Robbing the Rich: Biblical Concern or Political Preoccupation?

Robbing The Rich
It seems that some Christian leaders think that commandment number eight in the Big Ten was written to protect the rich. They also seem to be convinced that this commandment has a whole lot to do with taxes. In fact the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15), virtually never gets mentioned by those of the Religious Right except to defend the rich from relinquishing wealth for the sake of the less advantaged.

The Bible doesn’t share this focus on preserving the holdings of the rich. No doubt some will immediately protest, “But the prohibition against theft applies equally to everyone!” And that is true. Nevertheless, when the Bible gets specific about who is most in danger of being robbed, the rich are not the ones who receive attention. Rather those on the opposite end of the economic scale are the ones for whom most concern is expressed in the scriptures (Psalm 10:2-3, 5, 8b-12, 12:5-6; Proverbs 13:23, 22:16; Isaiah 3:13-15; James 5:1-5). But when it comes to that particular concern leaders of the Religious Right are missing in action.

There are some who insist that the first principle of biblical economics is private ownership. R.J. Rushdoony claimed, “The right to property is a God-given right. Ownership is evidence of work and character. Every attempt to limit ownership is a form of theft, and the Bible says clearly, ‘Thou shall not steal.’” So according to him –and many others- all limits to private ownership offend against the will of God. “Man’s (sic.) basic security the Biblical law saw as resting in the private possession of property without the possibility of confiscation.” And that would include most forms of taxation.

In fact private property is not the first principle of biblical economics. Rather it is found in the words God spoke to Job, “Everything under heaven belongs to me” (Job 41:11) and in the declaration of the Psalmist, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers” (Psalm 24:1-2). Everything else scripture teaches about ownership follows from this claim. Unqualified, unlimited private ownership finds no support in the Bible. It is subject to divine constraints and purposes.

A failure to understand the nature of ownership in scripture leads to a failure to understand the eighth commandment. Humans are stewards rather than full owners of the property they hold. Rather than standing against “the possibility of confiscation,” it is unconstrained ownership that is condemned in scripture as theft. While Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association claims, “Taxing the rich to give to the poor is nothing more than theft,” the Bible fails to support his view. Likewise, the assertion of Tommy Newberry that the scriptures contain “no mention of…redistributing of any sort” (The War on Success, p. 121) can be made only by one who ignores a considerable number of pages of holy writ.

Obviously taxes and resources for an orderly and caring society were derived in much different ways in ancient times than in our time and place. Nevertheless, laws were established to insure that the needs of the poor were not neglected by those who were more affluent. And where there are laws, there is some expression of government at work, regardless of whether we know the details of its working. Caring for the less fortunate was not left entirely in the hands of the generous and willing. Means of redistributing of wealth were put in place and described in scripture. While the relinquishing of property for the needs of the poor and weak was not for the most part voluntary, neither was it regarded as theft.

Historian of economics, Tomas Sedacek, observed, “Among Israelites we can find not only the roots of the modern widespread redistribution of wealth for the benefit of the poorest but also the well-substantiated concept of economic regulation, which closely relates to social policy” (Economics of Good and Evil, p. 79). This claim can be supported by a number of practices presented in scripture.

(1) Debt forgiveness on Sabbath years was mandated for Israel. “Every seven years you must grant a release. This is the manner of the release: everyone who holds a debt claim against a neighbor must release it” (Deuteronomy 15:1-2). This was not presented as an option reserved for the generous people who were sensitive to the hardships of their debtors. It was a legal obligation. This amounts to a loss for the rich and a gain for the poor who had to take subsistence loans. The commercial trade loans to foreigners were not forgiven in the same way.

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(2) Another seven-year law that benefited the poor at the expense of the more affluent had to do with land usage. “For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard” (Exodus 23:10-11). Though the land was not owned or cared for by the poor, they benefited from it. The owner could not claim the produce that grew during the seventh year. By divine mandate it was redistributed to the poor.

(3) Similarly the rights of ownership were limited by the gleaning law. “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:9-10, also Deuteronomy 24:19-22).). The do not own the land or plant the crops or cultivate and care for the plants and trees. Yet the poor and immigrants who put in minimal effort are allowed to take home food. It was their need, not their ownership of the property that justified this redistribution.

