Tag Archives: public life

Paul the Apostle of Equality

Christian social and economic ethics does not fall neatly either on the left or the right of the political spectrum (obsolete as it arguably is anyway). Here’s Paul the Apostle beating the drum of… equality – but not with the stick(s) of coercition but with the carrot(s) dug up from the soil of the Gospel. The tune being played? A gift economy.


11324943_1882723058619562_1266180824_n“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Cor. 8:9-15) ‪#‎equality‬ ‪#‎fairness‬ ‪#‎politicaltheology‬ ‪#‎gifteconomy‬ #justathought

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Book notice. Mark Noll, “In the Beginning was the Word. The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783” (OUP, 2015)

9780190263980Mark Noll’s most recent work promises to be a fascinating – a book of many ironies and complexities about the Bible in American public life. According to a reviewer, Noll shows how Americans have consistently regarded the Bible as being ‘on their side’, always legitimating their policies, their causes and their concerns and/or blessing the status quo. Of course, they’re not alone in this dangerous delusion, but considering the USA’s prominence in modern history, it makes for a darn good case study to bring up the dangers in handling the Bible.

“Though Noll writes as a believing historian who regards the Bible as divine revelation, he resists the urge to write a purely celebratory account of “America’s Book.” Instead, he writes a “cautionary tale” (his words) recognizing both the life-transforming power of Scripture for countless individuals and the “host of destructive or delusionary results manifest among those who believed in that power.” Scripture, in other words, frequently served as an instrument of both personal redemption and imperial ambition.” (Peter J. Thuesen, “America’s Book”, review article in Books & Culture)

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