle, you suggest that it is not the role of the govt. to do mercy. Yet, you advocate for justice via the armed forces.

Justice & mercy go hand it hand; so it's peculiar that you embrace one for our govt. and yet not the other.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

This one is quite straightforward: It is not the place of the government to administer mercy; its job is the execution of justice. This is the clear intent of Romans 13. Mercy is for the Church; therefore, I find no contradiction in the government administering justice (i.e., the death penalty for convicted murderers, deporting illegal aliens, protecting our country from those who would harm us, etc.) and the Church being merciful.
Justice and mercy go hand and hand in God, but he choose differing realms to administer each. I don't find it odd at all that I separate the realms in which these are to be administered. In fact, I find it odd that you don't.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
One other thing. I'm not certain that you will read my comments on the previous post, but I deleted the filth you wrote there--all in the name of love and tolerance, no doubt.
But I would like for you to respond to this please: A couple of times you have raised the point of "different views of the atonement." Yes, certain people have held to differing views, but they were not all equally biblically correct, were they? Moreover, we know that certain views had a profound negative effect upon the biblical truth of justification by faith, don't we? And since justification by faith is a major tenet of the Christian faith, we wouldn't want to teach any view of the atonement that would do despite to justification by faith, would we?

8:18 AM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."

Anyway, Randy..have you perchance learned to differentiate between individual believers, the church corporate and the nation-state yet?

I thought not.

7:52 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

As for justice & mercy, one can't truly be done without the other. Both intrinsically grow out of love. You can’t have one without the other. Christ on the cross is both justice and mercy. The resurrection is both justice and mercy.

A reformed worldview suggests that with the reign of God, we are called to live within that reality. We are also called to be people of both justice and mercy regardless if we are pastors, elders, deacons, senators, or even the President.

I would wonder how a follower of Jesus would administer justice but entirely forgo Micah 6:8?

7:59 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

solameanie,

yes. i've have more than a few college credits from several colleges and universities in political science...

but if we don't really care what our nation does... why do we argue agaist abortion? it's really about mercy and not justice after all... if we can actually seperate the two?

as followers of Jesus, this trumps our political persuasion regardless! If our party, our money, our personal platform take the top position regardless of our field of influence, then those things become lord. it's really that simple.

did you have a bad day?

8:04 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
As usual, you have completely neglected to interact with what I wrote or with Romans 13. Please stick to the point. Mercy is not the role of the State. Since you have a number of credits in poli-sci, after you have established your point from Scripture, you can then proceed to show us from our founding documents where the government is to show mercy. I'm very interested because I read these documents on a regular basis.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

If I recall, Romans was written under the Roman Empire. Jesus was agaist his followers being a people who tried to overthrow this empire; Paul suggests the same.

So, if we have justice from our American govt. and not mercy?

We should no longer do research to cure specific cancers; we should not have interviened in New Orleans. We should let the recent tornado victims of our land fend for themselves and whatever the church might bring.

We should let the Burmese people starve and die of diseases since our own govt. shouldn't be about these things.

It's the Libertarians who advocate this sort of limited government.

To suggest the things you do, also means that any Christian within our current political system can no longer be faithful to the biblical text's message to be peopel of justice and mercy.

Miroslav Volf would be a good read regarding how justice and mercy are two sides of the same coin... a great theologian too!

4:47 AM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

Randy,

In what situations would you exercise mercy? In what situations would you exercise justice?

Who has the right to determine the appropriate response to a given situation?

Would you have pardoned John Wayne Gacy, commuted his sentence to time served, given him life in prison, or would you have carried out his execution? Deal with Romans 13 as Ron suggests, and that might lead you to a few answers.

I can't say I particularly had a bad day. I guess I am just growing weary with your blunderbuss approach to Scripture and theology. Instead of dealing with specifics and specific Scriptures, you continue to throw handfuls against the wall in hopes that something sticks.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

BTW, you totally missed the point of Romans 13, if you think the only intent was discouraging rebellion against the Roman Empire.

As a matter of fact, there have been those who interpret Romans 13 as allowing the overthrow of a tyrannical government. If a government ceases to be a "terror to evildoers," it is no longer a legitimate government. I haven't totally thought that one out, but it is one of the views out there.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
Romans 13:1-4 hardly says anything about overthrowing the government. It is simply a NT explanation of the place of the state and the civil magistrates. It also tells us that the "sword" is given to the state to execute justice.
You wrote, "We should no longer do research to cure specific cancers; we should not have interviened [sic] in New Orleans. We should let the recent tornado victims of our land fend for themselves and whatever the church might bring.

We should let the Burmese people starve and die of diseases since our own govt. shouldn't be about these things."

Why do you think cancer research is the job of government? Shouldn't private enterprise do that? Wouldn't private enterprise do a much better, more efficient job? In point of fact, it is private businesses that are performing this type of research.

Why do you think that government should have done Katrina and not churches? Should the government care for the street children as well? Our congregation doesn't think so, therefore we contribute to Katrina relief and to the street children ministry through our Board of Deacons.

It really seems like the government of Burma is doing an excellent job of letting its citizens suffer without our intervention. Besides, once they finally decide to let us in, who's to say if those in the most need will actually get the aid? You really do have a deficient concept of the sinfulness of sin. You and your government funded programs are a large part of the problem.

But to the point: Are you ever going to respond--not react--to what is written, or do you simply intend to continue to rant incoherently? You are truly one of the poster boys for this nonsensical thing called the "emergent conversation."

4:11 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

If the govt. is all about justice and not mercy, then why does abortion matter? It's a matter of mercy; so why should we care?

As for the justice/mercy thing and the church overseeing mercy but the state overseeing justice...

That's very narrow reformed theology... I'm having a hard time thinking Kuiper stood by that view?

7:23 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Furthermore, after reading these comments again... seperation of church and state is in the Constitution. It isn't in the Bible.

To suggest that you can be a REFORMED Christian politician AND not believe that you have a responsibility to the 'least of these' is making a whore out of reformed theology.

Your suggestion means that Christians are only capable of doing partial good within govt. We can help administer justice through this nation's form of govt., but we are not capable of administering mercy?????

In other words, you declare that God doesn't really reign. You take his sovereignty away that only 'partial good' could come out of an Iraq war.

AND -- no good could come out of us helping starving Burmese people if our nation takes the lead.

FOR, I am sure we have a handful of Christian congregations around this country who have an available fleet of cargo plains capable of supplying food and water to these people.

In other words, the VEHICLE of mercy becomes more important that the act of mercy? If I do a mission of mercy to Iraq right now with my church, that is blessed by God. But if I am am American soldier helping rebuild utilities, then it will not be blessed by God?

7:37 PM  
Blogger wordsmith said...

Randy, are you really that obtuse, or is it a clumsy attempt at humility? I have an extremely difficult time believing that you would have such trouble with reading comprehension, as evidenced by your replies to the questions posed to you here in these comments.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

Wordsmith,

I begin to think it's really by design rather than obtuseness. Emergents love to try and stand logical argument on its head. In their system of thought, uncertainty and obfuscation are nearly deified.

And yes, I think Randy knows full well what he's doing. That's what makes it all the more reprehensible, in my view. It doesn't matter how clearly you state your case, what Scriptures you cite, what historical record to which you refer. None of it matters. He will find some way to cloud the water, come Gehenna or flood.

6:57 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

See what happens when you don't look at the uberblog for a week-end... You enter the conversation late.

The question that comes up in my mind is: "How do you expect a secular government to consistently administer Christian mercy?" In the Canadian context here is one of the ways "mercy" in the hands of the government plays out: Making abortion available to everyone, free of charge. (You wouldn't want someone to have to live with the consequence of a decision. It is much easier to commit murder.) I don't care how you try to spin it, but that is not mercy. However, in the mind of the government, it falls under the social equality program provided by our dear elected officials. I don't think the US is that far behind in these areas from what I can tell. I've said this before, but I'll say it again: that decision alone is evidence enough for me to want to keep that task out of the government's hands.

Once you take the responsibility out of the church and place it in the secular government's hands, there is no guarantee it will be Christian mercy or look anything like it.

Randy, I agree with rattle that your view of the sinfulness of man is underdeveloped (it seems that way, anyhow). We are not by nature good. That doesn't change when you become an elected official. From what I can tell, it actually often makes the condition worse (just kidding... sort of). The utopia you think can exist through legislation and higher taxes in fact is only a dream.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

I can't help but chuckle a bit at Randy's reference to the situation in Burma, and a host of American congregations having cargo planes to send aid there.

As if Western governments and others in the international community haven't been trying to send such aid? The Burmese junta won't let it in. You can't just up and fly aid in on your own without government clearance. Speaking of which, I think you should send some deserved ire to the Burmese junta for blocking international aid, instead of chiding American congregations for their alleged insensitivity to the situation.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
"If the govt. is all about justice and not mercy, then why does abortion matter?"
I hope that you're kidding. The "law" regarding abortion is a matter of justice. Apart from that, abortion is lousy law and violates the justice due to the unborn. Understand?

