The Bible encourages the wealthy to be generous. My wife and I have been big donors to theological education. But when we see certain schools being influenced by ultra-left wing agenda, anti-capitalist tendencies we wonder if we must pull back from giving unless we can be assured that our gifts will not ultimately undermine our ability to give in the first place.
We know that certain anarchist and anti-capitalist agendas have gained currency amongst young theological students and even some professors. These wacko extremists must be dealt with. If donors give to such schools and their means of creating wealth are eventually eliminated because the policies that these people promote win the day, then it is ultimately self-defeating. I don’t think that that conforms with the ethics of the Bible. Here is an example of an extremist position, in my opinion, by an adjunct professor at Regent College: A Call to Olympic Resistance
I’m very good friends with Dave and I can reassure you — not only did he give up his tenure-track at Regent, he has also been marginalized by that place (as have other fabulous profs and friends of mine like Charles Ringma and Bob Ekblad — not to mention the similar experiences of Jim Houston who founded the school) and is no reflection of the values of that institution. Regent is very much a right-wing evangelical school that exists in a rather cozy and comfortable relationship with the broader structures of global capitalism. Giving to that place will not undermine your ability to give in the first place.
Thanks for this reassurance.
Why is capitalism intrinsically entwined with the Bible? And don’t you see the hypocrisy of calling people who merely hold different views ‘wacko extremists’?
It partly depends on what is meant by capitalism. At very least, the Bible would protect the freedom of families to own land, to work and to keep the fruits of their labor. The protection of private property is instituted in the two commandments: thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not covet. Leftists believe that money should be taken from those who work hard and given to those who don’t. That is problematic.
I was told that if I own two pairs of shoes, I was robbing the poor. When I said that I’d given my clothes and shoes to Sudanese refugees, I was scoffed at. People realize that the games have problems, but to deny any kind of pleasure in life to people who have found great entertainment value in the Olympic games strikes me as excessive. One of the people who published an article decrying capitalism, the economics of death, and the Olympics, scoffed at Mark Driscoll for condemning Avatar as satanic. Yet how is the utter condemnation of the games any less extremist than saying that Avatar is satanist plot to corrupt our minds? It reminds me of the monks in the Name of the Rose who felt that laughing was a sin. Neither Driscoll nor the extremists seems to be interested in letting people have fun, like the Canadian girls celebrating their cigars and booze on the ice rink. The money spent on cigar and booze could have been given to the poor after all!
To say that it is “economy of death” or tantamount to genocide (Diewert)is going to far, a fringe point of view. That it is waste of tax payer’s money is an opinion that many share. But the poor pay very little tax–how is that hurting the poor, except that these people believe that every dollar spent by government must somehow aid the homeless in Vancouver. Or otherwise, why would they begrudge the games. Diewert decries the increased value of real estate in Vancouver because the Olympics has brought about renovations and construction and poor people can’t afford housing anymore. But to be fair, the jobs brought to Vancouver has brought wealth and prosperity. Wealth and prosperity are seen as blessings in the Bible, and as evil to Diewert’s people. Diewert has thus allied himself, perhaps unwittingly, with extremist anarchists who resort to vandalism. That is extremist and against the law. Oudshoorn on his blog repeated a Christian poster who had no problem chanting F— the police; yet many people, myself included, have never had any reason to complain about the police because we lead quiet and peaceful lives (1 Tim 2.2). Indeed, we feel that the police stand between us and the dangerous tendencies of anarchy and chaos. Those who yell “f— the police” are wacko extremists.
Diewert allies himself with the cause of people like Ward Churchill, a fake native, who carpet bags from the states to condemn the games as oppressive to First Nations, but Diewert also admits that the four of the First Nations themselves had made agreements with VANOC. That strikes me as extremist when you presume to speak on behalf of band councils, and think that you know better what is good for First Nations. He seems incapable of seeing that we could be enriched by the cross currents of Western and aboriginal cultures that have mingled in America–but this is not missed by some natives.
I thank you in advance for posting an apology for labelling Dave a “wacko” and “extremist.” I know Dave personally and object with all my might to such a ridiculous characterization. Please take back your words immediately, OK?
I get to the end of a post like yours and feel saddened by a kind of void without content, the sort of thing that passes for serious thought in our moment. From reading a few of your posts I see that your concern is to ask, “how can people call for the redistribution of wealth if they are against wealth.” But alas there is no inconsistency, paradox or contradiction: to be in favor of the redistribution of wealth is to be against all personal riches of financial sorts, or as Dave says, to ‘reject the invitation to use power and privilege to secure the personal comforts of political and economic domination.’
