Reposted from The Cripplegate.
A few months ago “The Statement on Social Justice” was released. Authored by a group of pastors (including John MacArthur, Voddie Baucham, and James White), the statement declares that the modern concepts of intersectionality, radical feminism, and critical race theory run contrary to the Bible’s depiction of justice. Moreover, it argues that the concept of corporate guilt is more at home in the Old Covenant than the new (an excellent post on that here), and that people only inherit guilt for sins they actually commit, not for sins that their ethnic ancestors committed. The main point of the declaration is that the concept of “social justice” is inherently an outcome oriented approach to justice, which is categorically different than the Bible’s concept of justice (which is process oriented).
What is outcome oriented justice? That is the concept that diverse sociological outcomes reflect an existent injustice. The most obvious examples are America’s disparity in education, incarceration rates, and income along racial lines; or South Africa’s disparity in farm ownership along racial lines. Those disparities are unequal outcomes, which reflect a social injustice.
Ask most people to describe materialism and you’ll hear references to big-screen TVs, computers, SUVs, spacious houses, and overpaid CEOs. A few might mention “consumerism” and “greed.” Most would agree with the idea that materialism has been a major obstacle to relieving world poverty. Some would say it’s the cause of that poverty.
But what if materialism isn’t really what most people think? We could fall prey to materialism unawares or reject good ideas we have misidentified as materialism. In seeking to help the poor, we could waste our efforts opposing what really contributes little to the poverty problem.
So what is materialism? I’ll pursue a definition by countering four popular myths.
A widespread attitude, especially among Christians, is that materialism involves attaching value and importance to material things—and that these things are not truly important.
But wouldn’t that make God the first materialist?
Consider creation from a before-and-after perspective. Before Genesis 1:1, there was nothing—no material at all. Apparently, God considered this situation and decided that He wanted material to exist. He created matter, energy, time—an entire, mind-bogglingly huge universe of material. Before He created it, He invented it. After He created it, He repeatedly declared it to be “good” (Gen. 1:4, 1:10, 1:12, 1:18, etc.).
"[A] a job provides, not just an income, but also a sense of purpose. It is not government handouts or parental support that make young people happy, but personal responsibility and a deep-seated conviction that the fruits of one's labor make the world a better place." - Acton Institute
"[T]here are many similarities between the materialism of 'the rich' versus 'the poor.' In both cases, their hearts are set on wealth. However, there is an important difference between the two: the rich have received their reward and their hope, whereas the poor have not." Neither Poverty nor Riches
Charity and missions are apples and oranges, in my mind. Missions is about the great commission, planting churches, and making disciples. Offering a meal to the poor, in contrast, is an act of mercy. I can argue the point that missions is the more important of the two, but this is not the place to do so. The two can work together (as in the case of a rescue mission) but they are typically distinct.
When it comes to helping the poor, is it better to do nothing, or is it better to do something (perhaps a lot) — making you feel like you are helping others — when, in fact, you are harming them? That is the ultimate question.
Most of us desire to be compassionate people, characterized by good works. But the key to loving one’s neighbor is not doing what makes us feel better, or even what pleases them in the short term, but rather looking out for their long-term best interest.
Toxic Charity’s author Robert Lupton is not as conservative as most of us are, but he is in the evangelical camp and one of the most respected authorities in this field. He has worked in inner city Atlanta for nearly 40 years. He has observed what works and what doesn’t — and his findings are startling.
When you read chapter one, you know where the book is headed. Here are a few quotations.
What Americans avoid facing is that while we are very generous in charitable giving, much of that money is either wasted or actually harms the people it is targeted to help.