"As for the justice/mercy thing and the church overseeing mercy but the state overseeing justice...That's very narrow reformed theology... I'm having a hard time thinking Kuiper stood by that view?"

Obviously, you haven't read Kuyper (Kuyper; not Kuiper--they're different people). Have you read Kuyper? Is your Dutch that good? Have you read Bavinck? You should, especially if you want to see "very narrow reformed theology." Funny.

"seperation of church and state is in the Constitution." Actually, Randy, it isn't in the Constitution either.
Hermeneutically, there is a difference between the OT & NT in terms of the Church and State. In the OT there was a theocracy. That specific theocracy has been dismantled. Therefore the NT situation is different. That is why I asked you to do your homework in Romans 13. To date, no of us have seen anything from you about this text. Are you going to explain your view on it?

Volf is a liberal Presbyterian (UPUSA) who teaches at Yale and who studied with Moltmann. Does that tell you anything?

6:27 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

It's interesting to read how one can expect the civil government to show mercy while it "bears the sword". To show mercy is to put the sword away, but that would mean the civil government would have to relinquish its role. Romans 13 clearly shows that this isn't the role for the civil government.

We should no longer do research to cure specific cancers; we should not have interviened in New Orleans. We should let the recent tornado victims of our land fend for themselves and whatever the church might bring.

We should let the Burmese people starve and die of diseases since our own govt. shouldn't be about these things.


Randy, Scripture does not prescribe these things to the civil government. Such acts are to be done by individuals. But for the sake of argument, if this is the role of the civil government, then you must also advocate "thou shall not steal, except by majority vote." Money must come from somewhere in order to do these things you have stated.

The civil government is not a business, so it must get its money through taxation. It's basically getting its money through the barrel of a gun. Don't believe me? Try not paying your taxes and see where you end up. Law is force and it compels one into obedience. Disobey and you are punished.

Where's your mercy now?

As a nation, Americans are the most generous compared to other nations, but as our government continues to grow beyond its role, it has become a parasite to the American people. Americans are strangled monetarily through the heavy burden of taxation and government inflation. How are individuals, especially Christians, expected to show love and mercy if the means are given to an entity that wastes it?

Even you hint at the fact that the help from the church is inadequate concerning the tornado victims. Hmmm, could it be that church help is inadequate because money that should have been for the church tithe is being taken from Christians by the civil government through the use of the sword? Or that Christians who already pay their taxes and tithes just don't have more to give? Could it be that both Christians and non-Christians are looking more to the Church of Civil Government to show acts of mercy instead of the Church that Christ established?

If you want mercy to come from the civil government, then the best mercy it can show is to relinquish the roles that was never meant for it. Otherwise, you might as well proclaim that tyranny is best way to show mercy.

But you know what? I agree with you, Randy, in that justice and mercy do go hand-in-hand and that they are two sides of the same coin. It certainly is most applicable for the individual, but just because it is applicable for the individual does not necessarily mean it is applicable for a group/entity, and vice versa. For example, the civil government can put someone to death for murder, but that does not mean you or I can put someone to death for murder. I can discipline my kids if they are not sharing, but the civil government does not have the right to come into my home to discipline my kids for not sharing (unless you really do advocate tyranny). Not even the church has the right to come into my home to discipline my kids. But with all things being equal in your mind, maybe the church should start executing justice. After all, justice and mercy go hand-in-hand, so the church just can't be all about mercy. *tongue-in-cheek*

Self-government, church government, and civil government each have their roles to play within their spheres. Advocating to go beyond those roles is to argue from silence; subvert the order which God has established; and is an affront to God's Wisdom.

1:17 AM  
Blogger DWC said...

Blessings!!







I blog to you on behalf of Fr. Frank Pavone and Priests for Life. Fr. Pavone recently posted two videos on You Tube in which he describes and demonstrates the two most common abortion techniques, using the actual instruments of abortion and the words found in medical textbooks and court testimony.







You can view these videos at







http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us_y9GP_-DA (Dismemberment abortion) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBOAPleF1t0 (Suction abortion).







These videos are part of a new project called, "Is This What You Mean?" It aims to educate the public about the nature of abortion and to challenge public officials and candidates who support the legality of abortion to admit what it is. A full description of the project is at www.priestsforlife.org/action/abortion-procedure-revealed.htm .







We are asking blog moderators to post a link or set-up an area on their blog for easy access to view our two You Tube videos.







As Fr. Pavone has quoted in endless homilies and talks about public servants who are pro-choice, there is a difference between serving the public and killing the public. Abortion has lost its meaning and is just a word to some politicians. In fact, as long as it has been since Jan.22 1973, the public is still not aware of what an abortion is and what it looks like. Again, we urge you to view Fr. Pavone’s demonstrations and forward this to anybody unaware such as parents, pastors, teachers, government officials etc….











In Christ,



David--MEV

dclark@priestsforlife.org

10:52 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

Randy,

If the govt. is all about justice and not mercy, then why does abortion matter? It's a matter of mercy; so why should we care?

Since when is murder a matter of mercy?

4:33 PM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Hats off to soli deo for a very well written and thought out post.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

To suggest that Romans 13 advocates specific things for the state for all times and all places seems a stretch.

It was not Paul's attempt to state that govt. was to act a certain way and the church another way for all future generations. He was speaking to a particular context.

This is not to suggest that we have nothing to learn from Romans 13. It simply means that we can't use these sort of chapters to advocate specific kinds of govt. rule as 'godly' rule while suggesting others are not 'godly.'

As Mirslov Volf points out, you can't have mercy without justice. Neither can you have real justice without mercy.

This is EXACTLY why many Christians are outraged with abortion. It goes against principles of justice in the case of the fetus as well as principles of mercy.

In terms of saving the fetus, it's 'mercy' in that a young child will die. It is 'justice' in that the young child deserves a chance to attain life outside the womb. So, it becomes both justice and mercy.

The Iraq war - When it was about getting rid of a terrible dictator, it was about justice and also about showing mercy toward the Iraqi people.

Think back to Hussein being hanged. Remember that video on the internet? Justice was perhaps his death. But, the video did nothing to serve justice nor to show mercy toward him. A lack of mercy also meant a lack of justice.

Likewise, with an unborn child. Without justice mercy is not served. Without mercy, justice is not served.

Real justice can not be carried out without love. Neither can mercy be carried out without love.

The more you think about this matter, the more you'll sense the biblical text breathing into issues of justice and mercy. Ultimately, issues of mercy and justice are one in the same.

In so doing, issues don't become 'republican' or 'democrat,' 'black' nor white,' 'conservative' nore 'liberal.' They become issues that deal with concern for one another and they become issues of hope for a better future.

This is why someone like Obama (not that you need to like him) has so much appeal. People are tired of being told that we can't get along with one another. We do know better. We do know that issues of abortion, human rights, human suffering, taxation, education, etc. matter to all of us.

To suggest that these issues only matter to one party, one group, or one labal is overlooking our obvious desires as people.

---------------------

On a few side notes, I don't underestimate the ramifications of sin. If anyone thinks our brokenness doesn't matter, I suggest that you read 'The Brevity of Sin' by Neil Plantinga.

As far as Volf being a PCA guy, labels are not helpful. Do Marines think that Army people are less loyal to our nation? We know the Marines are the 'best of the best.' Yet, they all rally around the flag.

Perhaps it's time that we hold other theology in tension, but perhaps shooting the army guys for being less fit or less smart isn't wise either.

10:40 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

To suggest that Romans 13 advocates specific things for the state for all times and all places seems a stretch.

It was not Paul's attempt to state that govt. was to act a certain way and the church another way for all future generations. He was speaking to a particular context.


Paul, speaking as an Apostle, spoke with the authority of God. For you to suggest that Paul was not speaking of transcendent principles of government is an affront to what God has established. (Romans 13:1) The civil magistrate is God's servant. (vs. 4) Amazing, isn't it? That Paul would say this of the Roman government!

This is not to suggest that we have nothing to learn from Romans 13. It simply means that we can't use these sort of chapters to advocate specific kinds of govt. rule as 'godly' rule while suggesting others are not 'godly.'

Paul may have been speaking of a particular context, but you have to do some spectacular exegetical gymnastics to prove your point that this was only for this particular context. All you have done is assert a position without proving it. Sorry, but just saying so doesn't make it so. It is no better than if you were to present to me the Sermon on the Mount as a prooftext and I said, "That's not for all time. Just only for those people in that context."

As for justice and mercy, I know what you're saying, but you still have to engage what I am saying concerning the spheres of government. The proper role of civil government is to uphold the law and bring justice upon those who transgress it. Its only acts of mercy is its protection of the innocent; upholding justice for the victims; and lawfully upholding the law.

Beyond these roles, you must argue from silence that the civil government is allowed to do more. But that just opens up a can of worms. If one can argue from silence for roles beyond its limitations, then you can argue for anything. What an Hegalian nightmare! Who here wants the State to be "God walking on the Earth"?

