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From Daniel:

Dear Liberal Preacher,

One thing I have always had problems with is combining my belief in God and Jesus Christ with capitalism.  I believe we should take care of the poor and the helpless but I also believe they have to also take care of themselves.  I can’t bring myself to think that health care and housing and such are rights that everyone should have regardless.  Honestly I can’t bring myself to believe that greed is completely morally wrong.  I teach at a community college and one of the reasons I teach here is because I like helping people who are trying to help themselves, but everyday I see people who are not and I find it hard to continue caring for them when they are arguably making their own bed.  I enjoy science and went into it for that reason, but I also went into it because I knew that I could find a good job that would provide well for me and for any family I might have.  I can’t see the desire to have nice things, and the desire to have things and be safe (greed) as innately evil.  To me that would be too much like saying capitalism is innately evil.
 
Does being a Christian mean you need to be a socialist?      

Daniel

 

Dear Daniel,

I appreciate your honesty.   Here’s how I honestly feel.  As a Christian I hate voting for political candidates who I know will harm my economic self-interest.  (It also means people I vote for rarely win.)

There is something to the notion that in our efforts to help individuals we can enable them, and thus harm them.  Bleeding heart liberals do come up short on the need for personal accountability.

I’ve decided, though, to err on the side of judging people less.  I find that people respond much better to encouragement rather than judgement.  I know I do.  I’ve seen folk beat up by others, and humanoids who practice daily self-flagellation, who never “figure life out.”  In contrast, I’ve witnessed amazing turnarounds by people who start to celebrate and appreciate themselves, in part, because someone in their life, a teacher or friend or pastor, has affirmed them.

People these days are worrying about the United States becoming a socialist country.  We are a far cry from being a socialist nation.  In American churches capitalism is preached by the minute while numerous biblical texts which blame the rich for poverty are ignored.  (See Proverbs for texts supporting the idea that poverty is the fault of the poor.)

On earth as in heaven.  Ummm.  I’m not sure how that computes, but it seems we might better use our limited time and energy on something else other than worrying about socialism.

One of the most troubling things I’ve read is a quote by Gustavo Guiterrez, “Instead of talking about the Church of the poor, we must be a poor Church.” (A Theology of Liberation, p. 117)

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