(4) A more far-reaching policy of wealth redistribution is found in the the jubilee restoration of ancestral lands to households every fifty years (Leviticus 25:10, 25-28). This practice would put a check on both multi-generational poverty and on the hyper-wealth of the few most successful families. This periodical reallocation of property would limit gross economic inequality. Whether jubilee was ever actually practiced in a thoroughgoing way or was primarily an expression of an ideal is uncertain. But it displays a social value completely at odds with those who are less concerned with the needs of the poor than with making sure we don’t “punish success.”

The complaint that when government begin “taxing some of its citizens for the benefit of others that amounts to theft” shows an utter failure to grasp a biblical notion of ownership. To declare, “Taxation is theft…and we should completely defund every welfare program at every level of civil government in this country,” neglects the practices that benefited the poor and marginalized that are described in the Bible. While scripture acknowledges a limited right to private property – “everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree” (Micah 4:4) – this does not disallow mandated sharing of resources to meet the needs of the less advantaged.

Ambrose the ancient bishop of Milan (340 AD – 397 AD), reflected the biblical vision when he chastised the rich who sought to cling to their possessions despite the needs of the poor, saying to them, “The earth belongs to all, not to the rich…Therefore you are paying a debt; you are not bestowing what is not due.” This is a lesson many Christians need to learn.


Craig M. Watts is the minister of Royal Palm Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Coral Springs, Florida and Co-Moderator of Disciples Peace Fellowship. He authored the book Disciple of Peace: Alexander Campbell on Pacifism, Violence and the State (Doulos Christou Press: Indianapolis, 2005) and his essays have appeared in many journals such as Cross Currents, Encounter, the Otherside, DisciplesWorld and more. Craig blogs on the Disciples Peace Fellowship’s, “Shalom Vision.”

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  • Drew

    The way you hand-crafted that strawman and then knocked it down and set it on fire was brilliant.

    A few comments:

    1) Funny how the religious left becomes OT experts as soon as it fits their viewpoint. I don’t even seen a reference to the NT.

    2) Funny how the religious left hates the Bible being used to legislate social law like abortion, but has no qualms about using the Bible to legislate economic law like tax policy.

    3) I agree that some people do have this radical viewpoint. The reason why I called it a strawman is because you seem to suggest or imply this is a mainstream viewpoint among the religious right. I find that to be irresponsible and lazy, to subscribe a minority, radical viewpoint to a majority group so you can feel good about yourself knocking down that big, bad strawman. The real debate is to what degree we modify social programs, and for all but the fringe, this is still where the debate is. Reform, privatization, cuts are different than wholesale elimination of programs.

    • Ben Donahower

      The trouble with your response is that it is also fallacious. For example, your first criticism that Craig offered a straw man argument doesn’t conform to the standards for a logical argument since it was both vague and dismissive. How does Craig’s explanation misrepresent your view?

      • Drew

        Why did you refuse to respond to Craig’s article or my comment, but rather, decide to quibble over the definition of a word that has no bearing on the point I was trying to make? However, since you went there, let’s go there.

        I address my first criticism (strawman) in point three in more detail. I would argue that almost no one holds the view that Craig subscribes to his opposition, but that a few people do hold the viewpoint. Therefore, Craig’s argument is a strawman in that he misrepresents the views of most people, but not a strawman in the sense that a few individuals actually do hold that viewpoint. I apologize if that was not clear in my writing. However, I think that brings out a fourth point, which I could have elaborated on more, is subscribing fringe viewpoints to entire groups – generally not a good idea.

        • Ben Donahower

          I didn’t respond to Craig’s article, because I think it stands for itself. I didn’t respond to your comment, because I wanted to first understand your point before making a judgment about its validity. My critique of your comment was along the same lines as your response to the article itself, so it’s counterproductive for you to attack my line of reasoning.

          As Vincent said, you took a pot shot without backing it up. If you were to say, I believe X, there is data that most people believe X, and Craig said that most people believe Y, that’s a straw man argument. You’ve offered anecdotal evidence at best.

          • Drew

            I didn’t know I was writing and defending a thesis.

          • Ben Donahower

            Drew, you’re killing me… I was holding you to the same standard that you were holding Craig! If you don’t want to be held to a standard of logic, don’t hold other people to it.

          • Drew

            No, it’s not the same standard of logic. When you don’t disagree with what I say, but rather, quibble over the most minor and inconsequential details, you are doing everyone a disservice.