Like I said, Randy, I agree that justice and mercy do go hand-in-hand, but you need to know where the two are enjoined. The civil government's main role is about justice, but the consequence of meeting out this justice is mercy for the innocent and the victims. For it to do more is to go into the realm of tyranny. How is that ever merciful?

11:57 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Then the question becomes who are the innocent?

It seems that Jesus was clear that we are to be people who feed those with need: provide water for the thirsty, shelter and clothing for those without. With all of the healing that Jesus did, it seems are are also called to heal -- perhaps health care and access to doctors would be included.

As a follower of Jesus, I am to do everything legal within my power to make those things reality. Within a democratic form of govt., it is my duty to also encourage our govt. to do those things.

To believe providing these things leads to tyranny seems a bit perplexing.

While a nation is not the face of God on earth, neither is it something that needs to be amoral.

It seems ironic that Americans who don't follow the ways of Jesus may advocate for a govt. that does more mercy and justice than those who follow Jesus?

6:48 PM  
Blogger wordsmith said...

People who don't "follow the ways of Jesus" are hardly interested in true justice and mercy, as defined by God in Scripture. They are more interested in gaming the system and sucking dry the teats of a nanny state. "Gimme!" is their watchword, and "What's in it for me?" is their chief concern. Catering to such parasites is akin to enabling an alcoholic in his self-destruction. That is neither love, justice, nor mercy.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

It seems that Jesus was clear that we are to be people who feed those with need: provide water for the thirsty, shelter and clothing for those without. With all of the healing that Jesus did, it seems are are also called to heal --

This is true as a calling for the individual.

...perhaps health care and access to doctors would be included.

If one wishes to create a private enterprise to endeavor this, then that is up to the individual or group of individuals. They would be doing this out of their own pocket and/or charitable giving.

As a follower of Jesus, I am to do everything legal within my power to make those things reality.

Amen.

Within a democratic form of govt., it is my duty to also encourage our govt. to do those things.

But here is where you fail to understand the argument. You presuppose that in a democratic form of government, anything is allowed. You never presuppose that there is a proper biblical role of the civil government, or rather, there is no limitation of the civil government, so long as it follows after biblical good.

To believe providing these things leads to tyranny seems a bit perplexing.

Not at all when you start to look at the big picture.

For one, you still need to address the issue of taxation. Because it is law that people must pay taxes, it is, essentially, taken from the people by force. They are compelled to pay or else they are punished.

Taxes to pay for the employment of civil servants is fine. The civil government needs people to run it. But taxes for the purpose of welfare is, at the root of it, theft of the masses in order to give to the poor.

So, in the example of universal health care, you want the government to tax the people in order to provide health coverage for the poor. Essentially, it is to rob everyone, both rich and poor, and redistribute it to the poor in terms of universal healthcare. Taxing may be legal, but it isn't lawful to use taxation as a means to take for redistributive programs.

Let that last sentence sink in. If you can advocate taxation for the purpose of "healing", then there is no end to the forceful taking of ones stewardship for whatever cause one deems as "healing." How is it mercy upon those being taxed for something that they may not agree as being "healing"? Not everyone in America is Christian, so you'll have a wide variety of subjective views of what one considers to be "healing".

Also, in a fallen world, there are many problems that we face as human beings. Is the civil government supposed to "heal" them all?

If you say yes, then the work that people do is not for themselves, but for the government and the "hurt". If that's the case, it's better not to work since I would never be able to reap the rewards of my toil. I'm poor if work or don't work. It's a zero sum game if there is no limit as to what the civil government should "heal".

If you say no, what determines the limit of what the civil government should and should not do? In fact, why would there ever be a limitation at all? You do want to "heal", right?

And coming back to points that I have made before, if the sphere of the civil government is not to be bound to its biblical limitations, then you must open the Pandora's Box. "Providing these things leads to tyranny" because once you open the Box to allow the civil government to go beyond its proper role, then there is little to stop it from assuming other roles that it should never have. It's best to turn away from that temptation than to give into it because it is a slippery slope. Heck, we've been sliding on it for quite sometimes and we're picking up speed.

While a nation is not the face of God on earth, neither is it something that needs to be amoral.

A civil government that executes its proper role is far from being amoral.

It seems ironic that Americans who don't follow the ways of Jesus may advocate for a govt. that does more mercy and justice than those who follow Jesus?

That's because non-Christians do not seek out God and His Church to perform the justice and mercy of Christ. Instead, they seek out the civil government to be their "messiah" and for it to perform their sense of justice of mercy. You can't expect non-believers to understand the proper biblical role of the civil government, now can you? :-)

12:19 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

I'd like to raise the question of what Christ's miracles of healing pointed to. If we're going to use Christ's miracles of healing as the platform for universal healthcare, we should be consistent.

Were Christ's miracles not performed to point to his Lordship over all different aspects of life, nature, etc. and to confirm his authority as God's Son? I think we can all agree to that. Now all we have to do is look and see if the countries who have established universal healthcare consistently reflect that purpose in the service they provide. I currently live in Canada, a country well-known for its universal health care. Here, the only thing these services point to is the federal government. "Don't worry. The government is here to take care of you." is the attitude du jour. God's power to heal, and recongnition thereof, is left entirely out of it. As a matter of fact, you could probably get into big trouble for claiming that it did.

Randy, I can appreciate your concern to provide for those in need. I think it is an important question to raise in wealthy cultures like Canada and the US. Perhaps it is more appropriate to encourage Christians to be active in this area rather than expect the government to do this for us. From what God provides for us, we are to take care of the needy. The government is simply an unnecessary middle man.

5:55 AM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

Is it moral to have generational welfare, where the adults have more out of wedlock children to get larger welfare checks? And then spend their money on alcohol and cigarettes? And live lifestyles where the bulk are grossly obese?

Or is it more moral to grant temporary assistance to a needy family, while requiring (plus training and assisting) them to find work?

6:49 AM  
Blogger Sister said...

As long as Christians continue to Vote - especially when their ballots are cast with moral reason and religious conviction (which, as is often pointed out in this blog, is required by Christians) - there can be no separation of church and state. In a democracy, the church IS the state. Who then is responsible for administering justice... or mercy... or could it be that the same government should have a hand in both? Or does the church, being the state, which applies justice, eschew its requirement to administer mercy? Sorry, you can't have it both ways.




Sola Deo:

Hat's off for accentuating the hypocrisy of Christians who say they aren't responsible for justice when wearing their mercy hat, or for mercy while wearing their justice hat. Brilliant.



Randy:

1) Haven't you been paying attention to all the ranting in this blog? We shouldn't be sending aid to Burma, or Bangladesh, or any 3rd world country in need because they are Godless nations and they got what was coming to them.

2) I agree with a lot of things you say, but when you say things like "Jesus hung out gays... [well, ok, what I meant was] Jesus might have hung out with gays..." you are the one who comes across as sounding like a liar and you lose pretty much all your credibility to argue anything with the other honest (though misguided) people who contribute comments here. My advice? Think first, type later. You might find that you don't as often have to defend positions that you didn't really have or believe in in the first place.



icedawg:

Do you really think Jesus performed miracles to demonstrate his power and assert his authority? Are you kidding? You gotta be... 'cause what he did on the cross makes 'em pale in comparison.




Solameanie:

Is it moral to have generational welfare, where the adults have more out of wedlock children to get larger welfare checks?And then spend their money on alcohol and cigarettes?

Is there anything other than black or white in your bleak little world? This is not a "yes or no" question... but the answer is more "yes" than "no". Did you give up eating tuna because the occasional Dolphin is caught in the nets? No? Bad argument, then, and not particularly profound.

11:22 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Sister,

Again... completely misrepresented. I won't respond. Start being fair in how you treat what I say and we can talk/write.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Sister said...

"Were Christ's miracles not performed to point to his Lordship over all different aspects of life, nature, etc. and to confirm his authority as God's Son? I think we can all agree to that," is what you said. I'm not so sure how you figure that was misrepresented.

The reason you won't respond is because it's your m.o. to turn your back when things aren't going your way. That's nothing new for you.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Sister said...

Oh... one more thing...

Soli Deo,

Thanks for the mellifluous missive on the evil of taxes. Now can you clear up the idea of tithes for us? 'Cause coming from the same perspective, it would sound something like this:

For one, you still need to address the issue of [tithes]. Because it is law that people must pay [tithes], it is, essentially, taken from the people by force. They are compelled to pay or else they are punished.

[Tithes] to pay for the employment of [pastors] is fine. The [church] needs people to run it. But [tithes] for the purpose of welfare is, at the root of it, theft of the masses in order to give to the poor.


Do you suggest that tithing is entirely voluntary, or are you just waiting until you've got rid of taxes and welfare before you tackle the problem of how the church wastes your money on charity too?

4:16 PM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

I have to hand it to you, Sister. You actually managed to generate a real snark out of me. That's why I deleted my previous two comments.

