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Justice in the Old Testament PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Monday, 14 March 2011 09:02

Justice is (1) protecting all people who fulfill their God-given Responsibilities and Justice is (2) restraining or punishing all people or Powers who deny or violate these basic Human Rights  [Those Responsibilities and Rights are explained on this website]

Justice is a legal concept.  It is from the Court.  The primary word for “Justice” in the Old Testament is “mishpat”.  This word primarily means a Judgment, i.e.- a negative Verdict, a Sentence of Condemnation, passed by a Judge or Court, usually against some one found guilty of violating the Ordinances and Statutes of God.

Upholding God’s Law is the primary idea of Justice.  In doing this, the Judge is doing the “right” thing.  This is ”righteousness” (tsedeqah).  “Righteousness” is doing the right thing, obeying the Law.  Justice and Righteousness are inseparable concepts and they are inseparable from God. [Consult the Lexicons and Theological Dictionaries]

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The New Testament and Justice PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Monday, 14 March 2011 08:55

In the New Testament, the word most often used for “Justice” is Judgment (interestingly, the Greek word often used is “krisis” from which we get “crisis“).  Jesus and Paul emphasize the future- the day of Judgment (krisis) when God shall pronounce a sentence of either  Life or Death for every person who has ever lived.   That will be the ultimate Justice.  The synonym for Justice is “Righteousness“.

The 92 texts using the word “Righteousness” (dikaiosune- dik-ah-yos-oo'-nay) can be separated into two groups.  Evangelical Christians are very familiar with the first group:

“Righteousness” is defined as Being Right, or having Right Standing, before God, through the work of Christ.  It is a variant of the word “Justified”- we are justified (declared righteous) in Christ through faith alone.  Sinners deserve punishment.  In His Justice, God doles out that punishment- upon Himself.  He absorbs His own losses.   The debt owed to Him by transgressors of His Law is cancelled.  Thus Justice is served- God has done the right thing.  His Law has been satisfied.  By virtue of being “in Christ”, sinners are not only forgiven (released from their debt to God), but are seen by God as Justified, i.e.- Righteous.  Sinners can experience the end times Judgment right now and know now how they will fare then.

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Biblical Justice PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Monday, 14 March 2011 08:48

There is Justice when people, animals and the Land are able to enjoy their Rights as defined by Biblical Law.  Injustice is the denial of those Rights.  The “oppressed” are those whose Rights are denied.  Historically, the Oppressed are usually the weak and marginalized- the poor, women and children  Justice is defending the oppressed.  Justice is stopping or punishing whatever, or whoever, is doing the oppressing.  Justice is restoring their Biblical Rights to the oppressed.  But that is not to say God is on the side of the poor or the oppressed.  God is on the side of Justice- having His character, His will, carried out.  There can be Justice in society only when people- rich or poor- fulfill their responsibilities to God and others in their personal lives as God defines them.

Justice is, at the very least, a “religious” concept.  In practice, to make Justice even theoretically possible, requires conversions- massive numbers of conversions of Pagans to Christ and then a major effort to disciple those new Christians to obey the Law of God.

 

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Last Updated on Monday, 14 March 2011 09:04
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Justice and the Poor: Does God favor the Poor? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Monday, 14 March 2011 08:42

God ministers Justice equally to all- He treats all, rich and poor, fairly without partiality- with equity.  God does not have a special love for the Poor- He loves everyone; He loves His Covenant People.  God does not favor the Poor (as a class) over the Rich or over the Saints- we must not romanticize or idolize the Poor- some are saved, some unsaved, some are righteous, some evil.

The Law of God spells out Rights and Wrongs.  Murder and Theft are murder and theft, etc. God is on the side of anyone who suffers Injustice- those who’s Rights are denied.  It is more Scriptural if we say God is on the side of those who suffer injustice, rather than on the side of the poor as such.  Not all poor suffer injustice.  Many rich people do.

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Last Updated on Monday, 14 March 2011 08:45
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BIBLICAL BASICS ABOUT POVERTY (REVISED) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 20:44

BIBLICAL DEFINITION OF POVERTY: DESTITUTION

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.

 

CAUSES OF TRUE POVERTY

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.

 


PERSONAL LIFESTYLE CHOICES

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.

 

THE MAIN REASON FOR TRUE POVERTY/DESTITUTION: OPPRESSION

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 PRIMARY CAUSE OF OPPRESSION: IDOLATRY

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. 

SPECIFIC POSITIVE STEPS THE BIBLE GIVES TO CARE FOR THE DESTITUTE

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.

 

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Last Updated on Saturday, 22 June 2013 16:11
 
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