          • Ben Donahower

            “hand-crafted that strawman” -Drew

    • timothy

      Luke 12:13-21

      • Drew

        I didn’t say there wasn’t one, I just found it odd that the author did not appear to even look at the NT for guidance.

        • kezzzz

          he lists James actually

    • Vincent

      Strawman! Hardly! That claim is just a worthless pot-shot. I’ve read the links included in this article. He is exactly on the mark. He cites a good number of conservative leaders who say exactly what he claims and cogently opposes. Are there some who may disagree. Sure. But significant figures don’t so the strawman accusation is off-the-wall.But you didn’t read the article very carefully anyway. He didn’t use the OT law to legislate current. Never one time did he say that OT laws could just be lifted up and replanted in the 21st century US. His point was more general. The concern for the poor and weak in the OT are not cared for by voluntary contribution but given support by law, contrary to the claims of the Religious Right.

      • Drew

        So far the majority of the comment voters would disagree with you, Vincent. Furthermore, I discussed what I meant further in response to Ben’s comment.

        I know a few links and a few names counts as serious thought in the blogosphere and clearly it impressed you. However, I am a little more serious in my critical thinking. What you erroneously say is “a good number of conservative leaders,” when you actually read the article, is two – Fischer and Rushdoony.

        Jesus never said much about government, whether it be economic issues or social issues. My point is that the lack of consistency is egregious. Either use the Bible as a basis for all your political beliefs, or use it as a basis for none of your political beliefs. To use the Bible to make a passionate plea for redistribution of wealth, and then to set the Bible on fire and make a passionate plea using inconclusive scientific studies on abortion laws, is inconsistent. IMO, the inconsistency is explained more by Craig’s allegiance to the Democratic Party Platform more than the Bible.

        • Vincent

          Drew, clearly both reading and counting is a challenge for you. There are four links to Religious Right leaders that he quotes, not just two. More are easy enough to find. One of the links isn’t working but if you Google the quote, you can find it. What Watts is responding to is very real and widespread. Rather than accusing him, it might be wiser to take the more modest path and simply say, “I’m see myself as part of the Religious Right and I don’t share the views Watts opposes.” And the partisanship of which you accuse him is in fact is your own. Watts is making a biblical point without reference to specific political platforms. You might try that yourself.

          • Drew

            Are you a Christian? Sometimes we have agnostics or atheists visit this website, and usually they use ad hominem arguments the same way you do.

            Besides, your ad hominems are false. When is a website a person? Two of the links are to websites; two of the links are attributed to leaders.

            “And the partisanship which you accuse him is in fact is your own.” Just saying “He’s not the partisan.. you are the partisan!” is such a childish, petty way to debate. You’re going to have to do better than “I know you are but what I am?”

            Part of the problem Vincent is that you are reading this article in isolation. I have read several of Watts articles. He is hyper-partisan and generally writes articles to support the Democratic Party Platform. Case in point – he loves redistribution of wealth, he hates laws against abortion.

          • Ben Donahower

            Hi Drew, I’d love to engage you in an honest dialogue that seeks the Truth, but darn if you are quick to criticize people for logical fallacies when they aren’t and you are prone to them. Here’s a link to all fallacious arguments and explanations of them for your information: http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html

          • 22044

            Vincent,
            Watts trots out a view and picks a few Bible verses, but his view is emphatically not Biblical. In addition to Drew’s suggestions, it may be well for you to take a trusted course in Bible study in hermaneutics in order to recognize the bunk that Watts put here.

          • Vincent

            Drew and 22044, you are funny people. You have offered no real responses to Watts that have any substance, but you suggest that I need a “trusted” course in hermeneutics so I can know how he falls short! LOL! I guess I need to consult you about what counts as “trusted”? Drew’s first post offers three little nasty comments and all miss the mark: (1) not all scripture references are OT, (2) he doesn’t use “the Bible to legislate economic law like tax policy” but simply points in a general direction based on scripture, (3) he didn’t put forth a strawman but fairly described and documented the position he opposed. You seem to think that (mis)counting the number of religious right figures he referenced and the number of scriptures he used discredits his arguments. In fact your whole approach discredits you two. I’m thankful for Watts’ helpful article. Not so much for your dishonest peanut gallery comments.