Hi Nathan: Thank you for your comment. I didn’t expect such a strong response regarding the terms “whacko” and “extremist”. It is a credit to Dave that he has such a friend that would thus defend him. I am not sure what taking back those words would do if I still believe them, and I’ve given some of my reasons for believing that they apply–contrary to your point that I’ve offered only void arguments. You by contrast have only expressed your anger and have not really argued a point at all, except that I am bad because I expressed an opinion about Dave’s position paper on the Olympics. Let’s start this over. What would happen if I take back the words “wacko” and “extremist”? They weren’t in the first instance aimed at Dave personally (see the original post) but a movement among evangelicals, especially the young, who view social justice as the essence of the gospel. Craig Carter on his blog, the Politics of the Cross Resurrected has done a very good job of exposing this new evangelicalism as the old liberalism.
Wealth redistribution in liberal socialist democracy is done through coercion and force. So Streams of Justice is advocating that the federal government use force upon taxpayers, with threats of imprisonment and fines, to fund an agenda that we don’t necessarily agree with. I live in Canada, and would be thus negatively affected if this agenda is implemented. This would in turn reduce our ability to give to Christian charities and theological education. Besides I am not at all convinced that more government funded housing will solve any problems, but I am certain that it will cause new problems and exasperate problems that exist already.
Such a view tends only to confirm my position that Dave has gone off the deep end towards some sort of anti-Christian Marxist viewpoint. While the Bible affirms both wealth and private property, you are advocating that all wealth is to be eschewed. Don’t you see how such a position automatically puts the investor in position of defensiveness? If Dave doesn’t want to be seen as fringe, he needs himself to attenuate his positions. But to reject personal wealth only means that power and privilege will now be concentrated in the hands of the state. This isn’t the rejection of the powers and principalities, but a wholesale capitulation to them. It’s as though he’s saying that we need to reject the worship of mammon and he offers to us only the worship of the state instead. No thanks.
But why would a ministry like Streams of Justice want to alienate the investor? Is it because they believe they can use the government to force them to give? Then they don’t need to convince the wealthy of their cause or have the Holy Spirit move on their hearts to give. They will give or go to prison. Giving under compulsion is not generosity at all:
I hope not to use all up my lunch break writing a response to this post!
What I like most about Dave and others in the tradition of liberation theology is their use of some minimal level of imagination, an imagination organized around the concepts of emancipation rather than domination. It is this imagination that gives life to the possibility of a world outside the confines of the existing system of organized injustice, a system understood unambiguosly as the alliance of the investor class and the state. By contrast, for those thinkers who lack imagination, there is no possible world beyond the State. For example, you write that “to reject personal wealth only means that power and privilege will now be concentrated in the hands of the state.” Therefore you blatantly ignore that Dave, in the Olympic tract you claim to have “responded” to, takes aim at the “supremacy of corporate and state power” (p. 1) and stands firmly against “the interests of corporate exploitation and state power” (p. 5). You claim that Dave asks us to “worship the state” (sic!) when in reality he attacks all forms of “loyalty to the state” (p. 5).
It becomes clearer everyday, particularly in the wake of the recent financial crisis, that the minimal level of equality today guaranteed by the state through coercion and force is the essential precondition for capitalism and the inequalities of class rule by private investors. I would say that in light of the vulenrabilities of financial capitalism – marked by the perpetual tendency towards a sort of concentration of wealth that seizes up overall capital circulation – there would be no stable and profitable capitalism without a sophisticated system of Keynesian “demand management,” by which we mean a system of corrective measures through redistribution, monetary and financial policy, state spending, stimulation, and the perpetual propping up of a mass demand, known as “effective demand”. Any serious inquiry into justice therefore must double as an inquest into the alliance of two types of increasingly indisitnguishable investors (private and stately). Justice and dignity might today have a different source, beyond the desires of the investors.
You may know that Dave’s recent work centers on the Tent Village in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, a political action that he defines as “an affirmation of a community” that does not “sit around and wait for the state, nor give [the state] opportunities to act or set the framework within which ways action can take place” (see page 2 of this document: http://olympictentvillage.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/village-voice-issue2-final1.pdf ). Demand number two of the Tent Village is to halt gentrification; demand three is to end the criminalization fo the poor. Our aim is to force the the state and police to stop their attacks, in which our hope is that they weaken and whither away, so that power can no longer be systematically transferred into private hands. We want to force the City, for example, to stop facilitating police ticketing quotas, the targeting of the poor, and the exercise of state-sponsored gentrification. We demand on them to stop facilitating the attack by the investor class (i.e. real-estate) on our precious low-income housing stock, and we invite them to reverse their damage by giving back the wealth and dignity they have taken away.
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
I also know the words to Kumbaya.
By the way, it is clear that Diewert is promoting statism. He wants the government to increase taxes on the rich–that shifts the balance of all power to the state. Diewert is currently against state power only because it’s not doing what he wants it to do. He doesn’t want the state to enforce vagrancy laws or property rights, but he’s perfectly willing for them to enforce the Income Tax Act.
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