So, rather than popping your bubble as I originally intended, I'll merely suggest this. Try doing some serious study on this issue before making silly comments about tuna and dolphin. If you had thought about it a bit more, there were actually some serious sociological issues behind what I said. Those points have not been made solely by little ol' me. They've been made by numerous scholars who have spent years studying the failures of the welfare state.

Perhaps your own ideology blinds you to facts, and maybe your own world is just a little bit dark and narrow . . . just on the other side of the spectrum.

5:19 PM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

I'm glad you know me so well Sister.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Sister said...

Sorry solameanie,

I should have known better than to think you'd understand the analogy. Let me print it in black and white for you.

It is truly ignorant to paint all welfare recipients with the broad brush of your described "generational welfare".

I have had extensive, decades long experience with people within the welfare system, and the multitudes of people you envision procreating for profit are truly few and far between. Most have been truly needy; few have been overweight, and none have been obese. I have seen, first hand, true and desperate victims who have been rescued by social welfare. The church was not there for them, and in some cases the church was part of the cause of their situations.

There is no argument that abuse of the system occurs. However, until you have another system in place that will ensure the truly needy (any way you want to describe them) get the assistance they need, then pulling the plug on the welfare machine in order to suffocate the parasitic minority is just selfish, foolish, reprehensible, and evil.

If you recall, I objected vehemently when icedawg generalized about welfare recipients too. It's become frighteningly common in this forum.

You have a responsibility to the true victims of YOUR society. The church is not presently prepared, equipped, and in most cases willing to undertake the responsibility. Are you going to be the one who's responsible for making sure noone falls through the cracks, or are you going to ante up and pay your share?

I contend that it is moral to support a system that can't prevent all abuse within it, ONLY in order to minimze the neglect of a greater contingent who deserve our help.

6:15 PM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

I read the post again Sister and I admit that I did not say it well the first time. I'll try to say it again, but if you treat it unfairly or if you start putting all sorts of attitudes in what I'm writing that I don't have, I'll stop. That doesn't mean you have to agree with me. Just treat it respectfully.

I said: Were Christ's miracles not performed to point to his Lordship over all different aspects of life, nature, etc. and to confirm his authority as God's Son?

I still won't withdraw that thought, but I think it needs some further explanation. After the miracle at the wedding in Cana we read:

"This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him." John 2:11

My point simply is that the Miracles are used to establish Christ's supremacy in all these areas to validate his claim that He is the Messiah. He is worthy to stand in our place before God and to repay our debt because He is both God and man. His death on the cross has meaning because he first shows that he is God through his miracles.

If we are to use Jesus miraculous healing to argue for universal health care, we should apply it consistently. Every doctors visit should then be used to point to the one who provides the healing: God.

Does that help clear it up?

6:22 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

icedawg,

Yes, I agree with your assesment of the miracles AND... we need to recognize that these miracles also acts of healing. Human bodies were healed. To neglect this aspect of miracles means we forget that there was real value to the recipients.

The miracles were not simply God's way of affirming his power and position.

To seperate the roles of govt. at has been advocated here... it certainly moves outside the bounds of mainstream reformed theology.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Sister said...

Thanks for clarifying, but I still take exception with your interpretation.

While you read "Jesus performed this miracle so that the disciples would see his glory and then put their faith in him", I read, "The disciples put their faith in him after he performed this miracle and revealed his glory."

Jesus' motivation for performing miracles wasn't to prove to everyone that he was the Son of God. He didn't need to. He proved that with Grace.



About fairness:

When I hit that "Publish Your Comment" button, I expect that my comments will be subjected to the same substantial rhetoric that is hurled in every direction, by all contributors, from the first post to the last, in this blog... You should too.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

To seperate the roles of govt. at has been advocated here... it certainly moves outside the bounds of mainstream reformed theology.

You are absolutely right, Randy. It does move outside the bounds of mainstream reformed theology. That's because mainstream reformed theology has reformed itself away from historical reformed theology. I've seen it first-hand when I used to belong to an RCA church, and I experienced it in a CRC church when I had to find a new church home. And after visiting so many church websites that claim to be reformed and hearing their sermons (many of which are either RCA or CRC), I have to wonder why they bother having ties to reformed theology at all.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Hello Sister,

This may sound shocking to most, but I believe that acts of mercy primarily rest on the individual, not on the civil government, not even on the church government. The admonishments from Christ and the Apostles are to people, not government entities. After all, it is people who are given faith, so it is the people who should be doing works. It is people who are given the duty to work and stewardship of what they reap.

With that said:

Do you suggest that tithing is entirely voluntary, or are you just waiting until you’ve got rid of taxes and welfare before you tackle the problem of how the church wastes your money on charity too?

I don’t believe that tithing is voluntary. It is robbery of God when we don’t tithe. (Malachi 3:8). We’re not compelled to pay in the same way we are compelled in paying our taxes, but nonetheless, there are consequences for taking what is holy, separated for God.

Since I don’t believe that acts of mercy is the primary role of church government, then it is appropriate for the tithe to go to the administrators of the church. To withhold the tithe is to “muzzle the ox”. Those who plant the spiritual seed are deserving of reaping a material harvest.

Of course, it is up to the administration as to how the tithe is budgeted. It may be used entirely for their salaries, but then how are they to pay for the materials to run the church? So the tithe must be used wisely so that the entire church government can function in its duties.

So does the church government do anything at all for the poor and needy? Yes, it does, but it is secondary to the preaching of the Word, the administration of the Sacraments and church discipline. After the church budgets the tithe for its primary purpose, then what is left over, plus what has been given as a free-will offering, is used for the care for the poor.

But first thing is first. Such care is to be given to those in the church first before it is to be given to those from outside of the church. But as I said before, acts of mercy must come from people primarily. More specifically, we, as a people, must take care of our own, especially our household. Help from the church government only comes as a last resort.

Also, the church cannot “waste your money” because the tithe is not yours to begin with. It is God’s first and foremost.

(Sorry if I didn't provide prooftexts, but time is short at 2am.)

1:45 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

I think Soli saved the best for last. We have to remember that everything we have been given belongs to God. We are only taking care of it. The same is not so for the civil government. That is how tithe and taxes are different.

Perhaps I'm not reading your post correctly Soli, but you make it sound a little like an either/or when it comes to church vs. individual reaching out to the needy. I think we can mention enough texts in the NT where the church is relied on for distribution to the saints in need (Acts 6:1-7, 1 Cor. 16:3, 2 Cor. 9:5, Phil. 4:18). Having said that, I totally agree with you that the individual also bears responsibility for that task. I don't think we need to be forced into either/or kind of language. Both can exist side by side I think.

Sister, thanks for the decent reply. I appreciate it. I disagree with your closing statement of expecting what others do. Seems to me there is a passage that talks about "doing unto others as you would have them do to you?" (That's not to say that I think anyone on this blog is a ranting troll. A small disclaimer...) Just an encouragement. Perhaps if we think of Christ's demonstration of His power and authority as graceful in that He is showing who he is and that He is worthy to die in our place? I don't think you can separate His miracles from His message or grace. Many people have died sacrificially (of course names escape me right now, but I'm sure we can fill in the blank if we think for a little while), but they do not merit our trust as savior because they are not qualified to take away the guilt of our sin. However Jesus by showing He is God through His miracles performed in His own authority, proves that He can stand in our place.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Hi Icedawg,

The distinction isn't one of either/or, but of primary/secondary roles. For example, with Acts 6:1-7 with the caring of the widows, at first blush it would seem this is the church's primary role. But when we look at Paul's admonishment to Timothy concerning widows in 1 Timothy 5, we see that the family must be the one to care for the widows first. This is the application of the Fifth Commandment. The role of the church government comes as the last resort.

So acts of mercy and charity does have an order to it. It's not side-by-side per se, but one before the other. This isn't only applicable concerning widows, but relatives in general. (1 Timothy 5:8)

5:47 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Soli,

I agree that the church's primary task is to exercise the means of grace in the preaching of the Word and faithful administration of the sacraments of baptism and communion. You can see that in the appointment of the seven in Acts 6 where Peter does not want to neglect the preaching. However, he does ensure replacements are found to carry on the task of "waiting on tables" and the existence of the office of deacon would point to a necessary continual involvement in mercy ministries.

Please don't misunderstand. I am aware that the individual is responsible for caring for his/her family before the church is. The church is a "last resort" in those cases. However, at the same time the church's deacons should be helping those in need that fall outside the sphere of the individual. That is why I think it is a both/and not an either/or.

Having said all that, I think I agree with you. :-)

7:29 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Randy,

I apologize. I missed your comment there. It was an honest oversight. Better late than never, right?

I did clarify my position on the role of the miracles a little later on, so please refer to that. No question about it: the healed did experience some temporary physical benefit. However, if it did not lead to faith in Christ, the benefit was temporary. Christ's focus is on the spiritual healing of the person.

I suppose I would like you to define what mainstream reformed theology says on this issue and how what is being said here contradicts the teaching of Scripture.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

Sister,

You know very little about me or what my range of knowledge is, so I look at these little sallies and broadsides of yours with a mixture of amusement and entertainment. I'll answer you point by point.