          • 22044

            Vincent,
            Fine, don’t take our suggestions. Continue to be an idiot. I read Drew’s comments on other blogs and his views can generally be trusted. And I read Craig’s other posts as well as this one, and see the same liberal crap. Our points stand.
            You don’t like the truth so you call it nasty. That’s OK. The truth often is rejected in that manner.
            Have a good day.

          • Drew

            Vincent hasn’t challenged the substance of my arguments a single time. Rather, he is quibbling like a preschooler over word choice and dictionary definitions of words. Usually when you get to this point of a debate – when someone is breaking out Websters and debating “none” versus “almost none” – you can smile and move on.

          • Vincent

            Actually, Drew, you offered no arguments with substance. My response yesterday to your fluff was more than adequate. How can someone be taken seriously who complains about an author’s sources by saying, ” Two of the links are to websites; two of the links are attributed to leaders..” In the world were most of us live websites with articles have authors and some of those authors are leaders and “leaders” is a matter of definition. Maybe you think references only count if you name the author. If so, then you must never have read a book with footnotes or endnotes. So at this point…I smile and move on.

          • Drew

            You can’t comment on the article; you can’t even comment on my comment. All you can do is quibble over minutia. Congratulations.

          • Sam

            Love your neighbor, my friend. Or perhaps in this case, love your enemies. Bless those who persecute you. If you disagree so strongly, perhaps you should be blessing Vincent rather than calling him an idiot.

          • 22044

            I appreciate your gracious suggestion. I guess I don’t appreciate ad hominem attacks instead of engagement of ideas. But seeking to bless others is good counsel.

          • Drew

            Vincent,

            You are so wrapped up in legalistic minutia that you miss the points of my comment. I hope you read what you wrote tomorrow after you’ve had time to cool off and realize how ridiculous this is. You should be able to get the point of what I am writing, even if I use “no reference” instead of “almost no reference.”

          • SamHamilton

            I clicked on the links to the websites the Watts links to and neither of the links takes me to the specific quote. From browsing the “American Vision” website for five seconds, it looks like it could definitely contain a quote like the one above. For what it’s worth, I’ve never heard of American Vision. I’d be surprised if any significant number of Christians has either.

            But it would be helpful to have a source for the quote attributed to “Heaven’s Family.” I’m not familiar with that organization, but from their website they don’t look political at all. I’d like to see the context for this quote Watts uses.

            But the larger issue with Watts’ argument, in my mind, is that he seems to think that because everything is from God and we don’t really own any of the things in our possession, thus we shouldn’t resist or object if the government decides to repurpose those things for its priorities. I think this way of thinking gives way too much heavenly authority to governments. The government of ancient Israel is vastly different than our distant, disconnected, federal government of today.

          • Drew

            Sam,

            I think that is a valid disagreement with the article, but it is an area I might agree with Craig on to some extent. To me, that is more a matter of opinion.

            What you said is exactly my point – “I’d be surprised if any significant number of Christians has (heard of it) either.” In the 21st century anyone can cobble together a few websites or links and say “more than one source says this.” However, to subscribe the beliefs to a general population (stereotyping) is pretty dangerous.

          • Sam

            Please give some examples of how defending the wealth of the rich is biblical. I can quickly and easily pull up a list of about 20 verses that explicitly speak about God as being a defender of the cause of the poor, and of the righteous man who does not cater to the whims of the rich but defends those who cannot repay him. Can you quickly come up with some verses as counterclaims?

          • 22044

            We’re talking about two separate things here. Craig believes that a confiscatory tax policy is following Bible verses or principles. I am not basing that on viewing this post alone, but from viewing his past posts as well. So pushback against that is needed.
            To provide examples – the principles of sowing & reaping, and earning a wage for doing work, come to mind. Some people become fabulously wealthy by putting those principles into action. The problem with a tax policy is that it doesn’t discriminate between those who built wealth fairly and those who gained it through legal, but dubious means.
            So a tax policy is necessary to fund the activities of the government, but it’s a serious mistake to accept the idea the God’s mission is being accomplished through it.

        • Sam

          Jesus never said much about economic issues or social issues? What about all his talk on justice for the poor and oppressed? What about his parables about the Kingdom of God, which he desired to see on Earth? Not just with Jesus, but all throughout the Bible, justice for the poor and oppressed is a major theme. You know what issues Jesus never spoke about? Abortion, for one. In fact, as far as I remember, abortion isn’t explicitly mentioned in the Bible at all. Maybe you could enlighten me on a few verses where it is; I would love to know them. Now, that is not to say I think abortion is ok, but for you to make the claim that anti-abortion law has a more valid biblical claim than the defense of the poor is just completely and utterly dishonest.

