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The Gospel and the parasite of the State

by ~Steve on Wednesday, August 5, 2015 12:48 PM

How the Gospel should not be implemented by force.


I recently went to a pub theology meeting on racism. The talks were great, the discussions were great, and the beer was pretty good as well. I noticed is that the Gospel has a different meaning to me than it has to others.  

The talk on racism includes an analogy of a monopoly game where every time white people go around they collect $200 and black people do not. Then after a time, they collect maybe $100 and then some time later they finally collect the same amount as whites.  However, all the property has been bought up and even though it is even now, it is still unfair.  Then we were told that white people are not comfortable with talking about this problem.

One issue I have is with an extremely flawed analogy. The economy is not a fixed entity with finite resources like a Monopoly game. This is forgivable as theologians likely make horrible economists. The second (and more important) issue is the ability to separate the problem from the embedded political solution that is always presented with the problem. This particular white person (me) is very comfortable talking about the problem (that is why I was present) but those whose Gospel is implemented through the force of the State do not seem interested in talking about other solutions.

I talked to the speaker (who I know to be a wonderful person) about his analogy and suggested that it had political solutions baked into it. I wanted to give the opportunity to separate those out. His response was, well yeah, there is. This is when I came to the conclusion that we do not mean the same thing when we refer to the Gospel - even a social gospel.

First. I (and most people I know - conservative or liberal) agree with the problem. Race is a problem. It is perhaps a worsening problem. Poverty is a problem. Not having access to healthcare is a problem. No Christian can say that he/she does not care about these things.

Second. There may be solutions to these problems that do not involve the state. There may be solutions that do not involve taxation. It may be that the state solutions only exacerbate the problem. It may be that trusting the state to take away $200 when you pass go because you hope they pass it on to someone that needs it is naive. Solutions are where productive conversations could happen if the state-mandated solutions were not already assumed.

It is not my intention to argue solutions here. It is only my desire that they not be conflated into one issue (the problems and their possible solutions). It may be that people care about the problem as deeply as you but they do not express it by raising taxes on other people. Perhaps they express it more directly from their own pockets. The charitable thing is to assume the positive intent of those you disagree with instead of assuming they hate poor people because they do not buy into your solution.

If you feel a social, relevant, and transforming Gospel is only possible with some infused form of state taxation and distribution by force of law, please don't tell me that politics is not your thing.

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