I should have known better than to think you'd understand the analogy. Let me print it in black and white for you. It is truly ignorant to paint all welfare recipients with the broad brush of your described "generational welfare.

I should have known better than to think you'd understand my reply. I should have also known better than to assume that you possessed reading comprehension skills. I never painted ALL welfare recipients with a broad brush of generational welfare. Don't make such stupid statements. If you really have done study on this issue, you would have known that there are problems of abuse like this within the system, and it's not merely anecdotal. I have personally known people myself that gamed the system like that and openly admitted it. I'm not alone. There has always been the differentiation between the truly needy and those who are perfectly capable of getting out and working. You obtusely seem not to get it.

I have had extensive, decades long experience with people within the welfare system, and the multitudes of people you envision procreating for profit are truly few and far between. Most have been truly needy; few have been overweight, and none have been obese. I have seen, first hand, true and desperate victims who have been rescued by social welfare. The church was not there for them, and in some cases the church was part of the cause of their situations.

I highly doubt it. Your "experience" must have been a tiny microcosm rather than broad. While I will concede for the sake of argument that those who set out to game the system with that as their motivation might well be fewer in number, in practice it is still what happens when families (and there are thousands of them) and their offspring remain on welfare for generations. There is a whole cycle involved here, beginning perhaps with initial bad circumstances, but then things like drug and alcohol abuse, out of wedlock pregnancies, absentee fathers etc. begin to kick in. A whole host of bad choices and their consequences snowball. And no genuine effort is made to break the cycle. Again, I don't have to make this up. Look a little, and you'll find plenty of studies to back up what I am saying. I suspect the real issue with you is your perpetual stinger out at the church and your false image that most churches have a Simon Legree attitude.

There is no argument that abuse of the system occurs. However, until you have another system in place that will ensure the truly needy (any way you want to describe them) get the assistance they need, then pulling the plug on the welfare machine in order to suffocate the parasitic minority is just selfish, foolish, reprehensible, and evil.

I haven't suggested pulling the plug on the truly needy, and I don't think anyone here has either. You're about as bad as Randy when you rave like this. Talk about demigogy! Your false charges are foolish, reprehensible and evil.

If you recall, I objected vehemently when icedawg generalized about welfare recipients too. It's become frighteningly common in this forum.

And YOU aren't generalizing at all, are you? There are some generalizations taking place to be sure, but they aren't hasty ones. We have also endeavored to let Scripture speak, but that seems to carry no weight or authority with you. So why don't you run off to the Daily Kos where you'll probably find plenty of people with like irrational minds?

You have a responsibility to the true victims of YOUR society. The church is not presently prepared, equipped, and in most cases willing to undertake the responsibility. Are you going to be the one who's responsible for making sure noone falls through the cracks, or are you going to ante up and pay your share?

First, again..now who is generalizing? Most churches are not willing to undertake responsibility for the needy? The churches in my region would scoff at such an unfair notion. Not only do our local churches cooperate on humanitarian aid, we also have quite a few rescue missions here who do stellar work. As for me paying my fair share, I think I am currently paying quite a bit in taxes that go into welfare. Of course, to socialists no amount of taxation will ever be enough. You are more than welcome to send additional checks to the government if you don't think you're paying enough in taxes. I'll happily contact the IRS for you and tell them you're eager to pony up.

Now, I'm done with you. I've seen you on here before and have no energy for endless back and forth that never gets to a destination. I commend icedawg for his willingness to dialogue with you, but I suspect he'll grow weary of it soon. It's like trying to shine light into a black hole.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

I apologize for calling you irrational. Perhaps that was a bit below the belt. I think you are unfair and dead wrong, but not irrational.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Sister said...

Please, solameanie! There is no need to apologize! Your confused, defensive, and utterly weak response says everything for, and about, you.

Thank you for lending me some credibility by displaying your obdurate obtrusiveness so obstensibly. I do appreciate it.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Sister said...

icedawg,

I might surprise you by telling you I agree with what you wrote in your last response to Randy... almost entirely.

While you're absolutlely right that physical healing was intended to lead to spiritual healing, it's important to recognize that Jesus did not always demand spiritual healing before performing physical healings. Faith was a desired outcome, and not always a prerequisite.

When Jesus heals the paralytic in Matthew 9, he makes it clear that he is establishing his authority to adminster grace, not to awe bystanders into submission, and a few verses later it's clear that he healed every disease and sickness, motivated by his compassion.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

soli deo gloria

You wrote: So does the church government do anything at all for the poor and needy? Yes, it does, but it is secondary to the preaching of the Word, the administration of the Sacraments and church discipline. After the church budgets the tithe for its primary purpose, then what is left over, plus what has been given as a free-will offering, is used for the care for the poor.

But first thing is first. Such care is to be given to those in the church first before it is to be given to those from outside of the church. But as I said before, acts of mercy must come from people primarily. More specifically, we, as a people, must take care of our own, especially our household. Help from the church government only comes as a last resort.

~~ You can't proof text this kind of crap. The disciples appointed deacons so the poor and widows were taken care of. Are deacons not part of church govt.?

As for the tithe, you can't find mention of it anywhere in the N.T. Perhaps the entire amount of money that you own belongs to God. I've never really thought that ten percent was close to enough for giving to anyone in need.

When Paul writes that we are to think of the interests of others as well as our own intersts (Phil. 2), he didn't clarify 'who' they were. Human seems to be his definition.

When Jesus talked about our neighbors, he didn't qualify other than to say EVERYONE!!!

Sometimes I think it's no wonder that those outside of the church think Christians are jerks. We care less about humanity than those who are supposedly totally depraved.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

You can't proof text this kind of crap. The disciples appointed deacons so the poor and widows were taken care of. Are deacons not part of church govt.?

Call it what you will, but unless you consider everything that I have put forth, all you are doing is taking me out of context.

Not once did I say that the church government does not deal with the widows and the needy. I made the distinction between primary and secondary roles. Those are not in opposition of each other.

I know that deacons are part of the church and that their role is to serve in the church to help those in need. But if you would take in the whole of Scripture, you'd find that Paul admonished Timothy on who takes of the widow first. He even says that widows are not to be a burden to the church if there is someone who can take care of them. Furthermore, Paul tells us that we are worse than unbelievers if we do not take care of our relatives, especially those of our household. You cannot sit there and say that the poor don't have any relatives, can you? Or did they just spawn from the ground?

When all options are exhausted, it is then that the church is looked upon for help. Do try to read within the context of what I am writing, will ya?

As for the tithe, you can't find mention of it anywhere in the N.T. Perhaps the entire amount of money that you own belongs to God. I've never really thought that ten percent was close to enough for giving to anyone in need.

And this is coming from someone who argues from silence? After all, you can't find any mention of the civil government taxing the masses for the purpose of welfare, now can you? If you can argue from silence, why can't I?

But then again, I'm not a "New Testament only" type of guy. The principle of the tithe in the Old Testament is equitable within the New Testament era. It is not a ceremonial law that was abrograted when Christ came.

As for the entire amount of money belonging to God, I say, "Absolutely." We are, after all, but stewards of what He gives us. But the tithe is all He requires of us. Anything beyond that is a free-will offering, given out of the abundance of ones heart. Does it not say that God loves a cheerful giver?

Furthermore, whether or not you think the tithe is "close to enough for giving", that thought really amounts to nothing. What matters is what God says concerning the tithe. And if you had been paying attention, the tithe is for the administration of the church first. But since you can't find the mention of the tithe in the New Testament, you don't have any working definition of the tithe in the N.T. era, so you have nothing to base your disagreement other than your opinion. I'll take God's Word over your opinion.

And by the way, Malachi 3:8-12 shows that by not robbing God of the tithe, He will give so abundantly, we will be enabled to do the very thing you so much want to do. So sit and think twice about how you denigrate God's tithe.

When Paul writes that we are to think of the interests of others as well as our own intersts (Phil. 2), he didn't clarify 'who' they were. Human seems to be his definition.

It is an encouragement of the church community, not the church government. And yes, there is a distinction. All believers are of the church community, but not all believers are of the church government.

When Jesus talked about our neighbors, he didn't qualify other than to say EVERYONE!!!

But that is not in contradiction to what I am saying. Yes, we are to help everyone, but if Scripture gives a prescription of how we are to do good works, we need to follow the order of things.

And just to clarify, since you seem to confuse the whole matter and not read my statements in context, order of precedence does not negate helping anyone else. Even though I must help my family first, I can still go out and help others according to the means God has given me. Not everyone is given the same stewardship, so not everyone can help in the same way. It's not just stewardship over money, but whatever assets one has been given.

Everyone can only help according to their means. A wealthy man can not only help family and relatives in need, but can help a multitude, and all at the same time, but probably may not have the time to go to a soup kitchen to serve. While a poor man may only be able to help his immediate family because he has to work two jobs. (By the way, the poor are not excused from helping those in need.) A bachelor may not have a lot of money, but can devote a lot of time to helping where he is needed.