          • Drew

            Sam,
            You do a disservice to me, yourself, and the RLC community when you don’t read posts carefully. I never said that Jesus never said much about economic or social isuses. What I said is that Jesus never said much about government, whether it be (government involvement in) economic issues or (government involvement in) social issues.

        • http://www.facebook.com/cfogarty1964 Chris Fogarty

          This site is largely schizophrenic. I have only discovered RLC in the last couple days, and can’t help but draw the same conclusion. The folks on this site seem very inconsistent with the application of biblical or scientific precedence.

  • Frank

    A vote for the Dems is a vote for abortion on demand, government dependency and irresponsible spending. If you cannot vote for Romney than it is indeed better to not vote at all.

    • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

      Frank again with his abortion posts… wow

  • 22044

    Craig Watts’ continued prostrating before the federal government, disguised by a thin veneer of worthless religiosity, is embarrassing. Come on dude. Grow up.

    • Drew

      Craig consistently advocates for the Democratic Party Platform. I’m waiting for him to prove me wrong.

      • 22044

        I think pastors generally should be apolitical. Post by Craig seem to support that view.

    • Eric

      Get some integrity! Your vacuous and judgmental response is possible only because you refuse to consider the substantive, if brief, study. Your irrational and extremist anti-government posture makes you incapable of being open to the very biblical message Watts shares.

      • 22044

        Eric,
        See my comments to Vincent above. The truth often hurts.

        • Eric

          What I find is biblical substance from Watts and empty right-wing carping from you and a couple of others. If you think he is wrong, why don’t you try actually dealing with his arguments and offer an alternative slant on the texts. I’ll bet if you wrote a response with any substance, RLC would be willing to publish it. Absent that, you can try calling other people idiots all you want but people with more than marginal intelligence and better than average acquaintance with scripture will be able to discern where the real voices of idiocy are found.

          • 22044

            Really? “I know you are but what am I” is the essence of your response? You’ve proved my point. I am not allowed to argue with idiots, so I bid you farewell too.

          • Drew

            Vincent used the same tactic as Eric, straight from the Pee Wee Herman School of Debate. I think they teach ad hominems there as well. After all, if Eric disagrees with you, you must have irrational extremist views and you are not open to Biblical truth.

          • 22044

            To be fair, maybe I should try to give more nuance to my comments, but following logical progressions – it’s not wrong to disagree with me, but address my concerns if you do, give explanation, and do the necessary research. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

          • Azariah

            Drew and 22044 … one and the same?

          • Drew

            Nope.

          • 22044

            Nope.

          • SamHamilton

            No, they’re not.

          • keith

            Drew, Loved the Pee Wee Herman reference lol….I am a bit confused by all the back and forth. I agree that ‘some’ taxes are needed and the citizens incapable of taking care of themselves need to be taken care of. I dont think anyone on the right would argue any different. What confuses me is the lack of understanding the difference of sufficient taxation verses abusive taxation. The author never makes a point about “how much” taxes should be taken, only that taxing is biblical. The erronious deduction that most on the left take from this is that ‘any’ amount of taxes is ok. That, of course is false and certainly not biblical. I could quote the “if you dont work you dont eat” scripture, or the parable of talents, or many other scripture references however the left wouldnt understand because they have tunnel vision. God speaks of working and increasing in favorable light however he also admonishes us to be fair and caring. If you think that God would force someone to give up what they have worked to obtain to give to someone who is lazy, expectant, and a leech then you really need to find the heart of Jesus. Again this brings us back to how much is enough? I think that the top 10% paying 90% of the taxes is enough. The problem is that liberals would take all the affluent citizens fortunes, distribute it to the less fortunate, and then whine because they find it was only a temporary solution. Change peoples hearts and get the ones off of govt dependency so that there will be more to give to the ones who really need it. 1 out of 2 people on govt assistance is a joke and it is only because left wingers think that “love” is the only answer. Love comes with responsibility and accountability. Learn it and live it.

