Should Churches observe Passover ( "Seder")? PDF Print E-mail
Ecclesiastical - Cal's Church Blog
Written by Calvin Fox   
Saturday, 27 March 2010 12:48


We live on the edge of the Jewish Community in this area.  There are a number of "Temples" (formerly known as synogogues).  This is a big week for our Jewish neighbors.  Many of them are in the supermarkets buying what they need for their Seders, celebrating the annual Passover.

This week I watched a PBS documentary about the celebration of the Passover.  The Passover itself was barely mentioned in passing and I heard nothing about the blood of the lamb being put on the doorposts.   It seems the main point of the celebaration is deliverance from bondage.  That Theme is picked up by many and used for their own stories.  Thus we have celebration by African Americans from slavery.  There are feminist groups and gay groups who use the occasion to celebrate what they see as vistories in their experience.  There are others for whom the main point of Passover is the exodus and the wondering of the tribes of Israel to the Promised Land.  Immigrant groups celebrate similar journeys in their histories.  A Rabbi that was interviewd for the film said it made no difference whether there really was a parting of waters or a literal exodus from Egypt.  The story is about moving forward in our lives, leaving our past and entering into the promises of our future.   Nothing about the poor lambs which were slain.

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 April 2010 18:16
Re/formation Institute - Justice
Written by Calvin Fox   
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 20:44


In the media and according to self-appointed advocates of the poor, Poverty is living below an arbitrary level of income set by the Government.  In our Society today, for most people, that definition defines which people are "Poor".  That is not the correct definition of "Poverty" or "the Poor".  Christians must define "Poverty" and "Poor" the way the Bible does.  In the Bible, Poverty is defined as destitution.



Using the most common Biblical definition of Poverty, people in America are correctly called "poor" or destitute if they had property and means, but have lost their livelihood to no fault of their own or are no longer are able to work and maintain their property.  The truly Poor are those who, due to no fault of their own, can’t pay their bills because of plant closings, fire, accident, death in the family, debilitating illness, enormous medical bills, etc. and, of course, natural disasters like tornadoes.  Destitution due to no fault of one's own is the Biblical definition of Poverty.

The Bible tells us there are more than 20 causes of Poverty altogether.



Much that is called poverty in America is caused by personal lifestyle and behavior, e.g.- multiply illegitimate pregnancies and fatherless “families” or dropping out of school and choosing not to acquire skills needed for employment and getting involved with gangs, drugs and crime.  None of these personal choices are necessarily, or even probably, connected with oppression. This is contrary to the argument that such choices, in turn, are caused by Environment or Circumstances that are not chosen by the Poor (a "Culture of Poverty").  Poverty that is caused by personal lifestyle and behavior must be honestly and fearlessly confronted for what it is and be changed. The Gospel can make such a change possible by for those who accept it in conjunction with a variety of social services and education.

The Book of Proverbs says that personal, irresponsible behavior (mostly laziness) is a major cause of poverty. This is the cause that conservative Evangelical Christians emphasize, almost exclusively (if you are poor you must be lazy).  But this is only one cause of being poor and not the major one.



Evangelicals typically over look what the Bible teaches number one reason for true poverty or destitution: oppression, rooted in idolatry; yes, oppression rooted in idolatry.  Oppression is primarily  at the hands of invading enemy armies or at the hands of rich and powerful people.  The latter exploit those who can no longer work their land- (widows, fatherless children) and the sick or disabled or farmers who have had bad crops due to disasters of some kind and must borrow to keep going.  Loans lead to indentured servant hood and forfeiture of the family farm. In some cases, land is simply stolen by the powerful. All of this is injustice. It violates the law of God and the rights of these poor land owners. This type of oppression is the cause given for most of the poverty in the Bible.  Not all who are called Poor are oppressed, but the oppressed are truly poor.

"Poverty" caused by mental, emotional or physical “disease” will require additional solutions, including medical care. This, too, is not a matter of oppression, unless treatment and support of people, destitute for these reasons, is denied to them.  That denial of access would be oppression.


Examples of Oppression

Oppression is exploitation, defrauding, cheating, and stealing. It can be by violence or at the hands of “powerful interests” using corrupt courts or bad laws. The victims of such oppression, in Scripture, are the weak and powerless- workers who have very low incomes.  Think of the Money Lender abruptly taking the farm from the widow and her children after the husband is killed in an accident. Think of the King taking housing by eminent domain to make room for an addition to his palace. Think of the Wealthy Landowner forcing the peasant off neighboring land to improve his view of the ocean.  In our day, these would be people who lose their houses to unscrupulous money lenders or to dishonest lenders because a catastrophe has taken away their income and they are unable  to pay off debts or are forced out of their property by a developer taken the land for commercial development with the support of Government. Etc.