Sometimes I think it's no wonder that those outside of the church think Christians are jerks. We care less about humanity than those who are supposedly totally depraved.

LOL! I really had to laugh at this. I have known no unbeliever who think Christians are jerks because we lack in helping the poor. They think we're jerks because we challenge their authority over their lives. When we proclaim Christ the King, their sinful heart will not yield because they love their sin.

But when it comes to us helping the poor, they don't think us as jerks. They think of us as irrelevant because they have their messianic State doing all these "good works" of helping the poor. What is really sad about this is that Christians, such as yourself, only enable them to belittle Christians when they seek out the civil government to do the work Christ called us to do.

12:55 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Hi Sister,

It never surprises me when people agree with me, because I'm always right! (just kidding, just kidding...)

I still don't think you're following what I'm saying. I don't think Jesus is trying to "awe people into submission". The purpose behind the miracle is summarized in verse 6:

But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."

So the purpose of the miracle is to prove that Christ is qualified to forgive sin. Since only God is able to forgive sin committed against him, Jesus has to show that he is fully God as well as fully man. It is evidence that He can stand in our place. If that is what you mean by "administer grace" we are in agreement on that point.

At the same time, I do think the miracles act as a proclamation of Christ's power and those who reject after having witnessed them will face heavier judgment (Matt. 11:20 & 21). Yes, there are instances (the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-17) where some respond faithfully and some don't, but the ones who do not are spoken of negatively. Eventually they will have to stand before God and give an account.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

Sister,

I wonder how many times you had to run to the dictionary or thesaurus to arrive at that last comment to me.

It's notable that you didn't even try to respond to my actual points. Instead, you just hurled abuse. That tells me you really have nothing to say worth considering. Confused? I think not. You simply haven't done your homework. It's so painfully obvious. But I understand, and sympathize.

Cheers, sugar!

7:25 PM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Randy,

I just read your last post. "Supposedly depraved"? Are you questioning the total depravity of the human race?

11:50 AM  
Blogger Sister said...

Solameanie,

Your gibberish continues to make my argument for me. I doubt that anyone is surprised that misogynistic patronization ended up being the result of your best attempt at having the last word.

While the admitted extent of your experience in the world of welfare continues to be the feeling of regret you entertain for giving a homeless guy ten bucks before being rebuked, you are at a decided disadvantage in this argument.

There were a couple of guys on Oprah the other day - Yale educated doctors, I think - presenting their extensive research as what they consider to be irrefutable evidence that they have proven reincarnation and past-life regression to be real... they didn't convice me either, except to think they were a bit kooky. You can present "various studies" all day long, but until you get out on the street and find out for yourself, you're putting your naivité on display for everyone to see.

When you put in the effort to actually have a point, I'll consider speaking to it... but while you continue to blindly regurgitate other people's hysteric meanderings, ignorant idioms, and pseudo-philosophic drivel, I can't take you too seriously.

Adios, Salami.

3:17 PM  
Blogger d0gskin said...

I agree with Randy. Welfare AND warfare increase the state. I don't think the state does a good job keeping us safe or giving us good morals. :P

4:42 PM  
Blogger d0gskin said...

oh.. I guess I misunderstood Randy :P.. sorry.

I guess my problem is that it seems that Christians are all talking about big government statism and how its our savior! Should we bomb this country or that country or give money to this group or that group or monopolize this institution or that. I'm simply skeptical that government in itself is justified.. if it is it must only have limited functions that do not violate natural law.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

All,
I'm on vacation on the island of O'ahu, so I'll be brief.

Randy,
You wrote, "After the church budgets the tithe for its primary purpose, then what is left over, plus what has been given as a free-will offering, is used for the care for the poor." Whose fault is this? In our congregation, we have well into 5 figures to aid the poor in many ways. For example, our congregation gave 5 figures to the Street Child ministry and another 4 figures to buy Similac for needy infants and their moms.
Also, your language, although you probably believe is "authentic" and "transparent"--buzz words--is really indicative of a very limited vocabulary and of spiritual immaturity.
Your comments about Christians being bigger jerks than the rest of humanity really speaks volumes about your view of the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work. Nice touch.

Sister,
It is sad to observe just how bitter you are. Some CanRefs are like that though. There are some wonderful people there, but there are also some who walk around with a chip on their shoulder all the time and are bitter beyond recognition. Until you change your tone, I conclude that you are in the latter category. Sad.

d0gskin,
You wrote, "I'm simply skeptical that government in itself is justified.. if it is it must only have limited functions that do not violate natural law."

Govt is justified because God is the author of the State as well. Natural law is a very good start, but that is almost a forgotten entity in our time. This is something that the Reformed need to reflect upon. That is why I've been writing about social justice. The attempt is to find what the Word of God says on these matters.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Sister said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:53 PM  
Blogger sister said...

snake,

Why is it that anyone who disagrees with you, or calls you on a mistake in judgement is bitter... or has a chip on their shoulder? It's more convenient, I guess, than having to consider that you might have made a mistake. Really, that's what's sad.

It's clear that you didn't take the time to read the above comments before rushing out to put up your dukes this time, since you're attributing your ally's comments to Randy and then blindly disagreeing with them. When you get back from your vacation maybe you can take your blinders off, look past solameanies "nyah nyahs", and recognize that others of us had some reasonable discussion on this matter.

As for tone... well, sir, you set the tone loooong ago. Randy, or "Old Bri", or any one of your other targets will attest to that, I'm sure.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Sister,
If you want to know why I said what I said, just re-read your last post. Ain't anonymity great?
Randy has a long history of silly, out-of-context replies.
As for old Bri--well, actually he set the tone with his books. Which ones have you read and why do you agree with his theses? I would really like to know, because the man is really far off base--or don't you see that?
But we had a great time snorkeling today and we've off to hike Diamond Head tomorrow morning and after that the USS Arizona.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Soli Deo Gloria said...

Hello Pastor Gleason,

You quoted me, yet attributed it to Randy, and your response seems to indicate a position contra to what I have said. If I am off on my understanding of the tithe, I'd like to know where I am lacking.

8:15 PM  
Blogger sister said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:57 PM  
Blogger sister said...

snake,

I read my last post again, as requested. Just as I suspected, it says exactly what I wrote, and it accurately represents exactly what I thought about solameanie's silliness... and it's quite eloquent at times, too, don't you think? I still don't read any bitterness in it though. Rhetoric? Yes. Ridicule? Yes. But as I said before, you set the tone. Is it only fair when you and your croneys play by your rules?

It's still obvious that you didn't take the time to read the preceding posts, because if you did, you would have noticed my criticism of Randy, too. You're right when you say that Randy says some silly things... but I respect him for putting in immensurately more effort than you to come to an understanding of something that he doesn't know.

The extent of my knowledge of Brian McLaren I read here in your blog. Thanks for that. From what you've written, it does sound like he's way "off base", and I don't necessarily agree with any of his theses. However, if your interpretation of his writing bastardizes his intent as much as your interpretation of my writing does, then maybe his stuff's worth a second look, eh?

10:00 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

ron,

why are you so condescending of those with whom you don't agree?

actually, i am wondering about the biblical basis for such an attitude?

I recall that the meek are mentioned on the Sermon on the Mout. Humility is mentioned as a charaterisitic of love. Arrogance is considered a sin. Wisdom was held in high regard, and kindness was also an attribute of love.

So, how does a condescending attitude fit within the biblicial landscape?

Please point to at least two biblcial texts that would embrace your attitudes displayed on this blog?

As a follower of Jesus, it it my right to ask.

12:23 AM  
Blogger wordsmith said...

why are you so condescending of those with whom you don't agree?

Kinda like calling someone a "jerk," then deleting that comment and never apologizing for it, eh, Randy?

You're a fine one to lecture on attitudes, Mr. Kettle.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

wordsmith,
I'm sorry that it wasn't a helpful comment... please recognize that you were not particularly generous either.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
There is a difference between being principled and being condescending. Quite often, if you disagree with someone or with what they've written, you're considered condescending. Or, if you tell a member of your congregation that you're wrong, you don't have a pastor's heart. Sorry, but I don't buy any of that although it's important to be kind.
I keep waiting for you to give me scriptural reasons for why I am wrong vis-a-vis what I'm writing about social justice and the emergent church.
Aloha

2:45 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Rattle,
I just reread this post. You don't really go to Scripture with your arguement until the final six or so paragraphs. The prior stuff is simply ranting against lots of people.

Finally, you write: "Justice that does not discriminate between the worthy and unworthy is not true justice, no matter what the ACLU says. Mercy that does not discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving is not true mercy."

Yet, God's grace is given freely to those whom he chooses -- without being worthy. His mercy is also extended to those whom he chooses -- without being worthy.

So, God gives justice and mercy because he is a God of grace. Justice and mercy are not truly deserved. They are God's gifts to us.

Yet, you expect the church and the govt. to only hand out justice and mercy to those who are deserving?