          • Ben

            Much of the negative comments to this article make projections not justified by the article itself. I’ve read several of Watts articles and he doesn’t push any “party line.” Sure, he clearly doesn’t support the Republican party in its current incarnation. But there isn’t enough detail in what he says to claim he is a servant of the Democratic party. He could be Green or even an engaged nonvoter who still cares about society. He doesn’t make a single policy suggestion in this piece but simply points in a general direction based on aspects of biblical law. Economic sabbath and jubilee laws aren’t part of any current political platform of which I am aware. Please feel free to correct me. So much of the response strikes me as reactionary. While he didn’t talk specifics about tax policy, I will mention that it is hard to credibly claim tax levels in the US are burdensomely high given that they are near the bottom among developed nations: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/background/numbers/international.cfm

          • Drew

            Ben, I can’t talk about how other people viewed the article, but I can tell you how I viewed the article.

            I’ve been on this website for a few years now on a daily basis, so I am familiar with Watts. I am not just looking at this article in isolation, but rather, looking at the dozens of articles he has written over the years.

            The biggest problem with this article in particular is that Craig takes the radical, extremist viewpoint of a few random websites and people and tries to subscribe it to an entire group (the Religious Right) as a whole.

            The biggest problem with this article in regards to the other articles that Craig has written is that he views government interference in economics as good but government interference in social issues as bad. IMO, he is mirroring the DNC platform more so than the Bible. He might surprise me, and if he does, I will retract my opinion.

          • Ben

            Drew, I don’t mean to be argumentative here -and won’t enter a debate about it- but in this article he doesn’t attribute anything to the Religious Right as a whole. He says, “some Christian leaders think that commandment number eight in the Big Ten was written to protect the rich.” And then he cites some specific sources. When he does make a more general claim, ““You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15), virtually never gets mentioned by those of the Religious Right except to defend the rich from relinquishing wealth for the sake of the less advantaged,” it strikes me that he is right. Again, I could be missing the mark here but I’ve not come across anything that contradicts his assertion. I’ve not gone back to read everything he’s written. I’ve got other things to do in my life. But it seems to me that he hasn’t over-generalized all that much in other things I’ve read.

          • Drew

            If he doesn’t attribute it to the Religious Right as a whole and he really is speaking about only a few bad apples, then what is the point of hyping a non-existent boogeyman?

            In any case, he starts with “some Christians” in the first sentence and ends with “many Christians in the last sentence.” The article tag says “religious right.” You get my point.

          • Drew

            If he doesn’t attribute it to the Religious Right as a whole and he really is speaking about only a few bad apples, then what is the point of hyping a non-existent boogeyman?

            In any case, he starts with “some Christians” in the first sentence and ends with “many Christians in the last sentence.” The article tag says “religious right.” You get my point.

          • keith

            Ben, maybe I missed it after reading it again but I didnt see where I said Watts was a Democrat???? Guess you used deductive reasoning to come up with your point. For that I applaud you ;) As far as having the lowest in the developed nations, are your referring to Spain or Greece maybe?? The point is that Taxation should be the last resort not the first thing you say in every political conversation. There is a point when taxation becomes ‘stealing’ like it or not.

      • Sam

        Hey now… I’m an anti-government extremist too, but I ain’t nothing like that. Can’t we understand the necessity of defending the poor while also refusing to bow to Caesar?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jess-Goodwin/28602067 Jess Goodwin

    I have been following this site for a long time, though I rarely post here. Drew, why in Heaven’s name are you always hanging around here if you so vehemently reject the content of every post? Usually you are the first person to reply to a post, and it is always to denounce it as “un-Biblical” and mock the author. Do you think you can convert people to your way of thinking, or do you just enjoy feeling angry?

    • 22044

      Drew can speak for himself, but I’ve seen that he affirms other posts on this site.
      As is the case with yours truly.
      This post promotes left-wing ideology instead of orthodox Christianity, but I see other posts on this site that are much better, including a recent one by Tony Campolo himself.

      • Drew

        People are surprised when I say I own books by Campolo and listen to his podcasts. I don’t agree with him on everything, but I agree with him on some things, hence the reason I regularly visit this website.

        Unfortunately, some people barely know who Campolo is and only visit the website because it presents a liberal view of Christianity, and they want to immerse themselves in like-minded folk who will tell them what they want to hear. I think most people would be surprised that Campolo believes the practice of homosexuality is a sin, for instance. Campolo is still a fairly conservative Evangelical in some regards. He does not want to replace the black letters; just make sure we don’t spend all our time there, and spend enough time in the red letters. He is much more moderate/conservative as compared to this website.

        • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

          Why is it always a debate between liberal and orthodox views…what you consider orthodox is different for someone else.

          Orthodox today is so different to the early church that it would be considered liberal to them…

          • classicmds

            Yes. Liberal Christianity is that which would deny that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and that he was raised from the dead and will come again. One can be a political liberal based on orthodox (conservative) Christianity. Or one can be a political conservative based on unorthodox (liberal) Christianity – the founding fathers have some claim to be the latter, if by “conservative” we mean fiscally conservative,limited government etc (although in their day they were, of course, both political and religious liberals…)

    • Drew

      It is clear that you are talking about something you clearly know nothing about. I would like to remind you that you should gather facts and ask questions before making unsubstantiated claims.

      1) I have answered the question “why I post” at least a half-dozen times over the past two years, so you are clearly not as familiar with my comments as you think.

      2) I do not vehemently reject the content of every post. On about 40% of the articles I leave positive comments or no comments. On about 30% of the articles I agree mostly but disagree in one or two areas. About 30% of the articles I agree – some are honest disagreements, some are articles I view as heretical.

      3) I do not mock the authors. I disagree with Piatt and Watts quite a bit, but I have posted positive comments on his articles before.

      4) I am not trying to convert anyone, and I probably the least angry person you know. I never use caps, I never use bad language, I rarely use exclamation marks. I post as feedback to the authors. Sometimes the authors write back and we dialogue. It’s an exchange of ideas.

      As for why I visit the website, since you have not read the comment section regularly, I will write this again. People come to this website for various reasons. I come here because I like Tony Campolo and a lot of what he stands for. There are often authors and articles presented here that are at odds with what Tony believes and with what most Evangelicals believe. Some people only visit websites because they want to “hide-out” with like-minded people and are not interested in discussion. I’m the opposite – I’m here because I like Campolo, but also because I like hearing different views… some of which I agree with, some of which I find to be beyond the pale.

    • SamHamilton

      I have seen Drew agree with many posts on this site. He’s generally not as vehement in his opinions as he is on this particular blog post.

    • http://twitter.com/jimmyspencerjr Jimmy Spencer Jr

      AMEN.

      • Drew

        Jimmy, I know you don’t like me on a deeply personal level, despite us not knowing each other, but I would ask you to try to be a brother rather than an enemy.

  • SamHamilton

    This debate seems pretty pointless.

    1) We the People have authorized our government to tax us.
    2) Inherently, some of those tax dollars are spent on people other than ourselves (i.e. we don’t all get services and other goodies in direct correlation to the amount of taxes we pay).
    3) The Bible does not sanction any particular government social program or redistributionist scheme.
    4) No one should have their faith called into question for opposing or supporting higher taxes or opposing or supporting particular social welfare programs.

    • Sam

      What I don’t understand is this: why is redistribution of wealth (“stealing from the rich to give to the poor”) seen as such a threat when we spend the majority of our money on military expenses? Most of those tax dollars are going into killing other people and imposing our will on others, not into helping the poor. How Christlike can we be if defending the poor at the expense of the wealthy is more of a scandal then pouring billions into warfare?

      • SamHamilton

        Hi Sam,
        I’m not sure why you’re addressing these questions to me as opposed to anyone else here, but I’ll wade into it…
        Let’s get the facts straight first. Here’s a breakdown of how our tax dollars are spent. About 20% of it is spent on “defense and international security assistance.” And not all of that is being spent on “killing other people and imposing our will on others.” Over 54% is spent on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social welfare programs.
        Source: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258

        Facts aside, you make a good point. Why do some people complain about social welfare programs but not money spent on wars that end up with people dying? I’m not one of those people, but I would presume they believe that a lot of the money spent on social welfare programs is either wasted or doesn’t actually help the people it’s intended to help escape poverty. They also believe that helping the poor is something we’re supposed to do privately, not through the government. There’s also the Constitutional argument: that the federal government doesn’t have the authority to institute these programs, while it certainly has the authority to engage in national “defense.”

  • Barry

    “R.J. Rushdoony claimed”

    I find it bitterly ironic that a slavery-supporting false priest yelps so about freedom and property.

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