Many Bible texts tell us that God is very concerned for these victims of oppression.  He wants them to have justice. God is not on the side of the poor as such. God is on the side of Justice. All people have a right to work, to engage in the economic processes. They have the right to enjoy the fruit from their labor, to make a profit, to have private property, to own land. God is for all of these things. To deny any of these rights to anyone is injustice and God is against that. God is against (any person, group or business or laws) that denies people the right to work, to make a profit, to have property.



The Bible makes it clear that the primary cause of oppression (and therefore the major cause of poverty) is not greed, but idolatry. As people reject God & His Law to follow idols, they substitute the ungodly values and behavior dictated by those idols.

The Idolatry which leads to oppression must be confronted.  Major contemporary Idols in America include the State, Science (the scientific method, the Philosophy of Naturalism),Technology and The Market). There are many lesser, but related, idols in popular culture, eg- Celebrity, Consumerism, Status, Power, Success or Sports.  Worship of any of these things makes them Idols and leads to greed and power grabbing at all costs.

This leads the worshipers to exploit and oppress the weak and powerless. This is not to say that all people who are rich and powerful do this!  Many rich and powerful people who are also both moral and compassionate use their wealth and power to accomplish much good in the world.


Long range Biblical Solution for Poverty begins with the Removal of Oppression

Poverty which is caused by oppression will not be solved by anything less than removal of that oppression. The oppressive behavior mentioned in Scripture is illegal in America.  Justice [an end to oppression] must be found primarily through the Courts. Such action goes to the root of the problem. If the oppression is systemic and institutionalized, those systems and institutions must be confronted. This is particularly true if the oppression is grounded in racism. This opposition calls for brave action from individuals, churches and the community at large. 


1. Family According to the Bible, truly destitute and very poor people have the right to be taken in and supported by their kin, their extended family [caring for its needy members is the family's God-given responsibility]


2. Church As well as preaching the Gospel (Truth to Power) the Church must teach its members the Biblical Principles for living, including giving compassionate, generous and personal direct care to those in need.


3. Businesses In the Bible, the Destitute had a right to glean in the fields of others. Today, that means access to excess products or services of local businesses.


4. Civic Community The truly Destitute have a right to share in the wealth (charity) of the entire local community

To deny the truly poor these rights is injustice. Bible-believing Christians should be in the forefront of advocacy of Justice and  these Biblical Principles in the battle against true Poverty.

Families and churches and private relief agencies through out the country are helping people with direct care.  Charitable giving, in the amounts of millions of dollars, is being given to help the Poor.  Many Businesses are also very generous and charitable.  These are Biblical principles [the Kingdom of God] at work.  The question always is the size and type of aide necessary from the Federal Government; but even here, the Biblical principles should be followed.  These principles obviously are most workable ion a small scale in fairly small towns and cities where people know each other.  How to implement them in mega-cities and in huge national disasters is another matter. Caring for the Poor should be as local and as grass roots as possible, working with resident families and local businesses and then local communities, enabling the Poor to chart their course and be responsible for their own future.  This itself is known as the Principle of Subsidiarity


5. State and Federal Government

The principle of Subsidiary advocates that government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently. The principle is based upon the autonomy and dignity of the human individual, the human person.  In no way is the Civil Government to assume the duties of the Family, Church, Business or local community.  Indisputably, the Biblical role of government, whatever else it may do, is to maintain  law and order and, particularly, prevent waste and corruption in the care of the Destitute, the truly Poor.


Last Updated on Saturday, 22 June 2013 16:11
REPOST: Many Progressive Christians believe in "Jubilee Economics". Is it Biblical? PDF Print E-mail
Re/formation Institute - Economics
Written by Calvin Fox   
Monday, 02 February 2009 22:08


There are those who use  Leviticus 25 as the main basis for what they call  “Sabbath or Jubilee Economics”  This is said to be an economy of enough, an economy of economic equality, an economy that rejects private property, an economy that is not based on a free market and the profit motive.  These commentators insist this is Biblical Economics.  Are they correct?  Read this Essay and decide for your self.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 10:00
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