As for biblical references, I don't believe that it is necessary to textproof these questions. A good reading of the Heidelberg Catechism would lead to plenty of prooftexts.

Night.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
Any time you want to go head-to-head with the HC let me know! Since you have no biblical references (negatively spoken of as "prooftexts") you shift the discussion--as usual.
In the last 6 paragraphs there are biblical references. The longer you take not to deal with them the sillier you look.
My argument is that the Bible gives us clear guidelines as to who is deserving of giving food, etc. I have also given OT references regarding gleaning.
From your side: no biblical response. One man's principles are another man's rant.
Snorkeled Shark's Cove this afternoon on the Northshore. This morning we had breakfast outside in the shade by the beach and 100 dolphins put on a show for us.

8:45 PM  
Blogger sister said...

Here's what the OT reference says:

“If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ear with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.”


Here's what the OT reference doesn't say:

"You are not required to contribute any of the surplus of your harvest to any government mandated charity, if you cut it down with the sickle yourself."


If there is one lazy person among the ten needy asking for your grain, you shouldn't turn away all eleven just because you don't have the opportunity, resources, or ability to identify the cheat... and only arrogance would allow you to think you can properly discriminate.

Further, when Jesus said, "Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's..." he didn't append it with, "unless you don't like what he's going to do with it."

As long as you recognize your country's borders, as long as you drive on it's publicly paved roads, and as long as you trade those little pieces of green paper with pictures of your presidents on it, you subject yourself to the authority of government granted, by God, that dictates your social responsibility.

If you quit your bellyaching for a bit, maybe you'll come to the realization that scripture does not rule out your social responsibility just because it doesn't specifically require it.

10:56 PM  
Blogger sister said...

"My argument is that the Bible gives us clear guidelines as to who is deserving of giving food, etc."

My argument is that you have not effectively argued, or provided sufficient evidence to show, that your interpretation is correct. The longer you think that it is, you will continue to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

11:06 PM  
Blogger jazzact13 said...

--If there is one lazy person among the ten needy asking for your grain, you shouldn't turn away all eleven just because you don't have the opportunity, resources, or ability to identify the cheat... and only arrogance would allow you to think you can properly discriminate.--

Really? Why would it be arrogant to determine if someone I know to lazy really is lazy?

--Further, when Jesus said, "Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's..." he didn't append it with, "unless you don't like what he's going to do with it."--

Perhaps I missed where anyone here has advocated not paying taxes. Can you point out where that was done?

I can think of one place, not here, where such a thing was advocated, if not encouraged. It was the movie "Stranger Then Fiction", where the anti-war chick said she didn't pay the parts of her taxes which would go the military.

--If you quit your bellyaching for a bit, maybe you'll come to the realization that scripture does not rule out your social responsibility just because it doesn't specifically require it.--

Again, I'm not sure where rattlesnake or any other has said anything about abrogating social responsibilities. But a nanny state is not a social responsibility; if anything, it's irresponsible.

1:39 PM  
Blogger sister said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:26 PM  
Blogger sister said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:41 PM  
Blogger sister said...

Hey Jazz,

Point #1: Ummm... You missed it. The point is that you can't always tell which is which.

Point #2: Ummm... You missed it again. The point is that when Jesus talked about giving Ceasar his due, he suggested that we should be subject to the responsibilities that are required by the state of its citizens as contributing members of society.

Point #3: You got this one... wrong, though. It's ignorance, propaganda, and ultimately selfishness that perpetuates the perception of social welfare as the propagator of a "nanny state".

Please go back and actually read some of the preceding posts. It doesn't take much effort to find all kinds of incendiary oratory written by people who object to being taxed for the purpose of social redistribution. As despicable as it seems, I ain't makin' it up. Really.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Ron,

Somehow hearing about your island adventure with the dolphins seems more God honoring than everything else written here.

I'd be interested on some other thoughts regarding this...

10:55 PM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Hi Sister,

I would actually use the text that you are quoting to support the opposite of your position. The person could only take a little bit from his neighbor's fields while casually browsing there. In order to get enough to feed their families, they had to work hard all day to glean enough from the fields. However, in the welfare state a person is able to draw his entire living from the earnings of others without having to do anything. In Canada there happens to be 1.7 million of them, or a little more than 5% of our population. I know that some are not able to work and they are most definitely in need of our care for as long as they need it. But for the rest...

As for your claim that you cannot tell who is cheating, I completely disagree. There is a simple principle in the Bible that we have talked about often on this blog. Even Randy agrees with it's application. In 2 Thes. 3:10 Paul tells the church that if people will not work, they will not eat. Simple, straightforward and just. If they are willing to work, they can get support (for the able bodied), if they are not, they can't.

It's a little unclear to me what you are getting at with regard to submitting to the government. I don't think anyone here has suggested otherwise.

I actually think you are missing the point of the articles. Social responsibility is not a new thing instituted by the government. The Bible speaks of it often and is very thorough in how we should care for the poor and needy. These instructions are given to the people of God, not the government. It's a mystery to me why it is such a problem to hear how we need to return to the patterns God has laid out for us in Scripture.

6:14 AM  
Blogger sister said...

icedawg,

Thank you for reiterating. Here we go, one more time.

"I would actually use the text that you are quoting to support the opposite of your position. The person could only take a little bit from his neighbor's fields while casually browsing there. In order to get enough to feed their families, they had to work hard all day to glean enough from the fields.

Yes. It's pretty clear that the scripture I'm quoting can support the opposite position. I agree... to an extent. It says that one may not take as much as one would like, but only what one needs for immediate consumption. What it doesn't say is equally important in this context. It doesn't say that the same person can't be given more of the same grain to supplement what has gleaned for himself. Further, I argue that scripture (a very few examples of which have already been given and discussed) supports the idea that that supplement should be given, freely.

"...a person is able to draw his entire living from the earnings of others without having to do anything.

This ENTIRELY false. You cannot make a living by collecting welfare checks. It is only intended as a short term emergency relief, or as the necessary supplement to what one has gleaned himself. Welfare recipients can not afford to eat nutritiously. They can't afford drive a car, let alone buy one. In most cases, they can't afford bus tickets to get to the grocery store, or the doctor's office, or the job interview. A little discernment would make it plain to you that 95% of the people collecting welfare would prefer not to have to depend on paltry monthly stipends to try and pay the rent, but that attitudes like yours are a large part of the reason why some have such a hard time becoming more independent. But I digress... we can have this argument another time when you bring some real numbers to the table instead of suggesting that 1 in 20 people in Canada are perpetually supported by municipal welfare. Think about it. Read about it. Do the math. The suggestion is ludicrous.



"Paul tells the church that if people will not work, they will not eat."

No problem. No argument here. My argument is with the idea that you, or your dad, are either qualified or capable of judiciously evaluating who will not or who can not work. The decision should be left to the social worker with 40 years of research and experience to make that decision, if you follow the logic previously postulated in this blog.


I actually think you are missing the point of the articles.

Nope. I'm not. I haven't missed the point of any of the several diversions charted by succeeding discussion either. Did you miss those?


It's a mystery to me why it is such a problem to hear how we need to return to the patterns God has laid out for us in Scripture."

It's mystery to me why it so plain to you that everyone should follow the patterns that you have drawn from your interpretation of the texts. You said it yourself: "These instructions are given to the people of God...", who are the government, and who must submit to societal standards, unless it is contravened by God's word... and it has not been effectively argued that government mandated welfare does contravene God's word.

8:31 AM  
Blogger sister said...

As an aside:

Is "gleaning" defined as "taking a little bit while casually browsing", or "working hard all day".

I suggest that neither are true.

Being allowed to feed one's self by "casually browsing" would permit a lazy person to continue living in the moment, without requiring any diligence.

Working hard all day to glean would not allow the same person to plant his own seeds, tend to his own crops, or otherwise be productive.

Is the idea that was intended in the text defined somewhere in between?

8:40 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Hi Sister,

Thanks for the response. Just to reassure you I'm not pulling this stuff out of the air, I got my welfare stats from the National Council of Welfare in their August 2006 report.

I'm glad we can agree that money should be given freely and I agree with you 100%. As believers we should hold what God has given us with an open hand. At the same time we should be able to dispose of it according to our discernment. We can find this in Acts 5:4a where Peter is reprimanding Annanias: "Didn't it (the land) belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal?" Can Christians be to stingy with their money? Absolutely . Your reminder to be generous is very applicable.

I'm not trying to paint everyone on welfare with the same brush. I know there are folks who need it as temporary scaffolding. No doubt, their lives are not comfortable and I'm sure times are tough for them. I'm simply not convinced that the government and the social workers can do as good of a job as the church. Neither am I convinced that there is a Scriptural precedent for your position. Since you're arguing for more biblical evidence and reports etc., I think it would be appropriate for you to back your claims up with the same. You will have to show me some evidence that a social worker with 40 years experience can make an assessment better than a Christian who is led by the Word of God and intimately involved in the life of the person they are helping. Perhaps on your next post some evidence...

I'm sorry, but the Canadian Government is not the people of God, unless you hold those who forbid prayer to Him and make killing children legal as those who are his people. There may be Christians in the government and it is God's agent, but that is an entirely different thing. The church makes up the people of God. Again, if you have a problem with my interpretation, why don't you put forth your own with some biblical support.

Again, government welfare is here and as a dutiful citizen I faithfully pay my taxes. However, in my humble opinion there is a better way: for the church to take back the role that God gave to them. I'm sure we'll disagree on that.

As for your aside on gleaning, I don't think gleaning is casually browsing. I think your passage deals with folks who are just passing by a field. They are able to take a handful of the harvest there. Not attractive for a lazy fellow... Those who are poor and needy would participate in gleaning. The picture of gleaning where I get the idea that it is hard work is in the book of Ruth. In chapter 2 it shows her putting in a long day gathering.

The gleaners would not have to worry about planting and tending their other crops. Gleaning is done at harvest time, so they would be a good 4 or 5 months late if they wanted to plant. Also, the fact that they are gleaning seems to be a fairly good indicator that they don't have crops to harvest no? So, a hard day's work as shown in Ruth is entirely accurate.

The generosity of Boaz is a good example for those who are blessed with much, though.

9:23 AM  
Blogger sister said...

"I got my welfare stats from the National Council of Welfare in their August 2006 report."

This is the big issue I have with your conservative perspective. There is little interpretaion involved with the "evidence" you present (scriptural or otherwise). While the stated number is an accurate representation of the total number of welfare recipients recorded in Canada in 2005, you fail to mention that the number does not represent the total number of people presently receiving assistance. You fail to mention that it includes all recipients in the 10 YEAR PERIOD preceding the report, and includes, say, people that received a single emergency cheque sometime in that decade. Further, you fail to mention that nearly half of those recipients are children! Context, please!!!



However, in my humble opinion there is a better way: for the church to take back the role that God gave to them. I'm sure we'll disagree on that.

Here is where we disagree most. It is only vanity that permits you to think you can do a better job than the people God has already provided to perform the task.



Again, if you have a problem with my interpretation, why don't you put forth your own with some biblical support.

Done that. That's what we've been talking about... it's the interpretaion of some of that biblical support that you've been arguing about.

9:53 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Hi Sister,

Sorry if my stats to measure up to your qualifications, but that's the number that's out there. Regardless of all the disclaimers you make, even half of them is a significant amount.

If we're being biblical about this discussion, I don't think you have a leg to stand on with regard to the government being the one God supplied to fill that role. The scriptural evidences that I know of point to the responsibility of the individual Christian or the church, not the government. How do I know? The Bible was written for the people of God, not the government. In addition, as I understand it (and I'm open to correction here) government-based social assistance is a fairly recent invention as compared to the entirety of history. So did God not have a mechanism for taking care of the poor before then?

Cut me a little slack here. It's not vanity to have a differing opinion on who can do a better job. I do have first-hand experience with folks who are doing their welfare reporting and I have heard from their own mouths how diligent the social worker is in determining the validity of their claim. I also realize that you are interacting with the ideas that are presented on the blog and that you disagree with them. I'm not as stupid as I look (even with the glasses on). What I'm asking of you is to present a biblically based alternative. I re-read your posts and you don't refer to Scripture very often (only twice if my counting is as good as it was in grade-school, and once you agree it is an ambiguous text). So if you think this view is wrong, articulate your alternative based on a biblical model that deals with taking care of the poor and needy.

10:27 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

One more thing. The report states that half a million are children, not half. That isn't even one third. I'm assuming we should make some disclaimers about the children. What does this group of kids look like? There is no info available on that, so we don't know if they are qualified for the workforce, abandoned and in need etc. The table also tracks the 10 year history, but shows the current number receiving in March of each year.

10:43 AM  
Blogger sister said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:04 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

To bad I missed it...

11:08 AM  
Blogger sister said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:09 AM  
Blogger sister said...

There it is with some pithy editing... sorry about that. I forget sometimes that sarcasm doesn't translate intent as well when it's in print.

Anyway, we're down to 1.6% from your initial assertion of 5%. With some exploration, I'm sure we'd bring it down some more, but the point is made, hunh?

11:14 AM  
Blogger sister said...

... and, apparently, HTML tags don't translate well when copied and pasted. I'll try again.

"Sorry if my stats to measure up to your qualifications, but that's the number that's out there. Regardless of all the disclaimers you make, even half of them is a significant amount."

Slow down... it's not that your stats don't measure up to my qualifacations. It's that they don't measure up, period.

These are numbers in black and white, and they suggest that it's not even close to half:

Link To Report

It's curious that the only exegesis you perform, whether on numbers or scripture, occurs when it supports a predetermined position.




"So if you think this view is wrong, articulate your alternative based on a biblical model that deals with taking care of the poor and needy."

So, unless I can provide a better idea, then your idea can't be wrong? C'mon. That's not a very strong argument.

Remember from grade school, that 2 is significantly more than 0, and there are lots and lots of little numbers in between.




"... government-based social assistance is a fairly recent invention as compared to the entirety of history. So did God not have a mechanism for taking care of the poor before then?"

Are you suggesting that the church didn't let anybody die from hunger before social welfare? Are you suggesting that we allow nearly as many people to die from hunger since? Are you suggesting there's no difference in numbers of people dying of hunger in states with social welfare programs and states without? It doesn't take a lot of water to accentuate the holes in this basket.

11:09 AM

11:18 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Sister,

I didn't say this position can't be wrong, but you would have to show something more than your opinion. Until you do that I'll stick to my guns. It's easy to criticize, but what is the alternative solution, biblically based?

Also not saying that the church hasn't failed in this area. I was just interacting with your claim that the government is God's chosen vehicle.

Once you start attributing all sorts of things to me that I have not said, the conversation should end. If you decide to provide some new ideas and back them up with Scripture, I'd be happy to carry on the conversation. Until then, I thank you for the interaction and for helping me to think through some of these things.

11:19 AM  
Blogger sister said...

I haven't attributed a single thing to you that you haven't said yourself... or is there another reason you wish to end the interaction?

Ironically, though, I'll take the opportunity to go, uh, make a living.

Ciao.

11:26 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

One last correction:

1.7 million minus .5 million = 1.2 million. As a percentage of 33 million that makes 3.6%, not counting the 150,000 aboriginals on welfare, that makes 4.1%. I can't see how you got to 1.6%. The point is not made, since we don't know what that nebulous group of kids look like. It could very well still be above 5%.

11:27 AM  
Blogger sister said...

One last correction to your one last correction:

The point is that you're not sure. You're not sure, but you presented a black and white number as fact, without exegesis, because it supported your position. The point is, in fact, made.

We can argue about the total tally all day long. Whatever the outcome is, though, you argued that this total number of people is "making their living" from welfare... but most of this total number is the result of emergency assistance and income supplementation, which you have previously agreed is responsible and necessary.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
The dolphins and I swam around and communed together. I really think they have a good possibly of being saved. They are just soooo close to being human. I left them a waterproof copy of the 4 spiritual flaws.

Sister,
Nothing works for you, does it? Stats don't work; Scripture doesn't work either. I have already written about gleaning an the OT texts. Go back and re-read those articles.
This is rather like the argument about paedo-baptism. The texts are all there; there really are any new ones. You read, study, interpret, and decide.
You have decided to be a liberal--maybe with a little help from the academic pinheads in the Canadian college/university system. Whatever the case, you have imbibed of the Kool-Aid. I just don't enjoy working hard for my money and then having it forcibly taken from me for abortion, welfare, and who knows what by the government. Here in the U.S. we have a Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and a Bill of Rights. I read them every year at least. There is nothing in them about welfare. In fact, if our elected representatives were to enforce our documents, we could reduce our spending by a couple of trillion. You can check the stats on that one too.
Living in Canada I can imagine that some simply become mind-numbed robots following what the government says all the while loosing their freedoms. Enjoy. If you have some free time, I'd suggest you read everything you can by William Gairdner, a Canuck who lives in King City. It would be a very worthwhile investment of your time.

2:25 PM  
Blogger sister said...

"Nothing works for you, does it? Stats don't work; Scripture doesn't work either."

The stats work for me, snake. The math ain't hard. The scripture works for me too. What I have been trying to point out is that they don't work for you, and and they certainly don't support icedawg's arguments.

I would give you a hard time about skimming the posts without taking the time to understand what's written in them, but I can forgive your inattentiveness considering the all the aquatic acrobatics and coconuts and stuff. Please, remember not to take any more pineapple from the buffet than you require for immediate consumption.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Sister,
Scripture works for you? How? Thus far I've seen this: Someone quotes Scripture and you say "no." That's it? You're going to have to do a LOT better than that.

5:48 PM  
Blogger sister said...

Hmmm... still not paying attention, hunh?

If you're going to comment on the posts that people have taken their time to leave on your blog, you should have enough respect to actually read them.

8:07 PM  

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